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April 6, 2007
WINSTON-SALEM, NORTH CARLOLINA
TIM CURRY: This is the first time since the 2004 semis that the U.S. is up 2-0. General questions for Patrick or Andy.
Q. Andy, could you talk about the crowd support you received today, how much that helped you in your match.
ANDY RODDICK: It was great. It was an absolute pleasure to play in that kind of environment at a home Davis Cup tie. You know, we were standing in the tunnel before introductions. I looked at the rest of the guys and said, I dare you to not get goosebumps right now. I think we all failed. It was great.
Q. There's a certain kind of joy that seems to roll off you in this environment. Is this as much pleasure and joy as you get out of the game of tennis, something like today?
ANDY RODDICK: Probably, you know, and about the most stress you get, too, at the same time (laughter).
I think it brings out a new level of passion from the fans. They're not rooting for a guy. You can get behind the flag. I think the players feed off that, as well. It's probably no small part to the rest of my team. They're some of my best friends, so I know I'm playing for them, too.
All that combined probably makes it that way.
Q. You talked on court after the match about how important it was for James, for his confidence, for the team to get the win today. Can you talk more about that.
ANDY RODDICK: It was great. It was no secret that he would have wanted to do a little bit better in Indian Wells and Miami. Kind of was coming in short on match play. You know, I saw him reacting one of two ways: struggling with confidence or going out there and kind of stepping up and kind of seizing the moment. Luckily for us he did the latter, kind of just controlled the match the whole way through, which was what we needed.
I thought he showed a lot of character out there today.
Q. Patrick, a James Blake question. What do you think the key to his match was - and also Andy's match?
CAPTAIN McENROE: I think for James, as Andy just said, we really worked hard with James this week on just getting him to be positive and hit a lot of balls and to get a little bit of his swagger back. Obviously I think the court helped him do that. It played into his advantages.
We just wanted him to go out there and go for his shots and be aggressive and be positive. Especially when you're playing with a great crowd like here, you want to give the crowd all positive energy to feed off of. I just felt that James, to me it was a big moment for him. With Andy coming in, having come off of a slight injury, I really felt like it was time for James to step up and win a big match. He did.
Obviously, him playing first was part of that so that Andy could come out with a 1-0 lead. I thought Verdasco came out just on fire in the first seven, eight games of the match. Andy was just real calm, not rattled by it all, just sort of played his way back into the match. Once he won the first set, I think really the momentum swung in his favor. He was able to really serve well and make Fernando work pretty often on his own serve.
Q. Andy, you mentioned how you guys were such good friends. James was talking about the family nature of things. Within that context, knowing what James needed from this, could you take us behind the scenes, what kind of conversations do you two have as friends about him progressing, what needs to happen?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I mean, I don't know if it's something we talk about. I think our job as teammates is to even support him off the court, just kind of make a relaxed environment for him. Before he played today, we were in the locker room with music going, dancing, just kind of trying to maybe make it a light situation. I guess that worked. I don't know.
James and I, to be honest, the only real time we'll sit down and have deep conversations about tennis is if he calls me or if he's at a tournament and I've played someone before and he wants kind of a scouting report. Apart from that, I don't think he needs my advice on anything. I think he has a real good group of people around him that he's comfortable with. I think that's more along the lines of Patrick's job.
Q. How often do you get a call?
ANDY RODDICK: Fairly often. If he's never played the person before and I have, most of the time. You know, sometimes it's Brian. I'll do the same. Like I said, I think that's the only real time we get into any sort of serious conversation about it.
Q. Patrick, for the first time since I think 2004, the Bryans have the chance to close out a tie. You've got to like their chances tomorrow, right?
CAPTAIN McENROE: I love their chances. I've loved their chances every time they take the court in Davis Cup, whether it's 0-2 or 1-All. It has been a couple of years since we've been up 2-0. So that's nice.
I think they're playing against a very good team, as you saw from Verdasco. The guy can really hit the ball big. López has probably even a bigger serve. It's going to be a tough match. I think because the court is pretty quick, there won't be many breaks. It will be almost like a grass court kind of match. Obviously, Bob and Mike are so well-prepared and they understand that it might be that kind of match.
