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July 21, 2000

John McEnroe

Q. Who's going to play doubles?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Give me a couple hours, then I'll know.

Q. What is your assessment of the situation now?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Well, you know, it's not entirely like surprising. Nonetheless, it's disappointing. We had some chances. It's the old story, it's either the clay courts or the clay court specialists, you have to take these chances that we had early in sets. And, you know, the very beginning of the match with Todd, he's on the run and, you know, gets up a break in the second, lets him down, you just can't afford to do that against clay courters that good. Same thing with Jan-Michael. Played a great set. The problem was really getting on clay -- he had those break points early in the second, lost that, and had break points to get back to the second. Breakpoint at 5-4 in the third, gets up a break in the fourth. The chances are there, but you just -- you give these guys an out, you know, then you're in trouble.

Q. As you think about the doubles and what you have to decide tonight, do you think both Martin and Gambill can play three matches?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I don't think so. I mean I don't think Todd's up to playing three matches. Either decide to sit him out tomorrow and maybe see how he feels the next day. But I mean his energy level isn't high enough to play three matches. I mean in a way, I feel bad about putting him in this position in the first place. It wasn't a position that was ideal by any means. He hasn't played a lot of matches this year. He's struggled with his energy level. And he's had, you know, incidences at Davis Cup last year in Boston where he almost, you know, was very close to passing out. And then he put an incredible amount of energy in to get into the Finals of the Open, and then subsequently he was down in Australia and, you know, was struggling there with some physical, you know, energy problems. I'm not sure exactly what it was. I don't know what it was called. And, you know, I just -- I felt like he had the best -- you know, his game matched up. But I was definitely concerned with the heat out there, to have to put him out there. I think Jan-Michael certainly has a better -- I think is fit enough to play three matches. But certainly not Todd. So we have to, you know, throw that into the equation. I think Vince would probably be best off playing singles and Chris could probably do both. So you'll probably see Chris out there with either Todd or Jan tomorrow.

Q. You had some difficult ties this year in Zimbabwe and with the Czechs. Do you think that with Agassi and Sampras here, the result would be different, or you have to come with the people that really want to play?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Well, to be honest, if you don't mind, I prefer not to address that situation. That's sort of a situation that I don't think it pays to really comment on that. I mean what difference does it make? You know, yes or no, I mean the bottom line is they're not here. I mean what do you think? Two of the best players that ever lived.

Q. John, you were talking about the opportunities lost, the chances that were there. Can you reflect on that and why we were so often not able to --?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: As I said, I think it's just clay courts. I can think of matches myself where the same thing happened, exact same thing. I remember playing Wilander at the French. I won the first set 6-1, then subsequently lost the second set, got way up in the third, you know. Another time where I played him where I had, you know, set points in one set, 5-1 in another set, you know. These things -- you have to -- you don't have as many chances to get over the hump on clay because these guys get confident. You know, you see Corretja's game, he came up with some great passing shots. If you had gotten that break in the second, he would have been more tentative. You let these guys off the hook, they get more confident. If Todd had broken Costa the first time he served when he was up 40-Love, then, you know, that could have changed things, if he had gotten up. I mean everybody knew it wasn't going to be easy. These guys are rough on this stuff.

Q. You were able, in Zimbabwe, to kind of rows Woodruff off to his first match and let him go in to win the fifth. Is there a sense there's anything you can say to him to motivate him at all?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I think he's motivated to play because of what he did. I mean he hasn't played well since. But nonetheless, I mean he should be, you know, to me, given the chance to get out there and at least the doubles, if, you know, if not the singles. I think we should throw him out there. I think Vince's liability is his second serve. These guys aren't going to step inside the baseline and hit winners. So it's worth, you know, keeping an option open for him to play a match. You know, because he does -- he can be dangerous. But, you know, it may be more of a problem for him on doubles than singles because, you know, you need to sort of volley him. Second serve, you sort of just spin it in. So, you know, the way Gambill -- I thought Gambill played pretty well. I mean obviously he's not real comfortable on clay, but I thought he did a good job and I think that he's a solid volleyer. He's improved his volleys.

