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January 31, 2014

Leon Smith

James Ward


J. WARD/S. Querrey
1‑6, 7‑6, 3‑6, 6‑4, 6‑1

THE MODERATOR:テつ Questions, please.

Q.テつ Seen some good days as the Davis Cup captain, but that must be up there.
CAPTAIN SMITH:テつ Yeah, I mean, this is obviously right up there with the best of 'em.テつ But I'm not going to get too carried away yet.
Definitely enjoyed just having witnessed a fantastic victory from Wardy.テつ So we'll certainly enjoy that.テつ Certainly won't take anything for granted, especially when you look at what we're up against tomorrow.
So it was an amazing day.テつ Andy was pretty much flawless in his performance, and then an incredibly brave performance from Wardy.テつ When you start like that and to be able to turn that round gradually eventually again in the third set, pretty much looking down and out in the fourth, and then to be able to turn it around is pretty exceptional.テつ Hats off and well done.

Q.テつ Do you actually think that when you were two sets to one down you were still very much in the match?
JAMES WARD:テつ Yeah, I did.テつ It's easy to say now, obviously, but as I played him before and beat him, I was always believing in myself.テつ I thought I couldn't play much worse than I did in the first set anyway.
Yeah, as Leon said, I gradually got back in it as you said.テつ It wasn't easy.テつ It was tough.テつ Towards the end of the third there was a lot of sun coming across.テつ Half the court was shade, half the court was.テつ Both of us struggled a little bit on our serves.
Yeah, I think the turning point was breaking back in the fourth.テつ He looked to want to finish it in four, and then I started really well in the fifth and that changed it.

Q.テつ Leon, I don't suppose you'll answer this, but you've obviously got a decision to make now about the doubles that you perhaps didn't envisage eight hours ago.
CAPTAIN SMITH:テつ Yeah, I mean, we're in a good position now, so whatever decision is certainly on a sort of more positive light.テつ I mean, still doesn't really change it.テつ Depends how Andy feels.テつ I'll talk to him tonight and probably realistically leave it until the morning and see how he feels when he gets up.
So I'm still planning on him playing.テつ So we'll see how he feels in the morning, really.

Q.テつ James, up until the fourth set, looked like, if I remember, you didn't have a break chance against Sam, and then you break him five consecutive times in the match.テつ Talk about what happened with your return or what were you seeing from Sam's serve that you were able to turn it around.
JAMES WARD:テつ To be honest, I thought he served really well from the beginning.テつ For the first three sets it wasn't me returning badly; he made a lot of first serves at sort of big points.テつ And even when he got to 30‑All I didn't have a break point, but he would make a first serve just inside the line.
It was tough to take sometimes, but you got to keep coming back and waiting for an opportunity.テつ Leon said to me every changeover, Hang on and hold serve and you will get a chance.テつ You will get a chance.テつ In the end it happened.

Q.テつ What is it about the Davis Cup that seems to bring out the best in you?
JAMES WARD:テつ Look, I love playing for my country.テつ Every time I do it, it obviously brings something out in me that's a bit different ‑ which I didn't see in the first set.
Leon pointed it out to me and said, You know, come out of your shell a little bit.テつ And I did.テつ I play a different level of tennis when I do that.テつ Yeah, it's great to be around a group of guys that you don't really have the support normally during normal tournaments every week of the year.
So it's definitely a different feeling, and you're sort of not just fighting for yourself, but for everyone else as well.

Q.テつ James, congratulations.テつ We don't really know that much about you, so if you wouldn't mind, could you take a moment and just, oh, I don't know, talk a little bit about your background and London, not exactly coming from the elite circles, an I understand it, the years in the trenches.テつ And then talk about this win and whether it's just the biggest win of your career.
JAMES WARD:テつ Yeah, I mean, look, everyone struggles and everyone works hard to be a top player.テつ I think I'm still trying to do that.テつ I haven't achieved what I want to in tennis up until this point, and that's what I'm trying to do.
Obviously, as I said, I love playing Davis Cup, and I've had my best wins in this competition.
But, yeah, from London.テつ Arsenal fan.テつ See myself as a very normal bloke.テつ They might disagree.
But, yeah, what else you want to know?

Q.テつ I want to know what's been happening for you in your career on the circuit?テつ Has it been a long grind for you?
JAMES WARD:テつ Of course.テつ As I said, it has been for everyone, and there is tougher times than others.テつ I started playing quite late compared to a lot of people and sort of didn't play juniors; had a lot of injuries when I was young; went off to Spain, a different route.テつ It worked for me for a while.
Come back to London, and been living there ever since.テつ Yeah, you know, it's difficult for everyone, not just me.テつ I don't want to sit here and say my life is tough compared to everyone else's.
Just got to work hard and try and make things happen.

Q.テつ Going back to the second set, do you remember a game when you were down Love‑40 and then you get five points in a roll to get the hold, stay on serve, that ended up leading you to a tiebreaker.テつ Was that a turning point in the match?
JAMES WARD:テつ Yeah, I think it was, and also in the fourth set I think I was Love‑40 down as well, or definitely Love‑30 down.テつ That was that was a big hold as well.テつ Obviously, look, as a returner and you're Love‑40, you're backing yourself to win one of those points.テつ When you don't, it dents you.テつ Even though he's up, he's a break up, he still wants to go double break up to finish it off.
I kept giving myself a chance and believing that I would find a way to break him.テつ Yeah, I started returning really well, reading his serve a little bit better, and taking advantage of any second serve opportunities that he gave me.
I didn't think for the first three or four sets ‑ I would have to look at the stats ‑ but I felt he was serving pretty well.テつ So it was tough.