So I think it will be close, but I certainly think we feel good that at crunch time our guys will play well.
Q. Andy, Hawk-Eye has only been in place for a year. Is it odd to play a match of this magnitude without it?
ANDY RODDICK: You know, not really. When it's not there, I don't think you really think about it that much. When it is, it's just kind of part of it. I think it would be something that maybe the ITF could look into using. I think it's a good tool. I think it's been successful.
But to be honest, you don't really think about it. It's tough to think about something when it's just not an option. I guess it makes it easier.
Q. Are you for it?
ANDY RODDICK: I've always been a big supporter of Hawk-Eye, yeah.
Q. Looked like the leg didn't bother you at all today. How was it?
ANDY RODDICK: It was okay. You know, it did what it needed to do. That's what we care about.
Q. Could I follow up on that quickly?
ANDY RODDICK: No (laughter).
Q. Did you feel like you might have only had one 100 percent match when you went out today?
ANDY RODDICK: No. I went into the weekend not expecting any matches that it would be a hundred percent. We had a conversation the other night that was actually a tough conversation, just about where I was at, if I thought I could get through two - and I do. There's a day in between. I'm sure I'll spend a very boring day tomorrow face down with a lot of ice, lasers, all sorts of other gimmicks attached to my leg. Go out there and, you know, hopefully it won't matter what I do on Sunday. If it does, I'll go out there and give it a go.
Q. Patrick, you've spoken about the importance of the surface. Could you run through a little bit about your selection and how you thought it performed today for your team.
CAPTAIN McENROE: Well, considering we're up 2-0, it performed real well. But it was Andy and James that performed.
You know, it's a group decision. Any time we play a home match, I take the lead from the guys as to what they feel most comfortable on. We know the opponents we're going to face. We try to come up with a surface that will favor us and will be tougher for them.
Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. I think we gave ourselves a good chance. The guys executed their game plan. It helped them both on their serve. The ball wasn't really bouncing up that high. So I thought that was good for us.
But, look, these guys play all year. They've got some very good results on fast courts, some of their players. It certainly worked out so far. But we still have one more match we've got to win.
Q. Patrick, the possibility of having a fifth player?
CAPTAIN McENROE: It would certainly help us. It would help our team more than a lot of other teams because we could then have a third singles player in addition to the Bryan brothers. For us, from a selfish standpoint, I would like to see it. I also think it would probably be better just overall for Davis Cup to have a fifth player. It would just give the teams more options.
I think some of the smaller nations might not want it because then it sort of helps teams like Spain and France and the U.S. that maybe have more depth and more players. Then again, maybe the teams that have better depth should have somewhat of an advantage in Davis Cup.
I think it's worth considering. I know they've talked about it for many years. But for us, it would be a positive.
Q. Andy, you have proved today also this surface is better for the big servers. You are also working hard in the back of the court or is that only an impression?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I wasn't the guy out there hitting the ball the hardest today, that's for sure. I definitely had to try to play. Fernando is one of the guys when we're in rallies I feel like he hits the ball bigger than I do. I have to try to find different ways to win points.
I was able to kind of work the slice around the court a little bit today and kind of had to run. I had to make him play. I was kind of just trying to fight out his big blows, kind of sneak mine in.
You know, I like the surface for that. I feel like it helped my chip, my defense a little bit more, as well.
Q. A captain and teammates may gloss over when the No. 1 player doesn't show. Can you put yourself in the Spanish team's place? Wouldn't it take some of the starch out of you if your top player elected not to play?
CAPTAIN McENROE: Well, it would certainly take a lot of starch out of our team if Andy didn't play, that's for sure. But luckily that hasn't happened. You know, Andy's been a hundred percent committed. I think we, meaning the U.S. fans, have been lucky that that's the case.
Look, I would have loved to have seen Nadal play here. I think it would be better for the sport overall and for tennis. We wanted to play him. We were looking forward to it. At the same time, yeah, it makes it more difficult for their team certainly.
