April 3, 1999
BIRMINGHAM, GREAT BRITAIN
Q. More exciting this way, isn't it?
TOM GULLIKSON: Well, for the fans.
Q. You always play the left court.
ALEX O'BRIEN: Yes, I do.
Q. That was the choice?
TOM GULLIKSON: Yes. That's where he's been playing a lot.
Q. When did you change your mind or did you change your mind on players?
TOM GULLIKSON: Well, we did, actually. Todd's condition is better than we had all hoped it would be, and he obviously played well against Rusedski in singles, and had a short match. Jim was out there for over four hours, and we wanted to try to clinch this thing today and felt this was our best team.
Q. Is your health still good?
TODD MARTIN: I felt fine today.
Q. First set you were playing extremely well, although you had -- except for a couple of break points.
TODD MARTIN: Three all.
Q. You looked like the best team in those sets.
TODD MARTIN: That's why we play five sets.
Q. Is there anything that swung the momentum?
TODD MARTIN: I thought we played one great game, on their serve, and Tim, I think maybe double faulted, and also missed a makable volley, and then from there we had chances here and there, but I thought both of them served pretty well, especially Greg. I think the most important thing is they both volleyed very well. The first time we got broken in the second set at 5-6, I think, I missed a couple of easy volleys on Alex's serve, and that never really happened on their serves. And if there was a return that didn't accomplish something, it was knocked off immediately by them, and I just don't feel we had the same presence in that as they did.
Q. How did you see it, Alex?
ALEX O'BRIEN: I think it was pretty similar to what Todd was saying. It was just a match where you have to go out there and battle and hope you get a chance here and there, because both of them were serving well, and we did the best we could do battling out there. And I think it's quite a compliment to Todd to come out. He never really plays doubles, and to come out and play as well as he did, I don't think he'd be personally happy with how he played out there today, but I thought he played really well. It's tough to come out there and take half the court, and doubles is a different game. And we haven't played together that much, but I felt like we gave it a great shot, and tried to get our chances, and they served better and like Todd said, volleyed a little more solid than we did.
Q. Did it boil down to giving Jim more rest after that four hour match?
TOM GULLIKSON: Yes, obviously. Two things: First of all Todd returned fantastic yesterday, some of the best returning that I've ever witnessed as a player or a coach. We thought maybe the switch would -- when Rusedski saw Todd again it would be like a recurring nightmare for him, and Todd could find that same level of return today in the doubles that he found yesterday in the singles against Greg. So we wanted to shock them a little bit, bring the big fellow out of the closet and I think we did that the first set. And we just couldn't keep that momentum up.
Q. There's no reason to suspect any change of personnel for tomorrow?
TOM GULLIKSON: I wouldn't think so.
Q. How do you go about tomorrow?
TOM GULLIKSON: We try to win one more point, basically. That's the drill. And we've got two great guys going for us; Todd stepping up first against Henman.
ALEX O'BRIEN: And we get fired up tonight, get ready to roll tomorrow, that's what we'll do.
Q. Is there any hope for having a doubles team for the United States again?
TOM GULLIKSON: Bud, who have you been playing with lately?
TODD MARTIN: There's an attire requirement, we have to wear shoes on the Tour.
Q. That let's me out.
TOM GULLIKSON: I think Alex is playing great. I think the problem is you've got to get the guys to play together on the Tour. And Davis Cup is potentially four weeks a year, if you play well as a team, and these guys have to make a living the other 48 weeks a year, and Alex happens to play very well with Lareau, the Canadian, although you'd like to see Americans playing together, you can't dictate that, and they do need to make a living, as well.
ALEX O'BRIEN: I think -- at least I'm trying to make a commitment to playing with more Americans in all tournaments, because I don't play with Lareau every week, and Davis Cup is my main priority. So for me it's a goal of mine, and an honor of mine to be picked for the team. So I try to play with as many Americans as I can. I hope I can play with Todd, if his health is okay, if he has a chance here or there.
Q. Are you willing to do that? Guys who are high ranked in singles seem to have forgotten about doubles.
TODD MARTIN: I certainly haven't, it's my preference to play doubles. But if you're struggling to get through a tournament in singles, the last thing you're supposed to be doing is saying, well, let's go out and play another couple of hours. So my situation this year, I've already had to renege on about three or four commitments in doubles, one of which was with or was tentatively with Alex in San Jose, and it -- I'd be of no use here if I would have been playing doubles this whole time, because I think I would have made the injury worse. I thoroughly enjoy playing doubles, but it's not a thing that we need to play week in and week out. I think just give ourselves a chance to be on the court together a little bit more often.
