After posing for a lot of pictures in front of the pool, the two teams came to their second news conference of the week. The French were very serious, whereas the Americans smiled a lot and US Davis Cup captain Jim Courier joked easily with the French journalists who were glad to see him back.
For USA :
Jim Courier : “It’s an honor to compete here. I’m excited about the ambiance during the weekend. It’s a bonus to play in a fantastic place.”
“We are a very zen team, very prepared.”
“The weather will be a key. The atmosphere changes the conditions of play. Yesterday was very different than today. The balls react differently, the bounce is higher with dry conditions…”
On his Harrison’s choice : “I want to be clear about it : for me, it’s not a first selection for Ryan. He was part of the team who won in Switzerland, and he belongs to the group for a long time as a sparring.”
John Isner, who beat Gilles Simon two times in a year (US Open and Indian Wells) : “It will be different. It’s Davis Cup. It’s a whole different animal than a regular tournament. He’s going to take the court very confident. I’m going to take the court very confident. Obviously it’s a different surface. Whoever plays better tomorrow is going to win, simple as that.”
Ryan Harrison : “I had a great experience of playing the dead rubber in Fribourg. Playing first or second, it’s a same. I talked a lot with Jim and I’m ready. We have a great team, a great coach and captain.”
Re: Team USA - Davis Cup - 2012, Bonjour Francais April 6-8, USA 1 - FRA 1
First Day Results: USA 1 - FRA 1
Tsonga def. Harrison 7-5 6-2 2-6 6-2
Isner def. Simon 6-3 6-2 7-5
Well done to John and good effort by Ryan. The doubles match will be crucial tomorrow; I think we have a good chance though. The Bryans are 9-0 on clay in DC and are the reigning doubles champions in Monte Carlo.
Re: Team USA - Davis Cup - 2012, Bonjour Francais April 6-8, USA 1 - FRA 1
April 5, 2012 Press Conference
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Since the beginning of the week, the weather has been changing a lot. Do you believe the weather will be a key, depending on rain or not rain?
CAPTAIN COURIER: Yeah, I think the temperature will play a part in how the balls react. The atmosphere always changes the conditions. I think yesterday was much different than today. We don't know what the weekend will hold. We have forecasts, but we're never sure.
The rule of thumb is pretty simple: when it's warmer and dry, the balls are going to bounce higher, they'll go faster; when it's damp and cooler, it will be slower.
It will change, no question.
Q. Did this make the preparation more difficult than usual?
CAPTAIN COURIER: No. Same for both teams. It's pretty normal. It's what we expected.
Q. Is it an advantage for Ryan to start the first match?
CAPTAIN COURIER: Ryan, why don't you take that one.
RYAN HARRISON: I think that obviously it's something both people have to deal with. I think either way, playing first or second, it's the same for both players and we'll both be prepared either way.
CAPTAIN COURIER: Just to be clear, Ryan has played a match before. I understand what you're asking. But, you know, I think Ryan said it best: We're going to be ready to play whenever. The draw is a formality. The matches take place.
It's boring to answer the question this way. I'm sorry we have to. But it's the way we think.
Q. From our side, you seem to be extremely cool, not worried. Is that what you really feel?
CAPTAIN COURIER: We're a very Zen team. That's what he asked. Do you guys agree?
RYAN HARRISON: We're very prepared. We have a great team, a great coach and captain. I think we're as prepared as we can be. We're all confident in ourselves and each other.
CAPTAIN COURIER: Put it this way: There will be a lot of energy spent Friday, Saturday, Sunday. We don't need to spend a whole lot right now.
Q. Ryan, did you talk with Jim about the special feelings and emotions you can have in a Davis Cup match that are completely different than what you can find on the tour?
RYAN HARRISON: Well, I think I have the advantage of being a practice partner a couple years ago, also being a part of that fantastic tie we had in Switzerland.
Like Jim said, I played the dead rubber match for me to get out there. We discussed a lot of that stuff in the past. Obviously we talked about it, just like we talked about many other things for this match.
I think we're both on the same page. We both have a very clear mindset of what has to be done in order to get the job done. We're going to try to go out and execute tomorrow.
Q. John, can you compare the conditions in Switzerland and here now for this tie?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, in Fribourg, I think the court was a bit of a wild card, I guess you could say, because the bounces were true all the time. I think the court here, it's a better court.
As far as the speed of it, I think it's about the same. If it's like today, it's pretty quick. Yesterday was a little bit slower.
