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September 10, 1999

Todd Martin

U.S. OPEN, Flushing Meadows, New York City

USTA: We have the pleasure of Astronaut Dan Barry joining us with Todd Martin. Dan made some remarks about Todd this morning, about his perseverance and how it relates to space endeavors and things of that nature. Todd, we all know about. Does anybody have questions for Dan or Todd?

Q. Dan, were you able to watch Todd?

DAN BARRY: Yes. In fact, that's one of the reasons we're here, because of the match earlier in the week where Todd was down two sets. My wife and I were just watching on television. As the whole match progressed, we're starting to cheer in our basement for this guy who has got grit and determination. And I use Todd as an example of someone who I can talk to kids about. When it comes down to a decision to not let something go, it's something that happens in space flight; it's something that happens in tennis; it's something that happens in all walks of life. It's something, if you can learn how to do it, you're going to be better at whatever you do. Really, the reason that I talked about him this morning was because - I just asked Todd if it would be okay - I'd like to use him and his performance as an example when I go to the schools and talk to kids about space flight, the issue of discipline, never letting go no matter how far down, not getting discouraged. I asked Todd to let me use him as an example, his performance as an example, this week. The short answer is: Yeah, that's why we're here.

Q. How do you feel today?

TODD MARTIN: I feel much better. I feel like I'm over my little bout with whatever I had, hopefully strong and ready to go tomorrow.

Q. Did you have an IV yesterday after the match?

TODD MARTIN: No, no. My vital signs were all pretty good at the end of my match last night.

Q. Todd, does this prove that tennis is rocket science?

TODD MARTIN: No, but sometimes I feel like I'm in outer space. Got that one off (laughter).

Q. When you have persons such as the one sitting next to you, John McEnroe, saying all these great things about you, how inspiring your performances are . . .

TODD MARTIN: It goes straight to my head.

Q. What does it do? Does it inspire you further for the semifinals, or are you embarrassed by it?

TODD MARTIN: Very embarrassed, flattered and honored. It is a little embarrassing. I guess, you know, it's a strange feeling to be receiving the accolades that I am and still having to focus on tomorrow. I'm very excited about tomorrow, but it's nice on a day off to have something, especially a day like today where it's raining out, to have some things to fill my time and meet nice people.

Q. Are they trying to recruit you for after your playing days?

TODD MARTIN: Who says I have to retire to do this?

Q. You always can look forward to something more exciting.

TODD MARTIN: That would definitely probably be more exciting, gee.

Q. Do you think you could handle the G-forces?

TODD MARTIN: Actually, from the way I handle the roller coasters at King's Island, I don't think so, no.

Q. Given that you said the bug that you had is gone and you didn't have to have an IV, do you feel like potentially tomorrow's match you may feel as fresh as you've felt this week?

TODD MARTIN: Yeah, yeah. I would expect to feel better than I did against Greg and Slava. I still think, regardless of how one feels, the most important thing is how they play. You can play well when you feel terribly, and you can play terribly when you feel well. I just need to make sure that my focus is still on my tennis and doing the right things when I have the opportunity to.

Q. You hear some athletes talk about being able to focus better and play better when they're not feeling well, when there's something injured that's not major. Do you put any stock in that at all? Has that happened to you?

TODD MARTIN: I do. I definitely feel like that's the case. I remember Jordan playing in one of the playoff games a couple of years ago where he had the flu, scored 100-some-odd points, made every clutch shot he took. I think it helps. I think it helps to convince you that you have to focus and do the things the right way. And, also, more than anything else, it creates probably a sense of urgency - I have a tough time saying it - but just somehow of channeling all of your energy into one direction and playing within yourself, not letting yourself get carried away. If you're hitting the ball well and you feel great, it's a natural tendency to try to up the ante. When you're not feeling well, even though you're hitting the ball great, I think in your mind you know you don't feel so well and you're not willing to take the risk of trying to play better, especially when you don't have to.

Q. Are you going to eat bad food tonight?

TODD MARTIN: I've developed a head cold, so I'm in good shape for tomorrow (laughter).

