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February 4, 2000

John McEnroe

Chris Woodruff

HARARE, ZIMBABWE, B. BLACK/ C. Woodruff 7-6, 6-3, 6-2

USTA: Questions for John and Chris.

Q. Chris, have you ever gone through anything like that before?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: You know, to be honest with you, I started out a little nervous. But I feel that -- I really didn't feel intimidated out there by that.

Q. That first set was obviously crucial, going your way. Did it renew your confidence until he got the lift of the crowd?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: Yeah, this court's not very conducive for changing the pace on the ball. I've practiced with him, you know, down in Australia where the bounce is a little higher, and I think it's -- being in the altitude, the ball just -- all my shots came up in his wheelhouse. He has real compact strokes, and that's great for here.

Q. John, your summation of the match?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: You know, it was a learning experience for both Chris and myself. I know I can do better, and it was a lot -- it was very, very clear, we were a point away from winning the first set really. I mean, he came up with a lucky shot at 15-40, 30-40. A couple things didn't go our way. I mean, give credit where credit is due; he played a great match. I anticipate that I certainly will do a better job, hopefully, in the next two days. I don't give myself a very good grade either.

Q. What did you do wrong, John, in your mind?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: You know, just need to be -- I don't know exactly. But, you know, hopefully I'll be able to -- I know that -- I know deep down in my heart I didn't do a very good job today. I know I could have done better. There's no specifics, but I know I could have done better. So... The good news is that it's the first of three. This match is far from over. Obviously, tomorrow's a key match. If we win that, then, you know, we'll be back to being overwhelming favorites. If not, Chris and I will put our heads together and figure out a way for him to win a fifth match.

Q. John, there were a couple of dubious line calls in the match. At one point, you disputed a call, and then another point Chris was walking towards the umpire's chair to dispute a call and you took him by the elbow and urged him to go back and play. Is this, like, the new, more reserved John McEnroe?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I don't know. He's always been one of the worst umpires that I've been part of, and he continued to be today. I'm not going to say that's why we lost the match. I think he played a great match. He continued to prove to me how bad an umpire he is. There was three, four, five calls. I mean, I think all things considered, when I've watched Stan Smith play in Romania and some other countries, the people did a, you know, reasonable job. I mean, it's not easy to call the ball on fast hardcourt. There were some clear mistakes, and we didn't get -- we didn't get the calls, you know. I don't know what to tell you. He missed the calls, as simple as that. You know, after Chris hit that big return at 3-4, 15-40, he hit a lucky shot, won the point and hit a great shot. The next point we got a bad call. It could have easily been a set for us and a totally different story. Early in the second, when it was the first time Chris served at Love-1; I think 15-30 was another call. The calls didn't go our way. But I think you sort of had to expect that, I guess, when you're playing an away tie in Davis Cup. You can't bank on calls going your way. They're tough calls because, you know, you really see that the momentum can shift. It's unfortunate. I feel bad for Chris because it's, like, I feel in some ways it's like the guy is paying me back, you know. Somehow I sense it's, like, personal. And I feel bad for people that have to play for me. So, hopefully, you know, that karma will get more positive. But, you know, in some ways I do feel responsible and bad that these things continue to happen.

Q. John, do you agree with Byron when he says that the experience meant the difference today? He has 70 matches in Davis Cup.

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I think that the experience that he has helped him, and I think the fact that he was brought up here helped him. His game, obviously, is better suited in terms of his compact strokes. I give him credit for playing a great match. You know, he played a very good, experienced Davis Cup match against someone who is, you know, who walked into a very, very difficult situation. And I feel we knew that going in. We knew it was going to be tough. It's not going to be easy. This is not conditions that are conducive to Chris' style of play, and we have a situation where we lost some players and now we have to figure out how to win. I mean it's as simple as that. I mean it's not easy. I mean, I didn't expect it to be easy.