The main difference to me are just the bounces. There were quite a few weird bounces in Switzerland, and this court is a little bit better.
Q. Jim, the fact that you never won a title here at the same club, is it special to you?
CAPTAIN COURIER: It won't be revenge. It's an honor for us as a team to play in one of the world's most beautiful tennis clubs, most spectacular tennis stadiums.
We're excited about what the ambience will bring to the matches. So I think it's going to be a special weekend. It's a bonus that we're here playing in such a fantastic spot. No revenge.
Q. (Question to John Isner over current win.)
JOHN ISNER: I don't think it's going to play that much of a difference. It's Davis Cup. It's a whole different animal than a regular tournament.
He's going to take the court very confident. I'm going to take the court very confident. Obviously it's a different surface.
As far as my win over him I guess a few weeks ago, I don't think it's going to play that big of a factor. Whoever plays better tomorrow is going to win, simple as that.
Q. (Question regarding the jacket.)
MIKE BRYAN: I actually lost my jacket yesterday. It's a sick joke (laughter).
Q. Jim, can you give us a little information about why Mardy didn't make the trip, why you went with Ryan?
CAPTAIN COURIER: I spoke to Mardy Friday evening after he went through some medical testing. We both agreed it was best for him to stay home and get some rest.
I immediately called Ryan. I already had a preview. I already knew that Mardy was getting tested. I had some time to think about it and talk to Jay Berger and make the call. That's how it worked out.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the doubles point, the importance for this team.
CAPTAIN COURIER: It's a luxury to have Bob and Mike. It was a luxury I never had when we I was a playing member of the Davis Cup team. We tended to scrambled singles players together, and we didn't do very well, by and large.
Their record is extremely strong. I have the utmost confidence in them. As a captain, having them on your side, it feels like you're almost cheating, so it's great to have them onboard.
I'll explain: I don't have to do anything. They're a very self‑sufficient organism.
BOB BRYAN: Nice of Jim. Like Jim said, I wish it was that easy. This is one of the toughest teams we'll be facing.
Llodra has been one of the biggest rivals over the last 14 years we've been playing. Played him in big matches all over the world. This is another big one. We're expecting another tough match.
John's press conference after his win against Simon
April 6, 2012
J. ISNER/G. Simon
6‑3, 6‑2, 7‑5
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Did you surprise yourself by playing so well on clay?
JOHN ISNER: No. It's like once you practice on it and practice on it well for three, four days, you become comfortable. I knew when I would get out there and start playing a match, getting in match mode, I was going to feel even more comfortable in the match than I did in practice.
You know, adjusting to the clay, I didn't think I was going to have any issues with it, and that was the case.
Q. Davis Cup is a different competition. Your successes in the US Open and Indian Wells, did they help you for this match?
JOHN ISNER: I was asked that yesterday. I don't believe so. It's a different match. It's a different type of match because it's Davis Cup.
To me, no matter who I was going to play today, I was going to feel confident no matter what. So that was the case today. I went out there and I played very well. Simple as that. I was very happy with how I played. I was very happy that I was able to help the team out.
Q. At the end it seems that the match was a bit more tense. Was it because the conditions were changing, it was getting colder, or was it because the intensity was more?
JOHN ISNER: I think Gilles started to play better, for sure. It's never easy to close a match out against a player of his caliber, especially in Davis Cup.
I expected a tougher third set, and that was the case today. I could easily still be playing in a fourth set out there right now. I mean, I had to save some breakpoints and was able to do so.
That third set, it could have gone either way. I was glad it went our way.
Q. Do you ever remember winning a break on such an unbelievable point?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, I would have to think really hard about that. For sure, that was one of the crazier points I've won. To do it on such a big point, essentially it was kind of a match point. If I win that, I'm able to serve for the match.
So I was very fortunate to win that point, and it was very, very crazy. I don't know, it went my way, and I'm glad it did.
Q. What part of your game pleased you most today?
JOHN ISNER: I would say my forehand. I didn't really serve that great today. I could have made more first serves. But my forehand today, it was on, and I was going for it. I wasn't holding back. That was the game plan.
Really, you know, I tried pretty much on every point, especially when I was returning, to either win or lose the point on my forehand. So I was out there going for it. A lot of them found the right spot for me. Very pleased with how I hit that shot.
