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September 6, 1998

Byron Black


Q. What happened at the end?

BYRON BLACK: I just didn't hear if he said: Well done. He did. I just didn't hear it. That's all. I was just asking if he heard me.

Q. Tough one. Talk a little bit about the match, you're always so close in the Grand Slams. It's just a nudge here, a nudge there, you can push it through.

BYRON BLACK: Yeah, I mean, I've had a tough match with Alex before, '96. I think I lost in four last time. You know, I think he's improved a lot since then. He's a tough player. I've played two sort of clay court players in the first two rounds. You know, I knew the way I had to play. But, I mean, Alex is just up another level. He's raised his game. You know, I knew I had to attack. I had to serve and volley, mix it up, really attack, both his sides actually, just mix it up. I almost pulled it out. It is close. I'm getting close, but no cigar, you're right.

Q. Are you happy overall with the match?

BYRON BLACK: Yeah, I think I played well. I think I stuck to my game plan. I mean, I had to take some chances, you know. I was up a break in the last set. I went for it, you know. I'm happy I stuck to my game plan and went for it. I was aggressive.

Q. Given that you've been close, what is it going to take for you, in your mind, to get to the next level?

BYRON BLACK: Well, being my size, I've got to always work hard at my matches. I don't get anything for free. I don't blow guys off the court. I have a lot of matches where I have to stay mentally tough and use my fitness and dig it out. I'm always working on my serve, trying to play more aggressive, get to the net. If I can do that and play more sort of like Jonas Bjorkman, I think he's taken it to the really next level, attacking, returning well, playing aggressive. That's what I need to do.

Q. You mentioned twice now taking it to the next level. What are you lacking? What do you need to do to take it to the next level?

BYRON BLACK: I think I have to serve consistently better. I think my serve is letting me down a bit throughout the match, in some of the previous matches. I think I've just got to be more consistent on my serve, play aggressive, like I said. I've got to get to the net and finish the points off. There's a lot of guys who can rally with you from the back of the court. But I think the difference is if you can hit a good approach shot, get to net, finish it off.

Q. Were you happy with the way you volleyed today?

BYRON BLACK: Yeah. I mean, I struggled a little bit at the net sometimes. But I thought I did well when I got there. I'd get some good shots. I had to go to the net to win the match. That's what I did. Sort of live and die by the sword.

Q. What does the rest of the year hold for you now as far as tournaments?

BYRON BLACK: I'm going to play all the big ones, Basel, Vienna, Stuttgart, Paris, Moscow.

Q. Are you going to play doubles also?

BYRON BLACK: This year I sort of made an effort to concentrate on the singles. I'm going to stick to that and play doubles when I can get in. I'm really going to try and focus on the singles. I think I'm ranked between 25 to 30 maybe after this tournament. I want to try and get inside the Top 20 by the end of the year. That's my goal.

Q. Next year do you think you're going to go back to playing more doubles?

BYRON BLACK: No. I think I'm going to stick to the same plan. I think it's very tough to play singles and doubles at the same time. I think it's very tough. I did it for five, six years. I'm sort of getting a little bit burnt out. This year, I really made a conscious effort to focus more on the singles, play less doubles. I'm going to be playing doubles at the Grand Slams and Super 9's, hopefully. That should be enough.

Q. It may have already been asked, but at risk to go back over it, when you played your brother the other day in the doubles match, do you want to talk a little bit about that?

BYRON BLACK: I mean, I lost to him in singles this summer. A lot of the guys were giving me a hard time. I didn't want to lose to him again. It's tough playing a family member. You've got to somehow treat it like another match, which is hard to do. I think Alex and I played really well. It's funny because Alex used to play with Lareau, so it was a really pretty controversial match. We played well. Just outplayed them basically.

Q. How did Wayne play?

BYRON BLACK: He played up-and-down. I mean, I don't think we really let them get into the match. I think we both returned well, served well, really moved well at the net. Just sort of blew them off the court a little bit.

Q. Any chance of the Grand Slams you playing with Cara?

BYRON BLACK: Yes. I think we'll play at Wimbledon. I know Wayne is going to play Hopman Cup this year. That will be pretty exciting for Cara. I'm going to play hopefully at Wimbledon with her next year, if we can get in.

Q. How do you guys decide who gets to play with her in these tournaments?

BYRON BLACK: I haven't played mixed for a long time, and neither has Wayne. At these Grand Slams, it's tough to play singles, doubles and mixed. It's almost impossible. Especially at Wimbledon when you're playing best-of-fives at singles, best of five at doubles, and then you have the mixed, sometimes you feel the mixed can get in the way a little bit. We haven't really been fighting over Cara too much.

Q. How does she react to that?

BYRON BLACK: Well, it's her first year pretty much, so she hasn't felt too left out. You know, I'd like to play one or two Slams with her before I finish my career. Wayne is pretty excited to play. They won a few rounds at Wimbledon this year. They both enjoyed it. I'm sure they'll both play again sometime.

Q. As the oldest, what sort of advice have you given Wayne, and then in turn what type of advice have you both given to Cara?

BYRON BLACK: Well, Cara had the benefit of Wayne and myself always going back to Zimbabwe, trying to help with the technical side of her game. I think that's important because we haven't got so many coaches in Zimbabwe. Technical advice is pretty much lacking there. We always go back there and help her with her volleys. We always try to tell her to play aggressive. In women's tennis, they play a lot from the baseline. If you can have an all-court game, serve and volley, chip and charge, can you really do some damage in doubles and singles. We always encourage her to get to the net and chip and charge, just be pretty athletic, get to the net. Wayne, he's funny. He's pretty laid back. I've always tried to tell him to be a little bit more professional with his approach because he tends to be pretty laid back in his approach. I think he stepped it up to the next level this summer. He had a few good wins last week, beat Muster in Indianapolis, had a good match with Andre. I think he's starting to believe he can win. A lot of it is confidence. I just keep telling him, "Believe you can play with these top guys, and you can, and you will."

End of FastScripts….

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