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December 4, 1999

Todd Woodbridge


ITF: Questions, please. Todd, out of jail? How would you describe it?

TODD WOODBRIDGE: Back from the depths, yeah. I mean, the set, 5-3, set point, I guess we felt like we were already two sets to love down at that particular stage. Boy, then it's an incredible feeling to come back in this sort of match from where we were.

Q. Did you doubt that you could? Did you feel like it was over at any point?

TODD WOODBRIDGE: No, I don't think we ever doubted. We've come back before. You know, Newc just keeps saying to us in those particular situations, "Get the ball into play; let our ability just start to take over." What we were trying to work on at that stage was make our first volleys and get set around the net. That was where we'd been losing the match up until then. No, I didn't really -- even from two sets to love down, I felt we had started to play well halfway through the second set, and that we were starting to settle down. I think settle down was the major key because the first set went quickly and we played poorly.

Q. Mark, how crucial was that game where you had the three breakpoints against you at 4-2, then before the set point, then how frustrating had it been up to then not to be able to play as everybody knows you both can play?

MARK WOODFORDE: It was very frustrating because -- they were putting the balls back. As Todd pointed out, we were just making the first error. That's what we'd been working on the whole last ten days, was getting a decent serve in and coming in, just being at ease and putting the first volley back, letting whoever we play make the shot from there. We weren't even getting to first base. It was just very frustrating. It was just trying to wait and buy time and not get, you know, too panicked with making some errors. So, you know, Newc was just on the sideline trying to get through to us on the change of ends that, you know, "You guys are -" I won't use the words that he used - "You guys are making errors on the first shot, and stop doing it (laughter)." We hate Newc talking like that, so we just stopped doing that (laughter). It was very frustrating. I think once we got through, you know, over that hill early in the second set, you know, I think both of us started to feel a lot more comfortable, and we started to -- I don't know if it was so obvious, but I think we started to move in unison. Up until that stage, we were not really there. Our positional play wasn't too good. Once that started to fall into place, you know, we just held serve a lot better and once we broke serve, I think that opened up the gates for us because then we believed that we could do it, that if we happened to drop another serve, we could at least still break serve and keep on even keel. It was really important just to keep hanging on and keep waiting, just don't throw away the match.

Q. Mark, where, overall, does that rate amongst the wins you've had, in your opinion?

MARK WOODFORDE: It's got to rate extremely high. You know, through what we've experienced this year, I mean, it's obviously well-documented that Todd and I haven't been happy with the way we've played, the standard. Although the last few months have been, you know, a lot brighter for us; given us a lot of heart. For Todd to step back in, you know, into the position of being on the team again after not playing the last two, and this being a final, it's one match all, it's a heck of a lot of pressure upon us. Even though we hadn't beaten these guys before, so often Todd and I step into this position, everyone just thinks, "The Woodies, they're going to win it." There were a lot of if's and doubts, but for us, I felt like we could do it. It's a fantastic feeling, you know, to just pull back from that position. You know, it's thrilling. I mean, I said to Todd, "How exciting is this," after the match when we were looking up at the Fanatics. How exciting is it to come back and play crappy tennis most of the year and get into this position and we were able to do it. Once we had that opportunity, we grabbed it. That's I think part of our teamwork that in past victories we've been able to do, so it rates really, really high for me.

Q. Todd, you seemed to be particularly struggling early in the match. Was that one of the worst starts you ever had?

TODD WOODBRIDGE: I've had some bad starts in Davis Cup, but I didn't feel nervous coming into today's match. I was really comfortable with the situation. I didn't feel nervous on the court. I'd been practicing really well. I hadn't missed balls in practice by more than a foot all week. Today they're missing by ten. It was kind of, I had to really reassess and do it quickly and settle down into the match. You know, I was confident that we were going to win today's match before we went out there. I believed that we would. I believed that we had done the work to get the result. I suppose I never felt at any stage that we were going to lose. That was probably why we got through.

Q. Although you've got a chance to go to John at changeovers, clearly at some stage when one of you is not playing very well, the other has to help the other help out. What are you chatting about when things aren't going well?

TODD WOODBRIDGE: Some of it's not -- we can't say (laughter). It's generally to try to get the other guy to calm down or get his nerves settled so that he gets the ball back into play. Usually when you are playing poorly, you're not making the other team hit enough shots; they're getting too many free points. I think today, after a period of games, I went to Mark and said, "Look, we have to talk a little more because I don't feel like I'm rushing, but I obviously am." From that moment on, I started to get a little bit better each way. I never sensed that Mark was uncomfortable today. Would that be right?

MARK WOODFORDE: Yeah (laughter).

TODD WOODBRIDGE: There we go. Shortest answer he's ever given (laughter).

Q. Todd and Mark, what is the future now for you guys? Quit while you're on top?

TODD WOODBRIDGE: Oh, geeze, just got off the court.

MARK WOODFORDE: We're not on top yet, not as far as winning this competition and obviously not as far as our partnership playing the regular Tour.

TODD WOODBRIDGE: We had set our goal to try and win another Olympic medal. I think we can still do that.

Q. And the French?

TODD WOODBRIDGE: Well, and the French then.

MARK WOODFORDE: And everything else (laughter).

TODD WOODBRIDGE: But, you know, a realistic goal is to get through the Olympics next year.

Q. So in practical terms, another full season really?


Q. Does that include Davis Cup, as well? Mark, you said earlier in the year if Australia won, you might bow out. That is still how you're thinking?

