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September 4, 2008
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
TIM CURRY: Thanks, everyone for joining us. We have with us the U.S. Davis Cup captain, Patrick McEnroe to announce the roster for the semifinals in two weekends in Spain.
The U.S. is the defending Davis Cup champions, having won for the first time in 12 years in Portland last year against the defending champions then Russia.
I will yield to Patrick.
PATRICK McENROE: Thank you, Tim. I feel like this is deja vu. No surprise, same fours guys. Roddick, Blake, and the Bryan brothers will make up the four-man team. We will have few practice players there, Scoville Jenkins, Austin Krajicek, the kid who won the 18s nationals, and David Martin kind of helped out help out with some doubles practices, another lefty.
Happy to that take any questions.
TIM CURRY: This is the 11th time this has been the four-man roster for the U.S. team. The prior record was three consecutive ties. The first time this foursome played together was 2005, the World Group playoff against Belgium on clay.
Open for questions.
Q. Given the form of some of the other American guys on clay earlier this year and even here, Fish and Querrey getting further than Blake, did you give any consideration to breaking up the combo?
PATRICK McENROE: No, not for this match. I think that, you know, obviously I'm happy to see those guys doing well, and hopefully they'll continue to do that. But did Fish have some good results in clay this year I missed?
Q. No, I'm talking about Sam Querrey.
PATRICK McENROE: Oh, Querrey. Querrey got to the quarters in Monte-Carlo. Ginepri, yeah. No, those guys have certainly done well. But James, you know, also won some matches on clay this year, including -- I think in Rome he made the quarters, I believe in Rome. Lost in three to Wawrinka there . Almost beat Wawrinka there.
So he's had probably as many wins as maybe those other guys. Obviously Ginepri played well at the French; Odesnik has had a couple good matches there.
You know, James has won some big matches for us in the last two years in Davis Cup. The last time I checked he was still in the top 10, and nobody else was in the top 40, I believe. Although Mardy's maybe moved up there.
You know, again, I hope that those guys continue to put up results like that in the future and to make it real difficult for me. But for this match it wasn't difficult, no.
Q. Is there also a sense that you want to go with the guys that brought you to the dance?
PATRICK McENROE: Well, no, I want to go with the best guys. I want to go with the guys that I think give us the best chance to win. If I thought that someone else gave us a better chance to win I would go with somebody else.
But at this point, I still thoroughly believe that Roddick and Blake give us the best chance. I mean, obviously the fact that they have experience is part of that. But, you know, not only in Davis Cup, but, you know, in big matches overall.
But I don't base my decisions ever on, you know, whether they stay together, you know, that kind of thing. Obviously these guys have been together.
It's been great for team chemistry and camaraderie, but that stuff doesn't matter too much if you don't think they're the best guys that could give you the best chance to win.
Q. Could you speak specifically about Mardy and what you saw here that you particularly liked and what you would like to see him do next?
PATRICK McENROE: I think with Mardy it's pretty obvious. It's a matter of consistency. He had a great week in Palm Springs. I know he's proven he can beat top guys with his type of game, his attacking game.
When he's serving well and moving forward he plays well. He's had a lot of inconsistent results. So, for him, it's just about trying to do it week in and week out. He obviously has the talent and ability to play well on fast courts.
You know, certainly wouldn't put clay as his best surface, but, you know, hopefully for him -- I certainly thought that he was moving better overall here, so maybe having a fitness guy, sort of more full time has been good him.
He certainly knows how to play tennis, but I think for him it's also been about staying healthy all the time and keeping his fitness up as high as he can.
If he can keep the consistency going, he's certainly a top 20 potential player.
Q. Given the high rankings of your four guys and all the demands on their time, it seems reasonable to think that having won the Davis Cup they would consider, you know, a life's goal achieved, accomplished, and ready to hand off to someone else. Can you help us understand why they keep raising their hands for this assignment?
PATRICK McENROE: I guess they just care a lot. They're great team guys. It's funny, because at the end of last year that was a similar question I got as far as turning around and coming back, you know, eight weeks later to go to Austria right after the Australian Open, which was a tough task trip-wise, schedule-wise, and to go over to play on clay.
