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AUSTRALIAN OPEN


January 21, 2014


Patrick Rafter


MELBOURNE, VICTORIA

DARREN PEARCE:テつ Pat is here to announce the Australian Davis Cup team for the tie against France.
CAPTAIN RAFTER:テつ Well, the Davis Cup team is Lleyton Hewitt, Chris Guccione, Nick Kyrgios, Thanasi Kokkinakis, and we're taking Jordan Thompson as our fifth player.

Q.テつ How do you see the matchups going?
CAPTAIN RAFTER:テつ Don't know.テつ Haven't spoken about that yet.テつ A little bit will depend on who they play.
I don't know the exact rankings.テつ Is Tsonga ahead of Gasquet?

Q.テつ No.
CAPTAIN RAFTER:テつ Gasquet is ahead, so it will a little bit depend on that matchup, who wants to play who, who Lleyton wants to play, who we think the No. 2 player should play.
We're not there yet.

Q.テつ Fair to say you wouldn't play Lleyton in doubles?
CAPTAIN RAFTER:テつ Absolutely.テつ No, Lleyton will definitely play doubles 100%.テつ We think that's a pretty critical tie.テつ Normally always is.

Q.テつ Who is ahead out of the cave so far?
CAPTAIN RAFTER:テつ Yeah, it's interesting, because I was asking some of the boys today who you're finding harder to play against and who is hitting the heavier ball, that type of thing.
It doesn't really matter.テつ I'm just sort of interested.テつ But I think that decision really gets made by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.テつ A lot will happen in between then and there.
They'll probably play off for a match as well to see who gets that spot.テつ Maybe.テつ If we can't tell them apart, we'll make them play off.
But mentally I think they're both very capable.テつ As you know, they're very confident boys.テつ They back their ability, which is great.

Q.テつ How exciting for you to have two such young kids on the team.
CAPTAIN RAFTER:テつ It's going to be a fantastic environment for these kids, and good for us as well.テつ It's at that stage where you want to believe and make this team as strong as we can and as deep as we can.
I like the idea we got obviously Bernie there ready to come back after his operation, and Marinko hopefully able to overcome the things he needs to overcome to become a great Davis Cup player.
We just believe he's on the cusp.テつ He just needs a bit of a tip over the right side.テつ We believe by having him out at this stage it's help him to be more hungry.テつ He is hungry.テつ He wants to be back on the team, and that's exactly what we want to see from him.
Matty Ebden, as well.テつ And Jordan, I think it's a good experience for him too to come along and give him that environment.
Matty Ebden, we're starting to build depth.テつ I think when you have depth, you have options.テつ That makes for a very good team.

Q.テつ How did Marinko take his demotion?
CAPTAIN RAFTER:テつ Very good.テつ At first he thought it was a discussion he didn't want to be part of.テつ But Rochey, I, and Mark Woodforde were all on the same page as far as Marinko.テつ The reason we gave him the time and spoke to him about that is because we believed in him and his ability, but we believed that he needed to learn some lessons as well.
He totally understood.テつ It was fantastic.テつ Marinko understands.テつ He knows what he has to do.テつ Even though Marinko is the No. 2 player, he's still learning, I guess, all the time.テつ He came on the scene a little bit later than most of the guys do, and certainly with the two Ks he's a lot later.
So he's still learning his way, how he fits in the whole scheme, on the tour as well.

Q.テつ France is a formidable lineup.テつ Do you go there with any hope of winning, or is this all about experience for the youngsters?
CAPTAIN RAFTER:テつ We still believe we have a chance.テつ These kids, they're pretty exceptional in many ways.テつ There is an element of bleeding of them into the team as well, no doubt about that, and give them that exposure.
How they deal with that, I think they'll deal with it really well.テつ I think they're going to love the atmosphere and the occasion.
You never know.テつ Davis Cup has a tradition of throwing up some upsets.テつ When you've got youth and energy on your side, you have passion, you always have a chance.
Now, they are a great team.テつ On paper we're certainly losing, but I think we have a realistic chance of an upset.
But it will be an upset if we do win.

Q.テつ Can you talk about the example that Lleyton sets for the younger members?
CAPTAIN RAFTER:テつ It's funny, you know, because today the boys started off a little bit flat, I heard, the two young fellas.テつ And Lleyton has been doing the same amount of training, a little bit more than them.テつ He's on the go the whole time.テつ He's getting into them.テつ They're responding.テつ An hour and a half into it, they're really responding.
It's great for them to see the way Lleyton keeps bouncing back.
What's really encouraging also is everyone is encouraging each other.テつ Rochey pulled them in the other day and had a team chat.テつ This is a team environment now, boys.テつ Leave all your egos and everything else and you help your mates out here, because that's what it's all about.
It's pretty evident on the practice court.テつ It's really good, fun sort of situation we got there.テつ But Lleyton will lead them over the next week, as well, when we get over there.テつ When things start getting a little bit nervous, when we do the press conference, Lleyton will lead by example, especially in that environment.

Q.テつ Is there any potential downside in throwing young kids in at this stage?テつ We see in slams occasionally a wild card, gets on Rod Laver, gets belted and never sort of recovers.テつ Is there any risk for you in that?
CAPTAIN RAFTER:テつ That's a good point.テつ But I don't see this situation being like that.テつ I think these two boys believe they should be there and they want to be there.テつ I think that's exciting.
We're not throwing them into a situation where they're not happy about.テつ Although, when you do say that, it is exciting for a kid to get a wild card, exposure to Davis Cup, never be seen again, you're right.
But I think our team, the whole team, is really confident that these boys, it will only help grow them and mature them and help them become better players.
Davis Cup is a great platform for that for many.テつ It's helped a lot of people, including myself.テつ I don't see why this will be any different for these two boys.

Q.テつ Any sneaky plans to get yourself into the doubles?
CAPTAIN RAFTER:テつ No.テつ As I said, it would just have to be an unbelievable tragic circumstance for me to even go near it.テつ I mean, there's no way.テつ Horrible even to think about that.
I'm so glad I'm not playing anymore.テつ That first doubles match was fun.テつ But I'm glad I'm not there anymore.

Q.テつ Are you surprised that Michael Llodra is not in the French team?
CAPTAIN RAFTER:テつ Yeah, early on we thought he would be the doubles player with Benneteau, then taking two singles players.テつ But they haven't picked him.
Yeah, for us it's a surprise that he wasn't.テつ Their team has obviously thought long and hard about who they should be playing.テつ They've opted to leave him out for whatever reason.

Q.テつ Where are you practicing?テつ It's a bit remote.テつ Where do you prepare?
CAPTAIN RAFTER:テつ The courts aren't ready till Sunday.テつ We have to go there early to acclimatize and get ready for the time change, so we'll be training in Paris.テつ I don't exactly know where in Paris.テつ I don't think it's Roland Garros, though.テつ Our team manager knows where we're going.
Two days training there, then jump on a train and a bus after that, have a hit Sunday afternoon.
DARREN PEARCE:テつ Thank you, everyone.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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