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DAVIS CUP - RUSSIA vs USA


April 6, 1998


Jim Courier


ATLANTA, GEORGIA

PAGE CROSLAND: First question.

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Q. Jim, can you describe how you felt when you hit the service winner at match point? Can you remember the last time you had a moment like that?

JIM COURIER: Probably the last time I felt like that was in Brazil last year, actually. To clinch a tie is really a special thing. To do it in the fifth set, whew, it's just basically what you wake up for every day and practice and struggle and fight, just to have the opportunity to be there and see whether you can take the heat or not. Today I came through. So it feels like vindication really for a lot of bad things. Feels like it makes it all worth it.

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Q. Jim, obviously it looked like the guy was playing a little bit better today, maybe Andre can add to that. Seemed to be bringing a different game today than he deteriorate first two days. Nice timing for him.

JIM COURIER: The guy was playing -- first 11 games, I was shell shocked. I didn't know what to do out there. My game was just wasn't matched up to his. He had too much stick for me. I had to start trying something different. At that point I had nothing to lose, he was blowing me off the court. I figured I had to try to change it up a bit. Gully and I were discussing on the changeover what to do. Gully said, "Can you change the pace?" I said, "He's blowing the ball right through me; I'm having a hard time changing the pace." I hit a couple slices, he started going off. I saw he obviously wasn't very comfortable coming to the net, so I was really not worried about giving him a short slice and him coming in, actually I wanted him to.

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Q. I was going to ask, whose idea was it to start the slice? In that ninth game, you sliced it to him, he volleyed it into the net, and from then on it was over. To us it seemed like the match was yours from then.

JIM COURIER: Well, it wasn't quite that simple (laughter). But if you say so, I'm glad you felt it.

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: The key, Jim was mixing the slice. When he had a chance to hit the ball, he had to hit the ball. He had to move the guy. When the guy was set up, he hit the ball very big off both sides. So once Jim mixed the slice and then he hit one and he got him moving, got him a little off balance, that's the only time he would miss is if he was off balance. Good effort.

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Q. You didn't get hurt at the bottom of that pile, did you?

JIM COURIER: A couple knee scrapes from Gully gang tackling me. But it's all worth it, you know. That's what Davis Cup is about. You know, everybody sitting up here played a big part in getting this job done. Everyone got a point out there. Everybody deserves to relish the victory and to be on that pile. You know, we've all made an effort to be here this week. We worked hard going in. Somehow managed to get the job done. You know, there's no better feeling than being at the bottom of that pile. There's a whole lot of love down there (laughter). Only thing I was worried about was Gully slipping me the tongue, because he was looking right at me (laughter). I thought he might go there. I was a little bit concerned.

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: My wife is here this week, so I've been taken care of.

JIM COURIER: Got to be straightforward about that one.

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Q. Was there any advice you gave Jim, Andre, about playing him?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, the conditions in my match were completely different when I played him. You know, it was a real windy day. The guy takes a big cut at the ball, the ball is moving around. I knew he'd make a lot more errors playing that day, on Saturday, than he would with good, fast conditions today, sun, hot. But I just basically told Jim where to look for his best shots, told him to bring, you know, rock out there, show -- remind that kid that he's 18 still. Hopefully he won't get too much older here in this tie.

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Q. Jim, have you ever orchestrated a crowd quite like that?

JIM COURIER: No. Today was my first day as a conductor (laughter). But felt pretty good, actually. There's no doubt that they played a huge role. Because he is 18, he's got a good future ahead of him, but he doesn't have the experience that all of us have, playing Davis Cup ties, playing lots of big matches, five-set matches. You know, I felt like they had to rattle him a little bit. You just have to use every advantage that you have to try to get the job done out there, within the rules of the game. They didn't do anything during the points, but in between the points, the crowd was outstanding. They were everything we wanted them to be.

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Q. How unusual is it to win a tennis match after losing the first ten games? Any of you ever done that before?

JIM COURIER: It's unusual. It's against the odds, that's for sure. That's the good news about playing three out of five, is you have an opportunity to turn that around. Somehow we righted the ship out there.

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Jim never stopped believing in himself. We were having some fun out there, smiling a little bit, cracking up. You know, once he started working that variety thing a little bit, I think he felt pretty good about what was going on. The crowd was getting into it. You know, that's the bottom line in Davis Cup: You can't ever stop believing. That's why you have a coach, fans, teammates, because we all believe.