But it's never really been about winning and losing. I mean, obviously we all want to win, and these guys have been committed to try to win it every year. But I think they really enjoy the process. They enjoy each other. They enjoy playing for their country. They realize that it's something special.
It's different, it's unique, and I think they've -- you know, particularly the singles guys have probably sacrificed some as far as being able to get their ranking a little bit higher or, you know, play a couple more tournaments to help their ranking. But I think they realize that it means -- it means a lot.
I've been very lucky. There was never any issue for me in convincing them to come back and play. In that sense I've been extremely lucky.
Q. There was much discussion in the Spanish camp about where to play, which city to choose, and they finally chose Madrid. What is your take on that? Do you think that's oppressive because of the height?
PATRICK McENROE: I certainly think it's good for us. Helps us a little bit. Obviously they're still the big favorite. It's going to be 25,000 people in a bull ring, so that will be difficult.
You know, maybe the altitude could be a little bit of an edge for us. But, you know, obviously they've got great players. They've got the greatest clay court player of all time, so it doesn't matter what kind of conditions he plays in on clay.
But, you know, we're excited about going over there. It's a great opportunity for us. The pressure is off really in some way. I don't think people expect us to win. But, you know, I'm really going to go over there and just tell the guys, Let's enjoy this.
I think winning it last year has taken a little pressure off of us as a team, that we've won it, and so we'll go over there and have some fun, enjoy it, and let the chips fall where they may.
Q. You came on as captain at a pretty low ebb, and really brought it together, and then of course went on to win in Portland. Do you think it's tougher doing the player development job than captain?
PATRICK McENROE: It's more time consuming, I can tell you that, yeah.
Q. You've said there are no really sure fire, top, you know, cutting edge prospects per se. But can you go through some of the players and who you think has the best chance...
PATRICK McENROE: You mean the next group of players? Obviously Sam is...
Q. No, I'm taking about...
PATRICK McENROE: You're talking about the juniors, younger than Donald Young, for instance? I think the girls we've got some very good players. I mean, Brodsky, Melanie Oudin, who beat Muhammed 1-1 today. CoCo Vandeweghe I think has got a big up side. Sloane Stephens, who is 15, I think, is quite talented.
I think we've got a pretty good group of five, six girls there.
Q. Stronger on the women's side, you think?
PATRICK McENROE: I think we've got some good guys around that age, too. Obviously Ryan Harrison and Evan King who si 16 and won the 18s clay courts. Played here and lost early. This kid Sarmiento is another talented kid. Kudla, I mean, there's a bunch of kids there.
Ryan Harrison is still young. He's only 16. Chase Buchanan won today, so we're having good results here at the Open. Our kids are doing well. I think what I like, what I liked that I see in our young kids at the moment, is we've got a pretty good group of kids. I think that's what you need.
You need that group that kind of push each other as a transition into the pros over the next couple of years. Hopefully all of them can become good pros, and then maybe you hope that a couple of them can become top 10 players.
As I said, I can't sit here and say this guy is a given. I'm not sure anybody can say that about anyone. I think we've got a good pool of kids here that that's a real up side.
Q. With the deep runs by Andy and the Bryans here at the US Open, is there is there any concern about the quick turnaround, or do you feel they'll be sharper because of it?
PATRICK McENROE: I always said I'd rather have guys that are a little bit tired and full of confidence than not. Obviously Andy hasn't played a lot up until the last couple weeks, so I think he'll be fresh no matter what happens the rest of the tournament here.
You know, the Bryans have played a lot, but they never seem to have any trouble getting up for Davis Cup no matter what. To be honest, I think when we go over there, I don't see us -- I think we'll take it relatively easy as far as preparing.
I mean, James has played a lot. I talked to him yesterday. He was just coming off the golf course, so I suggested he spend a few more days doing that, you know. The guys are fit. They'll be relatively match tough.
