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January 19, 2007
THE MODERATOR: First question, please.
Q. Andy, the stats indicated there wasn't a lot between you and Marat. Why did you think you won it?
ANDY RODDICK: I got all my bad tennis out in one set (laughter). No, I don't know. There wasn't a whole lot between us, to be honest. You know, I'm not sure. I just tried to tough him out. He's one of the best in the world, so I definitely had to pick up my game in the third and fourth sets. I thought the last set was my best one.
Q. Is it a sense of relief as much as anything?
ANDY RODDICK: No, I'm pretty happy. It's not really a relief. I saw the draw. Probably the one guy you don't want to play in the third round is probably him. So I saw it, and I'd be lying if I said I was thrilled. But hopefully he felt the same way.
You know, I don't know what else to say. I have a lot of respect for him, and I'm just happy to be through and get another shot.
Q. What sort of inspiration was Jimmy Connors at courtside?
ANDY RODDICK: He was great. You know, for him to kind of go through what he's been going through in the last couple of weeks, I probably haven't seen him for five weeks now or six weeks, for him to kind of hop a flight and show up this morning and stay up, he's still in the locker room chugging along.
It's just great that he could make it down here, and I'm real excited about that.
Q. Did it put any extra pressure on you knowing he had come all this way and got here today?
ANDY RODDICK: Not really. You know, I think we're past that. I think he came knowing that it was going to be a tough match, you know. And I wasn't brought up -- obviously it runs through your mind, but I don't really know if it made too much of a difference.
Q. If it was somebody that you had less concerns about playing, do you think he would have come?
ANDY RODDICK: Excuse me?
Q. If it was somebody who you had fewer concerns about playing, do you think he would have come?
ANDY RODDICK: I think so. You know, I didn't once ask him what his plans were during that time. I was more concerned with how he was doing emotionally. He kind of just -- I think he enjoyed talking tennis at the end of the day, for at least a little bit. You could tell he was starting to get the itch a little bit. Before the second round, it was, We'll see how you do and I'm going to try to tie up some loose ends here and then we'll see. And that was the first kind of inkling I got. Once I got through, he said, "I've got to come see that one on Friday night."
So I was real excited about that. It was great to see him today.
Q. Were you especially pleased with the way you kept your focus in that fourth set when the break points came and went and he was raging? It was important that you kept it all together and did what you had to do, wasn't it?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. I think with Marat, you know he's going to kind of go on the emotional roller coaster a little bit, but I don't know if that hurts him often. I think you've seen him do that his first couple of matches, and he somehow finds that right gauge. I just kind of tried to -- I was just feeling like I should be even keel out there tonight. There was enough emotion in the air that I don't know if I needed to create any extra.
Q. How difficult is it to focus, though, when he's on that emotional roller coaster?
ANDY RODDICK: Not really because I think what overrides his emotional roller coaster from my end is what a quality player he is, you know. And I think that's at the forefront of my mind as opposed to kind of, I'll let you guys watch what's happening over there, but I've kind of got to focus on what he's doing to me.
Q. Does it give you tremendous confidence heading into the rest of the tournament beating a guy like Marat?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, but it doesn't get any easier. I have the next high seeded guy in the fourth round, the highest seeded guy I would have possibly played in the fourth round, so it definitely doesn't get any easier. It started out tough this year. I was up against it in the first round, and it seems like it's just going to continue to be that way. Some tournaments are like that, and you somehow just try to survive an event.
Q. Did you treat that match as kind of a revenge game for a lost match in September in Moscow against Marat?
ANDY RODDICK: No, not really. I don't see what the two had to do with each other. One was in a Davis Cup competition, one was in a Slam. It's two completely different surfaces. I didn't really think of it as a revenge match, no.
Q. Were you quite happy with the conditions? He obviously seemed unhappy that there were patches of damp around parts of the court. He didn't want to play when the roof was closed. And you were just standing at the back obviously ready to play.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I mean, that's his right. If he doesn't feel like it's safe to play, then -- I've been there before. At Wimbledon I felt like it was really not safe to play before sometimes. You know, that's his right. I felt comfortable; he didn't. He's well within his rights to express that.
Q. Has your union with Jimmy, has that been good for the sport do you think in the sense of bringing a legend of the game, back into the fold, giving the crowd a bit of interest and attention?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm sure. I'm sure it has. I mean, even if Jimmy was around and it wasn't for me, I think just having the past champions around and contributing to the game, especially when he had been away for so long, I think it -- he had that aura. I've never seen so many 45- to 55-year-old men speechless when he talks to them and stuff. It's a really weird novelty for me to see.
