home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 29, 2004

Patrick McEnroe

Mats Wilander


CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: The announcement for my team is going to be Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish, Bob and Mike Bryan.

MATS WILANDER: Here we go, are we free now (smiling)? My announcement is going to be Thomas Enqvist, Jonas Bjorkman, Robin Soderling, Joachim Johansson, and Thomas Johansson as a fifth guy. As you know, you can swap a few guys out just before, so it's not that important. If you've got to pick four, it's the first four, not Thomas Johansson. He'll be the fifth guy looking to get in.

Q. Patrick, can you talk about the decision to go with Mardy over Vince? What did it come down to in the end?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: Sure. Obviously, Vince has had an incredible couple weeks and made it very difficult for me based on his play recently, especially. It's just a credit to him, what he's been able to do, forgetting about Davis Cup, etc., to come back and play as well as he's playing. That being said, Mardy's had the best results over anyone by far in the last year, particularly in the last six months. He's played a big match for us before last year and brought us lava. He came to Connecticut as the fifth guy and didn't play. He's just not playing particularly well over here; but, overall, he's still playing pretty well this year. As I said, I don't take into account one tournament or one week, I think you have to take into account more than just one event. Mardy has been in five finals in the last year, including Stockholm, where he won there. He just overall has a better record, overall. He's 21 or 22. I mean, the bottom line is that I think for Vince -- Vince played himself, obviously, into the running; there's no doubt about that. But in my mind, for him to take a spot from Mardy or even some of the other younger guys, he's got to be so far and away obviously playing better than the other guys or, you know, ahead of them in the rankings or certainly close. I just didn't feel like that was the case in this situation.

Q. Vince's record this year against Enqvist, was that a factor?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: It's all a factor. He's 0-2 against Enqvist this year. Mardy has a very good record against the Swedes. We all know it's going to be a very tough match. I take into account all those things. I take into account the match-ups. Obviously, Mats has a lot of options to work with with his players. I feel like we're going with our two best young guys, our two best guns. We have a great doubles team. So we feel like if we play our best that we have a good shot. All those things are taken into account. The last couple of weeks are obviously weighed probably more heavily in my head than, say, results four months ago. But at the same time, I am not going to ignore the larger body of work of the players.

Q. Did you give any thought to naming five again?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: I did. I gave some thought to it. There's an outside possibility that I could still go that direction, but I don't intend to do that. I intend to go in with the four guys. But, certainly, that's a possibility. I've spoken to all the guys about that. I spoke to Vince this morning. But my plan right now is just to go in with the four guys.

Q. Could that be influenced by how Vince does in the rest of this tournament?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: Well, if he wins the tournament, I'd be pretty stupid not to take that into account (smiling). Yeah, I think without saying he's got to get to a certain point or etc., i feel like I'd be crazy to sit here and say, "If he gets to the final and wins the tournament, that I can't take that into consideration."

Q. How much was team chemistry involved in your decision?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: Not really. Not much. Obviously, these guys have played together, they're all close. Team chemistry is my job. It's my job to be the guy that pulls them together. I'm not really concerned about that. It was more who I think has the best chance of winning the matches for us.

Q. Mats, can you talk about where you think the strength of your team is?

MATS WILANDER: The strength of my team, I think Patrick just touched on it. I think the strength of the Swedish team is we have five players, and they can all play singles. We have Jonas Bjorkman in doubles, who might be the best doubles player in the world in my eyes. I think he can play with pretty much anyone. He played a great match with Joachim Johansson against Australia. He can play with Thomas Johansson. I think that for me, as a captain, for the first time, I think I've got some choices, which actually makes it a little easier to pick the two guys who will play singles instead of being set with two guys like I was the first year, last year.

Q. Would you consider Jonas, if he continues playing well here, for singles and doubles, or is he fixed for doubles?

MATS WILANDER: I always consider him for both. I think Jonas is -- what I consider Jonas for is the clutch match. With Jonas, you know what you get. Australia was a perfect example. I really want to see Jonas be 100 percent prepared to play doubles because that's such a key match in Davis Cup. But if he's playing well, well enough that he could play singles before, he's used to doing that. A perfect scenario would be to not have him play singles. But, then again, if he beats Andy and goes far here, he'll have to play both of them.

Q. Is the court done, Patrick?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: Yes. I tested it a few days ago just before they put the lines down, actually. I never hit the ball so well - there was no net and no lines, so it was perfect for me (laughter). It's a relatively slow hard court. It is what we were looking for. Obviously, the Swedes have played well on hard courts; we know that. We feel like it's our best surface. We decided we'd go in that direction. So the court, unless it's changed since they put the lines down, which I don't expect it has , it should be the way we wanted it to be.

