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July 18, 1999

Tom Gullikson


Q. Could you just take us through the timeline, what happened this morning, up to the beginning really have the match?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: I think Todd Martin took you through that. I read his press transcript.

Q. Well, just what was your recollection of it and?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Exactly the same as Todd's.

Q. Your reaction to what the neutral doctor was saying that he in fact was fit to play?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Well, obviously that is his opinion. I wasn't happy about it but we played and Todd played very well and he took an I.V. before the match so he could get out and play. I thought he played a heroic match.

Q. Did you feel his health was in danger?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Possibly. I am not a doctor, so I couldn't say for sure. But who knows. Our doctor didn't feel that Todd was ready to play. But we were out there. We played the match and the Aussies played a great match.

Q. The last four games in the fifth set do you think Todd lost his legs at that point?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Yeah, I mean, he was returning serve unbelievably well, really. In the fifth set, breaking twice and being up, I think, what, 3-1 and 4-2. Those were critical service games and Rafter really, I must say, now I know why he has won the US Open twice. He really, when he was -- his back was on the wall. He made every return in both of those games and he made Todd play a lot of shots. Todd forced a few serves and missed a couple of volleys. Patrick hit a couple of good shots. He got the break back. Certainly that was the key to the match.

Q. Looked like at 4-1 in the first set you were very concerned about Todd. Looked like you asked him -- did you ask him if he wanted to go on?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Yeah, well, he was -- obviously he started out the match well, but he looked like he was almost hyperventilating and he was almost -- he was showing so much emotion, he was almost losing control of himself on the court. So I wasn't sure if it was a physical thing or emotional thing, and he reassured me at the changeover at 4-1 I said, Todd, can you go on. Are you okay? And he reassured me that it was more emotional than physical. But I was obviously very concerned.

Q. Did all of the speculation from the previous day about the potential of replacing Todd do you think that might have planted a seed of doubt in neutral doctor?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Well, I have no way of knowing what is in the neutral doctor's mind, but I can tell you that I didn't call Sampras until 11:30 this morning. If we would have been trying to cheat as -- or whatever, he would have already hit and had eight rackets strung and been ready to play. But I called him at 11:30 this morning and he had no idea what was going on. I said Pete, Todd is not feeling well. He is not feeling well after practice. You might have to play. He said you are kidding. He thought I may be joking around. I said no, I am dead serious, you need to get over here because I don't think Todd can play. That phone call was made about 11:30 this morning.

Q. Last night Todd was saying that he had a discussion with you and that he was a little bit disappointed about any speculation that he might not play. What was the nature of that discussion?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Well, I believe you might have asked him the question, right?

Q. I did.

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Okay, so that question came from you.

Q. It did?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: That planted the seed in his mind. I was certainly going to talk to him that night to see if he was okay, but you beat me to the punch. We had a nice conversation that night and he assured me he was healthy and ready to play. I said, good. You are on. You are playing.

Q. With respect, though, Gully, you told us that you felt he was (inaudible) before you spoke to him?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Well, you saw the match Friday, did you think he was fit? Is that Todd Martin's tennis making 79 unforced errors in four sets and totally collapsing. He was absolutely exhausted, physically, mentally, that is not Todd Martin tennis. At least I have been watching him play for ten years now and that is not the way he plays tennis.

Q. Did you think that the neutral doctor gave a thorough enough exam?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Well, it was more, you know, I don't think it was really ever an exam. I think he just kind of asked him a few questions. I wasn't in there when he was supposedly examining him. I can't say. But I think it was more based on maybe him just looking at Todd. I really don't know. Like I said, I wasn't in the room when he was examining him or whatever he was supposed to be doing.

Q. In the end do you feel like Todd more or less played--

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Todd played great. All this extra stuff going on, I think getting to the tennis part, I thought Todd certainly exceeded certainly how I thought he could play. I really -- when we started the match I wasn't sure if he could ever finish the match. To get up two sets was unbelievable and then Rafter made a good comeback and in the -- the fifth set was just Todd giving it his all and Pat playing great to come back. I mean, I thought it was under the circumstances, I thought it was great tennis from Todd, no question about it.

Q. Would you say there is no reason to second guess the neutral doctor--

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: I am not second guessing anybody. I just want to come here and play tennis and compete and go home win or lose.

Q. It is easy to have 20/20 hindsight, but in the future, if a player came to you and would say I will play, but only doubles. After all this would you say either you are on the team or not?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Next year it is not a worry. I mean, next year you can play anybody you want. So ITF made a good ruling there I think for the benefit of Davis Cup that the captain's hands aren't tied; he can play whoever he wants to, so I don't think that will be a problem in the future.

Q. Hypothetically if you have this same thing that goes on next year winning first round, suddenly say someone like Agassi comes up to you and says, gee, I want to play, realistically one of the two best playes (inaudible) what would happen in that scenario?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Well, I think my job as captain is to poll the players before the year starts and see if they are committed to Davis Cup. In the past we have always wanted to have -- we have got a lot of good players in the US so they don't have to play every round with you. You would like to have them play at least first or second round to help get us to the semis. I would poll the players -- all the players to see what their availability is for next year. I would never put a player in for example just in the Finals. Michael Jordan always played in the first couple of two, three rounds of the NBA playoffs. He didn't tell Phil Jackson, listen, I will show up in the finals if you get there.