Q.テつ We heard that you've been hitting it pretty well all week.テつ Would you have expected this kind of court to suit you so well?
JAMES WARD:テつ As I said, I lived in Spain when I was younger for four and a half years, so I played a lot on clay.テつ Obviously not so much in the last few years.テつ Even then I won a ‑‑ my first challenger I won was on green clay in America.テつ This is playing like a green clay court.テつ It's not like a red clay court.テつ It's a bit faster.テつ So it's actually a surface I quite enjoy.

Q.テつ After the first set when you're looking at having lost 1‑6, what's going through your mind?
JAMES WARD:テつ Problems.テつ Yeah, look, I knew I wasn't playing great.テつ I was disappointed and frustrated with myself that I started that way, especially as I had been playing so well all week.
Sometimes it happens.テつ I sort of congratulate myself in turning it around.テつ Maybe in the past I wouldn't have won that match.テつ It took a big effort to turn it around.テつ You know, when you're out there it's a lonely place, especially when you're not playing well.
When you're playing great, everything is easy.テつ Yeah, to turn it around was a good effort.

Q.テつ James, seemed like in the fourth set?テつ That was a Titanic battle of wills.テつ Can you describe how the fourth set fact you?
JAMES WARD:テつ The fourth set?

Q.テつ Yeah.
JAMES WARD:テつ Look, at one point people were thinking I was done at 4‑2 and maybe it was 30‑15 in that game.
But, yeah, as I say, found a way to break back.テつ I think that changes the match completely.テつ I've still got to hold then.テつ It's not an easy game at 4‑3, but new balls came out then, which helps a little bit.
Stick to the patterns and the games that had been working for me before that.テつ I thought I stuck to the pattern well.

Q.テつ Leon, you obviously have one of two options here:テつ Dan Evans, and Kyle is obviously an up‑and‑coming player; James' form wasn't that great coming in here.テつ When you make these calls, and this is the latest call you've made that's paid off, is it science or a hunch or a bit of both?
JAMES WARD:テつ I wish it was (indiscernible).
No, I mean, to be honest, it's more of a gut feel.テつ I wrote to the guys and I was very honest with them, which I think pays dividends as well.テつ I said to them before they arrived, I wrote to them all said, It's a very open selection.テつ I'm not going to decide until I get everyone on the match court together.
Form does play a part obviously, as does the matchups.テつ And once you get confirmed who the teams and you have a look at everyone here in the one place, I started to get a feel of it pretty clearly that James was looking stronger.
It showed once he got going today.テつ The court really did suit him today.テつ No, look, I mean, the science comes from more just looking at the matchups and analyzing what patterns of play you want to try and introduce.
Saw quite a lot of that today.テつ Once James got into the sort of dominating the backhand‑to‑backhand exchange, he really came out on top in most of the points when did that.

Q.テつ James, you've been part of the team that was facing relegation to lower levels to now.テつ Put into words what that's like?
JAMES WARD:テつ We started four years ago now in Eastbourne.テつ Been part of every tie since then, which is, again, great for me.テつ Couple I didn't play for injury, but I was still there during the week, around the team.
But, yeah, like Leon picking me this week has showed his faith in me.テつ I've won some big matches in the past, and it was good to repay him today.

Q.テつ James, you addressed this earlier, but how do you go from not having a break point to all of a sudden five straight, breaking him five straight games?
JAMES WARD:テつ I don't know.テつ As I said, he served well.テつ At the beginning of the match he served really well.テつ Even 30‑15, 30‑All, he's serving big serves.テつ I'm not getting a lot of chances in his service games.
As the match goes on you start to see a little bit of his patterns and he starts to get a little bit more tired.テつ I think everything plays a part.テつ And the pressure.テつ He's got to close out a match that's difficult for him.テつ They're one rubber down and he's expected to beat me ‑ on paper.
So he's not in an easy position.テつ I had to just sort of keep reminding myself of that.

Q.テつ Will it be more Articulate tonight?
JAMES WARD:テつ I hope not.
CAPTAIN SMITH:テつ Yeah.テつ He doesn't like it.テつ Keeps losing.テつ But it will be, yes.テつ Captain's choice.

Q.テつ No karaoke?
JAMES WARD:テつ No.テつ No, apart from that young guy singing that first night, no more singing.

Q.テつ James, can you try and put into words your feelings about this win?テつ Is it kind of an ecstasy?テつ A joy?テつ A pride?テつ Is this your biggest win?テつ You said you had some big wins; what were they?
JAMES WARD:テつ Yeah, look, obviously beaten Sam before at Queen's when I had a good run a few years ago.テつ It was big when he was defending champion.
The other noticeable one for me that sticks out is the one against Tursunov to keep us in the match to get us promoted to where we are now.
Obviously today, as well.テつ Yeah, it was great.テつ Look, my mum and dad came over and it was a proud moment to play in front of them.テつ Sort of made the trip worthwhile for me.

Q.テつ James, obviously a distinct venue here.テつ What do you think about the setting here?
JAMES WARD:テつ It's great.テつ Look, my mum and dad were staying with some of their friends who live here and I came here when I was a kid.テつ People always said, Where is your favorite place in the world you've been, and I have often said San Diego.テつ It's a great place.テつ I love being here.
Again, to play a great match like that today was pleasing.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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