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February 9, 2002

Patrick McEnroe

James Blake

Mardy Fish

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA, USA/Slovak Republic 6-3, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. What was the plan at breakpoint you were going to hit that forehand come hell or high water?

MARDY FISH: No. That was it, the first serve?


MARDY FISH: He had done that a couple of times. I just rolled it in crosscourt and I said -- I kind of said to myself before the point started I mean, we have had so many breakpoints we hadn't converted, and if I got a ball that I could really take a whack at I was going to hit it. And I did. I just caught it clean. So it was perfect.

Q. Davis Cup debut, victory clinches it. Talk about where this ranks in your tennis career?

MARDY FISH: Above everything else. The atmosphere is unlike anything else and it is above any win you could possibly have in any tournament, I would think. I think I have had a few good wins in my career, this is not even close to -- not even close;not even in the same league.

Q. Specific strategy going in, did you talk about -- neither one of those guys looked real comfortable yesterday in the singles. Just attack them?

CAPTAIN McENROE: Kroslak was pretty good around the net. I think obviously Beck wasn't great, but he served well. He returned well. He's obviously got some talent, so I think the guys saw that yesterday. We knew we had to play well and they did. The other guys I thought played exceptionally well. These guys came up with a lot of tough first volleys under pressure. Put a lot more pressure on their serve then we were in trouble once on our serve the whole bunch. That was the only time we really struggled on serve. It was just impressive by these guys the way they play and handled the pressure, they went for their shots. Just -- I just told them, just play your game and play your tennis and you are the better team. I think in the end that showed. But it still was a very difficult match.

Q. Switched your service rotation after the tiebreaker. Just because James was a little --

CAPTAIN McENROE: Kept the same sides, I think, just felt comfortable on one side.


Q. Obviously the Americans had been struggling since your brother played in '92 to find a doubles team. Is this a combination you are hoping to maybe keep?

CAPTAIN McENROE: Let's just say I am glad to get the monkey off our back to win a match. So I am not making any predictions or anything about the future, about who is going to play or what, but obviously the way these guys played was a big statement. Just as when James played in Winston Salem in his first match, in singles was a big statement. Certainly I will take that into account. I am not going to sit here and say that they are for sure going to be the team in the next match or for sure not. But based on the way they played today, they played great. I want to see them keep improving. I am sure they will. Keep working hard on their singles and improving that, and it certainly is, as I said, it is nice to get a win in the doubles because when we, as we have seen by the record, when the US wins a doubles, we win the match. I'd like to keep that going.

Q. Does it feel good, -- purposely Picked four singles players, five singles players because you're worried about injuries to your top singles players instead of taking a usual doubles team, does it feel good you can still get a real solid doubles performance?

CAPTAIN McENROE: It is more than worrying about getting injured. It is picking who I think has the best chance to win and I think these guys proved that they can play and they can play doubles. Playing Davis Cup doubles is different than playing doubles on the Tour. It is very different. Having guys that have a little more experience and a little more success in singles helps. We worked hard all week in practice. We played a lot of doubles, got these guys ready, and it paid off. But certainly it was more than just, you know, part of it is obviously worrying about singles guys getting hurt, but also part of it is trying to get your best team.

Q. Served really well, 77% first serves, but you seemed to be cracking them even better the last two sets. Is that just a little confidence there?

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, that first game I served was when I was in a little bit of trouble I think I had a breakpoint against me. After that, I mean, Patrick kept telling Mardy maybe because it was his first Davis Cup that he needed to really go up go after it, just keep going for it because you are going to get just as high percentage when you are going for it instead of trying to be tentative. I just tried to learn something from that. I learned that I still needed to go for it too. I am not a veteran by any standpoint, I need to be reminded of those kind of things. I thought to myself I needed to do that and I did it, and it's true if you go for it, you are going to make just as many because then I think you get your legs into it a little bit more, you concentrate more on making sure your legs are into it; if you have the right technique hopefully the serve won't breakdown. Luckily today it didn't.

Q. It looked like you mixed spins a little bit and threw some into their bodies rather than just --

JAMES BLAKE: I kind of have -- I really wish I could serve 140 like Andy or Pete or something like that. But I need to use a little more variety, like a pitcher does -- he's not going to throw fast balls all day. He's going to mixes in a slider, changeup; that's what I need to do. I think that hopefully that makes my serve more effective when I can hit a serve 110 or something, and then mix it up with a 90 mile an hour kicker. It keeps people on their toes and not knowing what is coming next, that's a key to my serve to being able to compete with guys who are serving 130.

Q. Can you talk about the chemistry out there today and you guys planning on playing together in any Tour events between now and April?

