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September 3, 1999

Todd Martin

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NEW YORK, T. MARTIN/R. Reneberg 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1

USTA: Questions for Todd.

Q. Do you feel better today than in your first match?

TODD MARTIN: Yeah, I felt much better. I felt -- I really felt like the conditions allowed me to move aggressively and play aggressively. That's when I play my best.

Q. 65% first serves in, faced only three breakpoints. That's got to be something you're happy about.

TODD MARTIN: I felt like I served very well. You know, the one game I got broken, I was up 30-Love in. I hit a good serve, missed not an easy volley, but a volley I should have made. Then he hit a good shot. I double-faulted. That was just -- I think that was just a little nerves from not being in trouble on my serve more often up to that point.

Q. First breakpoint of the match.

TODD MARTIN: That was the third. I was down 15-40 the game before. I couldn't have been more pleased with the way I served. I returned very well, too, especially most of the second set.

Q. Richey was talking about how well things are falling into place for you, the surface, the conditions, of course the draw. Do you feel like that's true?

TODD MARTIN: Well, it will be true next week if I'm still around. If I lose my next match, obviously not. That's really what it comes down to, is being able to play well when you need to, be up for a match like I was today.

Q. Does it affect you when someone like Sampras or Rafter drops out of your half of the draw?

TODD MARTIN: No. That's one of the things about being seeded; you don't have to play those guys early in the tournaments, but if they pull out or if they lose or if something happens to them, it's still difficult to get to where you would have had to play them. You know, I have a lot of work left to do.

Q. I think probably most people agree, you are capable of beating anybody that's left in your half of the draw.

TODD MARTIN: What about the other half?

Q. Worry about that when you get to the final.


Q. The question is, can you win six matches to get there? Physically, are you going to be able to hold up to win six matches to get to the final?

TODD MARTIN: Well, after two I feel pretty good. Neither one of the first two were what I would call easy matches. You know, hopefully -- I don't feel like I've played two best-of-five matches this week. But the pace picks up next week. I played two matches in five days or four days. It's going to be three days after Sunday.

Q. If I noted correctly, the other day you said that it would be a good idea to make the balls slightly larger for a hard court and smaller for clay court tennis. Can you explain that for a moment?

TODD MARTIN: I think you just have to work on some type of balance between court speed and ball speed. Personally I think you should have pros test out conditions before the tournament and get an opinion of which ball plays the best and which ball doesn't. You know, the court can't be changed a day or two before the tournament, but the ball can be changed within a week probably. Guys aren't here. As long as it changes a couple days before quallies, that makes it pretty easy.

Q. McEnroe said weeks before a tournament, pros should be brought in to test the court itself. Do you agree with that?

TODD MARTIN: That's basically what I just said, yeah. Not weeks, but whatever; a month, two months. I can't imagine the conditions change too much in that course of time.

Q. Has that question been discussed at the council level?

TODD MARTIN: We're always discussing playing conditions. It's awfully tough to monitor court speed because it's an expense that the tournaments incur, and you can't tell them to spend more money. But as far as the balls go, we've been trying to put the same ball in play as often as possible. For instance, this summer we've played with the Wilson ball a fair bit. Leading up to the French, we try to play with the Roland Garros ball. I think this fall we'll play with the ATP ball a fair bit.

Q. My understanding is that the ITF, in the development of the ball, it's eight percent bigger than the current ball. You're aware of that?

TODD MARTIN: I'm aware of that. I'm not necessarily in favor of that. I think if you make the ball bigger, heavier, thicker, deader, we're going to have a lot of problems because guys aren't going to be healthy enough to compete. If you make the ball bigger and keep it the same weight, the same pressure, no extra nap, then I think you can find a balance and make the ball a fairly playable ball, albeit I think eight percent sounds like a very large number to me.

