February 6, 2000
C. WOODRUFF/ W. Black 6-3, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: How about a round of applause for this guy? (Applause.) He deserves it, after all he's been through.
Q. And one for the Captain, huh?
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Thank you, I appreciate that. Just one.
Q. John, did you get smarter?
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: No, he got better. You know, he was in about as tough a situation as he could possibly be on Friday: Never played, altitude. And I'll tell you something, it was really a team effort though, because, I mean, you could see that Chris got stronger as the match went on. He was unlucky to lose the second set, and Wayne, you could feel slowing down. No question. Playing all three days, it's Davis Cup and it's a team. Chris was just all over it at the end. It was just unbelievable. The first match was just incredible. If I told you a couple months ago, I would have said...(Inaudible). I don't think I want to go through this again too soon.
Q. Chris, you said before the match that it was probably the greatest honor to represent your country in the Davis Cup. How does it feel to come through a match like that?
CHRIS WOODRUFF: You know, it feels incredible. I just owe a lot of my success this week to John here. And for Andre, who was such a stalwart throughout those two games. He knew he had to do it. We had to have him win both those matches if we had a shot at winning this thing. Rick Leach and Alex O'Brien gave a team effort. The whole team bonded. I don't think we had any egos or any seclusion. Everybody just got along so well.
Q. John, probably more than anyone in our era you've been around a lot of great matches, great triumphs, great situations. Anything in your experience to compare with this match?
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I tell you, this is right up there. There's no doubt. People, they talk about Davis Cup and it's a tricky situation nowadays because everyone's got their own -- there's so many things going on. It's been that way for a long time. But, I mean, I think that everyone that was down here this week and all you folks, you got to know it's something different. I mean, I feel like I'm, like, 45 right now. I've aged, like, five years in a week. So this will probably -- I'm going to enjoy this for a couple years, but I don't know how long I'm going to keep doing this. It was unbelievable, an unbelievable thing for me. It's totally different. I'm going to try to give myself a break now. We pulled it out, this is incredible. But sitting there, I'll tell you, felt like -- at one point you even saw, I actually jumped up during the point. I was so excited, you know. I thought the point was over, so... I really had to hold back during the match. I felt like I was about to jump out of my pants.
Q. John, you're a man of few words. If you had to choose just -- (Laughter.) -- choose just two or three words that really captured the day and the experience and the team effort --
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Well, you know, sort of like Arthur passed away seven years ago today. The last time that we came back was when I played for Arthur and that was his first match. It's a cornball pride and honor thing, but you really feel it. It's an incredible feeling to be part of this. It sounds corny, this is what it's all about. But I'll tell you -- how many words is that? "This is what it's all about." Six. That really sums it up.
Q. Chris, how do you explain the rallies? Whenever you got into long rallies with him, he ended up winning the point most of the time. Of course you were the aggressor --
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Jacob, you didn't look at the score, what are you talking about? He won the rallies -- Wayne did?
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Who was winning the rallies?
CHRIS WOODRUFF: I mean, I think he maybe went through a spurt where he was winning the longer rallies. I hit a wall there at the end of the second set. I was having, similar to I think Andre, I got bloated out there and I was having trouble getting air in my lungs. I hit a little bit of a wall, and I just had it. When I sat down at the end of the second set, John kind of got in my face just a little bit, and I can just -- the great thing about him is, as our captain, he's just so passionate about Davis Cup. You want to go out there and I want to play for myself, but you just feel like you want to try so hard for him. He was such a competitor when he played. So in the back of my mind, I was just thinking, you know, "You got to do this for him." I'm just so happy the team was able to squeak this out and we were able to get the second round. I knew he probably was going to take a lot of grief if we lost.
Q. How much trouble was this altitude problem? The altitude?
CHRIS WOODRUFF: It was just, you know, the air is thin. It's tough to get in your lungs.
Q. Chris, you lose the second tie in the tiebreak to level the match. You drop your first serve, your first serve in the second, now you're down 2-Love and you wipe him out after that. What happened?
CHRIS WOODRUFF: Well, once again, you know, he sat me down at the end of the second set and just kind of got in my kitchen just a little bit. And -- (Laughter.) Colloquial parallelism there, but he just fired me up. And I had enough. You know, I kind of got a second wind. It was like I was kind of going out there in the second set and, you know, I started to breathe. I looked over and my coach was there with me, I heard him say "Breathe," he kept saying that to me throughout the rest of the match, and I think that helped a lot.
