January 18, 2003
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Andy, please.
Q. It's getting easier and easier, huh?
ANDY RODDICK: No. It doesn't work like that. You know, I'm just glad to get on and off the court pretty quickly today, you know, save the legs a little bit.
Q. You think this is a big step forward for kind of the generation of Americans with James getting to the fourth round, you doing the same thing here, Mardy having done pretty well as well?
ANDY RODDICK: I hope so. I think it was a matter of time. But it's nice to get it earlier rather than later.
Q. Surprised at all that it came together so fast?
ANDY RODDICK: Not really surprised. I think it was just a matter of us winning matches at the same tournament. James has been winning pretty consistently last year. I won some matches, too. Mardy's been coming up. He started doing really well in the challengers last -- kind of when the main circuit ended, he won a couple challengers. People that are really hard core tennis knew he was playing some good ball coming in here.
Q. James got a lot of questions about his fashion statement. You looking to perhaps convince Reebok to make a sleeveless shirt for you?
ANDY RODDICK: No, if I wore a sleeveless shirt, people would try to feed me after the match. If you got the guns, go for it. I got two breadsticks sticking out of my sleeve. I'll stick with sleeves.
Q. How are you playing compared to the end of last year? What's your level of game like right now?
ANDY RODDICK: I think it's better. It's not as hit or miss as it was. I'm actually breaking serve with some regularity, which is nice. I'm not just relying on a couple points here and there. So as long as I can keep that up, it's much improved.
Q. How much of a disappointment was last year here? Does that serve as any motivation?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, it wasn't fun at all. You never want to end a Grand Slam not on your own terms or getting beat by someone or, you know, you don't want a variable in there. That wasn't fun. That wasn't a good start to the year. It's been much better so far.
Q. In Rocking Racquets it was billed as an exhibition, certainly didn't look like one. Your game was close to flawless. Would you like to comment on that now?
ANDY RODDICK: No, on the day. You know, it's -- I don't think I've taken that step to flawless yet, far from it. But I think it's good to get some exhibitions in in the off-season just to kind of keep your competitiveness there. You know, you can't do really much better than playing against someone like Andre.
Q. Do you feel like you can win the tournament?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I'm not gonna think that far ahead. I've gotten ahead of myself before, and it doesn't work well for me. You know, I'm focused on the fourth round then, you know, I'll take it one step at a time after that. I know people say that, but I'm really trying to stick to that this week.
Q. Do you think with a young player such as yourself, they sometimes just arrive at a Grand Slam? You haven't had outstanding results in the Slams to date. One, you just come in, go bang, you're right in there?
ANDY RODDICK: That's normally the way it happens. If you have crappy results in Grand Slams for a while, obviously you're hoping they're not going to stay that way for ever. You're going to have one that kind of sets you off. I think every player's looking for that.
Q. You sort of enter here consciously thinking about not getting ahead of yourself like that?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. You know, last year, couple times early on in the Grand Slams, you know, you can't win a Grand Slam in the first round. You know, maybe I was getting ahead of myself a little bit. You know, you live and learn. I guess that comes from the little experience that I have gained.
Q. What do you do to decompress after your matches?
ANDY RODDICK: You know, pretty much the normal thing, make sure you replace your fluids, just kind of relax. I don't do anything really too exciting, you know, get a rub, maybe go get some dinner, go see a movie or something. Nothing really outrageous.
Q. Do you see or read about Youzhny in the Davis Cup final? What do you think about his game?
ANDY RODDICK: I've lost to him twice. I think pretty highly of his game. No, he's a great young player. Just shows how tough he is to have never played a Davis Cup match before and go in and win the deciding match for the whole thing. I mean, he's nails upstairs. He's playing some good tennis, obviously. So I'm going to have to bring my game.
Q. Is there a camaraderie among the young American players such as yourself and James Blake? Do you guys hang out together much?
ANDY RODDICK: Definitely. We have a lot of the same schedules. We play a lot in the States, kind of follow the pattern of playing the same events. We're on the same Davis Cup team. We kind of came up through the challengers at the same time. So we've gotten to know each other pretty well. I'm definitely pulling for him. I know it goes both ways.
Q. What about as a Davis Cup unit, how do you feel about that?
ANDY RODDICK: As far as what?
Q. As far as going to the future, you could be a unit for a long time?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm excited about the prospect of being able to play with guys like James and Mardy, guys that I really get along with. It's not a chore to go and play and hang out with those guys. I really look forward to it and I really enjoy it.
Q. You seem to be very popular over here in Australia.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, and I don't even have to wear a sleeveless shirt, look at that. No, the crowd out there was great today. I stepped out, you know, sometimes the first four or five games, there's not many people there, then they start filling in. They were ready to rock from the get-go. That was nice to see.
Q. Any explanation why you're so popular here?
ANDY RODDICK: You'd have to ask somebody else. I don't know if I'm the best to answer that question.
Q. A lot of times people think it helps to have a group of players all together that are relatively the same level, feed off each other and grow up together and improve.
ANDY RODDICK: For sure. If I see Mardy do well, I want to do well, too. Same with James. I think when there is someone spotting you, that it helps a lot more.
Q. Did you have a look at the draw already? It seems like you could meet Lleyton Hewitt again.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I still have to win a match and he still has to win two matches. I'm not thinking about that. You know, if it gets to that point, then I'll cross that bridge when I get there.
Q. How do you like this surface compared to other surfaces you've been playing on?
ANDY RODDICK: It's a little weird. Bounce is a little tricky sometimes. It's rubber. It's not, you know, what you're used to. It's definitely a sticky surface. As I saw last year, you can get stuck sometimes. But I'm liking it now. I think it helps me get a little more action on my ball. I'm definitely enjoying it.
Q. Did you do anything differently this year because of the problem last year?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm wearing my ankle braces this year, trying to prevent any -- I'd rather be a little bit uncomfortable than, you know, comfortable on my couch at home (laughter). So...
Q. In the new generation of players, do you know Fernando Gonzalez?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. I've played doubles with him a couple times.
Q. Are you friends with him?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, he's a nice guy. We get along, you know. I definitely respect his game. I like him off the court as well.
Q. What sort of aspects of his game would you talk about that is his strong side of his game?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, he's pretty strong everywhere. He's very strong, he goes for his shots. He's a lot of fun to watch. So, you know, it's always entertaining to watch him play.
Q. You look more physical this year. Is this true, compared to last year? Did you do more?
ANDY RODDICK: As far as...?
ANDY RODDICK: As far as power work, no. I can hit the ball pretty good without, you know, trying to bulk up. I think it was more a case of, you know, movement and, you know, moving quicker. That's the part I really focused on.
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