Q. Why could you guys not compete with balls that are bigger, heavier, and more dead than your current balls?

TODD MARTIN: Well, I think you see what happens at Wimbledon. Wimbledon has a ball that's a little bit bigger, heavier, a little bit deader, and with a very thick nap. The ball becomes so heavy that it puts even more favor in the one shot that you get to hit a still ball, and that's the serve. If you miss-hit a return off of a 130 miles an hour serve with those balls, if you miss-hit the ball at all, it's not going to go anywhere, it's going to roll into the net, which makes it difficult from a competition standpoint. But then what you also see are guys used to playing with a certain -- a ball that fits into certain parameters, then all of a sudden playing with a dead-weight ball that puts way too much stress on our bodies, on our arms that already go under great stress doing what we do.

Q. What about the other part of the draw? How do you look at that other half?

TODD MARTIN: I feel like I could beat everybody in the draw. Being able to and doing it are two very, very different things.

Q. Through the years, you've been runner-up at the Australian Open, you've had good runs at the other Grand Slams, semifinalist. When you look at what you've done, are you satisfied with that? Do you think you've done as much in these tournaments as you could, or do you think you've missed opportunities?

TODD MARTIN: I think every one of us has missed opportunities. I'm glad I've been presented with or provided myself with a number of opportunities to do well. You know, contrary to popular belief, making it to the finals or the semis is doing well. If our best players didn't have the mic in their face all the time saying that making it to the finals or semifinals was disappointing, I think you'd realize how important it is and how rewarding it is to do that well in a tournament, albeit not the sweet prize.

Q. Feel like they're doing a disservice?

TODD MARTIN: No. I just don't think that the public gets the point then. It's true to them. It is disappointing to them because I think once you taste that much success, you expect it or want it even more. For instance, if I made the third round and lost, some people would say that's a great tournament, some people would say that's a good tournament, some people would say not too bad, not too good, but I'd be disappointed. It's a matter of expectations. The guys who have microphone, Pete, Andre, Patrick, Yevgeny, their goal coming in here isn't just to play well and provide yourself an opportunity to compete for the championship; their goal is to come in here and win. It certainly is not typical of us all because we don't have the luxury to come in and set our standards so high.

Q. What are your standards here?

TODD MARTIN: Well, my standards are to come in and try to play as well as I can, provide myself an opportunity to compete for the championship. If I don't, still walk off the court with the feeling that I did everything I could to provide myself that opportunity. But the guy on the other side of the net was too good.

Q. Last year when the coaching rule was briefly in effect, numerous people in the press basically liked the experiment, the idea, it gave a new aspect to tennis, different dimension, some interesting quotes around it. If I understand, the ATP said, "Forget it, we're not going to go down that road." In considering rule changes, does whether it makes the game more interesting, more appealing, does that come into the discussion, or is it strictly a look at the on-court situation?

TODD MARTIN: What discussion?

Q. Was there a discussion within the ATP of whether to keep the coaching rule or not to keep it?

TODD MARTIN: Well, there was discussion amongst the players, and then even more discussion amongst the Player Council. It was the general feeling that it wasn't what the players wanted. We realize that certain people enjoyed it. Some of the players enjoyed it and thought it was good. We did not get anywhere near enough positive feedback from the players to warrant continuing experimentation, not to mention how much experimentation is right. If you have a different system of coaching each week, when does that start to look a little funky?

Q. My question is, in the deliberation within the council, is one of the issues: How does this affect the appeal, the take of tennis to the public? Does it enhance it? Does it give it a new element? Is that brought into the discussion?

TODD MARTIN: Definitely. I think almost too a fault our Player Council at least discusses what's best for tennis. I think for a group that's supposed to represent the players pretty exclusively, almost biasedly in this partnership we have, we fortunately I think discuss what's best for tennis, not necessarily what's best for the Top-10 players or the Top 100 players, but what's best for professional tennis. I think very fortunately we have trust in the tournament directors that hold similar positions on their committees that they're doing the same thing and not just looking out for their own interests. If something like that had enough fan appeal and effect on the public, it would be discussed more fervently. It really was not positive in the players' eyes. We don't want to put our fellow players or ourselves in a situation where we're playing under a system that's not what we're comfortable with.

