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September 10, 1999

Alex O'Brien

U.S. OPEN Flushing Meadows, New York City

USTA: Questions, please.

Q. You just won your first major, but everybody is writing with deadlines. I want to know, what does it feel like to win your first major?

SEBASTIEN LAREAU: Well, it's just a great feeling. I think for us as a team, it's our first chance.

Q. Sebastien, can you answer in French?

SEBASTIEN LAREAU: (Response in French.)

Q. Was there any discussion about having your match played in the stadium after the women's semis?

ALEX O'BRIEN: I don't think so. Bas talked to Brian Earley. I don't think he really ever said anything about it. We honestly didn't care. We knew it was going to be a small crowd, a large majority of Indians. We had our small rooting contingent. We won. Doesn't matter what court it was played on. We're the championships, you know. Doesn't matter that there are eight of you guys out here. We're so happy now. He's the first Canadian to ever win a Grand Slam. It's his 13th try. I'm happy for him. Gave me a big hug. Very impressed with that. He's never been that close to me before.

Q. What about for you winning your first Grand Slam?

ALEX O'BRIEN: Yeah, I mean, I don't think I've smiled this much in a long time. I'm just so happy. I looked over to all my friends after we won, and at Bas, it's just a great feeling. It is nice for me because, like I said the other day, we've been in a couple finals. This is my fourth final. I really wanted -- that's been one of my goals. I set it as a goal, to win a Grand Slam doubles title. I'm just extremely happy, very pleased.

Q. Is this the happiest moment of your professional career, tennis career as a whole?

ALEX O'BRIEN: Yeah. I'd say it is probably. I felt the Davis Cup match that Pete and I played and we won was really an incredible moment. But I'd say this is probably about equal or maybe a little better. It's a great moment.

Q. Can you explain how it feels to win here at the US Open? Boston was a frustrating experience.

ALEX O'BRIEN: Well, it's been kind of a bit of a saga for me, period, with just the wildcard situation in the singles, winning the doubles here, the Davis Cup and everything. I mean, there's quite a bit there. But just, I lost first-round quallies, was really upset about that in singles. I'm still concentrating on my singles, trying to be a good singles player. This eclipses all that. I'm not going to look back. I'm just really happy, really excited, happy for Sebastien, and can't say anything negative about any of my experiences right now.

Q. Can you talk a bit about the significance of who you guys beat to get to this point, the No. 1 team, you beat the Woodies who have dominated doubles the last couple years. What does that say about you guys?

ALEX O'BRIEN: Do you want to field that one?


ALEX O'BRIEN: I feel like I've listened to Sebastien say it a couple times, but when we play this tournament, the reason we've lost a couple matches is because we have been a little shaky mentally and have maybe let down a little bit. This tournament, we didn't let down. It's a mental battle. We leaned on the other teams more than they leaned on us. We didn't let up. We were down in the tiebreaker in the first set today. We were down in the match against the Woodies. We just hung in there and kept battling, trying to keep a positive attitude. 6-4 in the tiebreaker today, Sebastien came up with a great return. We just never really folded. That's been a bit of our problem in the past. I think that's what it takes to win a Grand Slam, and we did it. It is amazing, especially the teams that we beat to win it. Nobody was going to say Sebastien and Alex were going to be the US Open champions. Probably didn't even consider us. We did. We believed in ourselves. We're here, so it's pretty awesome.

Q. Could you comment on the importance of the chemistry of a doubles team? You played together, had a lot of success at the doubles championship in Hartford. You parted, went your separate ways. With all due respect, you didn't have the same kind of doubles success that you had together. Together, there's a certain chemistry that works. How important is that?

SEBASTIEN LAREAU: Well, I think it's the most important thing. Once you know someone, you know how he feels; you know how he's going to react in pressure points; how he's going to be before matches and everything. I think that's the key to success. I think most of the good teams are teams that have played together for a long time. The Woodies are a good example. Mahesh and Leander doing well the last couple years. That's probably why we had good success when we played in '96 and '97. When we split up in '98, it was hard for us to find another partner. We had been playing together for two years. We knew each other's game so well that we could really help each other out. As soon as we were reunited in Stuttgart at the end of '98, we won the tournament. It felt like we had never been separated. It felt like we already knew what to expect and what was going to happen. We knew that our level of play was still there, that we just had to get back together because we tried with different partners. He tried with Stark, Byron Black. I tried with Wayne Black. We won matches, but not up to the level that we could play together. I think it's probably the most important thing, once you found the right chemistry with a partner, when you get the confidence going, then you can pretty much play really well and win good tournaments.

Q. Why did you split?

SEBASTIEN LAREAU: Ask him (laughter).

ALEX O'BRIEN: I'll take credit for that. One of my goals was to play Davis Cup for the United States. The USTA had been asking me and putting a lot of pressure on me to play with an American player. It wasn't like we were -- he's smiling over there. He might want to hit me actually. We can go at it later on tonight (laughter). I don't blame him. I'd be pissed, too. But I wanted to play Davis Cup. I made the choice, Gullikson had asked me to play with an American player. I made the choice to play with an American player. Obviously, it wasn't a good career move for me because I didn't play Davis Cup one time. I played with Jonathan Stark. We played okay together. We didn't have any of the success that Bas and I had. I'm a little upset that I made that decision because it probably made him have some ill feelings towards me, which are justified. I'm happy that we've come around the corner and that we've actually won a Grand Slam; that I've put him in the history books. I haven't personally put him in the history books, we put each other there.

Q. America is still trying to get a great doubles duo. What would it take for us to do to get you to pull a Rusedski and come to America?

SEBASTIEN LAREAU: I think it's impossible. I already played Davis Cup for Canada. It's over.

ALEX O'BRIEN: The USTA has lots of money.