ALEX O'BRIEN: And maybe those balls wouldn't have made it through the middle today.
TODD MARTIN: Not to mention the balls that made it through the middle, except for some that almost hit me in the left hip, were pretty good volleys.
Q. So you played more than seven hours today and yesterday --
TODD MARTIN: I think you got me confused with the British guy.
Q. You played enough, and today you played a lot. How is the abdominal muscle standing up, any twitches?
TODD MARTIN: I know I've used it, but it doesn't hurt. As long as that's the case I feel very good. And a lot depends on how I feel tomorrow morning when I wake up. That's the seven or eight hours that I sleep probably will do as much damage to it as playing for four hours.
Q. In no way approaching South American standards, were you surprised to see a British crowd getting so G'd up as they were?
TOM GULLIKSON: No, you love to play in front of packed houses, and they were great supporters for their team, which they should be.
ALEX O'BRIEN: I don't think that was anywhere near South American standards.
Q. That's what I say, well short of that.
ALEX O'BRIEN: My debut was in Brazil, and this was a very fair crowd and it was a fun atmosphere, and I thought it was just a lot of fun to be out there on the court and participate in that match.
Q. But by British standards that was quite excessive.
TOM GULLIKSON: Yes, extremely rude. (Laughter.)
Q. Todd, did you lobby at all to play last night or did you say I'm available if you want me to go?
TODD MARTIN: I would never say a lobbied, I definitely brought up the issue. I said Gully, if you'd like me to play, I'm happy to. And then we sat -- the four of us sat down together, and discussed who felt best, and what our idea for the weekend was, and our idea was to give ourselves the three best chances to win the tie. And I think with Alex and I out there today, two guys who return pretty well and serve pretty well, was putting a good foot forward and it's just important now that Jim and I do our best job tomorrow and see if we can't squeak it out.
Q. Todd, Tim's been on court for best part of seven and a half hours -- is there any way you could possibly take advantage of that tomorrow, and try and get him running around a bit more to tire him out?
TODD MARTIN: I think if it were a claycourt I could probably set up and spin the ball a little more and hit some angles, but this court is pretty quick, and it's not necessarily my style of play. So my idea is not to beat him by fatiguing him, just to beat him.
Q. Do you have any other prospects to play with you in getting a regular partner?
ALEX O'BRIEN: Well, I've played a little bit --
TODD MARTIN: I'll play with you anytime you want.
ALEX O'BRIEN: There it is. I play a little bit with Jerry Palmer.
Q. He's back in business.
ALEX O'BRIEN: He's playing well. And I don't know, I'll just be in touch with Gully and kind of see who he thinks that I should play with and I'm there. I'm ready to go, whoever -- and hopefully Todd will get this stomach thing -- I've been working on him with doing some sit-ups every night, I come in his room and get him do a few sets of sit-ups, he'll be strong soon.
Q. If you have a partnership of high quality, two players who are not backup with singles, would you go with them or feel too vulnerable on the singles front?
TOM GULLIKSON: If we had a guaranteed point, we would take the risk. That was one of the things we brought up with the captains meeting down in Australia, we proposed the idea of a five man team, because really in Davis Cup you're trying to present the best possible product to the public, and if you had a five man team, you could have two doubles specialists playing doubles and you could have the fifth guy as a backup or reserve singles player, and you'd have the best of both worlds, you'd have singles protection, if one of the singles players got hurt, and doubles specialist, who might play doubles every week, and really be your best doubles player.
Q. Until that happens, you're obviously having to say to Alex, play with a guy who can play singles?
TOM GULLIKSON: Well, that's more or less the truth.
Q. What happened to that suggestion?
TOM GULLIKSON: Like all good suggestions, it seemed to fall on deaf ears. I know this is the captains from the World Group, World Group captains only, and I really think most of us thought it was a very good idea. I proposed it, but I think everybody thought it makes sense.
Q. Why didn't somebody push it forward as a proposal for the AGM?
TOM GULLIKSON: We did. It goes to the --
Q. It goes to Davis Cup?
TOM GULLIKSON: I don't know the semantics of it, it goes to the ITF, Davis Cup committee, and sometimes they frown on certain things that we suggest, and then if they want to propose it, they propose it. Politics is interesting.
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