Q. Can you analyze both semifinals?

TODD MARTIN: Well, for some reason, they're going to put the showcase match on at 11:00 (laughter). I'm looking forward to it. I think the best thing about it, as soon as I finish, I get to do some things to get myself hopefully ready for Sunday, if I play well, then get to turn the TV on and watch the other match. For as much as I enjoy playing the game, I love to watch it an awful lot. I think Cedric and I, considering how rarely these opportunities come by, I think we're both going to be probably excited, anxious, nervous and very prepared to compete hard. Then for Andre and Yevgeny's match, I think you're going to see two of the very best players go at it. I think the way they match up might make for one heck of a match.

Q. Have you given much thought, consideration to what the Williams sisters have done, what could possibly happen regarding them?

TODD MARTIN: Yeah. I think it's amazing. I think it's an awesome accomplishment to do what they've done. I don't know everything about their history, but I know they haven't come from the same type of background that most of us have. It's quite an example that they've set. More than anything else, just a great achievement.

Q. Talking about awesome achievements, do you think, if you play really well, this could be your weekend and you can win the title?

TODD MARTIN: Well, I'd like to think that I don't even have to play really well in order to do it. In fact, I'm expecting not to play really well. I think the most important thing for me is, regardless of how I'm hitting the ball, do what I can in order to get through the matches. I feel like at the top level of this game, especially, it's a lot more mental than it is physical. If I can do that, then the fact that Andre and Yevgeny and Cedric all look prettier than me on the court won't keep me from doing well.

Q. You think you can win?

TODD MARTIN: Absolutely. In fact, I don't think any of the four of us would be at this point in the tournament if we didn't think we could win. You need a lot of self-belief to be able to progress through a Grand Slam tournament.

Q. You're very self-contained, not given to a lot of displays of emotion. Last night it was like the second coming of Jimbo after the Rusedski match.

TODD MARTIN: Just what I wanted to hear (laughter).

Q. My question is, is there any other place in your life where you're actually able to give vent to emotion like that, or really is this the one place where you're really able to let it go, a place and time like that?

TODD MARTIN: Listen, I don't know many people's lives, or I wouldn't expect many people's lives to have the situation where you lose control in excitement. I feel that's a rare opportunity and a luxury for us to have as athletes, one that I assume when I'm done playing that I won't experience many more times. But I do sort of unreserve myself once in a while, let things go a bit, but not for you guys.

Q. So you're not going to tell us how it manifests itself?

TODD MARTIN: No. I'd have to pull out my dictionary and look up "manifest" first.

Q. Dan, would you have done this for like Pete Sampras, a lesser player?

DAN BARRY: First of all, I'm not sure you can say "a lesser player."

TODD MARTIN: He's calling Pete a lesser player.

DAN BARRY: Is he? Good. Glad to hear that.

Q. I'm kidding, but what brought this about? Were you in town?

DAN BARRY: Yeah. Actually I flew the banner, the USA banner, on board Space Shuttle Discovery in May. That came from a recognition of some of the things that are real similarities, I think, between the tennis world and the space world, for example, a commitment to kids. Most of the talks, most of the venues that I go to are schools because I want to pass on a message to kids that this is something you can do. This going into space thing is for years something people told me I couldn't do. I wasn't willing to give up; I wasn't willing to listen to that. I try to tell kids that message. The association with Todd is simply one of recognizing someone who wouldn't give up. That's something that honestly just occurred this week as we started to watch the matches and recognized some of the players a little more in-depth. As I learned a little bit more about Todd, I just used him -- the reason we're here, I used him as an example this morning.

Q. Do you play tennis?

DAN BARRY: I have. I've played since I was a child. All I play in is in a local Wednesday night league. On the other hand, I'm training for a space flight, and I never miss that Wednesday night. It's an issue of commonality in terms of grit and determination: you're going to make this happen and force your dream to come true.

Q. Was the mission you were just on your first shuttle mission?

DAN BARRY: Actually, it was my second. I flew in 1996 on Endeavor. I sort of think of that mission as almost in some ways a training mission because I did a space walk on day five in 1996 that was oriented toward learning the techniques that I needed to have to be able to build the International Space Station in a subsequent space walk. That's what I did in May, was went outside and started to put together this structure which is going to last for 15 years and start to really teach us what we need to know to be able to fly to Mars, which I'm looking forward to doing as well.

End of FastScripts....

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