An Interview with US Davis Cup Captain JimCourier
March 27, 2012TIM 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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'
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
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
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
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
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
TIM CURRY: Everyone, thanks again for joining us.