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April 12, 2008

Arnaud Clement

Guy Forget

Michael Llorda


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. So what is your lineup tomorrow?
CAPTAIN FORGET: That is what they just asked me (laughter). I said I didn't know yet. I mean, I have an idea of what might be the best option. But, you know, when you're a captain and you have to choose a player, you have to make sure they have the same view as yours on the plans on the next day.
I have to find out how physically Richard, Paul-Henri, even Michael, feel tonight and tomorrow morning because if we want to win one match or even two matches, it's going to be long. These are the sort of kind of matches, if we win, which is going to be very, very difficult, it's going to be long, it's going to be tiring, it's going to be very difficult, I want to make sure that the guy that goes on the court tomorrow really can believe he can do it. I don't want to send someone out there, you know, and that player says, This is captain's idea, but I really have no confidence, I don't know if I can do it, I feel really too tired, Andy is too good. I want him to go out there and believe he has a chance. So I need to speak to them before that.

Q. We saw part of your conversation with Richard in the corridor. It looked like you were pleading with him.
CAPTAIN FORGET: What is "pleading"?

Q. Urging, asking.
CAPTAIN FORGET: Let me tell you one thing, I feel it should be an honor to play for your country. I feel it's a privilege when someone asks you and you want to play. And if you don't because you can't -- I didn't pick Richard to play on Friday because I think, you know, he felt like he couldn't play at a decent level. The question is now how he really feels.
I'm not begging him. If he doesn't want to play, he won't go out. I'm not going to tell him, You have to go out now, because I know he probably will just get mad at me or he will go out and say, Well, I told him I didn't want to play and I lost, so he knew about it.
I don't want that attitude. I expect the opposite. That's one of the things we've talked about. You know, we'll talk some more tonight.

Q. Does an event like this affect his status going forward on the team? Are you going to choose him again if he's going to come here with that kind of attitude?
CAPTAIN FORGET: It's not that he didn't want to play because he was afraid or anything. You know, he just had a blister on his hand. He didn't get as much practice as the other guys. You know, he felt like physically he had a bit of a sore knee a few days before coming here. You know, he still felt it. I like to announce the players prior to the Friday, like on the Wednesday, you know, who's playing. And he really felt then not confident at all.
As I said, I said, If you don't feel confident, if you don't feel like you can go out and perform, I'd rather put someone else. And Paul-Henri proved yesterday that he almost won. He didn't. But I'm proud of the way he handled the situation.
And that's what I expect from Richard if he goes out on the court, to have that same attitude, that same ability to play for three, four hours, because Paul-Henri and James played for four hours yesterday.

Q. Speaking of Paul-Henri, what is your sense of how well he recovered emotionally from yesterday?
CAPTAIN FORGET: Well, he had a bit of a stiff bum, which is normal. I'm sure James probably has some stiffness in some areas. But that's normal. When you play for four hours with that quality of tennis and that intensity, you know, you can get stiff in some areas.
But these guys are professionals. When they train, they play four hours a day every day, and they can go out the next day and play another match. That's what they do in some of the slams.

Q. What about mentally?
CAPTAIN FORGET: When we won a Davis Cup, and that's exactly what I told him after he lost his match, when we won the Davis Cup in 1991, I lost to Andre Agassi in four sets the first day. You know, I really felt bad about that loss 'cause I felt now we can't win the tie, it's my fault, I wasn't good enough.
And when Henri beat Pete that next match, I felt, He's giving me like another life. I'm gonna have a second chance to go out and maybe make my team win. We went out to beat Flach and Seguso in doubles. When I went out to play Pete on Sunday, I thought, I'm tired, I already played two matches, but here's another chance. I might lose that. But in another tournament, Wimbledon or anywhere, I would have packed my suitcase and been on the plane back home. And because of Henri, you know, in Davis Cup you can have another chance.
That's what I told. I said, Paul-Henri, maybe if they win the doubles tomorrow, you feel really good, I might give you another opportunity to go out again and have a second chance. I felt like that kind of light his eyes a little bit, make him feel better.
I hope he really feels that way. Now, you know, as I said, I have to talk to him and see how he really feels, physically, mentally, and to the other guys as well.