But as far as this match goes, I mean, you saw how much it means to our guys, so it didn't really matter who was on the other side. From the perspective of for the good of tennis, I would have loved to have seen Nadal come and play.
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, I don't know. That's a weird question for me because it would be asking would it take starch out of the team if I wasn't playing.
Q. Do you feel a special responsibility for what it does for team morale?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't feel any responsibility. I want to be here. I don't feel like Davis Cup is something that you can play at your convenience. I feel like you start at the beginning of the year and you decide whether you're going to go through the long haul of it or not.
If you can pick and choose, if the matches are on your terms, then all of a sudden you're a team guy. If it might be difficult or you're not playing, you know, in your comfort zone, then all of a sudden you don't want to play. I don't necessarily understand that or agree with it.
Q. Andy, you've talked about playing in front of the fans, Davis Cup being a big part of your career. Talk about playing in the Davis Cup, then carrying with it that kind of confidence and American pride or whatever you want to call it out as a confidence builder into singles, Grand Slams, the tour.
ANDY RODDICK: I don't -- I just don't know if the two coexist that much. I think the time where it's good, you can actually carry your momentum from other tournaments into Davis Cup ties. But I haven't really played that many weeks straight after a Davis Cup tie. To be honest, you're so almost stressed out and mentally done after a Davis Cup tie anyway, it's kind of tough to carry over (laughter).
But it's a totally different entity just because the whole team atmosphere, I'd be stretching if I were to try to think of any real similarities or common ground there.
Q. In any way, is the US Open similar? Maybe just the crowd.
ANDY RODDICK: The crowd's great there. You get great crowd support. Like I said, I think people take it to another level when it's not only -- they could not like me out there, but they're still going to cheer because it's the USA. I think that takes it to another level of being partisan. That goes for here and that goes for when we play away as well.
Even at the US Open, there's not a whole team aspect. It's over two weeks. It's not over three days. I don't know if there are that many similarities.
Q. A minute ago when you talked about how it's important to make a commitment to what this is about, James when he was up here went out of his way to talk about how much it meant to him that Mardy wanted to be around a week when he really didn't need to do that. He said he thought that was very reflective of both the way you are committed to this process and the way that you've become friends that transcends competing. Can you talk about the way you've managed to establish a sense of team in a sport that is normally pretty individual.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I mean, when did I talk to Mardy? I talked to him after Indian Wells. I was at my local coffee shop in Austin. I got a call. It was funny. It was almost like, Put in a good word with the captain and tell him I want to be there to practice. I'm sitting there thinking, This guy is 22 in the world and he's almost like trying to find a way to get here.
I think that does show. Mardy has not only been here as far as practice. I don't think he's missed anybody else's practice. He's been there shagging balls for practice. He was ready to go in case I wasn't, which was a question all week, but not once did he talk to me about it. He's just been the ultimate team guy.
Even though on paper it says that our team is myself, James, the Bryans and Patrick this week, it goes even further. Mardy's shoulder was a little bit banged up. We called the youngster Querrey to come in just in case I couldn't go and Mardy couldn't go. He's here, too, with no questions asked.
It's a pleasure to be a part of it. It really makes it easy to say yes when you feel like there's that sense of camaraderie. You feel like it's a real honor to be here.
Q. Obviously it's a lot of different faces on Spain's roster this time around from 2004. Do you feel a little competitiveness against them, knowing where you've been in the past?
ANDY RODDICK: Sure, because Davis Cup, like I've been saying, it's not really this guy versus that guy; it's a country versus a country. There is a sense of a revenge factor. They got us pretty good over there. I've been saying all along we would love nothing more than to return the favor. We're close now. Now we have to go try to finish it off.
Different faces, but they still compete the same. I mean, you can count on Spanish players being smart players, not playing themselves out of points, competing all the time. I think they've shown that for the last couple of years. That's what makes 'em tough.
TIM CURRY: Thank you.
End of FastScripts