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Q. Jim, you seem to be pretty good luck. Are you available the next time Tom calls?

JIM COURIER: My experience tells me you never talk about a no-hitter. I'm sitting in the dugout, so I'm not going to mention it. Very fortunate, for sure. You don't always play your best, but somehow our teams have always managed to get by. Hopefully that trend will continue. Hopefully I'll start playing a little bit better tennis on the regular tour, make the decision a little bit easier for Gully to select me. But that's up to me.

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Q. Tom, is this going to be a routine for you now, to pick guys up, give them a victory lap around the net?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Well, I probably couldn't pick Todd up (laughter).

TODD MARTIN: I appreciate that.

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: I think I could get the other three. I'll have to check with my chiropractor first.

JIM COURIER: That's just Gully's version of getting jiggity with it.

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Q. Todd, Richey, are you two going to play the rest of the year together, or play just Davis Cup?

TODD MARTIN: I'm not even ranked in the top 200 in doubles, so I have a tough time getting into tournaments. Richey has some commitments with other players, but we've talked about trying to get out on the court a little bit more often with each other. I'm speaking for both of us, but I don't think either one of us want to play week in and week out with each other, or doubles, period in my case. But we'll definitely visit the court together a few more times, hopefully present Gully with a team he can use in the future.

JIM COURIER: What he's really trying to say there is these guys can't stand each other, they're just doing it for the sake of the team. That's kind of like between the lines there (laughter).

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Q. Jim, you talked about getting your game back together after injuries, trying to gather yourself.

JIM COURIER: Well, it's pretty much a matter of confidence. This can only help. Digging in deep out there, finding a way to win, that's just going to hopefully be something I can build on. You know, I've been building my game slowly the last month and a half or so on out on the Tour. Hopefully I can take a lot of good from this, confidence, and move forward.

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Q. You have a new trainer that you're working with for conditioning and so on. Do you find this is helping, having made that change?

JIM COURIER: I'm using Pat Etcheberry. I've used him basically, with the exception of a nine-month stretch, for the last seven years.

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Q. But you moved up to be closer --

JIM COURIER: You're the guy with the newsletter? I don't know where you get your information (laughter). He knows everything about everybody in the game, yeah.

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Q. But he's helping, right?

JIM COURIER: He is the best for me. He suits me the best of anybody. I'm a hard worker. He likes to work guys hard. Obviously, the conditioning work that we've done paid off this weekend. I didn't come through on Friday, but I bounced back from five sets, played another five-setter. I feel if I had to do it again tomorrow, I'd be ready to go. That's why you do all the work.

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Q. Coach, how can a win today help you in the next round?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Well, it gets us to the next round, first of all (laughter). There was a little doubt there.

JIM COURIER: Thanks, Gully.

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Just a little, a little doubt. Obviously, you take one round at a time. I guess we have Belgium in the U.S.A. We're excited about playing another home match, for sure. We're just looking forward to whoever steps up next. We've got the guys to take on anybody, really.

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Q. Andre, a couple hours ago, you were at a low point, you said a win would help erase that. Feeling better now?

ANDRE AGASSI: Definitely. You know, I'm not here for any records; I'm here to get us to the next round. You want to feel like you did what you needed to do. In this case, I did what I needed to do, because we counted on everybody. Had Jim not won that last one, I would have taken it a little bit harder that I couldn't have done a little bit more. It's nice to clench it the way we did. It's about us all kind of working together, a rare time in our sport you get to come together as a team. When you do it in a team-like way, it certainly feels good.

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Q. Jim, on the selection process, do you ever feel like an afterthought? Everybody says that Sampras is a Davis Cup guy, he's not here, you're taking his place.

JIM COURIER: Absolutely not. I mean, Gully's job is to field the best squad that he can. If those guys are playing better tennis than me, he's got to ask them first. Tom and I are extremely good friends. I don't think that's ever been unclear, that he's doing his job. I take no offense at that at all. Having said that, I'm available at all times (laughter).

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Q. Don't you think there's something to be said for loyalty, making yourself available at all times?

JIM COURIER: That's for you guys to write about in the papers. We have our opinions.

TODD MARTIN: Some of them are newsletters (laughter).

