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November 14, 2005

Max Mirnyi

Jonas Bjorkman

SHANGHAI, CHINA, HUSS-MOODIE/Bjorkman-Mirnyi 6-2, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Jonas Bjorkman, this is the fifth time you competed in the Masters Cup, and Mirnyi is your fourth partner. How do you adapt to partner, in your opinion?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Did you mean fifth, or fourth?

Q. Fifth.

JONAS BJORKMAN: Fifth, okay. Okay. It sounded "first." Sorry. No, it's easy, you know. We've been playing for the whole year, so, you know, it's not hard to adjust to different partners. We've had a lot of great success the whole year, and unfortunately today we almost embarrassed ourselves, played shocking bad, and it wouldn't even be enough on a challenger level I think.

Q. What do you think about what the ATP did this season for shortening the time for the doubles?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, it wasn't very good decision to come up with an idea of playing to four. I think today there was not a lot of value in the match because we didn't perform well, but if we would have played to four or five, it would have been even less time out there. So I think the fans want to see more tennis and not the short sets of dubs like we tried in, yeah, last couple of weeks.

Q. I've been asking about the same question to your friends who played doubles before you. Obviously, every one of us knows there is a problem for double because even the ATP, they want perhaps to change the way of playing, the score. They said next year they are going to have a new score because there is a crisis, something doesn't work. Now, most of the other player are just double player; they forgot the single game. You are the contrary example because, I mean, you been in semifinal of US Open, you been I think No. 4 as far as I remember. You have been at least 17, 18, getting close. So most of the player, they say that is impossible now today to play single and double in same tournament because it's too tough, because it's too difficult. But you think that there is a solution to have even the single player, the major single player, playing the double too, or there is no chance?

JONAS BJORKMAN: A lot of question at the same time almost.

Q. I'm sorry. If you want, you can just pick one.

JONAS BJORKMAN: No, that's okay. I can start with, I mean, if you look at the Masters now, I think we at least six or seven out of the sixteen guys playing the doubles Masters here who play singles, which is not bad. Then, will you have the top five singles guys to play more with shorter sets? No, they never gonna change. I think both me and Max agrees that the only change to get them to play more will be one ranking only. Because they're not going to care - and it's nothing against them that they're not going to care - about the money, because the money they have already. They're going to try to focus on what priority they have. So the only chance is one ranking. That's why not only doubles players is against the new changes we're trying. Even I would say the majority of all the singles guys who's playing singles and doubles now is against the new change of playing shorter sets. But it is possible to play singles and doubles. We are a good example. Llodra, Santoro. Gonzalez, Massu, who was in Olympics, won both singles and doubles. They were semis in French Open. Gonzalez just won back-to-back in Vienna, I think. So it is possible, but you're not going to get the top five if ATP or tournaments are looking for top five.

Q. For me, you have been answering. I put you three questions, but you answer for four. I'm totally satisfied. Except your friend has something to add perhaps, to what you say?

MAX MIRNYI: Well, we share a lot in common because this whole doubles issue has been such a priority, especially for the doubles tour, because for the past probably three years there's been so many changes. But like Jonas said, and I totally agree with him, the only one change that would make top singles players play doubles fully, 100% committed, would be one ranking system where some percentage of points would go towards their singles ranking. But unless that happens, no other changes with scoring system or prize money addition or reduction is not going make a difference. Traditionally, the sport of doubles has been a very rich sport for many years. To my understanding, it's just a very poor - I don't want to use the word "promotion," - but just lack of attention from the ATP's side toward the game of doubles. It is a very interesting game. A lot of exciting matches. It's a great addition to the singles game of any tournament. So it's an easy way out, especially now that tennis is experiencing a very difficult time, probably in early 2000 here. Doubles has never been an issue in the '90s when tennis was booming. Everybody was playing doubles, was winning, losing, not trying, trying. But doubles has been a big part of tennis. Today certainly financially tennis is suffering, and the easiest way to solve the problem is to try to get rid of doubles, but it definitely is not going to solve the problem.

JONAS BJORKMAN: And then you've got Davis Cup where the doubles is maybe the most important match. So, you know, it's a lot of issues why sort of going after the doubles.

Q. Find a way to convince the best single player to compete in the doubles.

MAX MIRNYI: I mean, if you look at a lot of tournaments, nobody even pays attention to a lot of the matches, singles matches that are not credible. Somebody's tired, somebody's injured, they play a set and a half, they retire, but it's somewhere on Court 16 and it's a part of the tournament because it's impossible to have every single match a competitive, tough match. So same goes for doubles. Except for our match today, this tournament so far all doubles matches have been three sets.

JONAS BJORKMAN: And with good tennis.

MAX MIRNYI: And incredible tennis this morning, and matches yesterday going down to the wire. So, you know, it is part of tennis, some easy matches. So you cannot discredit doubles by saying, "These guys came out and didn't try so doubles is not interesting." There are plenty of cases like that on the singles tour, too. It's just part of our game because our tour is a very long tour from January, early January, to very late November now as we see. It's very difficult to ask of every player to perform at his best during the whole time.