MARK WOODFORDE: Yeah, I would, you know, -- I'm not a glutton. It's been great playing the whole time at Davis Cup, but, you know, I think sometimes enough is enough. It would be great to be able to go out knowing that we have won as a team, give a chance to someone else. I mean, again, so long Todd and I have been the backbone for it. I just would like to see maybe someone else play because that's the future. What's the point of me sticking out playing one more year? I would like to fulfill my commitment as far as the Olympics goes. If that means I have to play some more Davis Cup matches next year, then I'll certainly do that.

TODD WOODBRIDGE: I think that's why today's match, I think, personally for both of us is probably one of the most rewarding is because we came back to win something that I think a lot of people didn't think we would, before the match started and during the match. I've never seen Mark so emotional as when we won. I know how much weight I'd been putting on trying to come here and play well. So personally, it's probably one of the most rewarding wins I've ever had, I think together that we've ever had.

Q. John, Todd and Mark have given us some insight into some of the sort of things that you were politely saying to them. What sort of emotions were you going through on an afternoon like this?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: I think in a situation like we just went through, the one thing you've got to have is you've got to believe in each other. As I said I think the other day, we lost the first match that we were together in Russia. We were down two sets to love and lost in five sets. We haven't been beaten since. In that time, there's been two sets to love down, a set and a break down to Sampras in '97, Sampras and Todd Martin, all sorts of situations. Every time we've found a way to pull through it. I just find the two guys a real joy to coach, you know, that little few seconds you have to talk to them at the change of ends. I believe that we relate in the way we play doubles very well. They're just so attentive to any suggestion that you have as to tactically or whatever. I think we think the same way out there. By the same token, I've got to really believe at the change of ends, because if I'm not really believing, they'll know I'm not really believing it. I believed today. I wasn't sure how we were going to do it because things were going so bad. But I felt that the only difference in the match - apart from the fact that the French were playing great - was that the guys weren't making their first volleys behind their serve. They were giving points away. Once they stopped doing that, then they started putting more pressure on the return of serve. The other thing was it was about a set and a half, wasn't it, before we won a volley exchange at the net? I said, "This isn't right. This can't be right because we've worked hard and we should be winning some." When you looked and you analyzed that, I realized that the guys were playing on the back foot; they weren't moving forward all the time. From that moment on, they started moving forward and both of them -- Mark hit some things at the net, I don't think I've seen him move that fast for about four years. Not that you're not moving fast, mate.

MARK WOODFORDE: I was getting out of the way of them.

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: He did. All of a sudden he was like a possessed man out there. Todd picked up at the same time. Once they did, they just had the French pair under so much pressure, they started to crack. Some cracks started to appear. You know, I mean, us guys at the side of the court, Rochey and myself, you can lead the horse to water, but they're the ones that have got to do the drinking. Today they did the drinking and they answered the critics.

Q. John, do you believe that Australia now has a psychological edge and that you're now sort of over the worst of it and you will win on Sunday?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: No. Davis Cup is a three-day event. It's not over till it's over. Mark hasn't really been through it yet, Philippoussis, because he was so much on top yesterday. Lleyton experienced it yesterday. I think if you asked the guys, they were a little surprised at the noise, how it can invade your psyche. I talked to them about it before they went out and said, "Use the noise as a positive; get it inside yourself and build yourself up, use that noise to give you energy." It's almost like it's hard to think, isn't it?

TODD WOODBRIDGE: It's so loud you actually talk to each other, and at times you can't hear. You're a foot and a half from each other, yelling. You have to lip read. That's loud.

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: So I guess what I'm saying is, I'm not underestimating what's happening out there, the atmosphere, at all. This match is not over until the last ball's won, whoever is going to win it. I mean, we're not going to go away. We're going to fight until the last drop that we have left. We know the French team are going to do exactly the same thing. Also on their side, they've got the crowd who are going to try to pull them through.

Q. John, how will you prepare Mark and Lleyton for tomorrow? Not to be overconfident?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: There's no chance of being overconfident. We're very aware of the battle that has to come tomorrow. We know that it's going to take a huge commitment. But now I think that both teams have their teeth into this match, you know, it's two days already, we all have a good smell for what's happening out there. I think that's important for our boys. I believe that as well as the crowd, in the beginning of the doubles today, I think with Cedric winning yesterday, I felt it gave them a big lift. France had the momentum going with them at the beginning today. Now, the Woodies have turned the momentum going with us. So it goes in Davis Cup. That's why it's a great event over three days. You can never be sure of what's happening. One thing we know we have to do, if we have our man on the ropes, we've got to kick him right through them, to be blunt (laughter).

Q. Newc, with the situation that is at the current time, Australia 2-1 up, kind of takes the pressure off Mark Philippoussis somewhat, but he is still relatively inexperienced compared to Todd and Mark. What things are you going to be saying to him for tomorrow?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: We're just going to go out there -- my job out there is to just keep Mark calm and focused on the job he has to do, focused on his teammates at the side, you know, just playing a good-thinking game; not getting panicked into doing anything that's going to give points away, and believe in himself; carry that belief.

Q. John, there's a bit of speculation around that the French team might pull a switch with Grosjean tomorrow and perhaps bring Santoro in instead. Is this something that's going through your mind? Would you be surprised if this happened?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: Yeah (laughter).

Q. So 100%, you don't think they would make a switch?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: I don't know. I mean, after Boston, nothing surprises me (laughter).

End of FastScripts….

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