January 13, 2003
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Just go back a couple days, can you tell us how your success in Sydney was greeted back in Seoul?
HYUNG-TAIK LEE: Ever since he won against Juan Carlos Ferrero, it's been atmosphere like World Cup a couple months back. The media has been covering him just about all day, doing interviews over the phone and stuff. So it's been almost crazy back home.
Q. How big will the match against Agassi be back home? To play Agassi, will that be the biggest of all back home?
HYUNG-TAIK LEE: A lot of people are expected that match, when the draw first came out. So it's gonna be the biggest match for him for the past two weeks.
Q. Does he give himself any chance in beating Agassi, considering his form?
HYUNG-TAIK LEE: By ranking, he wasn't supposed to win from the first round from Sydney, so he can't really expect what's gonna happen. He was supposed to lose first round Lapentti, until the finals. He says another thing is the match still need to be played, find out who's going to be a winner.
Q. Does he think he's living in a dream?
HYUNG-TAIK LEE: He hasn't -- it hasn't hit home yet, so to speak, because he's away from home and all. So it hasn't really hit him yet, to answer your question.
Q. Was he well-known in Korea before the last week?
COACH HEE JUNE CHOI: He was well-known, not as big as it's been the last eight days or so.
Q. Any examples of the sort of interest ? You talked about "crazy" things have been happening. Has he been followed by Korean media? Are they around all the time?
COACH HEE JUNE CHOI: Well, one just came. They've been covering. In Korea they don't really cover live broadcast tennis matches when he's playing on the tour. Is first time, I think, since when he played Sampras at 2000 US Open.
Q. What do you think the impact is - also Paradorn as well - but that you have had on tennis in Asia?
HYUNG-TAIK LEE: Paradorn's success has sparked the interest of tennis in Asia. He thinks he's going to be a part of it as well, not just Thailand and Korea, but other country as well in Asia.
Q. When tennis first came back to the Olympics it was in Seoul. Does he remember any of that? Was that in any way a very early incentive for him?
HYUNG-TAIK LEE: He was very young at the time, and at that time there was no one on the tour play professional, so he didn't have anybody to look up to. He didn't think there was any kind of possibility that any Korean can go out and play professional tennis. So, I mean, the Olympic was too far from him, you understand what I'm saying? It wasn't really...
Q. You were telling us last week that there was a teacher at his school that first prompted him to play. I wonder whether the timing of that had to do with the timing of the Olympics.
COACH HEE JUNE CHOI: He was older. He wasn't in primary school at that time, at the Olympic time. Is that what you're asking?
Q. The school where he first started to play.
COACH HEE JUNE CHOI: I'm sorry, I missed your question then.
HYUNG-TAIK LEE: I think he's adding to your question about Olympics. At that time, around the 1988, Davis Cup was the biggest thing. He says he's still adjusting to being in the tour full-time, so he didn't really have anybody to learn from or someone telling what the tour is like. So he's sort of almost like a frontier for Korean.
Q. Could you tell us if perhaps in Korea the Korean media will build up the game, the match with Agassi, into something more given the current political situation between Korea and the United States, if they'll give it some extra meaning perhaps, and whether that would be a distraction?
HYUNG-TAIK LEE: He think there's no relation between the political issue and Andre and his match. But he knows because of the North Korean issue, people have been down, the economy has been not quite as good, and he hopes that it will spark up the -- cheer up people maybe.
Q. Paradorn spoke about Michael Chang and his inspiration in his career. Was it similar?
HYUNG-TAIK LEE: He also inspired -- Michael also inspired him, just like Paradorn did. But he also played Michael a number of times -- once. So they give him a lot of inspiration so that Asians can actually go out and play the top level of tennis.
Q. Is Lee friends with Paradorn, are they close?
COACH HEE JUNE CHOI: Yeah, they are very close, yeah.
Q. What is the best thing about their friendship? Do they just talk about tennis, or do they talk about things outside of tennis?
HYUNG-TAIK LEE: Because they only two Asians, just by being Asian, they are close to each other. You know, some time they have dinner together maybe. But just being Asian, we talk a lot, we practice a lot together.
Q. What language do they have in common?
COACH HEE JUNE CHOI: Language? English. It has to come from me. I'm sort of like official translator, like I am now (smiling).
End of FastScriptsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.