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An Interview with US Davis Cup Captain JimCourier



March 27, 2012
TIM CURRY: Thank you, everyone, for

joining us today for this media conference call with

U.S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier. Earlier today

the rosters for the 2012 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas

quarterfinal between the U.S. and France were

announced.

Mardy Fish, John Isner and the Bryan

brothers will represent the U.S. France's lineup

will include Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, GaŽl Monfils,

Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra.

The match will be played on clay next

weekend at the Monte Carlo Country Club, which

is technically in France, so it's a true away tie for

the United States.

The matches will be streamed live on

USTA.com for the first time ever and will be free,

so fans can watch the competition over the three

days if they are not watching the tie on television

on Tennis Channel.

With that being said, we'll open it up for

questions and answers.

Q. Jim, a question about Mardy Fish.

He's won his first back-to-back matches in

Miami. He's leading Nicolas Almagro right

now. Just wondering how concerned you are

about his state of mind as he expressed in

Indian Wells?

CAPTAIN COURIER: Well, I'm pleased to

be watching him right now streaming on my

computer as we talk. So pardon me if I get a little

distracted.

More importantly, Mardy is feeling better,

having won a couple of matches. He's in a better

frame of mind this week in Miami. He's been

working in the past few weeks with Mark Knowles

as his coach. There is a new voice in his ear.

That always hits a bit of a refresh button for a

player, which it looks like he needed after the start

of the season.

Other than Davis Cup, it had been a pretty

tough start for him. I think he's gotten himself back

on track and is back out there fighting, competing

and grinding. All those things that he said he

wasn't doing after his match in Palm Springs he's

been doing in Miami.

He's not playing his best tennis yet, but

he's playing better and competing a lot better.

Q. Coming off the huge win in

Switzerland, what are the keys going into this

tie? It's a tricky tie, away, clay, France has a lot

of variety on their team.

CAPTAIN COURIER: The keys are no

different. I wish there was something really catchy

I could give you to say here. They have a deep

team. The general overview is France is a very

deep team, as was Switzerland.

I should rephrase that.

There will be five tough matches.

Switzerland's team is definitely not as deep as the

French bench. There are going to be five tough

matches for us. We have to play our best to stand

a chance. We did that with Switzerland. We'll be

well-prepared. We like the environment. We'll be

comfortable in Monte-Carlo. We're happy to be

playing there and we'll look forward to laying it out

there.

But there's really no specific key that I can

give you other than just taking our chances when

we get 'em. Sorry to be so cookie-cutter, but that's

all I've got.

Q. Have you selected practice partners

for the tie?

CAPTAIN COURIER: We have selected a

couple of them. Rhyne Williams, Denis Kudla are

going with us. Jay Berger is in charge of that for

us. Jay is the one who puts that together. I think

there's one more, but I don't have it off the top of

my head.

TIM CURRY: Austin Krajicek.

CAPTAIN COURIER: Austin Krajicek.

There you go.

Q. Jim, obviously Mike Bryan and

Mardy played extremely well in doubles in

Switzerland. How nice is it to have Mike and

Bob Bryan? Talk about what a huge asset and

confidence that gives you.

CAPTAIN COURIER: Well, as a captain,

to have the world's best on your team at any level

is obviously a great comfort. Bob and Mike are a

pretty self-sufficient entity. They get out there, they

get after it. It's pretty remarkable to be on the

bench with them and watch how they operate and

to see what they do.

Mike and Mardy made a great pickup team

in Switzerland. But I think it will be to everyone's

benefit to have the singles guys focused on singles

and getting some rest on Saturday and Bob and

Mike getting ready to go to battle on doubles

Saturday.

Q. Jim, after Andy Roddick's victory

last night, was he available at all to play in

this? Was there any consideration given to

perhaps moving him to the team for the Davis

Cup tie?

CAPTAIN COURIER: You win the prize

for asking that question. I was wondering who was

going to get it.

Look, Andy said pretty clearly after we had

our victory in Switzerland as a team that Mardy

and John Isner deserved the right to continue on

with what they started. I agree with Andy's

assessment.

Obviously I'm very happy for Andy that he

played so well last night. I'd love to see him and

Mardy square off in the quarterfinals. Whoever

wins that is a win for U.S. tennis and our team, if

that were to take place.

But Andy is not coming, nor was that a

consideration on his part primarily or my part. But

he remains open to opportunities down the line for

the team. As he clearly stated, if you look back at

transcripts, if one of our guys were to be injured,

he would be available. So that's the kind of team

guy Andy is.

Q. I was wondering on a day when it's

announced basically that Andy Murray isn't

playing for his country, Djokovic isn't playing

for his, how big is it for you that you have these

guys that you can continually count on?

CAPTAIN COURIER: Well, you get a

prize for asking the 'What's wrong with Davis Cup'

question.

Look, I think Davis Cup is a personal

decision for players. There's sacrifices that are

required from the players to be there at Davis Cup

ties. The scheduling is certainly not convenient for

all, and that's why you'll see some players choose

to make the sacrifice and some players not.

Our players are firmly committed to Davis

Cup at the moment. I hope that will remain the

case for as long as I'm the captain of the team.

But I certainly can't promise it. The schedule is an

imposition on the guys, there's no question about

it.

Q. Obviously as captain you're a coach

in a very, very individual sport. My question is

about the players who are out there on court,

how you talk to them when you feel the

momentum is switching away from them, when

doubts are coming in and they're struggling. I

know it's a general question, but can you talk

about that process and how you try to switch

the mindset, whether it's Mardy or Andy

Roddick or whoever is out there.

