December 2, 1999
Q. What is the very strong points of your team?
CAPTAIN FORGET: I think it's very homogeneous, and also there's no big gap between the players. They all respect each other. They are very highly, highly motivated and pumped up for this event. It's an event that they cherish among all other events.
Q. Guy, what can you give them this time which you carry forward from 1991?
CAPTAIN FORGET: Well, you know, the fact that we've been there before, Fabrice was there, Cedric was there in '96, Olivier was there in '91. They have nothing to envy looking at the Australian players. They're not playing against Sampras and Agassi at the moment. They're playing at home on their surface, you know, with their crowd. This is simply just to go out there and have no regrets once the tie will be finished. The only way to do that is just to go out there and, you know, try your best from the first point to the last.
Q. You talked about signs of nervousness. Can you give us some examples? You said you were in a hurry to be into the fight already. Did you feel the same thing in '91 and '96?
CAPTAIN FORGET: As a player and as a captain, I felt this already, yes. As to the signs of nervousness, when Pioline misses a point during practice, he throws his racquet on the ground. It's not because you miss a point during practice that it's a catastrophe. It's a sign that he really wants to be in the fight already. He's frustrated because he's not there yet. He's waiting with a lot of impatience to be into the fight. I myself break one or two racquets sometimes in the practice sessions before the ties.
Q. Sebastien, how did you follow the finals in '96 and '91? Did you watch them on television?
SEBASTIEN GROSJEAN: In '91 I watched the final on television. I was not at home. I was in my school where we did sports and studies at the same time. The name of the place is Boulouris, and I watched it. But in '96 unfortunately I wasn't able to watch it on television because I was playing a tournament so I didn't watch it in '96.
Q. When did you make a decision between choosing Nicolas or Sebastien? At what point in time?
CAPTAIN FORGET: As a captain, I wanted to do as Newcombe did, is having the maximum number of players ready if something happened to one of them. I said that during a press conference in Bercy. Otherwise, I said I had no reason not to renew my trust in those who were playing well. Di Pasquale and Escude prepared as well as the other players. They are as good as the players who will be on the court on Friday. Now, the other players are not injured, but otherwise I had no reason to change my choice, otherwise I would have had to make a choice. It was between Fabrice and Nicolas.
Q. If I understand well, there was no competition for the second spot in the team, and this week of practice wasn't going to change your mind about No. 2?
CAPTAIN FORGET: Well, as long as I see good things during practice, and Fabrice and Cedric and Sebastien showed me good things, I had no reason why I should wonder about my choice. Of course, Nicolas played a very good practice week. He was at a very high level. He was very fit presently. But what he has against him, if you want, is that he didn't play the former ties. If I had chosen him, it would have been because other players would have missed or been injured or something serious. But it was not the case. Now, Nicolas is ready to play also. Of course, it must be frustrating for him to have done all that and not be on the team, but he also had the merit of helping his friends and pulling them upwards and helping them in preparing well.
Q. In Davis Cup, doubles can often be extremely significant. Do you think that might be the case this time? Can you just contrast the two very experienced pairs that we'll be seeing?
CAPTAIN FORGET: All the ties, you know, I've played, especially the ones in the finals when we won, doubles was a very big factor. I think today Fabrice and Olivier are our best chance of, you know, getting one point for the team. I'm really confident about their ability to beat the Woodies even though the Woodies have a much better record in terms of, you know, results in Grand Slams, probably even in Davis Cup. I don't know exactly the one of Olivier and Fabrice. That's all that matters, you know. Winning five Wimbledons is not going to help you winning that particular match on clay. It's a totally different game. You know, the way they're playing at the moment, I tell you, they are going to go through a hard time. You know, of course, defeat is something that you must be ready to accept. But as long as you try your best, you know, you can't be ashamed if you go down. I know that they're ready to give whatever they have to win that match. I'm confident that doing that, you know, they have a really high chance of winning.
Q. How difficult do you expect this final to be? Is it going to be over Saturday or do you think it will go through the Sunday?
CAPTAIN FORGET: I think it could be both ways. I'm serious about that. They want me to make short answers, I'm sorry (laughter). I think, you know, anything can happen, but I'm really confident about the fact that each one of these guys here can win each one of their matches.
Q. You've been playing during the same year your first match in a Davis Cup tie and your first Davis Cup final. Can you compare the stress between the two situations before the tie starts?
SEBASTIEN GROSJEAN: Well, the first time it's true, I was very tense. I didn't know how the atmosphere would be, how to prepare myself for that. It brought me a lot to be able to participate in those two ties, and I have a better behavior now.
Q. Sebastien, do you have a key to beat Philippoussis on clay?
SEBASTIEN GROSJEAN: I will talk about the tactics with my captain tonight. But I think I will have to move him a lot because he's very powerful and he hits the ball very hard. I'll have to move him a lot.
Q. Guy, what happened in '96, which was so phenomenal for the whole of tennis to see, how much has that become a symbol for the French as what can be achieved if you don't give up, play till the end? Has that become something of a symbol to the French sport?
CAPTAIN FORGET: Well, I think, you know, it's the same in every sport, not only in tennis. You have to try your best. If Cedric had won against Enqvist on the Sunday when he was up, you know, in the fifth set I think, probably no one would have remembered that tie being as exceptional as it was because Arnaud saved match points, had problems finishing the match. But overall, you know, it's the same story again and again: just give your best till the last point.
Q. What did Ibanez tell you? Did he tell you you have to take revenge for us?
CAPTAIN FORGET: No, not at all. He wished us good luck and said he was on our side.
Q. In Peau and in the semis you played a first match also like you are going to do here. Are you more comfortable that way?
SEBASTIEN GROSJEAN: Well, I believe so because it brought me luck the first two times so I hope it's going to continue that way. I won't have to wait for Cedric's match to finish. I'll know at what time I will have to play.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.