October 11, 2001
WINSTON-SALEM, NORTH CAROLINA
Q. Talk about the replacement?
CAPTAIN McENROE: Well, I think first of all, everyone was had a great week at practice including Todd, but I think that James has made huge strides in his game in the last six months, especially the last couple months. He's playing with a lot of confidence. Basically he played his way. He played that well this week. I think Todd is the ultimate team guy. He came here knowing the situation and knowing that maybe this could happen, but in a testament to him he came here in great shape. He has been working extremely hard. Physically he looked good. But I think if you would ask him I think he certainly realizes that this was the right call. It's funny, I was telling the guy the other night when I let them know what the team was going to be and I said I had spoken with Todd right when I got this job talk to go him in the winter about his feelings of some of the younger guys coming up, singles players and doubles players. I said who do you think are some good some good young doubles players out that we can look forward to in the future. He said well -- I said, well, how about James. He said, well, forget about doubles. He said, singles. He said, this is a guy that can play singles. I think James will tell you as well that Todd has helped him more than anyone, probably had as far as players out there, and so the bottom line is that James made my decision not that difficult by the way he has been playing, and the success he had had and I expect that he's going to continue to improve as much as he has in the last couple of -- in the last six months.
Q. Any concern at all about him not having played in Davis Cup before?
CAPTAIN McENROE: There's always concern about everything. There's always concern about a lot of different things, but I am excited. I think we are going to have two players out there tomorrow in Andy and James that have never played a live match and I think that sends the right message out there as to what we are trying to accomplish and with the direction we are headed. And in spite of that, I think they are our two best guys right now. That's the most important thing. So sure, they will be excited out there. I am sure they will be a little bit nervous but that's good. You want them to be a little bit nervous and excited and I think that they will play well.
Q. James, talk about how Todd has helped you.
JAMES BLAKE: I think we are very similar in that we were both late bloomers so we had some troubles when we started out on Tour. Any time I have any kind of a lapse in concentration or I feel my game isn't there, he is the first person I call. He helps me get through those kind of times, and makes me see that I do -- he helped me to realize that I do have some potential hopefully and that maybe I can do some good things in this sport. He's always been there to support me. Hearing it from someone that's as great a player and as good a person as he is, it really makes a difference to me. It is one thing to hear it from just fans or someone like that, but to hear it from such a great player, it's something that I have cherished and it's helped give me some confidence to be here today and to have done -- to have some success so far.
Q. Do you talk to him away from the Davis Cup tie throughout the year about your game?
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, I do. I talk to him a lot at tournaments. When we are at the same tournaments, we end up talking a lot about my game, his game, things like that. Then we also have -- we both have other interests besides tennis. It is great to have somebody else to talk to about other things and another person that went to college and we hang out in the locker room and play games. He loses a little money to me in backgammon. We have a good time. But yes, we talk about just about everything.
Q. How much is a little money?
JAMES BLAKE: (Laughs) A little to him; a lot to me.
Q. Did you talk to him after the decision?
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, he has been the most generous person that he can possibly be. It shows his priorities to this team that he was, like Patrick said, willing to come here and be in as good shape as he was, and then he just said good luck, and that means a lot to me. I mean, I don't know of many players that would have been able to do what he did. And he has been unbelievable. I hope -- it doesn't feel to me that there's any hard feelings or anything, it's just up to Patrick's decision, and how we played on the court. I feel honored.
Q. Did he give you any specific advice playing in your first Davis Cup?
JAMES BLAKE: Not yet, but I am sure we'll be talking later today. We still have some time to prepare for my first tie.
Q. With the events of the last month in America does this mean anything more?
JARED PALMER: Well, I think the tie will still be very competitive but I think there's no question that with the tragedy that's gone on I think it puts things in perspective a little bit and I know that India is one of our allies in this whole craziness so while I am sure it will be competitive I think there's a slightly different feel to the whole thing. I don't know how everyone else feels, but --
Q. Talk about the donations that you will be making.
CAPTAIN McENROE: Every time we have a Davis Cup tie -- the US has a Davis Cup tie the USTA donates a portion of some money which in this case was $10,000 in the name of each player that the player can use at their discretion. Todd Martin has his own foundation. For example he might in another situation use that money for his foundation, whatever it maybe. But the players have decided that we would pool all our money together and then we would put in a percentage of the money that we make here so that the number comes out to at least $100,000. So all of that money will be donated to one of the charities obviously associated with what's happened one month ago today in fact.
Q. Does this have any more significance to you as a native New Yorker?
CAPTAIN McENROE: I think it just the right move. Obviously people have been rallying around the country and we realize that this is a tennis match and in the bigger scheme of things it is certainly not important. But this is what we do. We are tennis players and we want to realize that -- we want people to know that we care and that like other people are doing things in other parts of the country who are showing our support. It's obviously something that was important to the guys and they were all eager to do something like that.
Q. Talk a little bit about representing your country; does it charge you up any more?
CAPTAIN McENROE: It doesn't take that much to get me charged up about Davis Cup. I think as Jared said, it puts it in perspective. It makes you realize that you represent something more than just being a tennis player. When you come to play Davis Cup you are representing your teammates, your family, you are representing the country and I think it just makes you stop and think a little bit about that that's important and you want to handle yourself well and you want to play with pride and you want to play as hard as you can but you want to do it the right way. Hopefully it just makes you remember that. Obviously you should do that all the time but it makes you think about that a little harder in the last month.