JIM COURIER: Right. I think that us being here makes a statement about how we feel about Davis Cup. Other people not being here makes a statement about how they feel about it. You can write into that what I want.

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Q. Gully, Newcombe and Roche took a stance on this, sticking with a squad who would be available from the first tie. How does it influence you in seeing these guys here for the first round? How does it influence you in weighing whether you stick with them for the whole thing or whether you might go back to a Sampras or Chang if they're available?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: You really assess each match individually. Sometimes, you know, you have to look at the surfaces, you have to look at the matchups. If there's a certain match-up, Jim has beaten the guy eight times in a row, obviously Jim would be a great guy to play that match. If Andre has lost to that same guy seven times in a row, he might not be. Although, you never lost to anybody seven times in a row (laughter). I mean, the commitment is what it's all about, what you guys said. These guys are here. I wouldn't hesitate to ask any one of these four players to play in the next round.

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Q. Just a little bit more on the loyalty thing. In the back of your mind, do you ever just sometimes feel when you're trying to pick teams, "The heck with all these phone calls, I'm calling the guys that I only have to call once and we're going to go with it"?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: No. I think, you know, it would be -- that would really simplify the process, for sure. There's a lot to be said for that. There's so many factors that enter into it. It's really not a simple decision. It may appear on the surface to be simple, but it's really not. I struggle with the whole thing, as well. Obviously, all these guys up here are very good friends of mine. They've been loyal to me. I'm a loyal person myself. But on the one hand, you want to, you know, be loyal to the guys who are loyal to you. On the other hand, you want to put the absolute best team out there you possibly can. It's a balance I struggle with a little bit. But, you know, loyalty means a lot to me. That's all I can say.

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Q. Jim, when you won the Australian, you took a little swim. Do you have any big plans tonight? How you going to celebrate?

JIM COURIER: What are the highlights here in Atlanta? What can I do?

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Q. There's no water.

JIM COURIER: No water. Maybe rappel off of Stone Mountain. I don't know. I think --

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: They might chisel you in there.

JIM COURIER: Being here on Monday, I think we're all happy that we got the job done. I think also it's time for us to regroup, too, and kind of get home a little bit. I think the way I'm going to celebrate is by kicking my feet up on the plane.

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: I'll have to pay them for another week if they stay another day.

JIM COURIER: You know how pricey we are.

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Q. Jim, could this be a takeoff point for you, really give you a lot of positive momentum?

JIM COURIER: That's what I'm hoping. I'm trying to milk this as much as I can, for sure. I'll be trying to milk it for the longest time I can do it. I needed a good, tough win like this, under trying conditions, with as much pressure as possible, to be able to come through, kind of give me -- it's like reinforcement that I'm doing the right things. There's been a lot of doubt creeping in because I haven't been playing a whole lot, so this replaces quite a bit of that doubt. I have to build on it. It's like a stepping stone I have to keep building on.

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Q. Briefly, all four, where do you go next? What's your next gig?

ANDRE AGASSI: Couple weeks off, Monte-Carlo.

JIM COURIER: Are you off to jam with Mick and the Stones? Orlando that same week.

RICHEY RENEBERG: Bermuda, Orlando.

TODD MARTIN: Couple days off, Barcelona.

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Easter Bowl, looking at the future. I think we saw it today. This Safin kid, 18 years old. If we could find an American out there, please let there be an American out there that can play like that at 18 years old.

PAGE CROSLAND: Jan-Michael.

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Jan-Michael is 20. He's a good player, but he gets distracted once in a while.

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Q. Jim, you talked about the other day how disappointed you were to lose in a fifth set. What did you find within yourself in that fifth set?

JIM COURIER: Today basically I did what I didn't do on Saturday. I stepped up and played big when I needed to, big in a different way than I had to on Friday, because of the way he was playing. But I stepped up and hit my shots today and went for them and made them. Whether I made them or not, it was the right way to play it. On Friday, I didn't go for the shots. I think maybe that helped me in a way not getting it on Saturday, rather, to come out and do it a little bit better today.

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Q. You talked about being shell shocked earlier. Was there an element of disbelief, "I can't believe this kid is doing this to me"?

JIM COURIER: I've seen him play before. I knew he was capable of hitting the ball that big.

PAGE CROSLAND: Any more questions?

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End of FastScripts....

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