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February 3, 2000

Alex O'Brien


Q. Chris, what's the altitude factor?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: You know, now I feel that I've adapted to it. Obviously coming on Monday, it was a surprise. I knew it coming here, however, but I feel really comfortable now with the way I'm playing and the conditions.

Q. How much of a surprise was it when you got the call? Can you just sort of talk us through how you found out you were on the team?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: I came home from Australia on Friday, early Friday morning, and I got a call later on that day from John, and he told me that I might be needed and to be ready. And then he called back later on and said to pack your bag, we're counting on you to come down here, so I was only home roughly about 30 hours.

Q. In terms of what it means in your career, playing Davis Cup, is it something you've always dreamed of doing?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: This, for me, is single-handedly the biggest honor in my tennis career. No doubt about it.

Q. John, they're promising an electric atmosphere on Friday.

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: You know me well enough to know that I prefer that. I like energy. I think that if it wasn't that way, it would be disappointing. As long as you have the referees and those people make sure it's done within the boundaries of fair play, it's fine.

Q. Andre, you've talked about the intimacy of center court at Wimbledon and the power of night matches at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York. How do you feel about playing in Zimbabwe?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's going to be quite an experience. I tell you, no matter how much experience you have with Davis Cup, it's never easy playing away. You can take nothing for granted out there, and I think it's going to be incredibly difficult. I think we'll be fortunate to get through this weekend. You have to approach it that way. It's difficult conditions, I'm sure the crowd will give a lot of additional inspiration to the Zimbabwean team, and we're going to do our best to not allow it to take away from us. If we do that, we should be -- we should handle things all right.

Q. Did you see any of Wayne's match against Pete in Australia?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. I saw -- yeah, I did.

Q. What were your impressions?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think the players really didn't, you know, need to see Wayne have Pete down two sets to Love, to have him fight for his respect and his abilities. Anyone who has played Wayne or watched him knows his capabilities, and he has a lot of pop in his game. And when things come together for him, he's dangerous. And he was just proven that day against, I think, a Pete that wasn't quite -- wasn't quite sharp. And that was close to the big problem.

Q. John, after the putting out of Pete and Todd, do you still consider the team, your team, as favorites?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Well, I consider us a slight favorite. You know, we came here to win the match but it's like Andre said, we know it's going to be very difficult. These are not conditions that a lot of tennis matches are played under, this type of altitude. They have obviously spent a lot more time here than us. So it's not going to be easy for us. But none of us came out here to lose this.

Q. John, are you pleased that Andre is kickstarting the tie?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Absolutely. Andre is playing unbelievable tennis. But he knows he's got to go out there and work at it. He knows that. There's no need to tell him that. It will be great to get off to a good start, and that's what we hope will happen, no question.

Q. Are you comfortable with the court?


Q. You've been practicing, yes, are you comfortable with the court?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah. I mean, I'm as comfortable as you can be. I think the greatest thing about tennis is two people have to deal with the same circumstances, and one thing I pride myself on is that if somebody else can do it, then I can. So if things go smooth, I'll feel good about it. If things are difficult, I'll adjust. It's as simple as that.

Q. Chris, for your first experience in Davis Cup, abroad, in this country, do you feel any special pressure, or do you feel relaxed?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: Well, I'd be lying if I told you I didn't feel any pressure. Pressure is certainly there, but I think this is why I've worked hard all of my life, to try to get to this level and to be in this position. And I think if you look back on history, all the great athletes -- I don't think I'm a great athlete -- but I think athletes have an ability to dig in there and pull something out of the hat when the chips are down, and that's what I'm hoping I can do.

Q. John, we've known that in Davis Cup anything can happen. Imagine there is an injury tomorrow. What will be your solution for the rest of the weekend?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Well, I have limited options. I mean it's not -- it's knock on wood. But that you have to handle if it happens. I mean, if you're aware of the rules, you know what the options are. The options are that -- I'm not sure what exactly you're saying, but they're pretty clear-cut.

Q. Did, at any stage, you consider naming yourself as a fifth player?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: As a fifth player? As a fifth player, yes. (Laughter.) I am the fifth player. (Laughter.)

