April 21, 1999
ATP: Questions, please.
Q. So you still love playing on this stuff just as much?
GREG RUSEDSKI: Oh, I love it (laughter). It's a tough day to come out and play your first match on clay when the two prior days have been hot and sunny, the court has been playing fast too. To come out on it this slow and wet, it's always going to be tough. Jiri has had three matches already before. He's playing some good tennis.
Q. What is the most difficult thing you find on clay?
GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I think you've got to change your shots a little bit. You can't be as flat and hit the ball as aggressive if it's not that warm, so you have to loop and change the pace, you have to mix it up a little bit more, just getting your movement down and your serve. It's a combination of things. You don't get as many free points. It's just working the game I think, just believing you can do well on the clay. I think it's really hard with all the clay court specialists, guys that are out there.
Q. But you obviously have a good game, you can play good tennis on most surfaces. Do you think it's partly psychological, someone has to convince you you can do well on this?
GREG RUSEDSKI: I don't think it's that. It's my first week on clay this week, coming off of a holiday.
Q. We joked about it last year, didn't we?
GREG RUSEDSKI: I'm going to my favorite week in Hamburg, where I won a match in my last tournament.
Q. Hopefully it won't snow.
GREG RUSEDSKI: I'm ready to start a roll there (laughter). I don't know what it is about clay. I've always struggled on it, especially on the red clay courts here. I think under the conditions, we're seeing some really quick and strange results. Clavet played well against Enqvist, Kafelnikov lost the first set 6-1. You have some really strange results going on. For me, I don't think there's anything strange with me losing on clay. That's pretty normal. There's always next week. Just keep on working on my game. I think I can be more aggressive, serve-and-volley, just attack the ball more, just work on my game to use it for my preparation for my grass court more than anything. I don't think I'm going to be one of those players that's going to go out and win the French Open. If anybody puts any money on me to win the French Open, they should be shot (laughter).
Q. In your more jocular moments, you say you might even just miss the whole of the clay court season, get on the grass early. Is that just jocular or is that a serious consideration?
GREG RUSEDSKI: No, I think it's a little bit jocular. I'll think about it in the future. Rafter hasn't started the clay court season yet. He's taking a bit of a rest. It's really difficult to do well. You need some good draws, you need the weather to be warm for you. You need a combination of a few things to work well for you. What do I have to lose? These are the weeks I come into where I'm not really expected to win. I might as well give them a chance anyway. Who knows, maybe I'll surprise myself one of these years.
Q. How did you make the final at Palm Springs?
GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, it was warm, it was fast, and it was like a hundred degrees every day, so everybody was passing out and I was fresh.
Q. Do you believe, as Tim does, if you actually work hard on clay, even if you don't get the results, it can benefit you on other surfaces?
GREG RUSEDSKI: Definitely I think it can help. I should have taken a little off my serve and serve-and-volleyed a little bit more so I could work my movement forward. Sven and I had a chat about it. Hopefully next week I'll improve. I can't get any worse, but I think I can get better. That's one way to look at it.
Q. Do you enjoy it or is it in purgatory?
GREG RUSEDSKI: A bit in purgatory, to be honest with you. I don't really enjoy the clay that much. I mean, it's nice to have a hit on and to walk on and everything like that. But for tennis, my style of game, it doesn't seem to do that much for me. Who knows. I just go out there and do my best. It's pretty difficult.
Q. Are you resigned to the fact that you'll never get a great run at a clay court tournament? Is it a question of keep plugging away?
GREG RUSEDSKI: It's just keeping on going out there. I just came from indoors in the Davis Cup. It's always a tough transition, since I hadn't played for a little while. It's not the easiest surface to transition to. Just keep on working on it. If things go well, they go well. If they don't, they don't.
Q. Even though they went away, did it take a while to get that last match out of your system in the Davis Cup?
GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, it was disappointing because we should have won the tie. It was a tough match to lose.
Q. You've obviously spoken to David about where you want to play the next one. What are your thoughts on that?
GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I think probably somewhere indoors, relatively fast court, because in September we never know what the weather's going to be like. They're very good on grass. Ferreira won Queen's Club, Stafford has beaten Sampras once or twice on the grass. So indoors for us somewhere. If it's back in Birmingham, that will be great. Hopefully we'll have the same support and a different result for them this time if it's there.
Q. Next year, of course, you can't get out of playing these tournaments even if you wanted to on the Super 9 clays?
GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, all I can say to that is let's make a Super 9 on grass then.
Q. The one thing about this, it's been mentioned before, you might not get results on clay courts, but you can get good conditioning that will see you right maybe later on.
GREG RUSEDSKI: Exactly. I'm just looking at this for preparation for grass court season. Because realistically, I mean, I have as much chance of winning the French Open as seeing a UFO land today. Realistically, I don't really think that it's going to happen, so I just use it as preparation, just get my fitness in, get stronger, work on my game, then use it towards my grass court game where I can be aggressive and attacking all the time. Hopefully that will benefit me when I come into grass court season. I feel relatively fresh and really ready to go. So that's the positive side of it.
Q. But you will still go and play Roland Garros, won't you, whereas some Brazilians or Argentineans or Spaniards won't even bother to go to Wimbledon?
GREG RUSEDSKI: No, exactly. I mean, there's only a month of grass court season, while you can play clay every single week of the year, especially when the new calendar in the year 2000, there's a lot more clay spread out throughout the season. At least I go out there, give it an effort. I embarrass myself on some occasions, I look good on others. Unfortunately it goes the wrong way for me sometimes. I I'll just go out there and work. Hamburg is another week, hope for the best.
Q. Are you bearing in mind that all the Super 9's, all the political maneuvering that's going on at the moment, that there isn't a Super 9 on grass? You have a Grand Slam, but you have three Super 9's on clay in the space of a month.
GREG RUSEDSKI: Exactly. I mean, I think -- I don't really like the new system that's coming out. The problem I have with it realistically, if someone gets injured, like for example last year at Wimbledon I had an injury and I would have had three zero pointers because I would have had one point at Wimbledon, a zero pointer at Cincinnati, I would have had a zero pointer at Toronto and no chance to make up for them. With the new system, in my situation, it would have been terribly damaging with no chance of even getting back to the Top 10.
Q. Do you see that there is a venue that it would be possible to play a Super 9 on grass?
GREG RUSEDSKI: Well, I don't think they'd ever do it, but it would be nice if they at least put one on. But the timing of it is the difficult part, getting the venue, as you say. I nearly made it to Thursday. What happened? It had to stop raining (laughter).
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