Q. So whatever the result of the doubles tomorrow, you will have a tough match to play against Jo. Did you see the first match with Jo and how do you see that upcoming match?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, I was able to watch. For the most part I was in the locker room watching Jo play Ryan. You know, it was a very good effort from Jo. He's, what, No.6 in the world for a reason. He's obviously a very good player. I will play him on Sunday. We've played twice and have had two really good matches. I also expect to have another good match on Sunday.
It's going to be a very important point for us whether we're down 2‑1 or up 2‑1. I'm looking forward to that challenge. It's going to be a lot of fun.
Q. Can you assess the day from your captain position, Jim?
CAPTAIN COURIER: Sure. The first match was a tricky one for Ryan and for Jo. I thought that both of them played a little bit underneath their capabilities. I expect both of them to play better on Sunday.
But those are tricky matches. Ryan is out there looking for experience and Jo on the other hand is expected to win. You see how that plays on both players.
I think the good side from putting the American hat on, looking at Ryan's game, there's a lot of potential there. I think he's an unpolished diamond and there's a lot to work on to get better. He's already as good as he is.
It's exciting for us, those of us that are caring about American tennis, to see someone like Ryan who is willing to put the effort in. He's going to get better and better. We're going to potentially need him on Sunday. He's going to need to get better soon, on Sunday.
Gilles will be a big challenge. We didn't get to see Gilles play very much today because this guy did what he's supposed to do, which is be emphatic, dominant, take the racquet out of the hand of his opponent. I would expect Gilles to feel much better on the court on Sunday, and I hope Ryan will, as well.
For us, 1‑1, that's what it is. I think we're content with that. We'd love to be up 2‑0. Obviously, we'd hate to be down 2‑0. 1‑1 seems about right, and tomorrow will be a great doubles match tomorrow between four great doubles players.
Q. John, how much were you looking forward to playing today and how did you feel when you stepped out there?
JOHN ISNER: I felt great out there today. When Wednesday came and we were practicing, I was very, very antsy. I wanted to play the match as soon as possible.
I woke up this morning feeling very good. I didn't know, but I had a feeling that today was going to be a good day for me. That was the case. Because of that, it was a pretty good day for our team. We're 1‑All instead of 0‑2, so I'm very glad to have helped out in that way.
I'm going to sit back tomorrow, rest up, watch the Bryans.
Q. Jim, you say Ryan is an unpolished diamond. When you see him smashing the racquet, you don't want to take the fire out of him, but you want him refocused. What's the trick?
CAPTAIN COURIER: When I talk about him being unpolished, I don't talk about his attitude and his energy on the court, I'm talking more specifically about his game and things that he'll need to be better, things that he can do better to maximize his potential.
I think he's in the process of organizing his best game. And I think that will take some time with his everyday coach, Grant Doyle. They're working diligently at it.
You don't want to snuff out someone's fire. Ryan is a high‑energy guy. My job is to help him manage that energy, particularly when we're playing best‑of‑five sets, two matches in three days, metering that energy out as opposed to spikes and crevices, that's what I'm trying to help him with.
He'll in due course, like all of us do, get better at it. I was a lot like him when I was at his age. I was very emotional. I learned how to compress those emotions into a more consistent band which led to more consistent results. That's where we're heading now.
But let it be said, I don't think I've ever broken two racquets in one game. That was impressive. That was impressive.
Q. John, it seems like you flourish with Jim. Mardy Fish said he saw a huge change in your game in the five days in Switzerland. Chile seemed to work for you. What is about Jim?
CAPTAIN COURIER: I'm happy to leave (laughter).
JOHN ISNER: Well, he's obviously a handsome man (laughter).
He's obviously a great captain and he's been there and done that before as a player. He always stepped up for his country for Davis Cup. It's been a gradual thing for me.
To be honest, my first tie with him I didn't play well at all. Ever since then, since the end of 2011, started playing very well. With my coach Craig Boynton, we've been working very, very hard, working on a lot of things. It started with him. At the end of 2011 I started playing great. Then 2012 came along and I was very confident in my game, and Jim has helped out a lot, as you can see.
Along with Jim, and especially my coach CB, I've been putting together more consistent results and playing like I should play. I think today was a good example of that, as well.
It's good. For me, very, very happy to have Captain Courier on my side. It's good to put in a good four days of work and practice, get in the right mindset coming into this match ‑ coming into any tie really. It's been a good week, for sure.
Re: Team USA - Davis Cup - 2012, Bonjour Francais April 6-8, USA 2 - FRA 1
April 6, 2012
J. TSONGA/R. Harrison
7‑5, 6‑2, 2‑6, 6‑2
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. How can you analyze this defeat?