Q. Do you think we're seeing a resurgence of American men's tennis this week? A lot of you guys seem to be winning.

TODD MARTIN: I think there's been - I don't know about a resurgence, but I think the number of players that have established themselves in prior years this year have been playing well. Obviously, Pete and Andre. I've played fairly well. Jim Courier is starting to play much better than he was in the last couple years. Vincent Spadea has been doing great. Then there's a number of other guys on the list: justin, Jan-Michael, Paul Goldstein, Chris Woodruff. There are a lot of guys who have been playing better, and I think in the grander stage of tennis, if you see them make it to the third round, then you'll start to acknowledge it a little bit more, whereas I think their success has been fairly consistent throughout the year.

Q. If Judy Levering asked you for a recommendation on the Davis Cup captain for 2000, what would you tell her?

TODD MARTIN: I'd tell her, one, that I'd be comfortable with whoever she wanted to appoint; and, two, that it's most important that all the players involved have their opinions compared and contrasted, try to get the person who fits everybody's needs the best.

Q. What if she said, "Throw me a name"?

TODD MARTIN: I would and I have.

Q. Don't want to share it?

TODD MARTIN: No, no. This is the US Open. We can worry about Davis Cup when they start -- when the USTA is ready to talk about it.

Q. Do you think it's odd that there's no Tour stop in Chicago, that the Tour sort of skirts around the smaller Midwest markets?

TODD MARTIN: Do I think it's odd, no. I think it's disappointing much, especially from a selfish standpoint. I went to school near there. It's a beautiful city. You know, in the past, Chicago has proven not to be able to really support a high-level tournament. That's disappointing because you would think in that big of a city they could do it. It might just be the wrong management. Still, I'd love to see them try.

Q. (Inaudible) did quite well there.

TODD MARTIN: I didn't even know there was a tournament there.

Q. Speaking of the US Open, you mentioned after yours first round match that you didn't enjoy it very much. What have you done in the past few days to make sure you enjoyed it?

TODD MARTIN: I've tried to make myself as miserable as possible off the court so I enjoyed going on the court even more. To be perfectly honest, if you talk to anybody that's around me, I did a pretty good job of it.

Q. What do you mean?

TODD MARTIN: It's embarrassing when you go out and you do something that you're supposed to be a professional at, and you don't conduct yourself with the professionalism that you've come to expect from yourself. Retrospectively, I'm glad it happened. When it was happening, it was not the greatest experience of my career.

Q. You did enjoy yourself more today?


Q. You were talking about the public reception being the whole story. What is your role among the American men?

TODD MARTIN: Can you start from the beginning there?

Q. The public sees Pete and Andre, they see the flashy stuff. You who know the bigger picture, what is your role among the American men?

TODD MARTIN: When it comes to Justin, I'm a thunder stealer because I bring him back down-to-earth when he goes crazy after he wins. For the rest of the guys, I'm the butt of their jokes probably.

Q. The younger guys?

TODD MARTIN: No, the Richeys, Jonathan Starks. They like to make fun of me.

Q. You seem to do a lot of the heavy lifting, I guess. You do the Davis Cup when no one else wants to. You're on the council.

TODD MARTIN: That's not true. Jim Grabb, Jonathan Stark, myself are all on the Player Council. Richey has been on the Player Council in the past. Tons of American players would absolutely jump over fences to be able to play in the Davis Cup. You can't generalize and say, "When nobody wants to." It's simply when Pete and Andre haven't wanted to in the past. To generalize isn't fair to anybody really. I like doing other things as far as the Player Council is concerned. You know, it's enjoyable for me. Our profession is to hit tennis balls. If some of the other players don't feel like hitting tennis balls and sitting in board rooms are compatible events, then they shouldn't have to. As far as the Davis Cup, it's two guys, maybe a couple years ago when Michael was playing well three guys in the States, maybe two or three others around the world. That much is enough to talk about changing the format. That's disappointing. The event is bigger than all these players individually.

Q. When you were talking about not acting in a professional way, what were you referring to?

TODD MARTIN: I think competing with the highest intensity possible. That's not my nature not to. It wasn't constant the other day. It came in and out on Tuesday. One, it was almost inexcusable because I lost -- almost lost. But, two, it's a situation where you owe it to the people who are watching, you know, to fight through bad conditions on the court, you know, long changeovers, whatever, and not wimp out and complain. That's what I was doing.

