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March 29, 2004

Jonas Bjorkman


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. A lot of people are probably looking at this match as a Davis Cup preview. Would it be fair to say both players weren't thinking much about Davis Cup, they were thinking about the title here at Key Biscayne?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Yeah (smiling). When you go into a tournament like this, you don't even care about what's the next week, sort of. You're here to play this tournament. And then once you're done playing this one, then you can start thinking about the next one. I think if any player starts to look ahead, then they're probably not doing really good in the tournaments.

Q. Very tight match tonight. Your volley let you down a bit in the break game in the third set.

JONAS BJORKMAN: I wouldn't say that. That was some pretty good shots as well. I didn't miss too many volleys out there. The ones I missed in the last game were pretty tough ones that I had to make. I had a few opportunities early on in that set, and didn't take that. It's got to be one or two crucial points in a match like this. It didn't go my way; it went his way.

Q. Why do you return Andy's serve so well?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, it took me two matches before I did. I think I was struggling a lot in Wimbledon and also in Paris indoors. But then the last two matches, that I won in Doha, I returned really well, and I think today I did as well. So maybe I learned a bit from the two losses I had before, and I've been taking a step back from my normal position, where I normally return from, and that's sort of been helping me to get the ball in play a lot more.

Q. His backhand has improved a lot. Are you seeing him hitting less inside-out forehands as a result?

JONAS BJORKMAN: It's hard to say. I would say the guys who play him also make sure that he doesn't get the chance to play a lot of inside-out forehands.

Q. That's his money shot.

JONAS BJORKMAN: Yeah, but you also have to get around and have time to do it. I would say it's not a weakness, but the Spanish guys is more used to do that. They maybe get around a little bit better than he does, because they're used to do that all the time. For Andy, he doesn't really need it because he's got a better backhand maybe than some of those guys. So I would say it's a tough situation there, but I think everyone who plays Andy makes sure that he doesn't get the chance to get around and hit it. If he does, then you make sure that the next one gets to the other side.

Q. Seemed like he had time to do that a lot tonight and chose the backhand.

JONAS BJORKMAN: Yeah... I'm not sure. I think maybe he was scared of my game (smiling). No, it's, you know, you have to ask him. I think he knows better than anyone does, you know, what he thinks about that situation, if he's comfortable or not.

Q. Did you think it was there for the taking tonight, that you really had a chance - obviously, getting to a third set? How beatable was he tonight, I guess is what I'm asking.

JONAS BJORKMAN: Oh, he was very beatable. I think every time I step on a court, doesn't matter who I'm facing, I always know that everyone is beatable. So, you know, after beating him last time in Doha, I definitely felt that I have a perfect game to beat him. So I think the game sort of went on really good after. Been a little unlucky in the first game of the first set. Then I played really good and I had a few chances early on in the third. And if I could have made those shots, it would have been a different story. But he managed to serve well at the right time in the end there.

Q. The shot behind the back, should we call that a forehand, backhand? How do we describe that?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Yeah, that's probably a forehand, but I will say that's probably the first one in my life I managed to do that.

Q. Is that in the "Don't-Try-This-at-Home" category?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Yeah, more or less. I think it's more easy to twist an ankle than make it.

Q. What kind of a grip did you use on that shot?

JONAS BJORKMAN: There was probably a forehand grip. Then I sort of had to sort of turn it around for almost like a backhand grip. But it went quick. I don't even -- was sure how I hit it, actually. It was more like a reaction shot. I was actually seeing that it was gonna go up the line too early. That's one in a million to make that.

Q. Are you thinking, "I've got to win this point after hitting that shot"?

JONAS BJORKMAN: It looks better if you win it than not. Of course after hitting a shot like that, of course you want to win the point. It felt better winning it that way. Just too bad that I didn't get the next one in play, because I think that is momentum that you can actually use of having things turning around. But he sort of went for his second serve and then made a good first serve off the bat, so I couldn't do that.

Q. If you had won this match and then a week from now showed up in Delray Beach and you had beaten Andy twice this year...

JONAS BJORKMAN: You like Davis Cup, huh (smiling)?

Q. Would you have a psychological advantage going into the Davis Cup? Do you believe in psychological advantages?

JONAS BJORKMAN: It could be sometimes, yes. But I would say when it gets to Davis Cup, even if you been winning two, three matches in a row against a guy, it's home advantage, it's so many different things that actually makes Davis Cup so special. That's why you see so many upsets. So maybe it would help in a way, but I already beat him once this year. I know when I get to Davis Cup that I have a chance. I'm playing that good right now that I know that I will do everything I can to do that. And, you know, it wouldn't be in a situation that I will feel more comfortable going into Davis Cup. Against the No. 2 in the world, even if you beat him two times in a row, it's still a new game. It's a new match. You just have to go and show up, who's gonna be the best for that day.

Q. Can you play three matches in three days, best-of-five?

JONAS BJORKMAN: If you look at the stats, you have the answer (smiling). I think I showed that several times in Davis Cup, that I'm fit enough, strong enough and mentally tough to do that. I've done it so many times in Davis Cup before, so I'm not scared to do that. I love playing Davis Cup. It's just a great event to be part of. I love playing for my country. It takes a lot for me to step aside if I get the opportunity like that to play three matches. But it's all up to Mats.

Q. What's Mats like to play for?

JONAS BJORKMAN: He's awesome. It's great fun to have both Mats and Joachim, I should say, around. The experience they have, they've been two great players - one Hall of Fame and one not far off. To have the opportunity to learn a lot from how they played and how they handled different situations, it's great to have them around.

Q. As you were growing up, was it still Bjorn Borg for you, or did Mats slip in there?

JONAS BJORKMAN: I'm getting old, but I'm glad to say I was not old enough to see Bjorn. I've seen more later on, all his matches in Wimbledon, Paris, stuff like that. For me, Mats was the biggest one since he came from my city as well. I played in the same tennis club. So when I was young, Mats was sort of the big idol. And then Stefan sort of came along and I had the same sort of game and I was following Edberg a little bit more.

Q. Has he invited you out to his home yet?

JONAS BJORKMAN: No, I'm very disappointed. He hasn't done that yet (smiling).

Q. He's got his own hockey rink.

JONAS BJORKMAN: Yeah, I know. But he needs to improve because the coaches lost last year to the players and he didn't show up. He needs to do a lot of work going into that match in December again.

End of FastScripts….

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