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August 28, 2007

Michael Russell



Q. First set tiebreaker, seemed like you were close to taking it.
MICHAEL RUSSELL: I mean, a short forehand 6-5, 6-4, I mean, you got to make that. I put it I think in the middle of the net.
Obviously, if I would have won the first set tiebreaker it would have changed things a little bit. James, confidence-wise, he's coming off a great summer, but I'm sure he's a little bit fatigued.
To win that first set mentally would have had a big difference I think in the match.

Q. James tries a lot of those between-the-legs shots. Have you seen more of that?
MICHAEL RUSSELL: I think it kind of gets the crowd going a little bit. I think I tried a little bit too many circus shots, too. Like dropshot lobbing James. His vertical is like 50 inches.
It's kind of like, Oh, let's see if he can jump up and put it away. Sometimes you kind of do it to get the people involved instead of running back and hitting the normal shot. If you do the between the legs, everybody is like, Oh.
Gets everybody more into the match, a little more excited.

Q. What is your success ratio with it over the years?
MICHAEL RUSSELL: With my between the legs? Ball has to be pretty low between my legs (laughter).
Probably not great. I don't know. I haven't practiced it enough. I'm afraid I might get injured.

Q. Do you think there's more of a rise in showmanship, going the extra mile?
MICHAEL RUSSELL: I think so. I think they've tried. Federer, some of the shots he hits are ridiculous, like some of the flicks he hits off the court. James had a couple amazing shots. I was watching in New Haven and Cincinnati.
I think in general also the game is more powerful. You can kind of create shots when you're 20 feet off the court where in the past there's no way you could get anything on the ball. With the equipment you're able to get the spins and pace that you weren't able to before.

Q. We see the end results of those between-the-leg shots. When you first try them, how long does it take?
MICHAEL RUSSELL: Before you master it?

Q. How many times not hurting yourself? Did you hurt yourself the first couple times?
MICHAEL RUSSELL: I think everybody can hit them. It's so low percentage. For every one you make there's like 20 that you miss. The fact that you make that one, the crowd goes crazy, kind of justifies the one you make.
As far as practicing it, you kind of screw around in practice all the time, guys doing that, swinging at shots, doing all that stuff, just having a good time, keep the practice light.
Anybody can actually hit the between the legs, it's just a matter of making it in the match.

Q. Andre hit one at the Open over his shoulder.
MICHAEL RUSSELL: I remember that one.

Q. That was actually more spectacular. What's the most spectacular you've ever seen?
MICHAEL RUSSELL: I hit at the French one year a full split forehand down-the-line winner on breakpoint in the fifth set. I was pretty happy with that one.

Q. That wasn't the Guga match?
MICHAEL RUSSELL: No, the one before with Malisse. It was kind of nice. I don't think I can do the splits anymore.

Q. What do you think of the J Block?
MICHAEL RUSSELL: I was surprised. I was kidding around with James. He said they have to come up with some more stuff. I was laughing.
The first set they had a couple comments like he's too hot to handle, too cold to hold. All of a sudden third set, he's too hot to handle. C'mon, guys, you got to get more original.
I think it's great and they come out and support him. Helps so much. If James is a little bit mentally tired, the fact that the J Block is there, get him up, give him that extra boost to get through him, it helps.

Q. How does it affect you as his opponent?
MICHAEL RUSSELL: It didn't affect me really at all. I kind of liked it. I'm not saying I'm used to it. I like, I enjoy when there's more people going crazy and stuff.
For me it's better to have the people, even if they're all going against me, than nothing at all. So I kind of like it.
I know a lot of people get rattled by it, so I think it helps.

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