JAMES BLAKE: Well, chemistry is great between us. We are best friends on Tour, so it is pretty simple, we are not -- we know we are trying to do our best to help the other one win. We both know it is a great feeling and we have talked about how important it is to -- both of us to play Davis Cup, and so I know for him it's his first one; for me first doubles, win for both of us, it's a monumental win in our careers, so we knew that going in and so we are in the same situation and it felt great to play out there, with a good friend, a teammate, and as for playing in the future, it's possible, but he plays regularly with Jeff Morrison (ph), they had a great fall which is I mean, singles is improved and doubles improved a whole lot as well. They had a great partnership and done really well. Sometimes when those things are going well you don't want to change them. He will keep playing with him and I have already talked to Todd Martin about possibly playing a little bit in the future, but as long as we just keep working on our signals and improving, I think hopefully we'll have chances to play again in the future. We'll be in the same tournaments and we obviously proved that we can play pretty well together.

Q. Any idea what you are going to do with tomorrow's matches?

CAPTAIN McENROE: Yeah I have a real good idea. James is going to play the first match and then Andy is going to play the second match. So Pete is going to have day to take it easy.

Q. How was it for you differentiating between Winston Salem; now playing singles there, coming in playing doubles, was it different mentally at all?

JAMES BLAKE: A little bit, but I wanted to prepare as I wanted to play singles because you never know what is going to happen. I wanted to prepare and be prepared for anything that came my way. This time it was doubles. I kind of knew that coming in that Andy and Pete were going to play singles, but you never know what is going to happen, so I just counted on playing doubles and tried to do my best and be as well prepared as I could. That's all I can do. Now I will get a chance to play in a dead rubber for me any chance I can get to play in front of a great crowd, that's supporting the USA it is going to be a lot of fun. But the preparation wasn't any different. Work hard those first few days taper it off a little bit towards the end just to make sure your legs are fresh, and get ready and try to be mentally focused even though there are so many distractions so many things that different thoughts going through your head when it's Davis Cup just try to keep mentally strong.

Q. Both you guys describe a little bit about what it's been like spending a week with Sampras in camp and what you gained from his presence?

JAMES BLAKE: He's a great leader by example. He's won 13 grand slams. In my mind the greatest player ever, so he doesn't really -- in my mind he doesn't really need to say much, just to get his point across. He just has to whatever he does you can learn from. He prepared very well for this week, and I mean, in the days before practice he kind of tapered off a little as well, made sure to save his energy, and came out firing in his first match. He knew what was up ahead of him, I am going to try to learn how to do that. I think Mardy and I are -- all the young guys can get better at that and learn from him, and as he may be mentioned before maybe we need to learn a little maturity from him but we'll see about that. We'll see if we can learn from maybe someone else.

Q. How did you guys feel coming out of the tiebreak, did you feel like one point was the difference there?

MARDY FISH: Yeah, I felt like we had that set in hand. We had plenty more chances than they did. We still hadn't lost our serves. We had a bunch of breakpoints, and we weren't down at all. We knew we just kind of let one slip away, we just needed to keep focused and stay focused and just keep attacking and keep playing the way we have been playing and we would be fine.

Q. Is this team going to have to raise its level against Spain or Morocco, or are you prepared --

CAPTAIN McENROE: All you have got to do is win, that's all. Nothing about levels or anything. The guys we played against played well. Who knows if Hrbaty and Kucera played, maybe we would have won in straight three sets, you can't predict anything. All I cared about was getting the three, getting three wins, and the conditions were pretty quick, so that's somewhat of an equalizer at times. But I am real happy with the way the guys played and competed even when things as Mardy just talked about when they lost a tough second set, they came right back, they didn't get down, they knew they were playing better they were outplaying them, same thing happened yesterday, with Andy when he lost the tiebreak up 5-1, came back and in the fourth set, got right back into it and made sure he didn't do that again in the fourth. We got the players. We keep these guys healthy and motivated and wanting to play then we are going to be fine but certainly -- each match is tough. Obviously there's a plenty of depth in Davis Cup. You are seeing that in a lot of the other first round matches that are very close. So, no, I mean, to me it's not a question of raising your level. It's just a question of being prepared for each match, and having some versatility as James said, he had to be prepared in a lot of ways using the toughest spot. He had to be prepared to play doubles and also be prepared to play singles in case something happens. I think it's also worth mentioning that Todd Martin was here and again, having to tell him that he's not playing was difficult - considering who he is and all he has done, but he's a great help to these guys to helping these guys and helping the whole -- what we are trying to build here, with the team, and the chemistry and I hope that -- I know these guys have learned from it from Todd, and his example. I hope the rest of the guys out there that when I go and talk to different players about playing, I hope they learn from a guy like Todd Martin too because those are the kind of guys we want on our team.

Q. What are you going to be doing over the next 6-7 weeks to keep spirits up? It's not like you are a travelling group.

CAPTAIN McENROE: We are going to have once a week fire shot sessions.

Q. On the Internet?

CAPTAIN McENROE: Mardy IM'S me all the time, every time I get on line, hey, it is me, Pat. It's me. No, look I am going to do my usual thing, keep in touch with these guys, and follow how they are doing and talk to them and talk to their coaches, and I will be at both Miami and Indian Wells working doing the TV which is nice because I get to be there and kill two birds with one stone. It's just communicating with them. Keeping updated on what they are doing, their progress, and usually after you win a big Davis Cup match like this, it shows in your results, so I am expecting that these guys will play well the next few months.