I think it is good for the sport. And I think almost more importantly than that, it's -- in a way it's giving tennis back to him, I think, which is good.
Q. There were a lot of challenges out on the court tonight. It was a bit like a poker game, went to throw them up and when to use them at those strategic times?
ANDY RODDICK: It is. It absolutely is. Sometimes if it's 40-Love -- let's say he's serving at 40-Love and I'm receiving, you're going to be a lot less likely to challenge a ball than if it's break point. And you kind of just hope. I think there is some strategy involved in challenging, but tonight is a perfect example of I think why Hawk-Eye is a good thing. Early on in that fourth set there could have been some major swings both ways if it wasn't for that technology. We can kind of sleep tonight knowing that at least it was right.
So I think this match was kind of a good example of why I believe that it's a good thing for the sport.
Q. What would you say Jimmy's major contributions have been to you?
ANDY RODDICK: Just check the transcript from the last 16 press conferences (laughter).
Q. No, they weren't that specific.
ANDY RODDICK: What makes you think I'm going to change now?
I like his energy. He came in and we retooled my backhand a little bit. I had to change the way I played because I used to be really good at kind of far behind the court and using athleticism, but guys got better at that than me in a pretty quick swing of two years.
We kind of almost had to go 180 with the way -- 180 degrees with the way I played. You know, when you have someone like Jimmy Connors behind you and it's not just as easy as going forward, it's putting yourself in the right positions and picking the right balls and what kind of ball to play when, someone who has that kind of knowledge on how to play that way is a good thing.
It's probably similar to what he did a little bit later -- a lot later on in his career, granted, but the way he played probably in his 30s was a lot different than kind of the grind it out maybe when he was younger, so he has experience in that.
Q. You are 4-0 up against Mario Ancic. Do you expect an easier job for you?
ANDY RODDICK: Do I expect an easy job? No, Mario is a different player now than even when I played him in the semifinals of Wimbledon. I think last year was a really good breakout year. He's always played well but maybe a little bit inconsistent. Last year he played well pretty much every week. He's at 9 in the world and he missed, what, four months or something.
Q. Two months.
ANDY RODDICK: But during a pretty big time frame. I don't think he played Wimbledon or maybe he missed --
Q. Missed the US Open.
ANDY RODDICK: Missed the US Open Series, which is a pretty significant portion of the year with a Masters Series and a couple of Slams. You've got to think he would be higher if it wasn't for that. It's a very serious test.
Q. Are you the sort of player that looks forward to playing tiebreaks? You seem to play it pretty well.
ANDY RODDICK: You know what's funny is that before this tournament I had been on probably the worst tiebreaker run of my life. It's just -- tournaments are weird. Sometimes you win them in bunches and sometimes you lose them in bunches. But over my career I have a pretty good record in them, and obviously I think having a good serve helps in those situations.
Q. When you play Marat, is it a case of -- you mentioned emotional roller coaster. Is it also a case of having these spurts of brilliance and have to ride it out until it passes, as well as the volatility?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I think with any good player you have to be patient because in the fourth set, like I said, I thought it was my best set but yet I couldn't break him. It was the only set I couldn't break him, but yet I hit the ball the best. Good players are maybe able to withstand that. So I think you maybe have to be a little more patient from that end for your opportunities.
You know, my opportunities didn't really come. I played good on them, not only with Marat, but with a lot of the top players that you kind of have to -- I don't know what the phrase is I'm looking for, but kind of just ride it out a little bit more than most.
Q. Marat seemed to absorb your big serves there for most of the match. When you have a situation like that, do you push a bit more on the serve, or do you just vary your serve?
ANDY RODDICK: Yes and yes. But I think the most -- when he was getting on it, I think my percentages dropped in the second and third sets to like 50 something, which is low for me. I think if I'm up around the upper 60s, it kind of -- even if he returns well, he's not going to get that many looks at second serves. And he'll be able to fight off -- he's strong enough to fight off my first serve, that's just the way it is. A lot of guys aren't strong enough, and he is.
Q. But then you picked up the first serve in the last set, and that helped?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I served well in the first set and the fourth set. The middle two were a little suspect. Therefore I got broken three times in the second set.
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