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July 15, 1999

Alex O'Brien


Q. What happened with the selection of the team? How have we decided?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Okay, after Birmingham Pete called me said he would like to make himself available for the team. But he'd only like to play doubles. He strongly felt that Jim and Todd deserve the singles spots not only for what they did against Great Britain but the commitment they have shown over the past several years to Davis Cup. He felt strongly that they should play singles and would like to come on the team and contribute to the doubles. If you look at transcripts of various tournaments, that has been a very consistent theme over the last couple of months. I am sure Pete would tell you he feels the same way now. That is basically it.

Q. As the captain didn't you try and convince Pete to play singles?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: We talked about it. Pete and I privately talked about it. We had a team meeting to discuss some options about three nights ago and this was the decision that was arrived upon.

Q. Very difficult thing, though, to leave out the absolute best player of all time?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: He will be playing, so we are not leaving him out.

Q. Singles I mean.

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: He needed to work on his doubles a little bit anyway. He has been a little weak in doubles this year, so....

Q. Was the decision your decision or a democratic vote?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: It was a consensus. We all had input and, you know, that was the decision that was arrived upon. We got feedback from everyone. Everybody told me how they feel. These gentlemen are all very mature adults. They are not young adults. They are not young, but they are all adults now and this was what came out.

Q. Jim, what do you think about the draw? How do you feel?

JIM COURIER: The draw is fine. Tomorrow, Todd and I are both going to be playing. Today is just really formality to find out who plays first. We will both be ready to go tomorrow. But we have been doing these for quite a while and it is always fun for you guys to speculate on what ifs, what ifs, but for us, we both know we are playing, so I know I will be ready to go and I am sure Todd feels the same way.

Q. Happy to be playing fifth rubber again?

JIM COURIER: No. 2 player always place the fifth rubber; unless I get my ranking up, I will be stuck in the fifth rubber for a while. (laughs).

Q. There was a point when your said you would be willing to volunteer your spot so Pete could play singles. Did you rethink that or?

TODD MARTIN: I don't really -- if I did, I didn't intend to say "volunteer my spot." I said that I thought we should have the best team out on the floor. I think it is everybody's assumption that Pete would be a part of that team. And I figured it would just be my situation, I felt like if Gully chose for me not to be a part of that team, then I was comfortable with that. But obviously we have come to a decision that I think most of the guys are very comfortable with and we will make the most of it.

Q. Pete, was it tough for you to avoid the temptation of playing singles because I know you have been --

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, just first say that I am very sensitive as far as being here this week. After what Jim and Todd did in England, the last thing I wanted to do was kind of come along the team and jump on the bandwagon and that is why I have said for the past couple of months that I was just going to play doubles. Jim and Todd deserve to play singles. They have shown not only this year but the past couple of years their commitment to Davis Cup and I haven't been in the same boat. I didn't think it was right for me to kind of come on the team and play singles. I just never felt comfortable; two months ago didn't feel comfortable; a month ago; I don't feel comfortable now. It is nice enough for Jim and Todd to let me be a part of the team. We had some good talks after what happened in Birmingham and I am glad I am here.

Q. Pete, how much doubles have you played lately? For the layperson, how do you have to adjust to your game?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I don't play much doubles through the year, but I have played in Davis Cup before. It is still the same sport out there, keep it in the lines and serve big and return well and I have practiced quite a bit with Alex this week and I think we feel pretty good. But I can play good doubles, I know I can. So I think we are going to be ready.

Q. Did Tom or some of the other players try to convince you over the last couple of days, it is okay, you know, play singles? Was there --

PETE SAMPRAS: Like I said, like a couple of minutes ago, after what happened in England I just didn't feel comfortable jumping on the bandwagon and carrying the flag here. It is Todd's show and Jim's show. They won an unbelievable tie in England. I don't think it was right for me to come here and play singles. I didn't feel comfortable doing it. I told that to all the guys. But that is it. I think we need to play now. I am not playing singles and Todd has had a great year. Jim has had a great year and we are going to be tough to beat.

