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October 14, 2002

Mark Miles

Manolo Santana


MANUEL SANTANA: I would like to say that we are very pleased to be here with you, Mark Miles. Everybody knows who it is. It's the big boss of the ATP. He will explain to you how and when we made the agreement to have the tournament here. He will explain, after he has seen everything here, how it is until now. I would like to inform you that for the qualifying matches on Saturday, we have around 6,300 people. On Sunday, we had around 6,400 people, which has been an unbelievable crowd for us that we never thought, honestly, so many people would come over here. We are very, very pleased to see how the people of Madrid back up the event. Monday, we have 4,800 people coming for the matches during the whole day. We hope that tonight there will be more or similar. We would be very, very happy. Now Mr. Mark Miles will talk to you about what he thinks about the event.

MARK MILES: Thank you. It's a real pleasure to be here. As Manuel suggested, I was here back in February, in the City Hall, to announce that the Tennis Masters Madrid was coming. At that time I saw the plans, the paper, the drawings for this facility, then I got in the car and I drove to the park. I really thought that this time Mr. Tiriac and Mr. Santana had lost their minds (smiling). Those of you who are from Madrid know very well the condition of the facilities back in February. I think, given what has been accomplished in eight months or so, we can call this the Miracle in Madrid. It's not only a fantastic, really world-class facility for the public where I think the main stadium in particular has no bad seats. I think it's an ideal size for the enjoyment of the public. For you, I hope you'll agree that the facilities are good. This room might be a little bit small, but otherwise the facilities here for the working journalists are first rate. The VIP hospitality, which is a part of professional tennis, is at an absolutely extraordinary standard. We're very proud, as promised, that the field is the best of tennis. So from our point of view, we couldn't be more pleased with what's been constructed here, what has come together. I think the fact there were almost 13,000 people here for the qualifying, along with today's crowd, means that already by the end of Monday you have a tournament with spectators greater than some of the tournaments for the whole week on the tour. We said back in February that Spain deserves to have a Masters Series tournament. There's such a rich tradition, including historic accomplishments like the person next to me (Manuel Santana), and others have contributed to the history of the sport. And of course the strength of the Spanish players in men's tennis today is second to none. I think you all have the statistics about 9 or 10 different titles won by Spanish players last year. Really it's an extraordinary thing. So this year we have the possibility of as many as three in the Masters Cup at the end of the year in Shanghai. It's not just the stars at the top, but the depth of Spanish tennis which make it so outstanding. So I didn't come with a big speech or big announcement, but I want you to know we're very gratified and proud what's been accomplished here. We think we're here for the long-term. We know it will get bigger and better. Thank you.

Q. With the imminent retirement of Sampras and maybe Agassi in the world tennis scenario, how do you see the change or outlook that tennis will have given that players as charismatic as Sampras and Agassi, maybe we don't have them?

MARK MILES: So I understand the question basically to be with the coming retirement of Andre and Pete, the possibility that we wouldn't have players with the same level of charisma, how do I see the future of tennis. Well, first, I'm not sure if Mr. Agassi would want us talking about his retirement. This guy is working as hard or harder than he's ever worked in tennis. He's had superb results. With all due respect to Mr. Hewitt, Mr. Agassi tells me it is his intention to finish the World No. 1 at the end of the year. I think he is physically and mentally at a place where he is capable of playing tennis for some time to come at the highest level. But to the point of your question, I remember back in 1990, '91, at a time when it was clear that John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors were about finished, there were questions exactly like yours, just change the names. The thing that's always happened in tennis, and I'm completely confident it will happen again, out of nowhere stars are born, and they can be born very quickly. The possibilities of players, to start with, the Americans, because you mentioned two Americans, the possibilities of players like Roddick and Blake, to thrill crowds around the world, are very real. I was in Paris for the Davis Cup where the US played France. I can tell you, the French people responded to those players almost as if they were their own. I'm sure it will be true here in Madrid, as well. The same is true for many guys. I believe players like Juan Carlos Ferrero, who is a great athlete with an artistic kind of game, has a very sympathetic personality, has fans around the world. Moya for a long time has been kind of a sex symbol in tennis, and a very popular player wherever he goes. It goes on and on. I think Lleyton is going to be a champion for many, many years. The names may change some, but I think the game in its international scope produces stars. I'm sure we'll have great players and great personalities for the public in the future.

Q. I would like to know, you being the boss of the ATP, as a tennis man and an American, what you think of US players? Year ago, Top 10 were mostly Americans. When will the United States be another power?

MARK MILES: I'll answer your question, but not as an American. I'll answer the question as the chief executive of the ATP. I think it is true that in the United States, in terms of the number of Top 10, Top 20 and Top 100 players, this is fewer than we've had historically. But you left out some players like Jan-Michael Gambill, who is here, the Bryan brothers, who perhaps are mostly doubles, but are going to be great stars. I think it's really the same answer. It's not a factory. With the possible exception of the production of players in Barcelona, the rest of the world has not figured out how to have them come out like products on an assembly line. But I, for example, have young sons who are playing tennis in the junior tennis. Again, I see kids out there where I believe in two, three years, things can change dramatically. A player 14, by the time he's 17, you'll know his name. Those kids are out there. I think in the end it all balances out. I don't believe there's a problem in the States which will mean there's a permanent kind of decline. What really happened is the rest of the world has gotten much stronger. If the number of Americans is a smaller percentage, I think it's because of the strength of the rest, not because of the decline in the States.

MANUEL SANTANA: Thank you very much, Mark.

MARK MILES: Thank you.

End of FastScripts….

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