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September 27, 1998

Francesco Ricci Bitti

Nicola Pietrangeli


MR. RICCI BITTI: Thank you. I would like to thank the USTA for the great reception here. We are happy because we won. I have to say the USTA has been a great loser; usually it is a great winner, and we really received more than is usual in Davis Cup. I would like to express my gratitude to my friend Harry Marmion, Judy Levering and all the people that I know for a long time, that I was real astonished how they received us and how they managed the difficult situation of their team. I would like to say about Mr. Panatta and Mr. Pietrangeli that they represent the history of our Davis Cup; that they also have received Nicola received a standing ovation last night and also Panatta was recognized by the president of the ITF, Brian Tobin. That means that our country that try always to honor Davis Cup received really the reward that we never expect. Thanks. I would like to ask Nicola to say something about his feeling after this reception and to Adriano if he wants.

ADRIANO PANATTA: I think Pietrangeli is much better, the history of the Davis Cup.

NICOLA PIETRANGELI: Not much I can say. Of course very happy that I won and as the president said, we have been -- really, we felt home. Of course it is easy when you win. But personally, I never had such a welcome like I had last night, yesterday and the night before. So that makes me very happy. As the president say, we always try to respect and be and I am sorry not everybody thinks like I do, that everyone should be just proud to play Davis Cup. I think I tried my best and today I have received things I never thought to receive anymore. That makes me very, very happy. Thank you.

Q. Where and on what surface is the final going to be played?

MR. RICCI BITTI: Yes, the surface, at least the request of the team that usually we try to follow because, as you know in Davis Cup, one of the pure advantages is to choose the surface and to play home. And since we play home in our 7th final - this is the 7th final of the Italian team in Davis Cup - but it is the first one - we have been in the past very unlucky - it is the first one home. So for this reason, I guess we surely try to follow the desire of our players, that is to play on clay court indoor because of the date. So this will be the most likely situation. See, the venue that -- is not yet decided will be in our opinion in a great city because the events for Italy is so important that we cannot escape to be in a great city with a great attendance, hopefully, and great coverage and everything. So I am not able today to say finally what we are going to decide in the next day. ITF leaves the home organizer few days still; we hope in this days to find the good solution that basically in a great city on clay indoor.

Q. Do you expect to perhaps do a better job maybe making sure the surface is as slow than the USTA did to make sure this surface was fast?

MR. RICCI BITTI: I hope so. But in any case, I guess in my long experience of official in Davis Cup, following Davis Cup, I also feel also a psychological tactic is very important. So what the players desire is not always perhaps the best, but it is very important they feel comfortable and so I think we are going to do a clay court, indoor court, and we hope it is a good one for our players. For instance, here, I can say that our players felt immediately well so they found that the court was not so fast as they were afraid of. I hope it is not the same for the Swedes.

Q. Were you surprised that it was so slow?

MR. RICCI BITTI: I would not say so slow. I would say that our players, as soon as they start practicing, they were happy enough and so this was a surprise. Usually in Davis Cup when you start in a way -- a venue you are afraid of the surface and this was not the case here.

Q. Can you talk about generally about how exciting you are to be in the Davis Cup Final?

MR. RICCI BITTI: Yes, we hope to have a very exiting Final. We had a wonderful victory here because, as I said during the official dinner, in my opinion I read many newspapers and I understood what the American press said this that this is a second string team. But our opinion, it is always the first string, the team, because when somebody is making himself available, he deserves to be considered a first string. This is a problem between the association and the player, but I believe that the future of the Davis Cup is more important than the player.

Q. Why do you think Italian players are more willing to play Davis Cup than American players?

MR. RICCI BITTI: I guess because for Italy to play Davis Cup it is very important. That means the moment you beat a player in Davis Cup counts ten times more than when you beat him in a normal tournament. For instance, if Sanguinetti beats Todd Martin in a tournament let's say in Iowa, or something like that, I don't think they will care very much - I am talking about the press. But the moment he beats Martin in Davis Cup, that makes him, let us call him a hero, or that makes a great publicity for all the tennis itself. Because he won in Davis Cup; he is representing his country. This is very important. I think we have, besides the rest, we have good Davis Cup players. I think I guess they are smart enough to understand that when they play Davis Cup, they get a lot. Of course they give a lot. But they get a lot.

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