Q. Naming yourself to play, if needs demanded? Would that ever cross your mind?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: As a dream, you know. I can't say that I haven't envisioned the last few years wanting to be part of the team, but I find it highly awkward to be my first match as Captain, to pick myself. So I didn't anticipate -- I didn't take it seriously, that possibility here. You know, I feel like I'm hitting the ball well, but I feel like, you know, you got to get it the old-fashioned way, actually earn it. So, no, I didn't consider it seriously.

Q. Rick, did you think that your Davis Cup career might have been over a long time ago?

RICK LEACH: I did actually. In 1997, when Jonathon Stark and I lost to Eltingh and Haarhuis, I thought that was it. So I feel very honored to be back on the team.

Q. Andre, you've been here just a short time. This is the first Davis Cup in Africa. Is there anything that strikes you about Africa that you find particularly intriguing or pleasing?

ANDRE AGASSI: I'm incredibly overwhelmed with the hospitality and just how genuinely nice everyone is. It's almost like the culture has a real sense of peace about themselves. You drive down the street, you can count a lot of smiles out there. So it's been a pleasant experience. Unfortunately, coming here so late, I haven't had the chance to experience it really beyond the hotel and the arena, and I will have no time to sneak around afterwards. But I always wanted to come here and experience Zimbabwe; I feel like I'm only kind of getting a taste of it. That's it.

Q. You spoke the other day about jet lag and also the altitude. How do you feel? You've adapted to it now since you've been here since Monday night?

ANDRE AGASSI: I like my chances to adapt to different situations pretty much as well as anybody I'm playing against. It's not a comfortable situation for any of us to play in. I think any time you start throwing variables into the equation, it always is going to help the underdog. But I'm pretty comfortable with how I'm striking the ball. I'm certainly looking forward to the weekend. But I'd be lying to say it's ideal. You come here on Monday and it's not easy to be 100 percent ready. But that doesn't mean that I won't go out there and, A, give them my best or,B, get the job done.

Q. Alex and Rick, have you guys ever played together before?


Q. You haven't, this is the first time?

ALEX O'BRIEN: First time.

Q. So there's no conflict of interests? You both like being right-court players --

ALEX O'BRIEN: We actually both play the right side, so it actually works out well, yeah. We play opposite sides.

Q. Oh, you play opposite sides, okay.


Q. John, what is the one or two biggest surprises about being Davis Cup Captain so far?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: That's a good question. I think basically that you have to anticipate more surprises. That's probably because, you know, things go along what seems to be very smoothly and at the last second things could change in a hurry. That's one of the reasons why I believe the scheduling should be changed. Because it's just -- it's far more likely that something unusual will happen, and it just makes it less -- it increases the chances of someone, quite frankly, not being able to play. So I think -- I've noticed that there is a change. It's not next year, it's not the week after. But I don't -- other than that, I don't feel like there is any other surprises. To me, it's a great, great moment for me. This is a -- I'm very proud of this team and I'm proud that we have a great group of guys here. I feel really good, like Andre said, about how the people treated us. Maybe they're setting us up for something we don't know about. But we're going to go out there, compete our hardest. I believe if we play up to our ability, we're going to win. To me, this is what it's all about. This is part of -- my goal is to have the Davis Cup as big as the Majors in the minds of the people and the players. This is the start of it. It's a very proud moment for me.

Q. John, on that one, it's going to be if you're going to play Davis Cup after any one of the Slams, you're going to have that problem.

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I don't think we should do that.

Q. Do you have ideas on how to reschedule?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I think that should have been discussed. Unfortunately, from my understanding, it's already been decided, the schedule for the next four years. So if you care to ask someone from -- like Randy for example, or some other people, they can give you the schedule for the next four years. To me, that's disappointing that that's already been determined. That says to me that once again they're not talking to the people that mean the most, to bring it up with the players and the people directly involved. It's other people, you know, again, protecting their own interests. I think Davis Cup, you know, should be discussed. And if that's what people decide, like the players specifically, that it's best to get it like a Ryder Cup type feeling, then that should be considered. But I'm not sure that is even possible at this point.

Q. Not for four years anyway.

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Right. Not for this anyway.

End of FastScripts…

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