I think when we go over there it will just be getting a good practice in a day and not really doing too much and just sort of gearing up and let it fly come the weekend.
Q. Can you talk about what you've seen from Andy so far here? Do you think we're kind of witnessing a renaissance of sorts for him? And also, could you just address what you've seen from Serena so far?
PATRICK McENROE: Well, I think Andy is playing quite well. I mean, he's obviously -- I like the way he's playing. Not just the fact that he's in the quarters, but I like the way he's moving into the quarters and attacking when he can. Obviously he's healthy now, which helps.
I'm very happy particularly the last couple of matches with how he's approached the match, and I think if he does that, he's going to have a lot of success, period.
I mean, whether it's getting further in this tournament or for the next four years, I think that's way for him to play: to be more aggressive when he can and not play 10-, 12-, 15-ball rallies consistently.
So I think -- I've been happy with that. Obviously tonight will be another great test. You know, I think he will play well. Serena was awesome last night.
It was a great event, great match. It seemed a little bit like kind of role reversal from Wimbledon when Serena got up and then Venus came back. You just kind of felt after that first set, and even in the second set when Venus got up, I always kind of sensed that Serena was going to come back.
I don't know why, but it was a very high level, and they both, you know, it was certainly deserving of a final the way they both played. I picked Serena at the beginning of the tournament, so nothing I saw last night would lead me to change my mind.
Q. If I could just follow up on Andy, you've worked with him over the last month. What do you think he's taken from that? What changes have you seen?
PATRICK McENROE: Well, obviously I've known him for eight years. It's not anything like a huge surprise, but it's been fun for me to be on the court with him and practice every day and really be the one guy in his ear for a short period of time.
I think he's obviously listened and we obviously have a relationship, so he knows that I want to see him do well. But I'm just happy at the way he's moving and moving forwards, you know, and taking his chances when he gets them. You know, grinding when he has to grind, but playing aggressive when the opportunity is there.
I think he's doing a real good job of that. You know, he's made life easier for himself as far as how much, you know, physical work he's got to put into the matches. When he's serving as well as he's serving, and he's healthy now.
The thing I reminded him is try to remember what your opponent's feeling as opposed to what you're feeling. You know, if your opponent is down a set and a break, and, you know, has barely had a chance on your serve, they're probably pretty nervous.
So it's a good idea to keep the pressure on and keep taking chances. I think he's done a good job of that. Tonight will be another big test to not only, you know, play well but play the right way.
Q. For those who are not tennis fans, or they follow the US Open but as soon as this is over they think about baseball and football, tell us why they should care about Davis Cup. What can we do as writers to sell the Davis Cup for someone who doesn't know the history?
PATRICK McENROE: They have to go to the Davis Cup and see it. I've been through this for 20 years. I've kind of gotten past the point where I try to sell it. I mean, the Davis Cup is an awesome event.
I happen to think that this structure of it is part of the problem, at least in this country, selling it in this country. But that being neither here nor there, you know, when people go to a Davis Cup match it's a totally different experience. It's like going to, you know, a college basketball game, Duke, North Carolina, two great rivals, kind of thing. That kind of atmosphere.
So I think for the casual fan it's great. People love to come to the Open in New York. It's a huge event. We have had great success with the Davis Cup in the U.S. the last couple of years going to sort of medium sized cities and selling it out.
You don't see that kind of crowd participation in other tournaments that you see in Davis Cup, so I guess that's the way I would try to sell it. When you go to Spain and there's 25,000 people in a bull ring, you know, to watch Spain against the U.S., that pretty much says it all to me.
Q. Yesterday Larry Scott unveiled the WTA's new Roadmap for next year. Ten combined or back-to-back events with equal prize money. Given that we've had some four-, four-and-a-half-hour matches here, are you in favor of equal prize money for men and women?
PATRICK McENROE: Sure. Why not? Are you talking about in...
Q. In the majors and in these WTA events.
PATRICK McENROE: Let the market do what it will. If the market says yes, I mean, here at the majors, yes. If the women's tour can -- you know, if they're combined events, I think they should probably be equal prize money.