Q. Very slow, but still enough that Andy can hit through this court?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: I'm not worried about Andy hitting through any court - or Mardy, particularly on the serve. I think they serve big enough that they can serve well on any surface, on any court. It's a slow court. It's bouncing relatively high. As I said, I think it's good for our guys in doubles as well. I think they like a court that's a little bit slower. So, again, as I said, we know that for the Swedes, it's probably their favorite surface as well. Maybe they'd like it a little bit faster. But they obviously have shown in Australia, which was not a real fast court, that they can play well out there as well.

Q. Mats, how much does the confidence play a part in your guys? You went in as underdogs in Australia and came out, away from home, a winner. Is that a factor here in terms of just the mentality of the players?

MATS WILANDER: I think it's pretty significant. I think the guys realize that they can still - especially, I think, Thomas Enqvist and all the guys, you know, to play one match like Thomas did against Mark Philippoussis the first day - they can still do that, they're still good enough to do that. I think maybe week in, week out they're going to have some losses to lesser players. But I think in Davis Cup, Sweden - which I always knew and always thought - it's nice to get a win like that, because I think we feel that, away, we're more of a team, there are less distractions. These guys have played enough Davis Cup that I think they feel they're the favorites against anyone. I'm not saying that to boost the confidence of our team, but I really believe that. They've all won in Davis Cup on the Swedish team. Davis Cup, the rankings are thrown out the window. It's the match-up on the day. It's how they play. I would never go into a Davis Cup match thinking we're not the favorites. So I'll say that I think we have a really good shot, yeah.

Q. Pat, can you just for the record explain why Mardy's age was a factor, with Vince being older?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: Well, I think that fresh legs is a positive thing to have; I found that in my experience in Davis Cup. I believe that's a factor. That's taking nothing away from Vince's ability to play a long match; he's obviously shown he can do that, and play best-of-five. But there's more intensity in Davis Cup. There's more pressure. There are just more things to deal with. I've just found in my experience that, all things being equal, even if that were the case, which I didn't really feel was precisely the case here anyway, that, you know, you go with a guy that's younger. My goal as the captain for the last three and a half years has been to build the team for the future and to build a team with our best young players, obviously not discounting what a guy like Vince is doing or what Todd Martin did. He played a couple years ago. We had Sampras play a couple matches a few years ago as well. But the young guys are a good, close-knit group. They enjoy the experience. They enjoy being around each other. I do think that counts for something. But, more pointedly, I believe that younger legs are something that you can't ignore. As Mats said, in Davis Cup, there's a lot of other things that go into it. I just feel like for me, as a captain, when I have somebody that has the talent of a Mardy Fish and the ability that he has as a player, that gives me something to really work with as a captain.

Q. Can you also just talk about the unique situation of having Mardy and Andy playing a Davis Cup match a few minutes away from where they attended high school.

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: Well, that's unique, but that doesn't factor into my decision. I mean, I had the situation in our first-round match with James Blake playing in Connecticut. Why didn't I pick James Bllake to play in his hometown? To me, any Davis Cup match is an incredible honor and opportunity. I don't take any of those things into account. If I did, I'd put Vince on the team as well; he's from Boca as well. So I think for them, I think it will be fun for them. Mardy played well in the Delray tournament last year. He made the finals there, and actually beat Andy along the way. So I think it will be exciting for them. I think any home match for them, we look at it as almost our backyard. But certainly it will add a little bit more. They are used to the conditions. It could be a little windy up there. So I think they're used to it.

Q. Mats, years ago when you were finessing your way through the ATP Tour driving everybody crazy with your variety of shots, did you ever think about being a Davis Cup captain?

MATS WILANDER: Did I ever back then?

Q. Yes.

MATS WILANDER: Yeah, I think so. It's one of those positions, I think, every Swedish player would like to do at some point in their life. I didn't think I was ready this early, to be honest with you. But I think traveling with Marat Safin for a year, and a couple months, six months, with Wayne Ferreira, I just felt the urge to be close to the men's game at the highest level. I really miss it when I'm not around it. I can't create that kind of level in my own game anymore, so this is as close as you can get. Once you get involved in Davis Cup, I think you just realize that it's really not Davis Cup that's the key thing; it's being part of Swedish tennis and trying to develop Swedish tennis. Yeah, it was always in the back of my head.

Q. Mats, can you comment on the emergence of Joachim Johansson following the Davis Cup tie in Adelaide.

MATS WILANDER: Well, I think that they all started playing really well in Australia before the Davis Cup match. I think Davis Cup is so intense; you're playing great players, and it's just one match. I think when you get a win, and when you're a part of a team practicing for 10 days, I think your confidence level has to go up, whatever happens in the actual Davis Cup match. On top of that, if you can go in and play a doubles match for the first time and you win and you practiced really hard, obviously, it has to take you somewhere. If that doesn't take you anywhere, then I think you have a mental weakness. He's just got a lot of confidence - and maybe even too much confidence right now. He's trying to maybe go for too much, but it's a learning curve. But, yeah, Davis Cup can be used for a young player. It should always be used as a step in the right direction, no matter how you do in Davis Cup, to feel the support from the teammates and everything. Same thing with Thomas Enqvist. He suddenly started playing very well afterwards. I think it's just being together. To me, there was always less pressure in Davis Cup until the day of the match. I think you're just relaxed, you don't know if you're playing, you have time to work on your game instead of two hours a day, play your match, and then practice another hour like they do in a tournament. That's what the guys in Sweden feel - Davis Cup is great whether you're playing or not.

