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DAVIS CUP - SWEDEN vs USA


November 29, 1997


Carl-Axe Hageskog


GOTEBORG, SWEDEN

Q. Nicklas, last year of course the final was a very traumatic final for you. This year you and Jonas have won the Davis Cup for Sweden. How are you feeling?

NICKLAS KULTI: It feels great, especially from what happened last year. I mean, it's such a great feeling to come back to win it this year. It feels great.

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Q. Jonas, you just capped a brilliant year. How are you feeling about the win today and about your year in general?

JONAS BJORKMAN: How I feel (laughter)?

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Q. Yes.

JONAS BJORKMAN: Easy question. Perfect. Can't feel much better. Everything has been going much better than I was hoping when I started this year. So it's just an incredibly nice feeling to sit here.

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Q. Coach, how do you feel about the win?

CAPTAIN HAGESKOG: Fantastic. When I see I have all the boys around me, they have done a fantastic year. It's an honor to be a captain of this team. Thank you.

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Q. How big an advantage is it for you - question for Jonas or Nicklas - to have a doubles team that play a lot together, instead of Americans which always have to make a combination for each tie?

CAPTAIN HAGESKOG: To play the Davis Cup, you have to have a good doubles team. And we have that. Of course, it's great. They also are good singles players. So, yeah.

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Q. Jonas, you were ranked 69 in the rankings last year. This year he's up in the ranking. In which respect or aspect has he improved on? What training did he have?

CAPTAIN HAGESKOG: I think he has improved a lot, together with his coach. They made a fantastic job this year. Jonas has a much better serve now. His forehand has improved. His movement on the court. And also mentally, Jonas is great on the court right now.

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Q. Jonas, you kept talking to your partner Nicklas all the time. What made you do that? What did you talk about?

JONAS BJORKMAN: (laughter).

CAPTAIN HAGESKOG: Don't tell them.

JONAS BJORKMAN: We talk a lot about where we're going to put the serve and the returns. Then we are pushing each other a lot. That's about it.

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Q. Tomorrow you have two singles matches to play. How much motivation are you going to have tomorrow? Would it be exciting to finish it 5-Love or do you not care; are you just going to have fun?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, it wouldn't be too bad to beat the Americans 5-Love. I think that will hurt them a lot. Definitely it's something to try and hopefully make.

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Q. Are you disappointed, Jonas, you didn't get a chance to play Pete Sampras one last time this year?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, it could have been a good finish to finally beat him after losing I don't know how many times it is. But definitely it would have been nice.

A win is a win, no matter who it is against, it's a nice feeling.

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Q. Jonas, I'll ask this to all you guys: Did you ever have doubts about playing Davis Cup? Do you ever think the schedule is too tough, as some of our guys do?

JONAS BJORKMAN: No. I mean, we done well in the last couple years. Since that, you always put the plans with the schedule, with the Davis Cup in it. So when I'm starting my year, I put the Davis Cup weeks in. If we not manage to make it, then I see what I do with it. So from the beginning, it's in the schedule. It's your priority, is that correct?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, yeah, more or less. It's the same plan like towards all the other tournaments. You put the Davis Cup into your own schedule with the ATP Tour events.

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Q. Only two of you are playing tomorrow. The other guys are going to celebrate hard tonight (laughter).

CAPTAIN HAGESKOG: They have a tough job on the bench (laughter). We celebrate tomorrow evening.

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Q. Also Sweden won from '83 ten times in the final. What is the secret of this success? Can someone answer for this question?

CAPTAIN HAGESKOG: The secret behind it is we have a good organization in Swedish tennis. The clubs are doing a great job. We are a small country, so tennis is popular. So all the kids, they want to play tennis. Another secret is that we have always a good team, good players.

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Q. Thomas, quickly, how disappointed are you, or are you disappointed that you didn't play this weekend?

THOMAS ENQVIST: Well, you can't be disappointed when you won 3-Love. I'm proud to have the guys the way they were playing today, yesterday. I'm very happy.

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Q. How are you feeling for this coming year?

THOMAS ENQVIST: Well, hopefully we can do well in Davis Cup. I'm looking forward to being part of the team.

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Q. What about you personally, your tennis? You had a rough year.

THOMAS ENQVIST: I had a really tough year. Going to do my best to play well and get back.

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Q. This is for Carl. Before the match began, what did you think? If you had to give a percentage, what percentage do you think your team had of winning? 50/50? 60/40? How did you see it in private?

CAPTAIN HAGESKOG: I saw it about 50/50 -- 70/70 (laughter). It's five open matches, as I saw it. We were tough for the first three.

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Q. When Swedish players are growing up, Carl, what do you think is the biggest inspiration? Is it seeing their individual players winning big titles around the world? Or is it the Davis Cup, is that the big thing which gets all your players going from the earliest age?

CAPTAIN HAGESKOG: I think it's both of these. I think a lot of young players, they watch this weekend and they see all the guys. A lot of kids here in Goteborg has been here watching the practice. I think that makes them think that, "Once in my lifetime, I want to be there as a Jonas Bjorkman, Stefan Edberg, Magnus Larsson, Thomas Enqvist." I think it's both.

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End of FastScripts....

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