Q. He's very key to get out on the straight away, Jan-Michael, he wants to play the doubles if possible.

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Well, I think, you know, he sort of -- he certainly played well. I think he deserves that chance. You know, he seems to me to be fit enough to be able to pull off three. So it's certainly worth thinking about. Having said that, it's tough to do. He can win the doubles and it's tough to -- you know, say we won two straight matches, It'd be awful tough to win that fifth one. So it's not going to be easy for him.

Q. What were you telling the guys on the changeovers, both Todd and Jan-Michael?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Well, I just -- anything from the basics to, you know, something more technical, to just, you know, trying to rally their energy levels. You know, Todd's, you know struggled with -- you know, he's a tougher guy for me to read. We're different. Jan-Michael is more like my personality, you know, he gets revved up. And I think Todd, you know, he's -- first of all, we're different. And, you know, in a sense that I didn't find a key to sort of getting him, you know, more energized. That's where I failed. You know, I couldn't get him to sort of, you know, dig with inside those reserves, to do what he did at the Open. I wasn't able to get him to do that. So it was there to happen. It just didn't happen. I mean he could have done it. I don't think that -- I think that his game matches up well against Costa; that his type of style can beat a Costa. But you have to play awfully well and have a lot of intensity to do it. If you don't, you know, one thing these guys have learned, these clay court guys, is they learn it pays off to win some free points on a serve. So both of them have improved their serving significantly, to me, in the last couple years. They're not spinning some serves in, they're winning some points and that makes it easier for them. They choke just like anybody else; they make some mistakes, but they don't make enough that you can, you know, they're going to beat themselves ultimately. I mean they may beat themselves for a little while, but not too long.

Q. What happened when you crossed the court?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: He just said it was against the rules. I wasn't aware that it was against the rules. I was trying to -- I felt Jan-Michael was pulling up a little on his ground stroke. Before it got more out of hand, I wanted to get him to stick -- I thought he was successful when he was stepping into the ball and being aggressive. So when he lost his serve there, he was up break points 1-all and didn't win that game, then he was I think it was 40-15 at 2-1 and lost that game. I felt like he was playing well. I didn't want him to lose it there. I just went over to tell him, you know, to stay down, you know, basically. I have the same tendency to get tentative and pull up instead of go forward. So then he seemed shocked that I didn't know that the rule was that I couldn't do that or whatever.

Q. John, if you could go back and change one or two things in terms of preparation for the tie, what would that be, one or two things?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I don't know if I could change anything. I mean I don't know. I mean, who knows? Try other guys?

Q. Could you have been here earlier, the team?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: You know, ideally, we should have gotten here a lot earlier. But it doesn't work that way anymore. It just doesn't happen. You're lucky if guys show up by Sunday. You know. I mean I would have, you know, if guys were committed to come like way ahead of time, I wouldn't have played the event I played in. But no one had any intention to come before Sunday night, so, you know, this is an event, a Senior's event that's at least important to our Tour, so... I mean if no one's coming -- no one eventually came until Monday morning. So, I mean at this point, I'm -- if the attitude doesn't change, it's like there's no sense in, you know, fighting it or getting upset about it. Try to make the best of it. Obviously to come Monday morning and play Friday, when, you know, Woodruff was out in Newport on grass and Todd Martin's best friend's getting married in Los Angeles and Gambill's got some commitment in Spokane and he's not even practicing, and, you know, Spadea's lost 22 matches in a row or whatever the hell it is, we're not exactly coming in with tons of confidence. (Laughter.) You know, what can I tell you? I wish I could tell you things were different, but that's Davis Cup right now. You know, we have, you know, Andre wasn't here, Pete's not here, Chang doesn't want to play, you know, Courier retired. I mean this is the next guys and this is what happened with them.