Q. Just a little bit about today. It seemed pretty clear that both Bob and Mike and Patrick felt like your guys were just too much for them. Did you have a feeling they were going to have an advantage before they went out?
CAPTAIN FORGET: No, no. I think it was pretty even. I think maybe Bob and Mike had a bit of an advantage with the crowd, playing home. But, you know, I mean, since we arrived, we have seen three great matches. Every time it was close, and the best players won.
I think today Michael and Arnaud played a little bit better than Bob and Mike, but just today. You know, I've seen -- last year we played against Romania in the first round. He played horrible doubles. If he would have played that quality of tennis today, they would have lost straight sets. I've seen them losing in Key Biscayne last week. They played I thought a really average doubles. I wasn't really happy with the way they played.
I mean, today they just took their level of play, you know, like in Wimbledon last year. I'm very happy with that. But, you know, in tennis you can play well one day, not as good the next day. And I'm very happy with the performance. I don't think they can play a lot better than that, to be honest.

Q. You were talking about Lyon a moment ago. What did you learn from Yannick Noah about the art of captaincy in that situation vis-a-vis your situation in that tie?
CAPTAIN FORGET: Well, you know, Yannick was always a strong believer. He has that confidence in himself that anything is possible. And the great thing that he's done, what I'm trying to follow and I'm trying to pass on to the players, is the values of Davis Cup.
You know, tennis players are sometimes a selfish person who only worries about himself. And to win a Davis Cup, you know, you have to go beyond that. You have to share. You have to be tolerant. You have to be generous. You have to be patient. You have to accept sometimes the fact you're not playing even if you feel you deserve to play.
And it's not always easy because some guys do it naturally and some other guys, they have to change their way of functioning. And I think one of the credit you have to give I think to Patrick and Andy and James is that, you know, they've been working out for the last four years trying to work on that team spirit. I think that's why they won.
I don't like the way the Russians work. I don't like the way they stay in different hotels. They don't eat together. They don't share anything, although they beat us a couple of times. And that's very frustrating.
You know, Yannick, you know, felt very strongly about that way of working out. That's what I like about Davis Cup. And the day the players will want to work differently, I want to do something else.

Q. You were saying in French that when Clement his the ace at 15-40, you figured that was it.
CAPTAIN FORGET: There's always a time in a match, and I guess it's the same in golf probably, when a player hits a shot, and he really feels he's in trouble, and you go, Uh-oh, now he's in trouble, what is he going to do. You know, sports is so exciting. You can have so much drama and excitement.
At that point I thought they were playing well. Mike and Bob returned well. We're down 15-40. Usually Arnaud has some trouble holding his serve. And he missed the first serve. I go, Uh-oh, here we go again, trouble. He hit almost an ace at that point. I go, That's very unusual for Arnaud to do that. If he does that at 15-40, he took that chance, he went for it, he made it. So I said, That's interesting. How is he going to play the next one? If he gets back to deuce, that's a fine.
He hit a first serve, he hit a great volley to win the game. He was really solid. His attitude just changed. And I go, Well, you know, that's a fine. It's like when Tiger Woods is in the bunker and he hits the bunker shot in the hole. You go, He's probably going to win that round.
I mean, I'm a bit superstitious maybe. But I felt like that was a sign, a sign that he will not give up. He had the ability to raise his level of play when it was needed. That's what champions are made of. I think that's why Andy won in straight sets and probably that's why James beat Paul-Henri in the first match, because at that moment when he was down match point he just found a way to hit two winners. Paul-Henri had it. He kind of was a bit tentative. He didn't miss, but at that level you have to do more than that.
So you have to give credit to James for his win yesterday and I think to Arnaud for his serve at 15-40.

Q. Do you have more credibility with your players because you've been in these situations in Davis Cup yourself?
CAPTAIN FORGET: I don't know. I don't think you need to be an ex-good player to be a good captain. What I know is when I tell them something during a match, because I think what they're doing is wrong or it's not the right way, I feel very confident in what I'm saying. That confidence that I have in myself, you know, probably makes them feel better. When I say, Your attitude is not good, be more aggressive, jump on your feet. I really believe that's how they should be.
I'm not going, Well, guys, maybe try to be a little bit more on your toes. I mean, I'm sure that what I'm saying is probably right, although it could be wrong sometimes. The way of saying it is probably more important than what you're saying. 'Cause when a player I think has some doubts sometimes, someone is on the chair being so positive, you pass on and you give some of that confidence, I guess, so...

