|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
UNITED STATES TENNIS ASSOCIATION MEDIA CONFERENCE
April 8, 2008
TIM CURRY: We'll open the floor to questions.
Q. Andy, welcome back to Winston-Salem.
ANDY RODDICK: Thank you.
Q. Are you happy to be back here?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I think we all are. You know, we have great memories of a couple ties here. I don't think it was much of a secret around here how much we enjoyed ourselves last year and the crowd participation and everything.
Hopefully we can do our best to recreate that energy.
Q. What can you take out of the Federer win?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, a lot of relief. You know, the fact that I've had some pretty good wins over the last five or six weeks, whatever it was since Dubai, and beating the top 3 players.
That had probably been lacking the last two years or so, so that was a good step for me. You know, to kind of get over the mental hurdle I think was big for me.
Q. It's been an eventful year for you all the way through. Talk about the success of the year in general.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, you know, I feel like I had one pretty big disappointing lost in Australia, but I was able to kind of put that behind me. Since then I've been playing pretty well every week. I've lost a couple matches, but been playing good tennis and been competing every night.
I think the biggest thing is even early on in Miami I don't know if I was hitting the ball that great in my matches, but still felt like I could win, and was doing that.
I think that's the biggest thing. Even when you feel you're not playing well to get through those matches is a good sign.
Q. Talk about the surface here and how fast it is.
ANDY RODDICK: It's very fast. There's no doubt it's slick. It's going to be, I think, a little bit more about first strike and who's able to kind of convert big points, you know. And there's no doubt it's a fast court.
Q. Patrick, you said you were really hoping to get a home tie to show of the trophy and sort of re-celebrate that, but also looking forward to a new campaign. Talk about that a little bit.
CAPTAIN McENROE: Yeah. I'm real excited that we were able to win the first match against Austria, which was a real tough tie to win away on clay. I just thought it would be great for the guys to sort of play a match at home as Davis Cup champions.
We all know that the way Davis Cup is structured sometimes that doesn't always happen. The winning team, you know, plays a tough road match to start and loses.
We went over to Austria in pretty tough conditions there, and the guys really came through. As Andy said, I mean, we have great memories of being here back to 2001 when we came here the first time that I was in a home tie as a captain, and it was the first time that Andy and James played together on the same team.
It was after 9/11, which is was a pretty emotional time. And obviously to play last year against Spain here sort of kick started us to think that we might be able to win this thing.
So it's great to come back. It's a great environment. We're playing against a very tough and talented team in France with some really charismatic players. Should be a great weekend of tennis.
Q. For Andy, you talk about how your season is going. Can you explain maybe why it's going so well and you've been able to put together this run? Is it a change the coach? Is it the engagement? What's going right?
ANDY RODDICK: I guess first I'm going to say it's not always about a coach. I'm not sure. You know, I feel pretty relaxed on the court right now. I literally went to Dubai and was sleeping before my first-round match because of the time change.
I went out and just played and didn't feel a lot of pressure, and that kind of ran through that tournament. I don't know. You know, if I could -- if I knew exactly what it was and you could pinpoint sports, then a lot of us would be a lot more successful all the time.
But I've put in the work. I feel like I'm playing the right way right now. You know, maybe trying to maybe go after my shots and take a rip a little bit more.
I don't know. A lot of it is just about confidence. You get a couple of wins and then you just feel a little bit better.
Q. Can that confidence carry you through this weekend and the next few months, the big majors?
ANDY RODDICK: It can. I don't know if it will. We'll see. Obviously I'm not going to go into the clay court season favored in many of the tournaments. I feel like I can maybe do better than I have in the past there, but then you start looking at like I think you were alluding to Wimbledon and the US Open.
There's a lot of work to be done. Just because I played well the last month and a half definitely doesn't mean that I'm automatically going to play well there. You know, you have to do things day-to-day to make sure that takes place.
Q. Tsonga made a few comments about this tie, and you've had fun talking about it, too. Can you elaborate on that, the anticipation of the some of showdowns in this tie?
ANDY RODDICK: First and foremost, let me say that I think Tsonga is great for tennis. I don't want that to be lost in this whole little kind of word thing that we got going on. I think it's more fun than anything.
I think the reason why everyone was so maybe captivated by his run in Australia is because he has charisma and he's a little bit of a showman. That being said, I was a little bit surprised when he said, They should fear us. You know, I think that should work both ways.
They're coming here and I think we're the champs. You know, I think he's played one Davis Cup match before, or two maybe. He's definitely talking big.