Q. John, what else did you say to him besides "Breathe"?
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: No, it was more like just the energy level has to be so high in Davis Cup. (Inaudible.). If we're going to go down, we have to go down in flames. Whenever you get nervous, you start -- almost everyone starts playing faster. You could even see Andre in the third set, he started playing faster. Then it was -- he got a little break because he was down 2-Love and broke back. That's when I said, "You have to suck it up here." I mean, forget this baloney. I can't say the exact words I said. (Laughter.)
Q. John, this was like a rumble in the jungle. You won the match.
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: You mean like Ali and Forman?
Q. I want to know how much respect you give us.
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Listen, as far as I'm concerned, these two guys played some incredible tennis. I mean these guys -- if they're 60 and 130 on the rankings, they're about Top 20, Top 30 at worst, as far as how they play in this surface. That other guy, Ullyett, I think is his name, he hit three balls at like 5-6 in the fifth, I mean a shot like this, screamers. He played consistent. I mean, it was an incredibly competitive match. We knew it would be tough. I knew it would be tough. I didn't think it would be this tough. But it's all the more rewarding because those guys were giving us a hard time, trying to get under our skin. They were giving us a hard time and then pretending like I'm being difficult. As difficult as I supposedly was, I guarantee that those guys that were playing were giving my teammate a tougher time from their side.
Q. Do we expect to see you some time?
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Expect to see me?
Q. Yes. As a Tourist? (Laughter.)
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: You know, listen, the people have been hospitable. Once you get out there, you notice different things happening. It's over now, but the people, everyone besides the player and the coach, have been hospitable. It wasn't their job to be hospitable. Their job was to break our you-know-what. Our job was to try to come up with a way to deal with it. And in the end, it's the ultimate satisfaction to do it. But you better believe they were doing absolutely everything they could. You kid yourself if you don't think they were doing it.
Q. One of the inherent problems of Davis Cup is you get a guy like Chris who comes in and rescues you like this, then you can't really find a good role for him in the next tie or whatever.
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: You don't want me to think about -- that's really -- that's not a nice question. It's really unfair, because it is inherently unfair. It's like, you know, you just played the biggest match of your life, thank you very much, now get the hell out of here. That's not what I, you know, I just don't want to think about it. This is when the job, in a way, gets tougher because we had such a great team spirit. I believe with this team, we'd beat Czechoslovakia. I'll just tell you that right now. This team would beat Czechoslovakia.
Q. Will you keep it?
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I don't know what I'm going to do, but I'm tempted to.
Q. John, did you get a phone call from Pete Sampras during the weekend?
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Unfortunately not.
Q. Are you upset by that?
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I wouldn't say upset, no.
CHRIS WOODRUFF: I got a fax and a phone call from Todd Martin. I talked to Todd on the phone last night and he sent the team a fax on Thursday night. He's a class act.
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Todd sent a fax and spoke to Chris about 15, 20 minutes. That's --
CHRIS WOODRUFF: Courier e-mailed me and said "Good luck." Two class people.
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: It doesn't mean you're not a classy guy if you don't do it; it means that you are if you do do it. Just give him his due for the fact that he really is a team guy. Everyone knows that he's always been. To make that effort - him and Chris get along pretty well - that means a lot to me, to make that effort.
Q. In terms of sort of emotional moments on the court, your reaction at the end there was, I mean, when have you last felt as emotional as that?
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: 1984. (Laughter.)
Q. What did Todd say to you, Chris, when you talked to him? And when was it again?
CHRIS WOODRUFF: You know, last night. We just had a couple of jokes, and he, you know, just a couple inside jokes that he and I kid one another about. He just tried to tell me it's not the end of the world, and just to go out there and have fun. Because he asked me if I had fun on Friday when I played. I told him I didn't have a bit of fun. It was not a fun experience. I did not enjoy myself at all. At least, you know, God forbid I had lost that match, I would have come off and at least felt like I competed and I left it out there for my team and our captain here. But as you all know, I don't know if you heard me, but Courier sent a friend of mine an E-mail to tell me good luck. Those two guys are two of my friends on Tour and who kind of took me under their wing when I first came out here.
Q. John, before coming here, you reportedly said some negative things about Zimbabwe.
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Don't always believe what you read.
Q. You should be a politician.
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I'm thinking about it.
Q. John, you also got what is called a Championship Captain's Warning. What's a Captain's Warning, and what was it for?
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I guess if you say a naughty word, you sometimes get -- what is it, Champions Warnings? Captain's warnings, I'm sorry. Hopefully that will be the last one, but don't bet your life's savings on it.
Q. Next round at the Forum?
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: You know, it's going to be determined. I'm not playing, I'd like to play at the Forum. I think the Forum would be great, and I think the people there, I know Jeannie Buss (phonetic spelling) and Linda Ramus (phonetic spelling) have done a great job with exhibitions I've played there. I've been at the Forum hundreds of times. I'd like to play there, but obviously I want to talk to people on the team and obviously people like Andre for starters. And this guy. (Indicating.) All of a sudden I'm going to ask him what he thinks.