Q. Obviously you're disappointed and upset. Can you just elaborate on that, just look ahead to the rest of the tie?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: You know, I mean just sit down with the guys and just go over what we're going to do tomorrow and then just try to get on board, basically. You know, try to make it respectable at first and I mean these guys' confidence is growing. This isn't going to get easier; this is going to get tougher. Tomorrow they're just going to go for broke. They're basically -- I mean this is their -- the match they least expected to win. This would be like gravy if they win this. So, you know, at least we have to get on the board and show them that we're here to compete and try to make this interesting, make them sweat a little bit.

Q. John, what about you, not to kiss butt, but, you know, you're one of the --?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: You're all right. It's okay.

Q. -- One of the best players of all time. (Laughter.) The players very much look up to you as the leader. How is your own confidence as Davis Cup captain and where your head is at?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I mean obviously when you're down 2-Love on your worst surface against guys that are tough, you have to dig deep to, you know, try to find the glass that's half full. But I mean that's my job, and, you know, we just have to -- listen, we came here in a situation where I think everyone that knows anything about tennis knows that we weren't, you know, having a great chance to win. I mean the realistic probability of us winning wasn't great. We should go out there and play tennis now, we've won a lot of Davis Cups, we've had a great tennis; these guys have never won a Davis Cup, they haven't been in the Finals, in, you know, 33 years, whatever it is. They've underachieved for years and years. You know, this is a great opportunity to them. They get to play us. So automatically, it's not like they're choking because people still view us, whoever we bring, as this great Goliath or whatever. So they have that advantage. They have a lot of advantages. Plus, we're playing on their surface right after Wimbledon on clay in this heat. You know, this is tailor made for them. You know, if they can't take advantage of this, you know, they're going to win the Davis Cup in the year 3000 I think.(Laughter.) So we'll see what happens. I mean these guys are tough. They're not even playing the best guy right now. I mean that's a pretty good deal, when you don't play the best player.

Q. Who do you think is going to compete in 3000?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: If Ferrero still is playing. I think he's, you know, he would still be eligible.

Q. In any case, you said many times that the substitution of players like Martin, Courier, Chang, it's your duty for the future, or do you think that Gambill or Spadea or some other --?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I think that personally there's guys here that may never play Davis Cup again. You know, so it's like an opportunity. Hopefully, who knows what's going to happen? I mean, you know, who would have expected that this team would be here right now? I don't think I would have anticipated that. So, I mean if Vince gets out there, you know, I'd like to see him take something from here to get back and, you know, get himself where he belongs in the top 30 in the world or 40, wherever he should be. He got to 18 in the world. You know, Woodruff is, I think 25, 30 in the world after the quarters of Australia. He had a great run there, you know. Hopefully this will help these guys. Martin's struggling, he's only won four or five matches this year. You know, if he doesn't do well in the next month, he's going to be 200 in the world. He got to the Finals of the Open, he got to the quarters in Toronto, the semis in Washington, he's got some significant points coming up, so, you know, that's why I'd like to see him, even if it doesn't happen here, for his sake, you know, to me the best he ever played was when he got really energized at the Open. That was by far his best effort I ever saw. I think he needs to do that, even -- maybe if it's not in his nature, he needs to do that. And as far as Gambill, he's the one that appears, hopefully that he'll be around for a while. And, you know, maybe some of these young guys. We have a couple young guys, teenagers that are some of the top junior players, Marty Fish and Roddick was good. Hopefully these guys will advance quickly.