It's going to be interesting to see how he comes out and how he plays. He's definitely capable of playing great tennis. If we're having a little friendly banter back and forth, I think is good for the tie and good for tennis. If we're being honest, come Friday it's not going to make a difference either way for either one of us. Might as well of fun with it, which I think is more what he's been doing, and what I've been doing.
Q. Patrick, will talk a little bit about the challenges of getting everybody here together and getting everyone focused on the task at hand?
CAPTAIN McENROE: Well, it's not that difficult. These guys are passionate about Davis Cup and have been through a lot of ties together now as a team.
For us, the guys have played well and they're all coming off having good weeks this Miami. They've all played a lot of tennis in the last month. For us it's really, we're not going to spend hour upon hour practicing because the guys have played a lot.
We're just going to try to get used to the conditions and the court and just stay sharp. I want three guys to come out fresh and feel fresh on the weekend.
So we're not going to be doing too many sprints out there. We're just going to try to get sharp. They have put in all the hard work already this year. Physically they're all in great shape.
So it was just a question of trying to gear up and play well on the weekend.
Q. Andy, you said the surface was very fast. Which surface would you compare it to on the tour?
ANDY RODDICK: On the tour? I wish we had surfaces like this on tour. I don't know if it's comparable to much. I think we play in a sandbox half the time on tour. I wish I could make that comparison for you.
Q. Patrick, the French came here with five players instead of four. Do you expect any big surprise rat the draw on Thursday?
CAPTAIN McENROE: I will expect the unexpected. They have a lot of versatility in their players. I certainly don't go in really wondering or worrying about it. As I said, we've got our four guys. If we play well and play at the top of our game we feel good about our chances.
Certainly I think Guy has more options available maybe depending on how the guys look and adjust to the court it being as quick as it is. It would not surprise me if there's some changes, no.
Q. What do you think is the most important in Davis Cup: Is it the level of you play or your mindset?
ANDY RODDICK: It's going to be your mindset in Davis Cup. I'll be the first to say I probably didn't play my best in Davis Cup early on in my career, even the first three, four, five years I was on the team. Probably recently I reached a little bit of a comfort level playing.
I enjoyed it, but it's a different kind of pressure, especially if you haven't been there before in a big tie. That's completely different. We're always playing for completely selfish motives, and everything kind of revolves around us when we're at a tournament.
Just a different kind of pressure. Davis Cup is a big mental battle for sure.
Q. When you won in Portland, you talked about the whole journey being so meaningful. Can you reflect on the journey a little bit and some moments that stand out in previous ties.
ANDY RODDICK: It even goes back to James and I playing the first time here. I mean, it doesn't seem that long ago, but I guess it's getting there. It was a little while ago.
And then kind of the process of the Bryans coming into the fold and how much energy and success they brought to the table. It kind of changed the dynamic of the team. We had to focus on just singles.
Then James is getting hurt and Mardy is filling in, and then James comes back and Mardy is just the ultimate team player coming here and practicing with us even though he's coming off of a huge tournament in Indian Wells.
Just some of the places we've been. I mean, we were in a relegation match and winning in five sets and barely surviving in Belgium a couple years ago. So it's come a long way. We've been through a lot together and been to a lot of places.
There have been some disappointing losses as well, and that adds to it. I've been a big part of some of those disappointing losses. To kind of have it come full circle, it wasn't just about last year. It was about, like you mentioned, it was about seven- or an eight-year process for us.
Q. Gasquet has been sort of an enigma. He hasn't had that one really stand-out, breakthrough event. Can you put or your finger on it? Because the talent is obviously there.
CAPTAIN McENROE: He had a pretty good event at Wimbledon last year. He beat Andy in great come-from-behind win. To me, that was a huge win for him. Obviously he can play on any surface. He's won titles on every surface, and he's an incredible talent and great player.
There is a lot of pressure and expectations on him in France. He's a top 10 player. He made the Masters last year, so he's accomplished a lot. Obviously to take that next step, which would be to get to the finals of a major or win one is a step I know he's trying to take.
It's not as easy as you sort of make it out to be. But he's a great talent. He's flashy and he's got a lot of game. You know, it's probably -- you know, what happens for him to make that next step, a lot of it is sort that was X factor: The desire and staying injury free, a lot of different things. Clearly he's got tremendous talent.
Q. Have you and Andy discussed that match at Wimbledon at all and things you could change?
CAPTAIN McENROE: Not really. You know, I mean, Andy felt like he let one slip away there. It's not something that we dwell on. This court is even a lot quicker than grass.
I told Andy, This court is kind of like what grass court tennis used to be 10, 15 years ago. This is the way grass court tennis used to be: very quick and very low. He didn't like that, because he's like, Oh, it's not like this.
