A visitor entered the room for a moment and fired a direct question: "What about this Australian team? Has it improved in the last couple of years?"
"Possibly Rosewall has improved a little bit, but Hoad has been fairly disappointing. I think it stems from the fact that they were exceptional as young kids. Everybody thought they were sort of cute—sort of phenomenal. They had no reason to get choked up in a match because they weren't often expected to win. When they did win, it was great. But after they had won a few tournaments—and were expected to win more often—they suddenly felt the pressure that the other big players had felt all along. They haven't been able to carry this pressure too well.
"When you get right down to it, what have the Australians won? Look at the whole tennis circuit record and you'll see that outside of Rosewall in the Australian Nationals, their guys haven't won many singles championships.
"It's true, Davis Cup Challenge Rounds are different and you certainly get pretty keyed up. It's a big thing when you realize that you alone represent your entire country.
" Harry Hopman claims a lot of credit for Australia's Davis Cup victories and says when he's sitting alongside the court his boys are at least 15 points a match better. I don't think it's true. He may help his boys a little, but not that much. He was regarded as great when they were winning, but last year—while they were losing to us—I didn't notice him giving them any great tips on how to change their strategy. If a captain is great and is as smart as Hopman is given credit for being, he should come up with an answer when being beaten.
"I guess I get as nervous as the next guy before a big match—especially if it's in the Davis Cup Challenge Round. But I think I'm enough of a competitor and am certainly serious enough about wanting to win, that it's not likely that it's going to be difficult to get me prepared mentally and physically to be at my best. If you go on the tennis court a little apprehensively, wondering how tough your opponent is going to be, I think you'll play better in the long run. You've got to be a little keyed up and nervous to start with, but once you get warmed up and into the match, then you start to produce.
"There are still lots of things to think about, though, even during the match. Although you should know your fundamentals by now, it does no harm to remind yourself with some dedicated concentration about even the most elemental phases of the game—even such as watching the ball. I also run over and over in my mind the weaknesses of the other guy—and seldom go into a match without some idea of the pattern I'm going to play. If I'm losing I'll always follow the old sports saying, 'Never change a winning game but always change a losing game.' I'll change even though I may feel what I've been doing is the best thing. If it's not winning for you, what can you lose changing?
THE AUSTRALIAN TROUBLE
"Going back a second to my being a competitor—maybe I should say something about what happened a couple of years ago in Australia. Well, I suppose everybody knows by now how I criticized the crowds down there for cheering when I double faulted in the crucial match against Lew Hoad. Maybe I wasn't too sharp about that.
"But that was only the beginning. A few weeks later I played John Bromwich in the Australian National Championships. I won the first two sets 6-1, 6-1. There was very little applause and you could have heard a pin drop in the stadium. John is a veteran, very popular and very clever, and he's always trying to fool you. He changed his game and won the third set and the people went crazy. In the fourth set he got ahead and it got so bad that people started hollering while the ball was in play. Inside of me there "was suddenly a culmination of all the things we'd been forced to go through during three months there—and I simply blew my stack.