But as far as the individual tours go, traditionally the men's events have been bigger, more sponsorship dollars, more television. So that being the case, then the men should get more money in those events.
If it changes that the women demand more, then they should get more money. To me it's market. Obviously when you come to a Slam or a combined event people are coming to see both. You're selling the rights for men and women, so therefore, it seems logical to me that they should split it.
Q. How much of an underdog do you feel like going into this match?
PATRICK McENROE: I think we're a solid underdog. I mean, you know, going over to play Nadal on clay and the rest of the Spanish team is tough, but we're excited about it.
I mean, we played them in '04 in the final. We played them last year on the way to winning it, so they'll want to get us back. We have a lot of respect for them, and I think they have respect for us.
One thing you can count on is that our guys are -- they're going to go for it. I think that's the mindset we have to take. Let's enjoy it; let's have fun; we're the underdogs.
But, you know, if we can sneak out a match on Day One, who knows?
Q. One follow -up on Andy. He plays three, four, five more years. He's moving up the ladder of all-time winnings, all-time clinches. Could he go down as maybe the greatest Davis Cup player in the history?
PATRICK McENROE: That would be great. That would be nice. He's certainly been amazing, his commitment. Tim was just mentioning the first time that this group played together in Belgium. We were playing a relegation match and Andy played the last match. We were up 2-1, you know, a four-plus-hour match, an indoor match against Rochus, who at that time was playing great, and basically killed himself.
You know, there we were playing in front of 5,000 people in Belgium and not getting too much attention over here. The next -- was it the next year we won the Davis Cup? Was that '05?
TIM CURRY: Yeah, '05.
PATRICK McENROE: I kind of remember those matches. You know, the fact that he's put himself out there and did it the year after he won the Open in '03, went to Bratislava. So I certainly would love to see that happen, and hopefully he'll play for a few more years and stay committed.
Obviously it's a tremendous, you know, responsibility that he's done it, but so have the rest of the guys. So has James. James hasn't always been on the team, but he's answered the call every time he's gotten it.
Q. I know your loyalties lie with Andy in this tournament, but if Roger Federer were able to defend, do you think that's arguably the most significant and interesting Slam victory of his career?
PATRICK McENROE: Well, I think there's a lot at stake for him, obviously. You know, as far as, you know, not having won a major this year and losing a No. 1 ranking. So he seems to be obviously very focused and is playing better.
I don't think he's playing quite at the level that he was in the last couple years, but he's certainly capable of turning it around.
So I do think that this event for him is big, not just for this year and to win one major, but as far as moving forward to next year and maybe his confidence coming out in '09. Obviously we're all sort of wondering if he can break the record and all that stuff with Pete. It's not going to get any easier for him I think in the next few years.
Q. Last night, if not all of us, most of us prayed for the miracle in the match between Nadal and Mardy Fish.
PATRICK McENROE: You prayed for the miracle? What miracle? That Fish would win?
PATRICK McENROE: Why would you pray for that?
Q. He would make five sets, maybe.
PATRICK McENROE: Oh, okay. All right.
Q. It looks God listened to our prayer in the first set, but went to sleep in the rest. Tell me about Mardy Fish performance in this Open. He played brilliantly at Indian Wells and looks like he's playing good again.
PATRICK McENROE: Yeah, were you here when I answered the question before?
Q. No, I wasn't.
PATRICK McENROE: Let me sum it up succinctly if I can. Mardy had a great tournament. He's capable of beating anybody in the world, as he's shown us at Indian Wells and here. The biggest challenge for him moving forward is to be consistent, week in and week out. He can get hot and have a great tournament and then sort of lose five tournaments in the first or second round.
So we all know Mardy is a great tennis player and has a lot of talent. I think if he keeps himself healthy physically and mentally in the best shape possible, that's going to help him.
TIM CURRY: One more thing. The trophy has been on the grounds for two weeks by the Court of Champions at the south plaza. This is the last week it's in the States before we have to return it to the ITF as current reigning champions.
End of FastScripts