January 19, 2004
THE MODERATOR: First question.
Q. Could have been a very tricky assignment. You came out of it as you would have liked, straight sets?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I got off to a little bit of a faster start than he did. I thought I could have kept my concentration a little bit more in the third set. I started letting him control the points a lot. You know, he's gonna control his fair share of points without you being able to do much about it. I lost concentration on my serve a little bit but I was able to pick it up at the end of the third.
Q. Is there an element of fear ever in playing a man who hits the ball that hard?
ANDY RODDICK: Absolutely. It's just weird to get used to because a lot of the times, you know, especially for me, I like to think I'm the hardest hitter out there most times. But, you know, a lot of the times you feel like you're just at his mercy as opposed to be able to control the points or losing the points on your own. You feel like he's either gonna hit a winner or he's gonna make an error. So it's a different feeling.
Q. We don't see the speed of the forehand. We see it on the serve. Do you think he's got perhaps the hardest forehand today?
ANDY RODDICK: It's tough to judge. I mean, his is -- his is hard and it's got a lot of action on it, it's got a lot of topspin on it. As far as lining up and cracking it, as far as miles per hour, I think someone would have a hard time beating Andre, if you fed him a ball and had him crack it. Fernando has definitely a lot of action on his ball.
Q. How did you find the speed of the court?
ANDY RODDICK: The court was good. Luckily, I've been able to practice on it probably three times during last week. There were no surprises.
Q. Did you think the key was the way you served on the big points, particularly when you were struggling a little bit on your service games, the breakpoint he had and that sort of thing, you always seemed to be able to come up with an ace or service winner?
ANDY RODDICK: With the exception of the double-fault, but...
Q. Always an exception to the rule.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, for the most part, you know, I served well in the big points. I felt like the third set my service percentage really went down, and maybe towards the tail end of the second set. But, you know, I figured something out and I was able to kind of get through. Especially in the tiebreaker, I don't think I missed a first serve, so that was key.
Q. Do you think Brad is more used to you here, having been so successful with Andre, and he kind of gives you some advice based on some of the stuff he did with Andre?
ANDY RODDICK: Not really. Brad's philosophy is I'm not Andre, and so he can't approach me like he did with Andre. Obviously, it's nice, you know -- we don't talk about, you know, his relationship with Andre that much. But just me knowing that he's been there before and he's not gonna get freaked out by any situation or surprised by anything is, it's nice to know.
Q. Specifically for this tournament, Andre sort of prepared for it so much more than the other ones.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, we threw Kooyong into the schedule, which, you know, he thought was good preparation. You know, I agree after having been there. And, you know, couple things here and there, but I don't know if it's because, you know, of his work with Andre. I think it's more just 'cause he knows the game really well.
Q. Is it a different feeling coming in to a Grand Slam as, obviously, the favorite and top seed and everything, different than what you've experienced before?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. I mean, it's a little different. But, you know, it's the same thing. You still got to win matches. That doesn't change. You know, just 'cause you're coming in as a top seed doesn't mean you only have to win five matches; you still got to win seven matches. That's the way I'm looking at it.
Q. It was a while ago, but I'm sure people talk about it as much, but what's the weirdest or most satisfying compliment you've had from doing Saturday Night Live?
ANDY RODDICK: Weirdest or... You know, my goal is to not suck (laughter). I told a couple of people that. They said, "Oh, it was okay. You didn't suck." So I actually took that to heart. That was fine. I know they're at least being honest.
Q. Guys on the tour sort of said, "Good job," and stuff like that?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, it's tough because, you know, in tennis I know even on a bad day I'm better than pretty much everyone watching, but I don't know if I'm as good as the person sitting on the couch looking at me. So it was pretty cool. It was a cool feeling. I felt like I got through it okay.
Q. Have you looked at the tape since you did it?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I watched it. It was all right. It was good. They didn't give me too many lines. I kind of relied on their people to be funny, which was much appreciated.
Q. Any moment of panic in you, any of the skits where you sort of got lost?
ANDY RODDICK: It's just like you hear the countdown to, "Live from New York," and I was kind of, you know, a little tight when the countdown was happening (laughing).
Q. How much has your life changed between the last 12 months? Do you feel it through the crowd?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, some things are different. It's pretty much just -- my life's been the same since I was 15 as far as traveling and playing tennis. It just progressively becomes a bigger stage. I think that's the only difference. You know, it's the same thing I've always been doing; it's just, you know, like I said, it's just on a bigger stage.
Q. Are you ever at the point where there's sometimes too many folks pulling at you and you're tempted to say, "Enough"?
ANDY RODDICK: Absolutely. I actually -- I read Charles Barkley's book on the way to Doha this year. It said, I have what I call the 50/50 rule. There can be 2,000 people waiting for you after a game. You can sign 1,000 autographs and 1,000 people are still gonna be pissed off at you. That kinda made a lot of sense to me.
Q. Are you going to start acting like Charles?
ANDY RODDICK: I doubt it.
Q. Is there a feeling that this year, the top ranking might rotate a little bit more than usual?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I mean, it's absolutely up for grabs. That's obvious because we had such a tight race with three people last year at the end of the day in there. There are many guys who, you know, believe they have a shot at it. So, you know, I'll hang on to it as long as I can. But it will probably rotate a couple times this year. I think that makes it exciting, though.
Q. Is this the easiest Grand Slam to play in terms of being relaxed, it's not cramped in with the other ones, Australia is a bit lower-key, the city is convenient? Do you feel it less stress will than other Grand Slams?
ANDY RODDICK: I think it's always stressful, but it's cool because I think Australians in general are pretty laid back. Maybe you just kind of catch on in it. But, obviously, for me, I mean, the most stressful one is the US Open because you're playing in your home country and stuff. But, you know, it's nice because it's the beginning of the year. I definitely can relate to a little bit of what you were saying but, you know, it is still a Grand Slam and there's always a fair bit of pressure and stress during it. But that's what makes it a Slam.
Q. Given that you won your first Slam in that environment, do you actually need stress?
ANDY RODDICK: I like it. I don't mind it. At the same time, like I said, there's not a lack of it, you know, at a big tennis tournament. So, you know, I don't mind it.
Q. Considering this was a match that had, you know, potentially very, very difficult consequences, are you much brighter now, do you feel as though you're really into the event and it's happening, you're feeling good?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm happy to get through it, especially it could have easily been extended into four sets, and then it's anybody's game again. So, you know, I was just going for a win, and I got through in straight sets with the feeling that I can still improve a lot, you know, on my form. So, you know, that's nice.
Q. That presumably is always the ideal in the first week of a Slam, is to be sort of feeling your way into the tournament, getting through and then building on something for the second week?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I'd love to play well every match. I know there's some guys out there good enough to kind of play their way into it, but, you know, I like to feel prepared and ready and feel like I'm playing well going in. But, you know, you're right, first week you really have to concentrate, not to kind of let up.
Q. Brad said you could serve 265 or something. Was he serious?
ANDY RODDICK: Brad says a lot of things (smiling). You know, I don't know. That seems absurd to me, but... Who knows?
Q. Any bets on with him at the moment?
ANDY RODDICK: Man, we have so many bets going, I can't even remember. We don't even pay each other. Who knows.
Q. Have you ever just gone out with a speed gun and just wailed it as hard as you can?
ANDY RODDICK: No. If you do that, you can't serve as hard. It's just got to happen. I mean, if you force it and you try, it's not gonna work for you. You know, a lot of it is timing. It's not so much how hard you swing at the ball, so...
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