Q. You've been around a lot of ties, John. Does this remind you of any situation in your past, Argentina, any of the different places you've been?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: It really doesn't, no. No situation at all. Also, for me, it's not easy to -- as someone who's played, you know, and always been playing, you know, to be -- it would be nice to have sort of this adjustment period, you know. It would be nice to have a couple easy ones and have one-sided victories and get your feet wet. But this is -- I'm not sure I anticipate things a whole lot tougher than they are right now. I suppose that you always have to, you know, be prepared for anything. But if, for the sake of argument, we won this match and suddenly we were playing in Los Angeles in April and we're playing Czechoslovakia, say, or whoever it is, let's say Czechoslovakia, I anticipate in a lot of ways a far easier time. So... What situation is more difficult than this? So it's like, you know, it's a test of character really. Hopefully, we'll all pass the test.

Q. Andre said your greatest ability as a coach is the ability to raise people's levels of play. How do you think you'll be able to --

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: You know, I certainly failed, you know. I got some work to do. I wasn't able to succeed as much as -- even with Andre. I think Andre played well. The other guy played really well. But it's like I said, it is something that I'm not used to. So, you know, I'm going to try to learn as quickly as possible and hopefully tomorrow, you know, I'd love nothing better than to sit here tomorrow and tell you that I, hopefully, made a difference between them. It's a very competitive match that's going to take place. You're talking about four excellent doubles players. It would be great for me to say that I, you know, helped be the difference. I mean, I hope I can sit here tomorrow and tell you that.

Q. What would you have liked Chris to do during the match that he maybe didn't manage to do?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Well, probably, you know -- first of all, it would be a help if I told him to do it. It's not like he didn't try to do what I asked. It's easier said than done. But maybe mixing the paces, throwing a few, you know, loopy balls or staying back -- you know, a couple subtle things. It's not like I was going to say serve-and-volley on the first and second serve.

Q. Chris, the crowd was -- I mean the noise level there was intense. You say you weren't intimidated. But certainly at some point you must have felt that, you know, you were fighting not just one player but all these people out there screaming in the stands.

CHRIS WOODRUFF: I don't really know what to say to that. I don't think I ever felt like I was playing 4,000 people, if that's what you're asking me. It was loud. I knew that. I never thought I was playing 4,000 people. You know, I've been -- I've been around Davis Cup a couple times helping out the team in various ways, and, you know, loud noise is nothing new to me. What's new is getting out there and experience playing.

Q. Was it frustrating? Often you just couldn't control your strokes, it seemed.

CHRIS WOODRUFF: Yeah. A little bit. But I think a lot of times that's not -- I think on that out there it's tough to have a plan, you know. Other than him hitting his backhand up the line, I don't know what he was trying to do, you know. He hit backhand to backhand, then he'd hit his backhand up the line. I will tell you he served particularly well, I must have had deuce a particular number of times O for whatever on breakpoints. This is a classical example of somebody being a frontrunner. He never once played from behind on one match besides 15-40.

Q. You were close in the first set. Can you take us through and tell us what happened then?

CHRIS WOODRUFF: Yeah. I was up 15-30 numerous times, and I had 15-40. He had kind of one of those -- I don't know what you want to call it -- (inaudible). That was too good. Then I got a bad call at 30-40.

Q. John, what are you going to say to your team tonight as captain?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I'm going to have to think of something brilliant at this point. I have to regroup not only myself but the team. You know, you got to take it on your shoulders. I mean, you got to want it and this is what it's all about. This is, you know, you want it to be easy in some ways, like I said, the first few matches, but this is what -- this is what it boils down to, you know, the knitty-gritty. It's, more than anything, just us just wanting it bad enough to do it because there's no secret formula that these guys can know on how to play. It's just somehow the will to win this match somehow. And, you know, when you're sitting there, for me to try to figure out a way so I can do a better job myself doing it. It's without being able to just get up and play. I've never done that before. That's the first day that I've ever done that. So it's -- it's going to have to be a quick learning time.

End of FastScripts….

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