November 18, 2004
THE MODERATOR: Andy moves into the semifinals for the second year in a row. He improves his ATP best 73rd match win of the season. Questions for Andy.
Q. Talk about the big points today and how you felt you played against him overall.
ANDY RODDICK: I actually felt I was lucky to get out of the first set after having served for it and played a pretty sloppy game there. But, you know, the rest of the match I couldn't have asked for more. I thought I played pretty well. I thought it was a pretty high level of tennis. You know, like you said, I stepped up on the big points and really forced the issue on him.
Q. How deep did you have to dig at Love-40, 5-6?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, you know, it's unfortunate to get down Love-40 at 5-6. But as cliche as it must sound, I was just thinking, "Let's get this one, then get the next one." You know, just trying to think one point at a time.
Q. You seemed to vary your game a little bit today. Is that an approach for Safin or just anyone you play?
ANDY RODDICK: You know, a lot of people, especially for Marat, I can't stand there and hit toe-to-toe just flat balls, nonstop with him. He's great at that. I have to mix it up. I have to try coming in a little bit. I think you have to keep him guessing. If he gets in a groove where he's teeing off on forehands and backhands, it's probably going to be a disappointing afternoon.
Q. Earlier on today, Marat described your tactic of using the single-handed backhand slice as "clever" because it deprived him of too many opportunities to rip his backhand up the line. Does the kudos go to Brad for this tactic?
ANDY RODDICK: I'd say it's a combo. Like I just said, Marat likes getting the backhand rallies where he can just pick a spot and pull the trigger up the line. I mean, that's what he's good at. He's better than I am at that. There's no reason to get into that contest. So, you know, the easiest way for me to mix it up is a slice, so I tried to move it around a little bit and, you know, give him as little chance as possible to play in his comfort zone.
Q. The low volley in the second to last point of the match, where does that rank among volleys you've hit?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I've made three, so... (laughter). It's probably second or third (smiling). No, I just wanted to stick to it, you know. That's the only way I'm going to learn, is by trying it on a big stage and at important times. If I can hit it then, then hopefully I'll be able to implement it more consistently in regular matches as well.
Q. Obviously, you improved your backhand, but don't you think it can come from the fact that you move better, you're in a better position very often on your backhand?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I feel like I really do a lot of off-court work, you know, in the time that we were off. You know, it's starting to show a little bit. It feels good out there. You know, I'm going to take a lot of positives from these first two matches. I feel like there's a lot of good stuff going on right now.
Q. Talking about the new volleying, was there one match that made you realize that that was an area that you needed to -- was it the Wimbledon final?
ANDY RODDICK: No. I felt like I played great in the Wimbledon final. You know, I played Johansson at the US Open and at the end of it I had been to the net, I think, six times in five sets against someone who's not known for his return. So, you know, there were a lot of times where I would look at stat sheets and there wasn't enough net approaches, but that one really stuck out. You can talk about it for so long but, you know, there comes a time where you just have to suck it up and try to implement it. This is kind of where I wanted to give it a chance. Fortunately, I've been doing it well this week.
Q. Was it your own personal realization, or did you and Brad sit down and say --
ANDY RODDICK: No. I mean, no. I mean, I think it's Brad, Captain McEnroe pointed out to me as well, then Brad came in last week and definitely made it a point that every practice we were going to work on transition game. You know, that was that.
Q. You said earlier this week you weren't happy with your serve. Second-set tiebreaker, five aces, service winner.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I was happier with it then (smiling). Yeah, I felt I served a lot better today than the other day - than the other night.
Q. Five aces.
ANDY RODDICK: That's good (smiling).
Q. From where we sit in the stands, I have the feeling there's a lot of respect between you, Marat, Roger, Lleyton. Is it true, and do you feel you four are a group above the others right now?
ANDY RODDICK: Oh, I don't know. I definitely think there's respect there, and I definitely feel like, you know, we've kind of been the top four for this year, obviously. But, you know, that being said, you can't take much away from the other players. I mean, to Coria's credit, I mean, he didn't play the last three months of the year. So he was in pretty good position before then. He was one of the top guys. It's tough to say, but I definitely respect all three of those guys, you know, a great amount for the way they play.
Q. What's your take on the Safin-Henman match?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. It's going to be -- there's a lot at stake. You know, I think, you know, obviously, Marat has played a lot more matches of late. But, you know, like we were talking about my slice backhand, I don't do it nearly as well as Tim. He's going to bring that out. I think Tim really has to force the issue and, you know, who knows. They both return well. They both move well. It's going to be a match that I'm certainly going to be excited to watch.
Q. You play Coria tomorrow, but you're through to the semis already. Can you tell us about your preparation for the semifinals, trying to get to your first final, and any changes you may make to your game?
ANDY RODDICK: No, no changes. While it's irrelevant as far as qualifying for the semis, I still want to keep the momentum going. I want to continue to do the things that I feel have worked positively for me this week. I feel I'm in a good place in my head and in my game right now, so I definitely want to try to continue that.
Q. (Question regarding Marat replacing his racquet.)
ANDY RODDICK: No, I don't think he tried to slow me down. I think he just cracked the racquet and wasn't comfortable with the one he picked up. But, I mean, obviously it's a different match if I lose one of those points; we're going to the third. That's crucial. You know, those points were definitely huge.
Q. Looking ahead, let's say you end up as No. 1 in your group and Lleyton is No. 2 in the other group. You'd meet up in the semifinals. What would be your early thoughts on that?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm going to save that one for tomorrow, after the match tomorrow.
Q. I remember Wayne Ferreira saying once when a guy smashed a racquet in front of him, it was the greatest compliment he could give him. When you saw Marat toss the racquet down, what did you think?
ANDY RODDICK: I didn't actually see it. I just looked up and he had two pieces of a racquet (laughter). So I was a little disappointed that I missed the actual breaking, because he's up there with the best of them as far as that goes. But, you know, at that point I'm not really thinking much besides, "Let's try to get a good start in the tiebreaker," and maybe he was a little agitated.
Q. He's tried to keep his temper under wraps.
ANDY RODDICK: He's definitely doing a better job of that. Especially he missed that volley there in the first-set breaker. Second set, he bounced right back, got through a couple of tough games where I was pressuring him on his serve. There's definitely a little bit of a difference there right now.
Q. You do the same yourself?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm trying. Oh, what? Breaking the racquet?
Q. Keeping your cool.
ANDY RODDICK: Oh, that one.
Q. Much more than before.
ANDY RODDICK: Trying. It comes and goes. Hopefully, it will be the same guy tomorrow (smiling).
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.