Q. Would you feel comfortable playing singles in the next round if the team advances?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. If we advance, sure, I would think I have showed Todd and Jim and the rest of the guys that I am committed to Davis Cup. We will see what happens this weekend.

Q. How difficult will it be for you to sit and watch the singles, especially against Rafter a guy you have had a little bit of a rivalry with?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I was prepared coming here just to play doubles. I felt this way for the past couple of months. I have done it before in '92 when we won there and I was just playing doubles. I am here for the team. I am here to support the guys and cheer them on and that is what Davis Cup is all about.

Q. Specifically with Pat Rafter in there, it wasn't an added incentive for you?

PETE SAMPRAS: I mean, I have played Pat over the last couple of years and sure, our matches have been pretty good. But no, I mean, that really has no factor in it.

Q. Tom, over the weeks before the tournament, did you give serious consideration to Pete playing in the singles? Was it a serious option for you?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Well, I don't think so really. I think everybody understands that this is the decision. I think we need to get on to some other questions more pertinent about the match.

Q. Jim, Todd, could you comment on playing the final singles, if that comes down to being the decider how much you relish the fact -- if it is deciding who is playing the deciding match for -- (inaudible)?

JIM COURIER: Sure, I can talk about that, Craig. Some people like to have the ball at end of the game and so people don't. I like to have the ball at the end of the game. At least I am in control one way or the other. This is one of those formats where right now the number -- we used to flip -- No. 1 and No. 2 used to flip in the Draw Ceremony to find out who would play the fifth match. I think it is too bad now that it is only the always the No. 2 playing against the No. 2 rather than the No. 1 versus the No. 1. But the way it stands right now and the way the computer has the rankings, I am going to be in that fifth slot when I am playing singles most likely and I like that. I enjoy being out there when the stakes are high. I have been playing the game a lot a long time and it is a lot more exciting to play a match like that than a first round match at a normal event.

Q. Todd, can you talk about the (inaudible) how familiar you are --

JIM COURIER: I will take that first. Pat and I haven't played for a while. But I have had good success against him in the matches that I have played with him. I have never played Lleyton, so I don't really know that much about him.

TODD MARTIN: I have played Lleyton once this year and it was a close match that I won and then with Patrick I have had probably I think close to eight very close matches with him and he has got a couple of legs up on me.

Q. I am sorry for being late. This has all probably been asked before I wanted to ask Pete, I have just spoke to Pat Rafter, the general feeling with the Australians is that they are still surprised you are not playing singles.

JIM COURIER: That hadn't been asked. I am glad you asked that. (laughter).

PETE SAMPRAS: I will say it again. That for the past couple of months after what happened in England I was planning on playing doubles and I wasn't lying to everyone in this room, I wasn't trying to pull your leg and say I was going to play doubles and come here and play singles, so I don't understand the surprise.

Q. It is not my surprise; it is the surprise of the Australians.

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I don't understand why they are surprised.

Q. Tom, doubles could be an important point?


Q. In this case do you feel we are at a bit of a disadvantage in the sense that they have got experienced doubles pairing together and we -- Alex has played a lot of doubles but Pete hasn't. Does he make up for a lot of that because he is No. 1 singles player?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Absolutely. Any time you get Pete on the court --

PETE SAMPRAS: You didn't see me in Dallas with McEnroe? Minnesota?

Q. First two sets.

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Pete can play great doubles and the Australian team happens to be Woodforde and Stolle. They have never played much doubles together either, so I mean, in terms of them playing doubles together, I think it is not like playing the Woodies. This would be Sandon's first experience playing Davis Cup, so I am sure he will be a little nervous playing and then playing against the best singles player in the world, plus Alex is playing great doubles. I like our chances.

