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April 7, 2000
CZECH REPUBLIC vs. USA, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
Q. Slava, how surprised was the Czech team in general and you, in particular, by the
great performance by Novak in the first match, and how did it affect your preparation for
SLAVA DOSEDEL: I think it was very exciting how he won the first match. We knew that he
was in good shape, but really we didn't expect such a performance. So it was -- it was a
little support. I had much better feeling to go into the second match that I knew he won
the first, and it was like very happy feeling.
Q. Do you feel no matter how good you played today, you wouldn't have beaten Agassi?
SLAVA DOSEDEL: No. I think I, generally, I played really good, but I made some easy
mistakes, which, against such a good player, I shouldn't do. So that was the key of the
match. I think we both played a really good level of tennis, but as I said, I made some
easy mistakes and he did not. That was the difference.
Q. For the captain, you said yesterday you'd be very happy if you were playing on
Sunday, and now you'll be playing for the tie on Sunday. Can you talk about your feelings?
CAPTAIN JAN KUKAL: I am happy because this is what I wanted. I knew that you guys had
been asking about our past champions, what we have and why we are not having anyone now. I
think he already beat so many players, you know, Becker, Moya, Corretja last week, Henman,
Davis Cup, and many others. It doesn't matter that he's 25. In Europe, it's a little bit
different, when a player can play his best tennis maybe after let's say 26, 27 years old.
I am very, very happy. We hit our momentum. We lost it because it was not easy for Andre
to come there and to play this match, and Slava was playing his best tennis, but he needs
more matches like this. He, I think, never played anybody playing like this. It was some
tennis of a future, it was Andre playing today and he was also serving very well. We are
very happy concerning the results. We are not very happy with what happened before,
because in a Davis Cup Quarterfinal it should never happen that you play Slovak National
Anthem instead of Czech. And also the Czech part, you know, because we are divided country
but already since 1993, and this should not happen, and also our Czech part was not played
well. They should go and practice tonight.
Q. No kidding. Slava, I know you were out there, too. For those of us who are not
familiar with it, as soon as they started playing the music, did you realize they made
such a huge diplomatic error?
SLAVA DOSEDEL: Yeah, we were very disappointed. We told them already many different
times before that we were freed. Of course we have nothing against Slovak Republic, they
are still our very good friends, but it's very disappointing for us. Like I think next
time when USA comes to Czech Republic, we will play Mexican Anthem. (Laughter.)
CAPTAIN JAN KUKAL: This is the same thing. I think our team, it help us maybe, even at
the beginning, you know. Because we some kind of lost respect. That's why Novak played
without respect. Because when something like this can happen, so why we should, you know
-- maybe it help Jiri, you know. He got really angry and he woke up in dressing room after
match, you know. (Laughter.)
Q. Question for both of you. Have you ever seen Jiri play better than he did today?
CAPTAIN JAN KUKAL: He played the same way in Key Biscayne two sets against Corretja,
6-7 and-6-1. Corretja could not play him. He had no chance. It was the same thing against
Henman in Davis Cup, the same match.
Q. So was it the Slovak Anthem that was played, or the previous Anthem for
CAPTAIN JAN KUKAL: It was some kind little
bit -- we had a -- we had two anthem, Czech Slovak, Czechoslovakian, and it had a Czech
part and Slovak part. And they did not play right the Czech part, very slowly and force,
and then they played much better Slovak part, you know. (Laughter.) The country is divided
seven years, you know.
Q. What were you thinking when you heard this? Are you thinking, "This can't be
happening," or what?
SLAVA DOSEDEL: I started to whistle.
CAPTAIN JAN KUKAL: No, I think in Europe this might not happen. We are not really, I
mean it's more like we don't -- it can't happen, you know. This is, I mean, what we can
do, you know? But it's too much. It's, again, you know, the ceremony. (Laughter.) We would
not talk about if you do it twice. I don't know.
Q. So are you going to bribe our American officials so they play the wrong anthem again
to help your doubles team? (Laughter.)
CAPTAIN JAN KUKAL: If they do it, you know, I don't -- the poor guys. Poor O'Brien and
Q. This is for both of you. What will be your plan if the match against Sampras on
Sunday really counts? He's the one that is the one that matters, if it comes down to that
match. Have you thought about how you're going to play Sampras?
