March 14, 2004
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA
THE MODERATOR: Andy improves to 18-4 on the season, and he'll take on the winner of Safin-Hernych in the third round tomorrow. Questions for Andy.
Q. You look happy.
ANDY RODDICK: I am happy. You look happy, too.
Q. Looks like you were being a bit more aggressive with the backhand. Is that something you've been working with with Brad?
ANDY RODDICK: Definitely. You know, over the last couple days, we've been trying to maybe work on the transition game a little bit more, maybe give people a little bit of a different look than maybe what they would normally see. You know, it's always continuing the process of trying to improve. It's pretty simple.
Q. If somebody told you two, two and a half years ago that the guy everybody would be positioning you against is like a potential maybe great rivalry would be Roger Federer, what would have been your reaction?
ANDY RODDICK: I probably would have said, I hope I'm in that category. I think everybody kind of knew Roger, it was a matter of time. I was probably more of a question mark two and a half years ago than he ever was.
Q. Talking about going back, probably about the time when you were revamping your game as a junior, Jan-Michael, Pete might have even once called him the future of American tennis.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah.
Q. What has gone on there as you look at it from your perspective?
ANDY RODDICK: What do you mean?
Q. With Jan-Michael. You guys caught him, passed him.
ANDY RODDICK: I'm not sure. You know, a lot of it's just between the ears. He has a big serve, he returns well, he hits a penetrating ball from the baseline. I mean, I don't know what he's ranked right now.
Q. Low 80s.
ANDY RODDICK: I can think of a lot of people I'd rather play that are ahead of him, you know. I'm not sure. I guess that's a question you'd have to ask him.
Q. Does it surprise you to meet Safin possibly in the next round?
ANDY RODDICK: No, because I learned about it three days ago.
Q. It is rather early in a major tournament.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. Obviously, I don't think it's a great draw for me. But at the same time, it's probably not a good draw for him either. But that's the way it goes. Throughout my career, I'm going to have some good draws, I'm going have some bad draws. That's why you hear the old saying, "Luck of the draw."
Q. It seemed like last year most of your matches were at night. The environment is kind of like the US Open. What did you think about the conditions today, comparing it to playing at night here?
ANDY RODDICK: I like it. I mean, I'm kind of indifferent. I just want to get out there and play, if the sun is shining or the lights are on. Obviously, when the lights are on, it's a little more electric. I think it's a little easier to play during the day. Whatever.
Q. No preference on how that goes?
ANDY RODDICK: Not really. It's out of my hands, so I just kind of go in with a positive attitude either way.
Q. Back to Safin for a second. Coming off of Australia, what are your thoughts here? Were you surprised by his improvement, his concentration there?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know about improvement. I mean, when I hear that question in regards to Marat, he was a pretty good player before he got hurt. I mean, you know, he's been No. 1 in the world before. So I don't know if it's some vast improvement that all of a sudden he come out and shocked people. I was impressed, he had a lot of tough matches. It just showed that he put in the work in the off-season physically which probably helped him mentally. Yeah, that was very impressive.
Q. The word in the locker room is always, "Hang in there and there will be a lapse of concentration at some point from him." Is that maybe no longer true?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I mean, obviously he did something to prove that notion wrong in Australia. The knock on him was that maybe he'd take days off sometimes. But so far this year, I mean, he hasn't played too much, but at the Aussie Open, he definitely was the exact opposite.
Q. Talk about how reassuring it is getting into the match to have that big weapon, the big serve in the breakers?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, that was big. Even throughout the first set, I felt like I was getting into his service games a lot more than he was getting into mine. I think I had breakpoints in at least three of his service games in the first set. I felt like I was returning a little bit better. So if I got into the tiebreaker, if I could hold my own, I thought I was getting pretty good looks at his serve today. You know, but obviously if you don't lose a point on serve in a breaker, your chances are looking pretty good.
Q. Did you look at that as the key to the win today?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I think so. He definitely didn't serve as well as he did when we played in Scottsdale. So I definitely got a couple more looks.
Q. I'm from Germany. What do you think of the comeback of Tommy Haas?
ANDY RODDICK: It's impressive. I'm not going to lie, a couple weeks ago, I thought it would take a little bit longer for him to come back and start playing well again. I think it's just impressive that he's put in the effort to come back. He was supposed to come back, then he couldn't. You know, you just got to stand up and applaud when people come back from serious injuries like that and start winning in, what, their third tournament back or something. It's impressive. It's good.
Q. For a while people were saying that finesse and versatility were vanishing from the game, not many guys playing serve-and-volley tennis. Almost seems to be a renaissance of that kind of game. Is that an accurate perception?
ANDY RODDICK: I think so. I mean, I think we had this the other day in the press conference, a similar question. If you look at the guys that finished in the Top 10 last year, I'm pretty much one of the only guys you'd look at and say, "He's a banger. He's a guy who just steps up and tries to enforce his power on people." I think kind of took a left turn from what people were saying five years ago. With Pete. I think people are getting quicker, more consistent. I think Andre really revolutionized the game by taking full cuts at returns. Now a lot of guys are doing that. It's become a big neutralizer.