Q. You've got the two old veterans on your team, guys over 30 years of age. Is that significant? Is their experience significant?


Q. As opposed to what Pat was saying about "fresh legs"?

MATS WILANDER: My situation is the opposite of Patrick's. As a Davis Cup captain, I can appreciate what Patrick is doing. Whether these guys are the four best players or not, you have to bond a team in Davis Cup, and then you can change one guy here and there, but you have to have the heart of the team. I think that's what the USA is getting right now with Andy and Mardy and the Bryan brothers. I think Sweden, we always had that. I think the young guys need the old guys to see how things are done in Davis Cup. You don't have to play 100 percent physical, physical tennis. It's more mental. Davis Cup is about putting the guy in there that's going to play the best when he plays his worst. If there's any chance of winning a match, you want to have a guy that's strong mentally to be able to pull it out. If you get blown off the court, then the other guy is too good. For me, I'm drawing on the past. I'm trying to show Soderling, Johansson, Bjorkman, Enqvist, even Thomas Johansson, I'm teaching them how Davis Cup should be played. "It's a lot of pressure but, hey, you're the best guy on our team. You're playing, don't worry about it, just go out and do your best."

Q. Mats, regarding Soderling and Johansson - and after the way Johansson played in Adelaide in the doubles and Soderling as well over there, but then following on from that, Johansson winning his first title - where would your mind be at the moment in putting in which one of those as a singles player for next weekend?

MATS WILANDER: Geez, my mind is so far away from that right now. I really like the fact that you can -- I can basically only draw on the last round against Australia. I really like the fact that two guys are playing doubles, and two guys are playing singles. That's how I'm going to try to do this tie as well, even though everyone's ready to play everything. I think it's great when all four guys that I picked have a responsibility. I think the intensity of the team is much better than having one guy not being put in a match. As you know, you can always change the guys just before, but having Joachim and Jonas concentrate on doubles and the other two concentrate on singles, that's the perfect scenario. That's what I'm hoping for, obviously. But at the same time, I don't want to see Jonas -- the problem with Jonas and having somebody play singles and doubles, is they go out and play against Andy - five sets, they play a great match, but suddenly you can't play the next day. Then, suddenly, you've lost two matches because you took a chance trying to play with your best player playing two matches. It's one of those situations that will be made right before the match if you change anything. Hopefully, we can have pretty much the same team as we did in Australia.

Q. Patrick, can you comment on the 16-year-old Kuznetsov?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: He's a tremendous talent. I think he's 16 now - is that right? - Yeah, he's 16. He's a very, very hard worker. He spent a couple days practicing with Roddick in December. He's been at, I believe -- we had a camp that coincides with the Davis Cup week for our top Juniors. I hit with him a few times in Wimbledon last year, practiced with him a couple times. So he's a real, real talent and a very, very hard worker. So I think it's going to be a great experience for him.

Q. One person described him as "You can't get him off the court, he doesn't want to stop hitting." Is that a fair assessment?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: Yeah, he's got a tremendous work ethic. I think he really wants it. I think he's got sort of an innate desire. We'll work him hard. He'll be withstanding some big blows, but I'm sure he'll come back every day.

Q. Patrick, what was Vince's reaction this morning?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: He was cool. I was trying to find him yesterday, and I couldn't track him down, to tell him. I know he has a match today, but I wanted to at least see him before, obviously, I made the announcement. I think he sort of laughed and said, "At least I'm making it tough for you." I said, "Yeah, you are. You've had a great couple weeks." As I said, he may continue to do well here. It's a credit to him. To go from Top 20 to 200-something and work his way back has been an unbelievable effort. If he ends up ever coming back and playing in a Davis Cup match, you know he's going to give you 110 percent. I mean, that's just the way he's worked his way back. So I have a tremendous respect for what he's been able to do. As I said, he made this decision real tough.

Q. A logistical question for you. When do you re-assemble your team after this tournament, and what would be the first day of practice?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: It would probably be Sunday. It obviously depends on how Andy and the Bryans do here. Mardy is back in Tampa. Hopefully, he's working his tail off this week with Kelly Jones; we sent him back to keep an eye on him this week (smiling). So Mardy is doing his thing, and we'll probably get together on Sunday unless Andy lost to Bjorkman and the Bryans lost, for example; maybe we'd get together a couple days early. But I think that will give us -- the guys have been playing enough. That should give us plenty of time to get ready.

Q. Do you expect a first practice date on Monday or Tuesday?

CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: It's certainly going to be Monday, maybe Sunday.

End of FastScripts….

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297