Q. You said you wanted to provide yourself with an opportunity to do well. You said that even though top players have gone out, that you still have a lot of tennis to play. Doesn't your heart give a leap or a lurch to know that if you get to the point where you should meet those guys that you have a better opportunity?

TODD MARTIN: Paper says I should beat a lot of guys. You know, we've got a pretty large tennis court that we compete on. We're all very good at it, even the guys ranked 100. Richey is, what, 2 something. There's a lot of guys who can win tennis matches out here. Regardless of what number is next to their name or how many wins and losses they have this year, it doesn't matter. The LA Clippers can always beat the Lakers on a given day. That's sport. That's why we play. If that were the case, simply put, we would have had these four guys come and play two matches to see who's the best player in the world.

Q. So do you think that one day you will win a Grand Slam?

TODD MARTIN: It's impossible to predict. I promise you I will try my darnedest for every Grand Slam that I ever play to do that, but it's impossible to say if I will or I won't. I'm confident that I'll continue to provide myself that opportunity. Gee, winning seven matches in two weeks is something I've never done at a Grand Slam. It's awfully difficult to say, "Oh, yeah, no problem." Pete couldn't tell you if he's going to win another one.

Q. People come to the Grand Slam, you're supposed to be pumped up, have your motivation going. You were in and out the very first match. Is that one of the things you found yourself questioning yourself about?

TODD MARTIN: It's a snowball effect, yeah. You get out there, you have bad conditions with the wind, I struggle in those conditions. Despite the fact I was up two sets and a break, I didn't feel I was playing well. My opponent turned it on a little bit, and I sort of stayed at the same level. Before you know it, I'm in the fifth set. Looking back, it's disappointing to be disappointed while the match is still going on and you're still in good shape. That snowball gets bigger and bigger.

Q. You said you tried to make yourself as miserable as possible off the court so you --?

TODD MARTIN: I was joking.

Q. I know that.

TODD MARTIN: But it was a good one.

Q. It was good. I'd like to follow up on your wonderful joke, if I might. How do you work on being miserable?

TODD MARTIN: Throw out the first pitch at Yankee stadium. Actually, it was just the company. Sharko came with us.

Q. What was that pitch you threw, curve, split finger?

TODD MARTIN: It was high? The glove didn't move, just so you know (laughter). I grabbed the ball after I shook Clemens hand. I looked at the catcher's mitt. I was like -- I froze. I literally just grabbed the ball and said, "Well, throw it hard." I figured less could happen. The worst thing that would happen is if I tried to lob it, I wouldn't have come anywhere near the mitt.

Q. What if you bounced it up to the plate?

TODD MARTIN: Well, knowing it's New York, Yankee Stadium, I probably would have gotten booed.

Q. Was it a strike?

TODD MARTIN: The ump wasn't behind the plate, but I think it was.

Q. What did Clemens say?

TODD MARTIN: He said, "Throw yourself a strike."

Q. You realized you were shaking a hand worth how many millions of dollars? You wanted to be careful with that hand.

TODD MARTIN: I don't think he has much to worry about shaking my hand. I'm not going to break it.

Q. Which "Rocket" was it more of a thrill to meet for the first time, Clemens or Laver?


Q. Why?

TODD MARTIN: It's my sport, first and foremost. I think Laver is the greatest ever, somebody that has incredible loft. His name is just amazing in our sport, I think. It always will be. I'm sure Roger Clemens will, as well, in baseball. It's a true pleasure, plus he befriended me. It's not just a hit yourself an ace type of guy. I genuinely like the man.

Q. Did you ever see old films of Rod Laver playing?

TODD MARTIN: Bits and pieces, but never substantial. I've hit with him, though. I don't think it looks much different now than it did then.

Q. When you see guys for a short period of time, is there a game you played wondering, "How good would I have been against him in his prime," comparing yourself?


Q. Do you think you've had matches that have been shorter than this press conference?

TODD MARTIN: No. I thought I might have on Tuesday, but I decided to make it longer.

End of FastScripts….

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