RYAN HARRISON: You know, it was a really fun, exciting match. I felt like, especially later, like the last two sets, we both raised our level of play.
I knew that I was going to have to pick it up after the second set in order to compete with him and to make it a battle. I felt like I did that. There were some really close games early in the fourth set that went his way. He didn't give me any real chance to break him back in the fourth.
Q. We felt a lot of frustrations for both of you. Do you believe Jo was able to deal with the frustrations better than you did?
RYAN HARRISON: I think that obviously in a Davis Cup match, it's going to be a very high‑intensity environment. We both have frustrations; we both had excitement.
I felt like I showed a lot of positive energy out there as well, especially later in the match. So did he. He got fired up when he played good points, too.
I think it went both ways.
Q. How did you experience emotionally this first time in a live rubber in a Davis Cup match?
RYAN HARRISON: I had a lot of fun. I wanted to keep going. I was disappointed for it to end. It's a great experience to represent your country, playing in an environment where you're representing something greater than yourself. I loved it. It was a great experience.
Q. What was the plan to get back in the game with Jim?
RYAN HARRISON: We both felt in the second set ‑ he mentioned, I agreed with him ‑ that my balls were landing a little bit short. He started to play the match on his terms.
He just said, Look, even if you miss a couple balls, if you start playing the right way, more aggressively, you're going to put some more pressure on him and you're going to get some errors ultimately. We wanted to be a little more aggressive on second serve returns, too, kind of put some pressure on his first serve. We were able to do that to a T. That's why I broke him in the third set.
Obviously in the fourth set, I think he must have served 70%, I don't know the exact stat, I haven't seen it, but he made a lot of first serves, that made it very difficult for me to get looks.
Q. It seemed you played very well the entire match. Do you think it just sort of turned on his ability to convert a few more breakpoints?
RYAN HARRISON: I think one thing I didn't do very well is I didn't play as aggressively on some of the breakpoints as I would have liked to, and he did.
It's a fractional match, but the fractions go his way whenever he does the right things. Even though we both missed some balls and both played some bad points at times, whenever he got breakpoint, he big points, he made me play. That was why it went to his favor early, and to my favor in the third because I did that better than he did.
The fourth set, I felt like we were at a high intensity level, high level. He was, unfortunately, able to play a little better than me at the end.
Q. Were you frustrated by the double‑faults? Any reason for them?
RYAN HARRISON: I never double‑fault that much, which is funny. My second serve is usually one of my biggest weapons.
You're going to have days that things don't go your way. I have days when my backhand is better than my forehand, which is not my norm, but it happens. It's just something I had to deal with.
The sun, it was against me on that side, and the wind was also against me, which was causing just a little bit of differences with my toss and also with the way I was trying to hit.
I started thinking about it after a few times, which is never a good thing. Obviously, I was not happy with it. But I did get better with it toward the end of the match.
Q. What did Jim say to you after the match?
RYAN HARRISON: Well, we haven't spoken too much in‑depth about it just because it's a team event and I'm representing USA, which ultimately the goal for us is to win as a team.
He said, Good fight, you competed well. Let's get behind John now and we'll talk about the X's and O's later. As of right now, we're all supporting John.
I'm excited to get done with my rehab and all my I guess maintenance work so I can get out there and watch him.
Q. When Jim speaks to you during a game, does it fire you up, is he trying to calm you down? What's his approach?
RYAN HARRISON: Well, I guess it's not really calming me down, it's not really firing me up. I'm fired up. I play well when I'm fired up. It's more channeling energy toward what we want to do.
A lot of it is for me just making sure that I play the right style that is going to be successful. I sometimes have a tendency to play a little more passive as opposed to aggressive. That's not the way I need to play. So that was a lot of our conversation.
Q. After this match, how would you rate Jim as a Davis Cup captain?
RYAN HARRISON: Number one. He's my captain. I can't say number one because I had a lot of fun with Patrick McEnroe, as well. He had a great career. I know Tom Gullikson, a lot of other captains that are supporting their teams.
For me, he's the only thing I ever experienced. He supported me in every way that he could. We had a great communication and great relationship on the court. It's nice to see everything. He sees the game similar to the way I do. It's not like he says something, I say, Nah, I don't agree with that. We both see things similar. Whenever he tells me something, it's kind of like light bulb. There we go.