Q. Sampras didn't show up in the first round.

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Correct. Not at all. He came in the second round.

Q. He wasn't there in the first round.


Q. Michael Jordan --

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: I just mentioned the finals. There is three rounds before the finals. So I just said -- what I said was, you know, I like the players to help us out in the first or second round to get to the semis, you know, and then hopefully get to the Finals. I don't want a guy coming in in the finals, for example.

Q. Would you accept conditions again, such as players?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: I probably wouldn't. I think in retrospect I have had a little time to reflect on it after the match and certainly if you are on the team you are on the team, absolutely. That is what I would do in hindsight.

Q. What is your whole feeling that you take away from this? Crazy weekend, the whole thing leading up to it and then of course losing, what is your whole feeling?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: It has been a challenging week, no question about it. Maybe it is a character builder, I don't know. But hopefully we learn from these lessons and go on. I mean, I thought the Australians, you know, all the other stuff aside, I thought the Australians played very good tennis. I was very impressed with it. Rafter is solid, as we knew he would be and the doubles team gave us a good fight and before we pulled it out in the fifth set. Bottom line really is for me the Aussies just played better tennis than we did this weekend, period.

Q. Feel kind of drained by the while experience?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: I have probably felt more fresh - yeah, thanks.

Q. Can you tell us about the decision to substitute Alex in the last rubber?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Yeah, Jim actually is hurt a little bit. He tweaked his leg muscle and he has not been 100% this week at all. But obviously if it came down to a fifth match he would be out there battling on one leg if he had to. Obviously pretty much the match is already in the history books, and Alex is ready to play and --

Q. In the end do you think that there was just a lot of pressure on Todd to try and do things that extra things?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: No. Not really. I think all the guys want to play well. They all want to go out and play their best tennis every match. Regardless of the peripheral things that are going on, I think all these guys are professional. They can kind of focus when they need to focus and just get on the court and try to do their job in between the lines. Todd is great at it. Todd is very good at it. We had a good chat last night and we revolved any difference that is we might have had. We are still friends. He still likes me. He is still going to give me like two aside on the golf course or something.

Q. Have you ever had a more frustrating situation in your career?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Yeah, when I used to play doubles with Tim, he would always miss returns on breakpoint and he is not here to defend himself. But Tim, thanks. Yeah, it has been a little bit of a frustrating week, sure. There is no question. But you got to play the cards you are dealt with, really.

Q. I not sure -- when do you go back and play again?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Next year. 2000.

Q. Sampras given you a commitment for all of next year?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Well, you know, Pete did say he was committed to Davis Cup. Now, before this tie he said he was committed for the rest of this year. Obviously we were still hoping to think about this year. I haven't really given 2000 a thought except for maybe New Years Eve possibly.

Q. Has Pete said anything to you about reflecting on how this all went?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: No. Pete has repeatedly said he is just happy to be here. He has said that a few times. In hindsight, I am happy he is here. I certainly -- I think to have him on the team can certainly add to the team but obviously made for a lot of speculation this week in your eyes and a lot of other peoples' eyes. But I think any time you can put Sampras on a tennis court, you know, preferably singles but even doubles, it is a plus. I think just to get Pete back in the Davis Cup fold, I think it is not only important for the American Davis Cup team, but obviously tennis worldwide. To have the best player on the planet playing Davis Cup is great for Davis Cup.

Q. What about Agassi, any movement on that?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: I haven't talked to Andre -- well, I did talk to him at Wimbledon a little bit. I try not to intrude with my Davis Cup, you know, thoughts when the guys are playing at Grand Slams, especially the guys that have a chance to win it. So we had a couple of nice chats there, but he just kind of asked me a couple of questions really about Pete playing doubles in Davis Cup and stuff. Maybe he was looking for a partner, I don't know.

Q. (inaudible) four weekends out of 52. Frustrating, look at a team, Australia brings their best players. Almost every other team brings their best player; yet the US has a fight to get -- must be frustrating for you....

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Yeah, in a word. Sure. I think recruiting is -- it is a real challenge, no question about it. I wish I had more creative ways to get everybody on the team. To get everybody on the same page. I can assure you it is not from lack of effort on my part, and the USTA's part. I think we are all trying to do our part to make all the Americans feel that they should be proud to represent the US in Davis Cup and we are trying to promote those feelings throughout our whole USTA program.

Q. Do you think the whole celebration here and the fact that Sampras played and the controversy do you think this will raise the visibility of tennis in the (inaudible) --

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: I hope it does. I was really hopeful that we would win this tie obviously and keep this momentum for American tennis going; that we started in Birmingham and then Agassi followed up at the French and then Sampras and Agassi in the final, Wimbledon and Lindsay Davenport winning Wimbledon. And we would have won this tie, I think the momentum would have kept going a little more. But hopefully just the renewed interest in this tie and it was a great tie and it was great playing Australia. If we have to lose to somebody, certainly the Aussies have a great tradition in Davis Cup. Hopefully it will keep renewing the interest in Davis Cup in the US.

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