CAPTAIN COURIER: Well, it's an

interesting psychological question because you're

asked to invade a very private space for players

who are used to dealing with those moments by

themselves. So it's a delicate situation for a new

captain, which I am. I don't have a lot of time

under my belt with these guys, but I'm getting

better at understanding what makes them tick and

how they like to receive information.

So it depends on the player.

I don't have to give Bob and Mike much

information. They like positive feedback. They

certainly want to know if I'm seeing anything, but

they're very self-sufficient and used to having

themselves to talk to.

When it comes to Mardy and John Isner,

our singles players for this tie, they receive

information differently. John is more accepting of a

lot of information. Mardy likes information at times

and sometimes he wants to sit and process by

himself.

It's my job to take the temperature and

know. I don't always get it right. I'm still trying to

figure out how to do that better, be better for the

guys on the court, make sure I'm helping them and

not getting in their way.

But it's the most interesting piece of the

job, I think.

Q. So far in terms of the best Courier

has done in that aspect in terms of giving a tip,

turning the tide, what would be the go-to

example so far in your tenure?

CAPTAIN COURIER: Nothing really

jumps out at me. It all kind of blurs together.

Q. Bob and Mike Bryan, they're two

people but one, dubs specialists, how do they

get it together?

CAPTAIN COURIER: It's one of the great

mysteries. I'm not a twin, and I'm certainly not an

identical twin, so I don't really know. But I'm

fascinated by it.

You're better off asking them the question

because I'm observing it maybe in a different

location than you, but I'm observing it in some

cases in the same way.

Q. Jim, another question about John

Isner. He has been playing so amazing,

beating Roger, getting to the final in Indian

Wells. How much benefit do you think there is

to being in a team atmosphere, even for

someone like him? You mentioned you were

talking to his coach nightly, but how much can

Davis Cup help somebody, especially

somebody like John?

CAPTAIN COURIER: Well, John is very

comfortable with the team environment, having

played four years of college ball. So I think he

likes it. I think he feels a responsibility to the team,

and that seems to help him focus in. It certainly

did in Switzerland.

He's getting more experienced at Davis

Cup, as well. He hasn't played a ton of live

matches. It will be fun to see how he develops in

Davis Cup as well as how he's developing just in

general. He still has a lot of upside potential.

I do think that Switzerland was a key point

for him for this year and possibly for his career as

to gaining confidence and playing against the top

players. He's taken that confidence, had a great

run in Palm Springs.

Hopefully he's going to have a big year.

He's already having a really good one, but there's

a lot of big events ahead.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the

French team. Tsonga has not had his best

results on clay. Monfils is always a bit of a

wildcard with his knees. I presume that Llodra

and Benneteau are the doubles team. What are

you thinking they're going to do at this point?

CAPTAIN COURIER: I think it's too soon

to tell. You have to keep in mind that Captain Guy

Forget has really until next week to determine who

the four players on his team are going to be. He

could change two of those guys out. From what

we hear, Gilles Simon is going to be there with the

team. I'm not sure about Richard Gasquet.

So I'm not convinced the four players he

presented are the four players that will be

nominated come next Thursday. They might be.

But we're not too focused on that. We'll be able to

focus in on Thursday when we know exactly who

Guy nominates and we'll go from there.

Great team he has to work with. Great

choices. So many combinations he can use in

singles and in doubles. He's done a terrific job

over the years. He's been a fantastic captain. We

know it's going to be a tricky one all the way

around.

Q. The conditions also will be different

from Switzerland. You'll presumably have a

pretty good clay court and you're not going to

be at any kind of altitude, right?

CAPTAIN COURIER: We will be a couple

hundred feet above sea level with a beautiful view.

Those are nice courts in Monaco. It should be an

excellent, excellent spot for both teams to

compete.

Q. John Isner on clay; in some ways

it's counterintuitive, in some ways it's not.

How do you see him? The results have been

good and scary for the best guys on it. How do

you see him going forward? What are the

perils and promises of clay for him?

CAPTAIN COURIER: Well, I think, one, it

doesn't matter what surface John is playing on, his

serve is going to be a nightmare to deal with if he's

having a reasonable day, a normal service day.

His first and second serves are both so extreme as

far as what angle they're coming in from. He's I

think gaining in confidence in that department,

which is something to see.

He's talked pretty clearly about how he

doesn't mind clay. He's very comfortable on the

results on it. Not having a mental obstacle, that's a

big part of the puzzle.

Look, if he has time to set up and put

some power behind the ball, as I think I said

maybe in December, he's the most destructive

force in tennis. He's unplayable against if he does

what he does very well. You just don't have the

conversation at all. It's one-way traffic.

The slower surface in some cases might

help John. I mean, I believe he can be every bit as

good on grass as he is on a slow hard court or a

slow clay court or a fast hard court. I don't think he

needs to limit himself to thinking that a slower

surface is his best chance to win. But I certainly

don't think it hurts him.

Q. If you put on your analyst's cap

here, talk of the state of the men's game.

Novak Djokovic hasn't been imperious. How

do you see the play heading into the spring in

the men's game?

CAPTAIN COURIER: It feels like they're

jostling for positions in a way right now. I don't

think anything has changed as far as the favorites

for the majors right now. It's still the top three

guys. I think maybe Roger Federer has gained in

confidence, having won so many big matches in

big tournaments here since the US Open last year.

But really Novak is the guy to beat until

proven otherwise at the majors.

Q. Is Ryan Harrison going to be

traveling with the team? I know he's not

officially been named.

CAPTAIN COURIER: No, he's not.

Unless we have some sort of an injury issue, we'll

be going with the four players plus the three

practice partners.

TIM CURRY: Everyone, thanks again for joining us.

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