SLAVA DOSEDEL: No, we didn't think about it because my preparation was against Andre,
of course, the match today. And my mind is still going on about the match with Andre, and
I think from today and tomorrow we will start the preparation for Sampras. So we have to
think about it.
Q. Slava, if you had to say one thing that makes Andre Agassi such a great champion,
what would that be?
SLAVA DOSEDEL: Variability. Variability.
CAPTAIN JAN KUKAL: And speed. I would say to Sampras, I would think Davis Cup is
different than other tournaments. Davis Cup is having special rules, and Novak -- we were
watching Sampras' match in Key Biscayne, so if he would not -- he came in match from
Love-40 down couple games. If Sampras would break him early, it would be completely
different match. But Davis Cup is a lot of pressure and is not easy to play a match like
this. So I don't think would be right to say Agassi's a great champion and Sampras is
loser. I think Sampras and Agassi are the best players ever played, you know. But
tomorrow, doubles is No. 1 in the world but not best doubles ever. So I think we are
having -- we are having chance tomorrow.
Q. Saying that, though, your team has lost twice to O'Brien and Palmer recently and in
straight sets. Are you going to try anything different strategically, or do you just think
the atmosphere will be different?
CAPTAIN JAN KUKAL: Yes. I was watching this doubles. They play very, very badly, you
know, our team played here one of their first matches and it was still very close match.
So then when our best pair left, then we sent Damm on the court and he beat them. But we
are not having Hrbaty obviously. Otherwise, then you were playing Hrbaty and then you
could play Czech and Slovak Anthem. It all comes together. It all comes together.
Q. Would you be more scared of playing an O'Brien-Palmer or McEnroe-Sampras in doubles
CAPTAIN JAN KUKAL: No, no, I think it's great doubles. I think it's a very good
doubles. I think having a great future. They are very good singles player, if I'm right,
they were No. 30 in the world, great singles players concentrated for doubles. It's
definitely top three pair in the world in the moment. And they might play one better, and
this is important. But now is new rules. It's very risky to play two doubles players and
two single players. When something would happen to Andre today, then O'Brien would have to
play on Sunday. You know, this is the difference. So it's -- we cannot place anybody on
Sunday, on Sunday we can play with another player. Now it's the first year they change
Q. Is Jiri playing well enough to beat Agassi?
CAPTAIN JAN KUKAL: Tomorrow is another day, you know. I don't think Agassi can play
every day like this. If he's playing his best game, it's very difficult but when he's not
going to be like today, it's everything possible. But I think we have to -- as I said, we
go game by game and set by set. We are getting now next match, we're only in doubles now.
Q. If you put the men and the women together, you can argue for the size of the nation
that the Czech Republic or Czechoslovakia has some of the best tennis in history for their
size of their nation. Why so outstanding?
CAPTAIN JAN KUKAL: I think it was always like we are having ice hockey No. 1, then
soccer, and tennis comes third, but always. You know, we had already, I think 1924, made
(Ladislava) Zemla the Olympic Medal in tennis, and since then we had Kozeluh who beat
Tilden a couple of times, then we had (Jaroslav) Drobny and also so many players, and
there are other people like tennis very much and they understand a lot about tennis. It's
very similar to Austria and skiing. Everybody in Austria understands about skiing.
Everybody ski. I mean we are having a lot -- many hockey players, and I think we are also
having a very good tennis school, you know, and good coaches. But now, now we are having
many coaches abroad because they are better played in Germany and in Austria, so now we
are having a bit of problem with our Juniors, but we had always someone in past. And I
hope that old group was watching this match, and I'm sure Ivan (Lendl) was watching this
match. American citizen, I don't know what he's thinking about now. (Laughter.)
Q. It's for the captain. What were you communicating to Novak during the changeovers
while he was playing so great? How were you --
CAPTAIN JAN KUKAL: I only wanted him to keep smiling, you know. During changeover, if
he could smile, you know, really nice smile, he was playing great next point, you know.
Because for us, was good. Is what you did, and was really to bring this Lakers girls and
all this stuff, this is what we like, and also Slava like it very much.
SLAVA DOSEDEL: The girls especially. (Laughter.)
Q. Do they have Laker girls in the Czech Republic?
SLAVA DOSEDEL: Laker girls?
Q. Laker girls.
SLAVA DOSEDEL: They have much better girls. (Laughter.)
End of FastScriptsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.