Even actually said to Richard yesterday, he said to me when I came on the court, It's fast, no? I said, Yeah, it's fast. Faster than grass. He said, Oh, yeah, grass is slow compared to this. I said, It's not how it used to be on grass.
So, look, we have a lot of great players and a lot of great characters in this tie and two great countries with a lot of history. You know, I think it's really shaping up to be just a great weekend for Davis Cup for tennis.
Q. The Bryans said they were getting a little frustrated early in the year to not win. What did you see in that stretch, and what and what does winning last week mean?
CAPTAIN McENROE: Well, they've set the bar pretty high. For most, any other team out there to reach four finals in a row would be a great accomplishment. But for them, it's about winning titles and certainly about the Slams and Davis Cup.
I was really happy to see them come through last week, but also the way they did it. They were pretty dominate the last three matches. A lot of times in those doubles, particularly with the new format with the super tiebreaker it's a little bit of a crapshoot there.
Last year they won a lot of those. This year they started off losing a couple of them. You could see where that could play on your head a little bit. If you lose a couple you start to think, Oh, here we go again.
For them to come in here with a win I think was big. Gives them a lot of confidence. They really played well with momentum. Obviously they're pretty geared up for this match.
Q. I want to ask you about Andy's game. What do you see in it that maybe he's taken another step in beating these top guys?
CAPTAIN McENROE: I think he's being a little more aggressive when he can. I think that's the key for him, to really unload on his forehand when he can. He's hitting his backhand better. His backhand is a more solid shot now.
But I think when Andy plays his best, particularly against the top players, is when he takes some more chances and goes for it more. He's always going to hold serve 90% of the time, maybe more. Sometimes he could play a little defensively. I think when he gets it up a level to the better players that can cost him.
But I think for him, you know, over the last few months he's beaten the top four players in the world, going back to Davydenko at the end of last year. To me, I think that was a huge breakthrough for him in the last couple months.
Because I now feel like -- obviously from Wimbledon on, I would look at him and say now that he's beaten those players he's capable of winning any of these tournaments. Obviously there's a lot of guys out there.
But when you look at Wimbledon and the Masters events and the US Open, I think he's going to go into those events thinking, I can win these because he's gotten those individual wins.
Q. There's also a maturity to him. How has he matured?
CAPTAIN McENROE: As he said, I think he's handling the ups and downs better. He's very emotional, which in a way is good. He's got that kind of drive and desire, that's why he's been such a great Davis Cup player. He does feed off the emotion of it.
But I think now instead of going like this he just has smaller peaks and valleys. He's a little more measured in that way, and he knows how to pace himself emotionally. I think that is helping him now.
He's obviously real happy and in a good place where he is sort of settling down a little bit. This is what he does, and he does it pretty darn well. He takes care of himself and he's very professional in the way he prepares.
I think the losses don't hurt him as much. He doesn't beat himself up quite as much as when he was younger. That's the reality of being a tennis player. Unless your Roger Federer - not this year, but over the last few years - even the best tennis players pretty much lose every week. You've got to be able to handle that and move on to the next challenge.
Q. In retrospect, how fearful were you last year that he wasn't going to be able to play here?
CAPTAIN McENROE: It was definitely touch and go. He tweaked his hamstring pretty good in Miami. We had a pretty long sit-down discussion Wednesday night. In fact, I reminded him of that yesterday when we were out here.
I said that, in a lot of ways, was kind of a turning point of the year for us, because we weren't sure if he was going to be able to play, and play two matches, maybe one. So I had some hard decisions that I would have had to make.
But Andy sucked it up. He wasn't 100%, but he did what he had to do to win the match. You know, it's that sort of commitment that the guys have and the dedication. James wasn't feeling great in Austria and physically wasn't 100%. Went through that match and sort of got through it.
You never want to risk injury, and we would never do that to any of our guys. But you're not always 100%, and these guys realize that in Davis Cup they're playing for more than themselves, and I think they take that to heart.
Q. If you're able to get away from tennis at all this week, is there anything that you would like to do, Andy plans that you have or things you would liked to do?
CAPTAIN McENROE: Well, we've always had some great, great meals here. Mardy is hoping to take batting practice at the baseball -- it's the Warthogs, right? I threw out the first pitch there, I think back in '01. I threw a strike, too.
We always have a great time. Obviously we're busy focusing on what we need to do, but the fans here are great. It's a great tennis community and great area.
I'm sure that if we can get a couple wins on the weekend the boys will find a little more to do come nighttime.
Q. (Question regarding local restaurants.)
CAPTAIN McENROE: There's a couple nice ones, yeah. I don't know about any good French ones.
End of FastScripts