JONAS BJORKMAN: I was just going to say, and the women doesn't have the problem, because they don't talk negative talks, they talk positive about their game. On the ATP side, we talk negative. We trying to find what's wrong, what's wrong. We have better statistics than women.

MAX MIRNYI: I mean, our statistics show that our top 10 players, I'm not sure about the number, but it's way ahead of the WTA players, women's participation on the doubles tour. If you take the top 10 women and top 10 men, our guys have competed many, many more times tournaments this year than the women did.

JONAS BJORKMAN: They're not changing.

MAX MIRNYI: But we have the problem, supposedly; they don't.

Q. So the only solution is when Jonas retires, I hope in the future, to give him the solution for the ATP, the problem.

JONAS BJORKMAN: That's the whole problem because, you know, for the last almost a whole year now, guys have been sitting in meetings with all the people involved and from ATP, from tournaments, and we're trying to say what we think is the best. And the players' interest showed already in Wimbledon that we were 9-0 in votes against to have a trial to play to four or five, and we still have that trial. So the problem is the players is trying to make what's best for the game, but no one listen and we don't have the power to change it. That's why we hurting right now. Whatever we say, it's still gonna be -- now we said after the trial, Please keep it as it is, because you already had one change for next year, but now you can use any ranking, which is also going to improve because now you have Youzhny, Gonzalez, Massu in the top 30 of the doubles ranking. So it's just getting tougher and tougher, more singles guys playing. But then why still trying to talk and change to shorter sets again? So whatever we say, they don't listen. So we still trying to find a way what to do.

Q. But in a way, the official are paid by the work of the players, so how they can say no to you?

MAX MIRNYI: Well, it's a difficult issue. It goes down to the structure of our company, the ATP Tour, not always happens by the will of the players. It's an issue that we're addressing at the moment, and hopefully we'll have more say in the future. As of right now, especially on the doubles issue, many things haven't been done the way players want.

JONAS BJORKMAN: We just took two Board members away and replaced them because we think they haven't done their job in listening to what the players say because they should listen, too. That's our representatives. So hopefully the new guys can be a lot stronger.

Q. I would like to know three questions from Mr. Bjorkman. Are you going to play in Buenos Aires in Argentina for the Davis Cup? What do you think about the clay surface in Argentina? What do you think about the level in general about the Argentinian players?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Long way to go to February (smiling). I have to wait and see if Mr. Mats Wilander will pick me, first of all, for the Davis Cup team. So I'm not sure if I will be there. To play on clay, I do enjoy to play on clay, but it's obviously not the first choice for my game or for any of the Swedish players right now. If I have to go, I would love to come to Buenos Aires. I've been never in South America, so it would be a great opportunity for me to see a new site and a new part of the world. It's just going to be rough to mentally prepare, because I can't see how we can win a match - maybe the doubles. But, I mean, the singles matches, we're not going to have too much of a chance. But then we need a lot of injuries, because you've got like more or less like a soccer team to choose between, and we only got maybe two or three right now. So we're going to go there and obviously try our best but, you know, we're probably more planning on prepare for September's playoff match.

Q. The doubles, there is chemistry between two of you. Do you have any special function between you two before every match starts? Do you have any activities between the two of you?

MAX MIRNYI: I guess the more often you play with each other, the more you know of your partner. Certainly we try to communicate. Chemistry is very important in doubles. Before every match, we communicate and try to go over a few things we need to do. But, again, having said that, the more we play, and this is coming to an end of the first year of our partnership, the less we have to say to each other. Today was not a good example because we performed poorly, but overall during the whole year we've had reasonable success, and we look forward to bounce back and still contend in this tournament.

Q. About today's match and your opponents, your opponents were surprising winners at this year's Wimbledon and you lost to them there, but that one was closer. What makes the difference today? Is it about their game, the surface, or anything else?

JONAS BJORKMAN: The difference were that we just played, like Max said, very, very poorly. I wish I could say more bad words about it. But, you know, we just -- you know, it wouldn't matter who we played today. If you're 4-Love down in each set, you're not going to win any matches. I don't think it would have mattered who we played today. Obviously, they did something to win it, but, you know, there was more we missing, losing, than playing good. So, you know, it's just a poorly performance from us today. And, like Max said, we just have to bounce back, have a good practice session tomorrow, and it's two more matches to go and things can turn around quickly. And, you know, it ain't over yet.

Q. About future matches, because here you can lose one match but still be a winner, so what is your mood for next matches?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, it's a lot of revenge, I guess. You know, we still looking forward to vacation, but not yet. We only got four or five days left of this year, and I think we definitely want to finish off what so far has been a great year, and finish off a lot better. So both me and Max are very competitive, and we're not going to go down the same way the next match. We're going to fight till the end, and hopefully we can have a better start and hopefully it's still a chance to go to the semis.

End of FastScripts….

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