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March 12, 1999

Chris Woodruff


GREG SHARKO: At 550, Chris is the lowest-ranked player to reach a Mercedes Super 9 semifinal, and it's his first Mercedes Super 9 semi since '97 Montreal when he went on to win the title.

Q. Was that exciting enough for you?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: It was pretty exciting. I guess when you're out there, you don't really think about it. But looking back, it was fun.

Q. How serious was that cramping getting?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: No cramping, just tight. My legs are a little tight. I was trying to keep them moving and stretching. I played two qualifying matches. How many have I played?

Q. Six.

CHRIS WOODRUFF: Six. I played a lot of matches, plus a doubles match. Only so much my body can take.

Q. Do you feel you're in a situation now whereby every time you go out there, you really can't lose because everything is now a bonus?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: That's the way kind of the first set was. I kind of came out, was hitting my shots. When you get in this groove, I guess, it's kind of a zone, later in the tournament, you just start doing things, and they start working, whether they're percentage shots or not.

Q. You seemed to be a bit put off when he started to slow ball you. Got back into the match that way, didn't he?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: He got back into the match, yeah. But I think it caught me off guard a little bit. I think it took me, maybe, three games or so to adjust. It was such a shock. Then I felt I got on it. But you're right, he got in the match a little bit doing that.

Q. If you could be straightforward with us, do you think you played yourself onto the Davis Cup team today?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: No way. No way. No way. No, it's impossible. We've already got the team pretty much set up.

Q. What's the team?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: I guess -- I don't know. My guess would be, I know Todd and Jan-Michael, I think, and Jim Courier and, probably, Alex O'Brien.

Q. You did see Tom sitting out there watching?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: Yeah. I talked to him before the match and after the match. I jokingly said, "I would have liked to have saved that for Birmingham."

Q. And he said?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: He said, "Yeah, you know, just keep playing and, eventually, one day you'll be there." At the rate we're going, as our guys keep turning it down, or some guys keep turning it down, who knows, I might be at 550 and playing Davis Cup.

Q. Let's say you had a good Lipton and maybe Jim and Todd don't have such a great Lipton, you wouldn't be considered?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: No, no. I don't think so. It's just the nature of the beast. That's a whole different element when all of a sudden you're starting to talk about Davis Cup. I need to play in some more matches before I can feel the Davis Cup pressure.

Q. What goes through your mind when you see the top guys turning down Davis Cup time and again?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: You know, I really don't think about it. I can't really give you an answer right now. I don't know. I've never established 'superstar' like those guys, like Sampras and Agassi. I really don't know their schedules, the way they live their lives, what goes on in their heads. I can't really answer for them. I just know now that I will play, always be willing to play Davis Cup for my country. I just don't understand the way they live, so I can't speak for them.

Q. Your knee had a good test. Is it holding up okay?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: It is. It's doing very well.

Q. Did you think you were going to have these kinds of results last year when you were battling?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: You never know. Tennis is a strange game. Out here it's virtually impossible to predict your week. When I won Montreal, I played poorly at first, I was hitting the ball badly in practice, I played poorly my first match, down match point. Next thing you know, I'm holding the trophy on Sunday afternoon. I just think this is a sport where you can't predict your weeks.

Q. You played a match here last year and lost to Muster. After that defeat, did you feel that was it for your career when you were out for the rest of the year still?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: No. Never like to look at it like that. Being hurt and sitting out the whole year, I think I've learned how to take it one day at a time, particularly tennis matches. Just play one point at a time. I think from that aspect, it's helped me.

Q. At 5-4, he served for the match. Were you trying to play it safe to get back in it or were you trying to go for something?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: No. I was just -- that was a little surprising. I think he maybe double-faulted once, if not twice in that game.

Q. Twice.

CHRIS WOODRUFF: Maybe he was a little nervous. I really don't know. I do know that I came out and won the first point. He served wide to my forehand, and I clocked a return up the line. I'm sure he's disappointed with that.

Q. He hit an unbelievable high backhand volley to get to match point. What did you think when he put that one in?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: Did he have match point?

Q. He double-faulted.


Q. In the tenth game.

CHRIS WOODRUFF: Never knew that. Now that you say that, I barely remember that. That's true. Double-faulted.

Q. Who did you point to at the end of the match?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: That was my coach and Tom Gullikson over there watching. I guess it's a security blanket.

Q. So you didn't realize you were standing on the brink then?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: That's amazing. I'm kind of dumbfounded myself. I don't know what to say. I remember him double-faulting like on the third point. Match point, you're right. That's crazy.

Q. Now you know. How do you think you would have felt if you lost the first set 6-1, played your way back, got to match point, and then double-faulted?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: Well, I can relate to that because last week I lost the first set 6-2, came back and was up, had four match points in Scottsdale, and I lost it.

Q. To whom?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: Andrew Ilie, a guy ranked 40th in the world. That's sports. You have to overcome adversity. Happened to Greg Norman. Scott Hogue missed a short putt at The Masters one year. Closing something out is the toughest thing to do.

Q. Afterwards, Tim said he's not very interested in tennis at the moment. Can you relate to that comment?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: No, I can't relate to it right now. I'm very interested in tennis. Having been out for a year, if I'm not interested out there, I better stay out of it. That's a little surprising to me he would say something like that. He always seems to have such a great attitude. He's a great guy off the court, very personable in the locker room, somebody I like to spend time with. He's funny. That surprises me a little bit. Hopefully, he'll be interested because in a couple weeks, I'm sure he'll be feeling the pressure a little bit.

Q. After all these matches, how much do you suppose have you left for tomorrow?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: The human body is amazing. I'm very tired right now, my legs are very tired. Get a massage and try to recuperate. I believe adrenaline will help me out tomorrow.

Q. Pretty decent season for the Volunteers.

CHRIS WOODRUFF: Very happy that we won the basketball game. If I had lost, at least some team from Tennessee had come through.

Q. Do you follow Tennessee?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: I follow everything. Surprisingly, I'm not a big football fan, if you can believe that. Never played football growing up. But I love college basketball. I have season basketball tickets. I still keep in touch with all the guys on the tennis team. I know the coaches very well. With the exception of football, I really like Tennessee athletics a lot.

Q. How much did you miss tennis when you were away? Did you really discover how much you liked the game? How have you managed to fill your time when you had become used to a career on the Tour; suddenly stopped?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: How did I fill my time? I played a lot of golf. Golf is probably my favorite sport. I like golf better than tennis. I wish I could play professional golf, to be honest with you. I played in some golf tournaments. I was telling people yesterday, I actually reenrolled in the University of Tennessee where I actually went for two and a half years. I spent a lot of time rehabbing my knee, took three hours a day in the morning. Just hung out with my friends. That was really one of the first times that I've had an opportunity to hang out with my friends and kind of stay out late at night, have fun.

Q. What is your golf handicap?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: It's about a four or a three.

Q. You better play Henman at golf.

CHRIS WOODRUFF: We played a couple years ago down at the Doral during the Lipton.

Q. Who won?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: I don't remember. I just remember both of us were duck-hooking it that day.

Q. Did you play for money?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: When I played Henman?

Q. Yes.

CHRIS WOODRUFF: No. But we played for about 50 bucks out there today, side bet. No (laughter).

End of FastScripts....

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