Q. Are you set in your mind that you are going to kind of use this team or there's still other possibilities that you might ---

CAPTAIN McENROE: Certainly stronger possibility now than the beginning of the week, but, you know, you don't know what is going to happen between now and then. Knock on wood everybody is healthy. But for me to say that this definitely is going to be the team would just -- there's no reason for me to say that now because there's too much time between -- one of these guys gets hot and you know, what if James wins Indian Wells in Miami back-to-back, then I am going to have to put him in singles or Mardy does. There's a lot of things that can change between -- don't worry, you could too, Mardy. These guys have made a statement today by the way they played, by the way they handled themselves all week, and they played great. So that gives them -- I will feel a lot more comfortable putting them in the next time let's put it that way.

Q. Morocco, any idea what kind of surface?

CAPTAIN McENROE: It won't be clay, I will tell you one thing.

Q. Because you guys were up two-nothing did you come in here today a little relaxed; not wanting to let the other guys down and come out really fired up?

JAMES BLAKE: Like I said before, I am going to get fired up for any Davis Cup match I am playing - dead rubber, live rubber, 2-nothing, 0-2, it's exciting. I mean, one point is pretty important so I am going to be fired up for any match I get a chance to play and also the fact that I have now only played two live rubbers, so I am pretty excited to no matter what. I really hope and think that if I do continue to play in this Davis Cup format then I am going to get just as excited for hopefully my hundredth Davis Cup or whatever time I am playing, I think I am going to get real excited for it so it is not even a question of 2-nothing, 1-All, 0-2, I am going to be excited.

Q. James the Net Heads were in Winston Salem; they were here again. How much have you guys paid attention to them and how much do you appreciate what they are doing?

JAMES BLAKE: It's great. I love having fans like that, they are so excited and also very knowledgeable about tennis knowing 15-30 is going to be a really big point and things like that. They are a lot of fun. They are funny, and so far I guess they have been our good luck charm. We won in Winston Salem and here I think maybe we should put it on the USA tab and make sure they come next time.

CAPTAIN McENROE: I will take care it.

Q. Do you have regional preference for the next round?

CAPTAIN McENROE: Not really. We are basically just going to take it the way we take every match which is No. 1, talk to the guys about what surface we would prefer ideally, and then No. 2, look at, you know, areas and places where they are interested in doing it. I think coming to Oklahoma City and coming to Winston Salem have been two great cities, communities have gotten behind it and really pushed it, and been very involved in helping us promote it. So that's what where we want to go to, a place like that, and obviously we are not going to be going to the east coast if we are going to be playing outside, so I mean, that's just -- those factors and I can assure you that Jeff Ryan who is in charge of sort of doing that for the USTA is already thinking about it as we speak where we are going to go and the wheels will be in motion early this week to try to start figuring that out.

Q. Do you have indoor or out door preference at all?

CAPTAIN McENROE: It really just depends if we decide to play on grass, or not. I think that's the first decision. If we want to go in that direction and if it's viable, if we can we -- certainly can't go to Newport because of the weather, but maybe there's somewhere in California that's got some grass courts that we can do it. If not, then we'll look at -- no, it could be indoor or outdoor. Indoor grass could be a problem. Although the Australians tried it. It wasn't a problem for them.

Q. Now the monkey is off your back, do you have any theories why the US was struggling in the doubles?

CAPTAIN McENROE: Well, yeah I have a couple. I think that first of all, it's difficult throwing combinations together, No. 1, which we have done a lot. Second of all, as I told these guys heading up to this match, to me, I didn't want them to feel that this was a match where if they lost it, they weren't going to play again. I know I felt that when I played Davis Cup match and I know guys that were sort of along the same years as I, felt the same way that you sort of have one shot at it. I didn't want them to feel that because they are great players, they are young and they got a bright future. So I think hopefully that took a little pressure off of them. There's enough pressure just playing the match and playing for your country and trying to win, so, these guys, as James told you, they are good friends and they have a good chemistry with each other. They practice a lot with each other so they know each other's game. That helps. And the other thing is that the other countries are better, have gotten better in the last 20 years, and we used to dominate the doubles meaning the. US that's going to be more difficult, but -- and also I think the fact that in some sense doubles has become more specialized on the Tour that quite often the players that do well in doubles on Tour are great doubles teams but they may not be the best players because top singles players don't regularly play doubles and that wasn't always the case. It's really been a phenomenon over the last ten years on the Tour. What I am saying is that I think it is a little more difficult for sort of doubles specialists from players that don't play a lot of singles to have a lot of success in Davis Cup because Davis Cup you know you are going to see the best from the other players and we saw that today. Those guys played great and we needed all the shots that these guys have to win the match.

End of FastScripts….

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