Q. John, you talked the other day to us about your leadership style has been more Democratic than dictatorial. Is tonight a night, or tomorrow, whenever the decision comes down, that you change that? Is this a time, given the circumstances, that you become more dictatorial?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I don't think so. I don't think so. You know, I mean I have -- yes and no. I mean I still think that at this stage to pull off what we pulled off, I'd still like to hear what the people have to say. It's not that I'd let the players make the decision ultimately. It's just that in terms of who I pick for the doubles, you know, and the previous match, they were ranked the No. 1, they had won Palm Springs. And Ricky had won the Australian Open when I picked him. There weren't shocking surprises. Here it was tough. I really had to -- there's four guys that aren't playing with a great deal of confidence because of varying circumstances. Vince has problems, Chris has struggled, Jan-Michael is by far the most confident, but he's also the most uncomfortable in this surface, and Todd has had his own problems. So no one's like walked in here with tons of confidence and, you know, clay has an awful way of making you less confident. Especially American guys. It just has its ugly way of like suddenly -- you think you're hitting the ball great and you suddenly can't find the court and, you know, there's 10,000 people hoping that you miss a lot of balls.

Q. Jan-Michael of course did well at Wimbledon. But do you think a lack of confidence was a direct factor in his failure --?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I would say it's that his, you know, lack of confidence against a great clay court player on clay in Spain in Davis Cup. I mean, you know, Corretja is a great -- is a very good clay court player if not a great one. We're not playing like chopped liver here, we're playing like tough customers, you know, who really want to win. These guys are the real deal. You know, I mean how many balls did you hear hit today where like when it was struck, everybody was like, "Oohh." You know deep down it's going to be two feet inside the baseline, but it comes down, that's the -- that is tough to deal with. And then they got this other guy who's not even played yet who's the most talented of them all. These guys are rough.

Q. How hard is it for you to sit there and watch this happen?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Well, it's not real hard in the singles, that's for sure. Because I know I wouldn't have done a damn thing. Even in the doubles in a way, to me, to be honest, I'm not playing well enough. I'm not happy with the way I'm playing, as if that matters ultimately. To me it matters. I need to do better. And I had a couple, you know, like the blister and, you know, things that are a little bit off. It's probably because I'm 41, I don't know, hopefully not. But some of it is. And then sitting there, you know, the prospect of sitting there for six hours, then going out, it's tough. That's not ideal by any means. So I think that, you know, when you look at -- even at Corretja, who is not known as a big hitter, he's hitting a pretty big ball. His serve is popping better than you would have thought. Costa got out of trouble, you know, with some serves. There's some sting on those shots that, you know, yes, in doubles you cover half the court. But I'm not used to that whip that's come down and the volleying and the movement that's ready for that. So there is a -- you know, there's always a part of you as a competitor when you see 10,000 people and you want to be out there. It's hard to let go in a sense. But, you know, you also just have to -- I keep in perspective, I had my run. Unless I'm really out there, like and, you know, not hitting puff second serves to players myself, I got to put some sting on the ball, and really play well, better than I'm playing. I'm not playing bad, I'm just not playing well enough.

Q. I didn't mean it quite so much as to sit there and not play, but to have come into this whole Davis Cup experience expecting to win this year, expecting to do well, to sit there and watch this thing go down to Love-2 today?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: There's no question that, like, it's -- it's been disappointing; there's no question. But, you know, as I've told you guys before, I think you guys know I believe in Davis Cup and I think it's a tradition that's good for tennis. And it's -- when you get away from, it's always -- to me, the one thing I'm not going to do is say, "That's it, I quit," if we lose or whatever. And one of things I would have done when I was younger, you know, spur-of-the-moments statements. You know, let it sink in, just appreciate that there are a lot of good -- you know, it gives you time to dwell on the positive. You know, it's just like my own career. Do you want to dwell on the negative or dwell on the positive? As you get away and realize, "Hey, this was a great job," you dwell on the wins instead of all the losses. It's the same thing with this. You know, I signed a three-year deal and, you know, I'd like to think that I could do something positive. I'm not sure if, you know, as I said, I'm not sure it's bad luck or I haven't made a difference, you know, it's hard to say right now.

End of FastScripts....

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