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December 3, 1998

Carl-Axe Hageskog


Q. To the captain. I'd love to know if you can tell me the reason of your choice? Why did you choose those two, the reason of choosing those two players for the singles, if you can answer?

CAPTAIN HAGESKOG: I have in my team right now I think five players who could all of them play singles. They are in very good shape. It seems like Gustafsson and Norman, they are ready for this challenge. According to the practice, when we talk together, we have decided to pick these two guys, let them play in singles.

Q. Could you talk a bit about the court surface, how the clay is playing, the speed of it in terms of how it might be compared to other clay courts you see during the year, your general impressions of the conditions of play?

MAGNUS GUSTAFSSON: Well, I think it's great. I definitely prefer to play indoors, as well. Last week when we were practicing in Monte-Carlo, it felt pretty slow. I didn't feel the ball really well. As soon as I got indoors, I mean, I felt right away that this is my surface. I enjoy every second.

Q. And Captain Hageskog?

CAPTAIN HAGESKOG: I don't need to answer because I haven't played on it. I agree with Magnus. It's a good court, medium-fast, yeah.

Q. I want to know from the captain why he choose Norman and not Johansson?

CAPTAIN HAGESKOG: As I told the boys when we came here, we were five players. I told the boys in the beginning of the week it's going to be a sad moment to have to leave one outside the team. But we all agreed we are here to fight, and we had to win the cup together. We have been practicing all week. Finally Anders and myself picked Magnus because his clay court season this year was very good, and we know he's a very good clay court player. That's mainly the reason, he played a little bit better than Thomas in the practice.

Q. Really to either one of the players. The last two Davis Cup finals you've played have been at home. This time it's away. The crowd here is expected to be fairly enthusiastic, to put it mildly. How do you think that might change the circumstances which you've enjoyed in recent years? And where is the most intimidating place you've ever played a Davis Cup match before now?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Okay, I'll take that question. I think in Russia we had a very strong crowd against us. It worked out pretty good. So I think all the guys here have a lot of experience to handle that situation very good. I wasn't in Slovakia, but I heard the crowd was very behind the home team. It seemed like Magnus and Magnus here both did very well. I think we have too much experience to not get into that situation. We're here to win. We take everything in the way to go through that. We are very focused for that.

Q. On CNN this morning, Diego Nargiso was quoted as saying that he expects the court to be made even slower by extra water being put on it. If you find the court okay now, what are your thoughts on that, to any of the players?

MAGNUS GUSTAFSSON: Well, I think it's the same for us as for the Italian team. Put more clay on the court, I don't think it's an advantage for us or not an advantage for them either. If they want to do that, fine. It's up to them. But we just play our tennis. We are so focused on the match, we don't care at this moment.

CAPTAIN HAGESKOG: I might say also that it's the ITF and the referees' job to look after the court so it is the same playing conditions as it has been. It's not in our mind really. It's up to the referee.

Q. Magnus, you've been around on the circuit a long time. This is a pretty big occasion. At your age, if you could excuse the term, your advanced age, what goes through your mind before this match? What does it mean to you to have the chance to play in a final at this point?

MAGNUS GUSTAFSSON: I think two weeks ago, I was doing a little bit too big thing. The last days I relax much more. I think I'm focused that it's going to be two tennis matches. It will make me play much better also. I know now how I will act on the court and outside the court. I think I have the perfect preparation. But you're right, this is a special occasion. I don't think too big about it.

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