Q. Apart from a warning, what do you think you can learn from arguing with umpires?
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Not a whole lot. We were 0 for 22. That makes me 1 for 2,412. You know, I did win one, I think. But you don't win a whole lot. I don't know if you have a lot to gain. It's more just -- there were some calls missed, let's be honest. But it's Davis Cup and people miss calls anyway. But at least let the guy know he's missed it.
Q. Chris, you're down a break in the third set. You're sucking it in, the crowd's really pumped, looks like the momentum has really now swung the other way. Did you ever lose heart? Did you ever feel like "Hey, maybe this is slipping away"? Did that cross your mind?
CHRIS WOODRUFF: Yeah, I was a little nervous. I just really tried to stay focused and one point at a time. But, yeah, I started to get a little nervous because he started to -- I had some chances on his serve and I really think I would have settled down a little had I gotten a double break there in the fourth. It was funny, he was telling me just to concentrate on my serve, like I was going to be Voila, Pete Sampras; I was going to go out there and bag the other guy's serve, serve canons on my serve. But I just got --
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Which is exactly what happened.
CHRIS WOODRUFF: I got in a groove.
Q. Can you recall your break back, your first break in the third set? It was a loose game, do you recall that game?
CHRIS WOODRUFF: I vaguely remember it. It wasn't -- I think I threw in a double-fault, a couple of loose shots. But I don't know how long we played, over the course of several hours, that's tennis for you.
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: You mean when he broke down for 2-Love?
Q. When you broke back.
CHRIS WOODRUFF: When I did, that was a couple loose errors. That was in the third, right? That's when it occurred to me he was getting tired. Because he moved -- I noticed a couple times that he was late for some backhands, you know, relative - three or four steps to his left - and he was getting there and hitting them in the bottom of the net. I saw him chewing some tablets on the changeover. I think he ran out of gas.
Q. Chris, was there anything that you did, strategy-wise, to get control, better control of the conditions, the way the ball flies, between Friday and today?
CHRIS WOODRUFF: Well, I think no, not really. I don't think --
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: He didn't even play Saturday.
CHRIS WOODRUFF: I didn't hit a ball yesterday. I took the whole day off and just kind of got -- wanted to get away a little bit from the tennis because I practiced so much and prepared for this the best I could. I just rode the exercise bike to break a sweat. But I'll tell you one thing, having that one match on Friday under my belt helped me out a lot, if you can believe that. I wasn't nearly as nervous. I knew what to expect. Everything was just, you know, just worked out well for me.
Q. You haven't mentioned Andre yet. Is it fair to say had he not won in three sets he could have been struggling badly?
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: That's not what he told us in the locker room. He said he just wanted to let us know that if he had lost that third set, he was going to win the fourth set. But anyone that says he doesn't have heart and character now, they're so full of you-know-what it's sickening. It's like Chris said earlier, you know, we needed those two matches. It's pressure. Andre's -- we saw that Andre's a human being. He's competing so well right now. I can't tell you how much it meant for him to be here, how much it meant for everyone.
Q. What did you tell the team after the victory?
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: After we won?
Q. After you won.
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Andre's match?
Q. After the whole victory.
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: There's nothing even to say other than you just start hugging everyone around in sight. It's an emotion that you dream about having. It really is. You don't get them that often, and you got to savor the moment. We're all here, we worked so hard and we kept positive when things were looking bleak. It wasn't looking, you know, real good at some point. And yet we persevered and all of a sudden, that plane ride looks a whole lot shorter right now.
Q. What's wrong with Agassi, and is he okay?
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Well, to be honest, I haven't seen him. He was gone when we got back, and I think it's like what Chris mentioned earlier, it's tough playing in these conditions. You're playing in 5400 feet of conditions, he's playing his heart out. Black played an unbelievable third set. I mean, I was really -- he played an unbelievable match against Chris. The guy was playing phenomenal tennis. Andre just sucked it up big-time. He, you know, not only -- we know what happened, but after he did that, he came out and played a couple Horatio incredible points. It was -- I know he's just, you know, making sure he's okay. I'm not even sure -- I think it was more like the -- it just all hits you; you feel it. It's been a long trip for Andre. He just came from winning the Australian Open, he worked his tail off to do that. He played an incredibly tough match against Pete. He won the Finals, he comes here, gets two or three days to get ready for total foreign conditions. He showed so much heart and character, he set such a great example for these guys.
Q. Could he have continued a fourth or fifth set?
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I believe so.
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