Q. How will you prepare?
ANDY RODDICK: I am pretty much going to go through my regular routine like I do the rest of the year on Tour - good warmup, really focus in from the time my warmup ends to the time the match starts. I am sure I am going to be amped up and ready to go and I am sure the crowd is going to be pretty rowdy so I am going to go out and fire like I normally do. Hopefully it will be enough to get a W tomorrow.
Q. Any added pressure, less pressure being first or second match? Preference? Does it matter?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know, James -- I am pretty happy to be the first one because I would have sat in the locker room and, you know, ran around in circles before the match started. (Laughs) But I think James is a little more low key than I am, so I think it works out best for us.
JAMES BLAKE: I guess it might have been a good draw for us. But I feel like I really don't know exactly the emotions that are going to be going through my head at that time, but I know I have prepared as well as I can to this point. That's really all I can do. When I go out there I will luckily have a great captain sitting right next to me there and if I am a little too jacked up, he will be there to calm me down. If I am not quite emotional enough, then he will be there to fire me up. I think I am hoping it really won't take long to get through that and treat it just like a tennis match and just play the way I play best and that's in a certain mind frame and hopefully I can get to that as quickly as possible.
Q. What is your schedule tomorrow? How much will you watch? How much will you train?
DON JOHNSON: Well, I think Jared and I will practice in the morning before we start out, but playing for a team is something that I hold very dear to me and being part of a team is something that we don't do very often. So I will be there for every point. When these guys are on the court I will watch every single point and cheer as hard as I can.
Q. Talk about playing here in North Carolina?
DON JOHNSON: It is a distinct pleasure. I have a lot of people that will be coming in to watch. I have had numerous requests for tickets; maybe too numerous to count as Mr. Ryan can attest to. Really when I look at this opportunity for me to play with these great teammates that I have and with Pat and Jim being our coaches, I am tickled. I can't really express it in the words that I want to. It's an opportunity that I have worked very hard to gain. I have been playing on Tour for about eleven years, I think, and to finally arrive at this point is an incredible journey and I hope the journey continues.
Q. Talk about your match and how important it will be?
JARED PALMER: Well, no matter what happens tomorrow the match is going to be -- our match is going to be important, so I think we'll go about it in the same way regardless of what happens and I mean, I have a lot of confidence in the guys sitting next to me. I think they are playing well and they have had great years and I have a lot of confidence in Don and what we are able to do and so we are going to try, regardless of what happens, approach the match in a positive way and come out and just try and do what we do and what we have been doing.
Q. Does it make it easier to get up for that match, not that you need any help, knowing that you guys are playing a great team?
JARED PALMER: No, as Pat said, it doesn't really matter who we are playing. It's the Davis Cup and we are playing at home and we are playing representing our country and, you know, yeah, it's certainly a challenge. I mean, they are a phenomenal team and they have established themselves over the years to be a formidable team and they won Grand Slams and -- but as far as getting up for it, we'll definitely have no problem with that.
Q. What makes them such a great doubles team?
JARED PALMER: I think just the way they compliment each other. I think they compliment each other as well as a team can. They are the epitome of, I think, you know, helping each other out, and one player doing well what the other one doesn't do well. And I think that's what makes them a great team. They have a great chemistry on the court too. They play well together and they are both good competitors. So Don and I this year have -- I feel like we have also -- a lot of our matches have been very close and we have -- for the most part we have had a good record with, you know, with some close matches and I like the way that we compete together and as I said, I have lot of confidence in Don and what we can do.
Q. Talk about your doubles team and what you like about them.
CAPTAIN McENROE: Well, their record speaks for itself, I mean, the way they got together sort of by chance almost in the spring and their record has been phenomenal. I have watched them play a lot of matches; particularly this summer. As Jared said, they compliment each other well. What Don has done in his career - talk about his journey, it's an incredible story, how far he's come and how hard he's worked and how well they play, how well they play together as a team. They both compliment each other well. They are great around the net. It's just going to be a great doubles match. You have the French Open Champs. You have the Wimbledon Champs. It just going to be something for everyone to enjoy. I hope we enjoy it a little bit more. I think these guys are playing with a lot of confidence which they should have. They have had a great week in practice, so I am looking forward to them playing well. I expect them to play well.
Q. How did you guys get together?
DON JOHNSON: Short version. It was a bit of misfortune for our scheduled partners. You guys might want to get extra paper and extra ink for this one, but I was supposed to play with Pete Norville. (Ph) After the Australian Open this year he was in an unfortunate car accident and had a career-ending injury. So I was looking for a partner. Jared was supposed to play with Byron Black, and Byron did something to his ankle and he was looking for a partner and I went down to South America and I played one tournament with Guga. We hooked up in Scottsdale. That was our first tournament. We actually won that tournament. Then we decided to play four tournaments on the clay before the French Open. And at the French Open I was supposed to play with Richey Leach who was coming out of retirement. And Jared and I won three out of -- or two out of those four tournaments and Mr. Leach was kind enough to say: Why don't you continue with your success and we did and the rest is somewhat history and the future is Saturday.
End of FastScripts....