Q. I realize Tsonga had to leave earlier in the week because of his knee injury. Do you see some of those characteristics in him, that he can become the type of player that Andy and James are?
CAPTAIN FORGET: Definitely. I really believe that, like Richard for some reason, and I understand that, 'cause he's a shy guy, it was hard for him the last few years, all that attention on his shoulders. He mentioned it a lot of times in the press, as late as a couple of days ago. And Jo likes that. There was the article with Jo about 10 days ago. He said, I want to be a leader. He's so sad he didn't play here because he wanted to go out and play with Andy. These had these small little quotes in the paper that was very friendly and very nice. But it was great to see these two champions want to go out. Jo hasn't got the record of Andy yet, I hope he will one day, but he has that charisma and that personality. And I think Jo, I hope if he makes the top 10, and he's not far from making it, toward the end of the year, he could be that kind of person.
I think in any sport we need some people like him.

Q. Obviously I think not only the technical ability of the Bryans but their energy is one of the things that they bring to the game. It seemed that was not quite there and that your guys sensed that today. There came a point at which they were able to take their energy away. Did you get that feeling?
CAPTAIN FORGET: No, I didn't. I think the attitude, it's one of their strengths. I think Bob and Mike have a great attitude when they play. I think that's why they're so good and so consistent. I've seen them play many times in smaller tournaments. No matter where they play, they play like it's the finals of Wimbledon. Sometimes they kill guys just because they're so positive.
And today I told Arnaud and Michael to have that attitude, as well, 'cause I think if you want to keep up with these guys, you have to show the same passion and the same, yeah, attitude. And I really feel on some points it made the difference. Some volleys, some returns, I felt that Arnaud probably overall returned a bit better today than Bob on some key points. And, once again, it's just so little, but so little makes the difference. I think the match could have gone either way. If Arnaud instead of hitting that ace at 15-40 hits a double-fault, maybe Bob and Mike win. That's how close it is.
I don't really feel that was a problem. I just felt that, you know, Arnaud came up with a couple of good shots and they went for these shots and Bob and Mike today missed a couple. Maybe if we play the same match tomorrow we lose in four sets and there's nothing to say about it.
As I say, I don't think Michael and Arnaud can play a lot better than that. So, you know, and Bob and Mike probably have the feeling they can play better. You have to ask them. But, I mean, it was good tennis.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Arnaud and Michael.

Q. Arnaud, tell us about that second serve at breakpoint there, when you went down the middle.
ARNAUD CLEMENT: The one on the breakpoint?

Q. Yes.
ARNAUD CLEMENT: Yeah, I did lot of slices today. I know if I do a good one on the T, is gonna be a winner. It was tough to do it. But I know it was a shot to play. I did it. I put it on the court. That was an important point.
But it's not just the only point important in the match.

Q. It was a big one, though.
ARNAUD CLEMENT: It was a big one.

Q. Arnaud, Michael just said that he thinks this surface, a fast surface, is the best for both of you because it helps especially your serve and it helped all of your game today. Do you agree?
ARNAUD CLEMENT: Yeah, I'm completely agree. I think it's very good for our game. So for Michael, it's okay. He can play on slow courts, fast courts, it's same. It's tough to break him. Last time a team broke him in Davis Cup, I don't remember.
But for me, yes, it's easier for me, yeah, because it's faster. I can serve a few aces, a few winners with my serve. On the slow court, it's more difficult for me.

Q. Can you talk about your attitude going into the match. You had obviously won your last encounter at Wimbledon, which certainly gave you probably a lot of confidence against them.
MICHAEL LLODRA: Yeah. It's always like that, you know, when you play the Bryans. We knew before the match we have to play like a very good match. A good match is never enough against them.
Today we did it. It was the same match in Wimbledon. We lost the first set in a tiebreak, and after we won three sets. So, no, it was a very solid match.

Q. Why didn't you start throwing clothes or stuff into the stands after you won?
ARNAUD CLEMENT: Today is USA still leading 2-1. It's not finished. It's not a final of a tournament. It's 2-1 for USA. We have to win two matches tomorrow. It's going to be very difficult. So it's important. We're still here. We didn't lost for the moment. But most important now is tomorrow.

