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DAVIS CUP - NETHERLANDS vs USA


April 4, 1997


Tom Gullikson


NEWPORT BEACH, CALIFORNIA

Q Tom, Jim has now had three fabulous wins in a couple months time in Davis Cup play. What makes this guy tick?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Well, I think, you know, he got down two sets to Love, but he didn't panick. Certainly didn't lose heart. He didn't panic, and basically what we discussed kind of in the middle of the set, after he lost his serve for about the third out of the four times or something, he went through a stretch there from the first set until like the middle of the second set where he didn't hold serve - hardly at all. And, he just kind of asked me what is happening out here. I said, "Well, it is very simple, you are not getting any first serves in." And, because he wasn't getting any first serves in, he never got any chance to hit any balls. Jim's - obvious trademark of his game is his groundstrokes and to get some rhythm, you need to hit a few balls. And, obviously, I think when they are both at the back, those points certainly favor Jim and that didn't happen enough. I said, "Jim, just get your first serve in. Just kick your first serve in, and start to rally and work the ball to all parts of the court. Don't just play on the backhand, you know, work him around a little bit. And, then take the short ball and dictate and come in and make him pass you. Rather than letting him take the net." So, I think from that point in the middle of the second set for the rest of the match, he only lost his serve once in the fourth set, I believe. And he got it back with a great break. And, certainly, I think, Siemerink had a game point at 3-1 in the fourth and Courier hit an unbelievable running forehand down-the-line passing shot. I think, personally, that was the key point in the match. If Jim missed that is pass, he is down 4-1 in the fourth and two sets to 1. Even though it is only one break, it is still from that point, it was a long road back. And, Jim, you know, showed the heart of a champion and big moments of the match he really stepped up. You know, down matchpoint there 4-5 in the fourth, hits a great first serve, Siemerink dumps a return in the net. Then in the tiebreaker, in the fourth set, he stepped up and ripped some returns. That was probably the best returning portion of his match, that fourth set breaker. So, you know, that is why the guy has won four Grand Slam titles and he has been No. 1 in the world because he doesn't panic; got a big heart and he will step up and hit the ball at the big moments in the match.

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Q After Pete's --

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Does that answer your question? (laughter)

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Q After two successful singles victories, how good do you feel clinching it tomorrow?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: This is my 11th Davis Cup Tie and I know one thing is for certain, nothing is for certain. And, we are going to try to clinch it tomorrow. We certainly would love to clinch it tomorrow. But, I remember the same team was down 2-Love to Romania as well and they came back with three matches and that is why they are here. And, they are not only all great players, but they are great competitors. And, we are not resting at all until we get to that magic number of 3.

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Q Nothing against Stark and Leach, but the Dutch have a fabulous doubles team. What has Jim's win this afternoon meant and where would you have been if he had lost?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: We would have been tied 1-All.

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Q I know that.

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Same place. You know, just maybe a little more pressure on the doubles players, certainly. Being up 2-Love and having Courier and Agassi to back you up, I'd like to take that position.

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Q Considering how windy it was, how impressive was Jim lobbing game?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Yeah, he had -- that topspin lob had dialed in against the wind. He was, you know, I wouldn't say it is an easy shot, but it is an easier shot against the wind. Really, the most impressive shot, was his topspin lob with the wind, toward the end I think it was, the end of the match he hit an unbelievable topspin lob with the wind, which is very difficult to do. So, yeah, Jim has got all the shots and certainly against a guy like Siemerink, who gets fairly close to the net, you know, it is a good play.

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Q Were there patterns in Siemerink's net game that he picked up on as the match went on and on?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: Well, you know, it is really -- basically when you are playing a guy like Siemerink who is a great athlete; got a great lefty serve and volleys extremely well, very quick, you are basically playing shot tennis. You are playing the return, the pass or lob, so you have got to kind of gear yourself up for kind of an emergency situation. You kind of dial 911 and you say, okay, I am in an emergency situation; I got to be intense with my footwork, good return, get on that next ball and try to make a good was or a lob. And, you know, it is pretty intense style of tennis really to play. You have got to be moving well to do it well.

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Q After Pete's wonderful win at the Open this year, you spoke at length about the heart of a champion. Does Jim have that quality too and if so, can you try and describe that quality?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: The heart of a champion. Well, Jim certainly has it, no question. You know, it is just refusal to quit; refusal to kind of get disappointed; refusal to give in; unwavering confidence in yourself. But in Jim's case, certainly, a lot of it comes through preparation. If you don't prepare well, you know, what do they say about the 6 P's or seven P's, prior proper preparation prevents poor performance - there is another one, actually, too, but and Jim is always well prepared, you know, for his matches. He is like a warrior, and when it is time to go to battle, you know, he has put the work in. He worked extremely hard this week in practice on the court, off the court and in the gym. And, he comes to the battle in the. Match he is ready to just leave his heart on the court. And, all those things really go into having the heart of a champion.

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Q One question about Stark. How different a doubles player is he from two years ago in Sweden or is he all that different from two years ago?

CAPTAIN GULLIKSON: I think the big difference in Jonathan is that he is playing with his his regular partner Richey Leach. We have been mixing and matching doubles players, as you all well know, with limited success, and one of the great things about having Stark play with Leach is that you know they have made a commitment to play together all year and minus three losses to the Woodies, who they have run into several times already this year, you know, they are one of the top three or four teams in the world. So, I am more and more convinced you need good chemistry when you are playing big matches and you can only get chemistry with someone by being with them a little bit, whether it is your wife or a doubles partner, it doesn't matter. So, you know, they do have seem to have a good chemistry together.

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