Q. Next year, Tom, they are going to change the rules in 2000 that the captain is going to be able to change the lineup on the Sunday of -- (inaudible) no injury whatever, how much of advantage in terms of gamesmanship is that going to have?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: I think the question was next year a free substitution you can play any of the four team members you want. And how much of an advantage is that for the captain. I think it is good. I mean, in every other sport, the coach can put in who they want. In tennis we are restricted by who can play which match. Now next year the captain will have free reign of who is playing, which is the way it should be. If you have a team of four players you should be able to play anybody you want.

Q. Todd you played a tough match with Rafter at Wimbledon. (inaudible) talk about --

TODD MARTIN: I think hopefully it plays out differently for me. I think on a hard court to be able to rely on a consistent bounce is off of his serve, especially, is important for me. And also to be afforded the opportunity to stay back occasionally. I feel like Patrick returns very well; especially he returns my serve very well. When you are serving and volleying to constantly -- that puts you occasionally in a pretty defensive positions. So having the opportunity to stay back on the hard courts occasionally, I hope will benefit me.

Q. This being an historic year, can each of you reminisce about one of your -- a Davis Cup moment, either one you participated in or one you have watched?

TODD MARTIN: Birmingham.

Q. Give me a little more. (laughter)

JIM COURIER: Birmingham, England. (laughter).

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Jim, finish for me, please.


CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Brazil was nice.

PETE SAMPRAS: I will speak up, we can't forget Russia. There we go. For me it was probably Moscow. That was a tough weekend.

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: I think in general you probably remember the away matches a little more because you are fighting a little more adversarial position; you are away from home, you are on the favorite surface of the opponent and you kind of bond together as a team more in the away matches because there is not all the distractions of 55,000 people asking you for tickets and every other thing. So I think at least for me in my six years as captain, the away matches tend to be almost more memorable than the home matches - like our first match in India for example; especially the draw ceremony was very memorable because Todd ripped a whole in his pants so big that he had to patch himself up with a towel in his first Davis Cup tie so that was pretty memorable for too.

TODD MARTIN: I am typically very good at draw ceremonies. (laughter).

Q. Jim, you talked earlier about how you feel like you thrive on playing fifth match, pressured situations. Can you talk about why do you think that is, is that a quality you feel like you have always had even in the juniors or something that you developed over time?

JIM COURIER: It is hard to say why. I think -- yeah ever since I was a kid I have always wanted the ball at the end of the game, if it's kick ball or baseball or whatever, I always wanted to be involved at the end. I guess tennis is no different except that most tournaments you are always involved and Davis Cup is one time where it can fall in your teammates' shoulder and I have had great teammates when I have faultered to get the team through. There has been times when I have picked the team up as well. This is a unique competition. This is basically the one event where we get to help each other out and I like getting the call at the end for whatever reason.

Q. Can you talk about how much of experience with fifth matches can come into play if it comes down to that?

JIM COURIER: It into nice to have experience in the back of your head, but with these matches, every match has its own, really, life and some players tend to play above themselves in those situations and some players tend to play below themselves. Very rarely do you see a player play his normal standard just because of the conditions and being that this is Lleyton's first tie, I don't think any of us in here or Lleyton himself knows how he is going to react until he gets out there. We will obviously all be interested to see.

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Remember the first 11 games against Safin in Atlanta. He was a rookie then too.

JIM COURIER: Having a bad hair day.

Q. Alex, any Davis Cup memories?

ALEX O'BRIEN: Thanks for throwing me a bone, Bud. I'd have to say Birmingham, England too. Even though I lost the doubles match, it was amazing watching these two guys battle out there and especially watching Jim in the final match. Everyone talks about Jim, and Todd played AN unbelievable match as well, and it was an amazing experience for me to see the heart that these two guys showed out there and it was just nice to be a part of that team.

Q. Tom, do you consider this a bold decision by yourself being that if it doesn't work out you (inaudible) --

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: It is our decision. This is it. This is what we are going for. We all feel good about it. I feel good about it. The players feel good about it. If other people don't feel good about it, that is their problem.

Q. Can you give us the timeframe for when you'd actually finally made the decision of when?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Noon today, actually. When I gave Stefan the slip of paper with our lineup on it.

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