Q. Michael, Guy said basically he's going to talk to all of you and see where you are mentally and physically in terms of playing tomorrow. How are you feeling after playing two matches? Do you think you want to play?
MICHAEL LLODRA: Of course. I'm ready. You know, I play three sets yesterday. I was a little bit tired this morning, but normal. When you win a match, it's better, you recover much better. If I have to play a match tomorrow, I'll be ready.
So we have to make a briefing tonight and we'll see. But I'm all right.

Q. Guy said the most important thing for him is how much desire each of the players has to play. So where are you on the desire?
ARNAUD CLEMENT: It's the same word in French, man (laughter).
MICHAEL LLODRA: Everybody wants to play. We play U.S. 15,000 people. It's always, you know, more than a pleasure. It's fabulous for us to play this kind of match. So if Arnaud have to play tomorrow or if I have to play, of course we are ready. It's a dream for players like us, you know, to play this kind of match.

Q. Who do you think the singles players will be tomorrow?

Q. For France.
ARNAUD CLEMENT: Roddick and Blake (laughter).
MICHAEL LLODRA: We don't know yet. We have to make a discuss tonight with all the players and Guy, and we'll see. But I think the French team have a lot of combination. A lot of players can player. That's why maybe the French are good.

Q. You'll play.
MICHAEL LLODRA: Yeah, we'll see (laughter)? I'm not the captain, so...

Q. Arnaud, has there been any mention of you possibly playing singles tomorrow?
ARNAUD CLEMENT: I'm in great shape now. We are four players in a great shape. It was two very difficult match yesterday we lost. But now everything is possible for tomorrow. We're just gonna talk tonight with the captain and he's going to do his choice.

Q. The Bryans always seem to play with tons of energy, a lot of energy. But you seemed to have more than they did today. Could you feel that on the court?
MICHAEL LLODRA: You know, we knew before the match, the Bryans, they are very big on the court. Even if we lost the first set, we knew we have to stay positive to make a good attitude. That was the key. When you are down in the score, you have to be ready to fight.
In the middle of the fourth set, I saw the Bryans were a little bit shorter. Because we wanted to win this match, it was important for us. So today we're still alive. That's the important thing for us.

Q. You could sort of feel the energy going from their side to your side?
MICHAEL LLODRA: Yeah, they have a lot of energy. But also we have -- when we won some points, we have to show them we are ready.

Q. It's very clear you have a strong sense about each other, a sense about who's doing what, what your role is. What do you feel about how that worked today? Seemed there was a lot of communication, worked very much as one.
MICHAEL LLODRA: Not easy question, no, but I do my best.
For sure it's helping a lot. We are very good friends. We go on holidays together. So that's why maybe sometimes when he's missing a shot or I miss a shot, I know. When we lost the first set, we have a set point. We got a not easy --
ARNAUD CLEMENT: It was an easy point.
MICHAEL LLODRA: -- an easy point to win the first set. He know after that I'm okay with that. It's all right. When he miss a lot of shot or if I miss, I don't have to say to Arnaud, Fuck, you are bad, something like that. I say, You can do better. That's why, you know, sometimes it's helping a lot with our good combination.
ARNAUD CLEMENT: Man, that's a bad word. This is on TV (laughter).
MICHAEL LLODRA: So you understand (laughter)? Good combination, you know.
ARNAUD CLEMENT: It's exactly the same. When I'm playing with Michael, I'm completely in confidence. I can miss points and I know he's going to support me even if I miss some points, easy points.
MICHAEL LLODRA: And he missing a lot (laughter).
ARNAUD CLEMENT: So for me is very important. I can just be focused on my tennis, on my game, our game. If we miss, who care.
ARNAUD CLEMENT: That's tennis.
MICHAEL LLODRA: We can drink wine tonight even if we lose.
ARNAUD CLEMENT: That's what he told me during the match. It was 7-6 for the Bryans, 3-All in the second set. We're going to drink Châteaux Margaux even if we lose. During the match he tells me this kind of thing. He's crazy, this guy.
MICHAEL LLODRA: Châteaux Margaux.

Q. For us, too?
MICHAEL LLODRA: We'll see. It's expensive. We have to win the tie. Then I promise you we have Châteaux Margaux here.

Q. During the match he said that?
ARNAUD CLEMENT: We're not lying. Come on.

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