SEBASTIEN LAREAU: I think the ITF wouldn't allow it.

Q. So you thought about it?

ALEX O'BRIEN: He thought about it (laughter).

Q. Who do you play with in Davis Cup?

SEBASTIEN LAREAU: Daniel Nestor. We have a good team.

Q. At the risk of making this a political question, we've discussed the Davis Cup doubles situation, what's the problem? With all the players we have, why can't we have a doubles team? What do you think the trouble is with US doubles in Davis Cup?

ALEX O'BRIEN: Well, I think it's because there's not a team, first of all, of Americans that consistently play together and do well together. Doubles is a team sport. It's different from singles. If a guy like Pete would play all the time in the doubles, that would help a lot. If the top players played more often, that would obviously help. It's hard because it's a team sport. The top players don't play right now. When they do play, they actually lose to more of the teams, and people don't realize that it's completely different from singles. It does take the chemistry, and it does take the team bonding together and knowing where the guy is going to hit the ball, moving, all that. Even when Pete and I played together, we didn't play as a team. He's the best singles player in the world. We had a few kind of plays, but basically we were just kind of winging it. He's so talented that he's good enough that he can get by. If he played more doubles, he'd be the best doubles player in the world, for sure. He doesn't play that much. We were just kind of playing as two individuals out there. That's still tough to win like that. When you have a guy like Sampras on the court, it adds a new dimension. I wish we did have a good team, or I wish I had someone that I could play with every now and then. Jared Palmer and I have played a little bit. We played pretty good together. Now that John is the new captain, he understands doubles, he understands the game, so maybe he'll try to help us out a little bit in that respect, try to suggest things or help us in ways that we could improve that doubles point.

Q. When did you first start to have a feel for doubles? Does that go back to Stanford?

ALEX O'BRIEN: I think you look at some of the American players, especially the guys that went to college, they all played pretty good doubles. You learn doubles. I was out there. This is my doubles partner in NCAA in 1992. We were out there watching some of the younger guys play. Those guys, it takes a while to learn how to play the game. I think college was good for me because you learn the patterns and the strategies, and that helps a lot, basically just going through it every day and learning what the right strategies are to play doubles.

Q. Does Gould focus on that?


Q. A good doubles teacher?

ALEX O'BRIEN: He is. He put a lot of emphasis on the doubles. We practiced it a lot during practice. I don't think a lot of coaches do, but you notice a lot of the Stanford guys play pretty solid doubles. John Stark, Jim Grabb, John McEnroe, Patrick McEnroe. A lot of great doubles players from Stanford.

Q. What is it about doubles players from west Texas?

ALEX O'BRIEN: I don't know. I didn't even know there were other players from west Texas.

Q. I'm saying historically. Richey.

ALEX O'BRIEN: Richey is what, Houston?

Q. Nancy Richey.

ALEX O'BRIEN: I got you. I'm sorry. I'm on the wrong page there. With me, I didn't take tennis too seriously. I played a lot of different sports, just had fun growing up. I don't know why I became a tennis player. I didn't even want to be a professional tennis player. I just played college, then I played pro, did well when I played pro tournaments, ended up playing professionally. It wasn't like a dream of mine or anything. I don't know what the west Texas thing is. Hopefully we can keep that going a little bit there.

Q. Are you guys committed to playing together for any period of time now?

ALEX O'BRIEN: You need to talk to him. He's the one that's not real happy with me right now.

Q. Sebastien?

SEBASTIEN LAREAU: Yeah. I think now it puts us in a great position for Hartford, The Masters at the end of the year. I think it has to be a goal as a team. Going into The Open, we haven't had a good year. We won Queen's, but that was our only good result. There were questions about maybe splitting up. I think now with winning this, especially the way we've done it the last two weeks, sticking together, playing well as a team, I think that was really important. Now, even though he's not going to come to Asia, he's going to play some Challengers, I'm in Asia, I'm sure we'll be able to hook up for the next Super 9 events in Stuttgart and Paris, put us into position for playing in Hartford.

Q. Would it be fair to assume when the Grand Slams come, you will play together for doubles?

SEBASTIEN LAREAU: Try to win some more.

ALEX O'BRIEN: Yeah, that would probably be a fair assumption.

Q. Do you know which Challengers you're going to be playing?

ALEX O'BRIEN: I'm going to play a couple, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, try to get my famous singles career going.

Q. We've had a lot of players talk about the fact that doubles is a real problem for the serious singles player. You mentioned Sampras. Women and men saying it's too confusing, wait around too much, get too tired. Leads one to believe that maybe we have two separate tracks here, doubles and singles. How does all this play out? Do you have to make a decision? Isn't it hard to try to play both and be proficient at each?

ALEX O'BRIEN: I think it's rough. You look at Rafter, I think that's part of the reason that he's hurt right now. I don't think it's a good decision. If you're a top singles player, I think you should play a lot fewer doubles tournaments. When I was doing well in singles, I felt like it hurt my singles a little bit. I think you can play, but I think you need to pick your weeks when you play, when you're feeling healthy, not put an emphasis on it. I think it's rough. I hate to say that, but it is. It's a physical sport that we do. It's not a good idea if you're doing really well in singles to play doubles, as well.

Q. How do we deal with this issue of the spectator liking doubles but the press and tournament officials --?

ALEX O'BRIEN: You tell them to come watch the match today between Bhupathi/Paes, O'Brien/Lareau. Incredible match we played today. There's no Sampras, Agassi, Krajicek on the court. I didn't watch it, but I participated in it, and I thought it was incredible tennis.

Q. A shame it doesn't get on TV.

ALEX O'BRIEN: Supposed to be. Because of the rain. I don't care if it wasn't on TV. We're the champs. Happy about that.

End of FastScripts....

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