Q. If that's the case, you're the only banger, does it make you think about adding more of that finesse?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm trying, boss (laughter). You got to play with the cards you're dealt, though, man. I'm working on it. I'm a work in progress, for sure. You know, definitely I try to take things from what other people do well. You know, I try as best I can to apply them.
Q. What's wrong with being the only homerun hitter in a league with a bunch of singles hitters?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm not complaining. I'm just saying -- I'm not complaining at all. I have a blast playing the way I do. It was just an observation.
Q. At the end of the day, is power the biggest weapon there is or not?
ANDY RODDICK: I'd have to say no. I mean, there are a lot of guys who are big and powerful who are ranked 30 and 40. There are a lot of guys who don't have so much power, who are very fast, you know, play the finesse games, like Coria, those guys. They play a chess match out there. You see a lot of those guys getting far in the tournaments than you do just the guys who are, you know, kind of raring back and letting it fly.
Q. Rafael Nadal is now in the third round. Are you surprised at the success of a 17-year-old on today's tour?
ANDY RODDICK: Not really. You know, I hadn't watched him much. I saw him play Hewitt this year in Australia. The kid can play, regardless of age, you know. And there was a lot of hype around him last year. You can really tell when it's in the locker room. I mean, the media will kind of latch on to kind of anybody, try to make them a story right away. The perception in the locker room is, "This kid, he can play, he can play ball." You know, it's not really surprising. We don't really think of him too much as a 17-year-old, but just as a Spanish guy with a hell of a forehand.
Q. Is the locker room six months ahead of the media?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know about that. But, you know, there's definitely, "Okay, this kid is young, but he has some work to do." Whereas every once in a while, like Nadal, "This kid is serious, he's going to win matches right away," as opposed to, "This kid is going to be good in three years, watch out." The perception was kind of like he was ready to play ball right away.
Q. When did you first hear about his name?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. He started doing well in the clay last year. Started beating up on guys, I think that was it. Then I think I saw him play for the first time at Hamburg last year. I watched him play a little bit. Woke up the next morning and he had beaten Moya on dirt, beaten Costa on dirt. It was like, "All right, welcome."
Q. What was the buzz on Michael Trudgeon?
ANDY RODDICK: I think he had a buzz cut, that was about it.
Q. We asked Henman about it. He never heard of him.
ANDY RODDICK: Not many people have. It's not one of my prouder moments in my career, I promise you.
Q. Who else would you put in that league, you mentioned Coria, others that have versatility, short of power, but can make up for it?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, you can do Rainer Schuettler had a great year last year. I think Lleyton was really at the forefront. I'm not saying these guys don't have power. It's just not their first priority. It's not their first. Obviously, you can't just be a retriever in this day and age. But they definitely find different ways to win.
Q. When you see someone like Henman having success against Federer, attacking the net constantly, does that maybe make you think about attacking his game?
ANDY RODDICK: Sure. I mean, I'm constantly looking at the way people match up against each other, why they win, why this guy wins against this guy but loses to this person. I mean, that's one of the things that's intriguing about tennis. It is one-on-one match-ups. Almost to see how crucial different styles are in the outcome of a match.
Q. Are there many players you would pay to see?
ANDY RODDICK: Sure, absolutely.
ANDY RODDICK: I'd probably pay to see a lot of guys. You know, definitely Andre still. He's still -- every time I watch him, I feel like I'm eight years old again. I'd pay to see Fed. I love seeing the way Nalbandian works against guys, kind of gets in their grill a little bit. There's a lot of guys. I'd play to see a lot of match-ups, as well.
Q. Anyone on the women's side?
ANDY RODDICK: Sure, absolutely. I want Venus and Serena to come back, personally, and really put it in there. I think it would be great. You know, the way the two Belgians have come along, kind of started dominating, I'd love to see the Williams sisters come back, and kind of be a two-on-two battle, Battle Royale, I think that would be good for the women's game.
Q. You emulate Agassi. Have you seen his game and tried to take things from it, on and off the court, the way he gets involved with the community?
ANDY RODDICK: Probably off the court more so than on the court. I hear a lot of junior coaches saying, "I teach all my kids to hit their forehand like Andre Agassi, their forehand like this person." I said, "Well, if you could do that, you'd be the best coach in the world, and you're not." I think you kind of have to kind of take what you have. I knew I wasn't -- I'm not built like Andre. We don't have a lot of similarities on the court. But the way he handles himself off the court, the way he tries to help the game, the way he does his charities. I think he's, you know, if it's possible, maybe even underappreciated for what he does off the court, even though he's been recognized for it and whatever. It takes a pretty special person to step in even when he doesn't have to.
Q. You've done that type of thing?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm trying. I'm trying. One of the questions I asked Andre when he kind of used me as a quasi sparring partner in the fall of 2000 after I'd played Juniors all year, I said, "If you had to look back and you had one regret." I was expecting him to say, "I got out of shape and dropped to 140." He said, "I didn't start my charitable foundation early enough." That really struck home. The next year I tried to start up my own. The rest is history. I don't know if I'll ever get up to his level, but I'll try.
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