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April 10, 2008
WINSTON-SALEM, NORTH CAROLINA
THE MODERATOR: Questions from the floor for the U.S. Davis Cup team.
Q. Patrick and Andy, are you surprised to see that it's Llodra playing or were you kind of anticipating that?
CAPTAIN McENROE: No, I don't think we're that surprised. You know, he's had a very good year this year. I think he plays pretty well on these type of surfaces, pretty fast surfaces.
So for us it wasn't that big of a surprise.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I kind of feel the same. I think, you know, I didn't really think of it till I got here and saw him practicing singles every day. So that maybe made the thought go through all of our heads. I know James felt that he would probably play, too.
Q. Bob and Mike, you got a tough doubles match ahead, Clement and Llodra. How do you see that shaking out?
BOB BRYAN: Yeah, I mean, it's a really tough match. We played them in the finals of Wimbledon, as you know. It's a team that really complements each other well. You have a big server and a great returner. That's what makes for a great team.
I expect a battle, you know. We're ready. We're playing well. Luckily we're coming in with a little bit of momentum after winning Miami, so we feel we'll be playing our best. Hopefully it's going to be a good match.
Q. Would you like to see Andy tire out Llodra a little bit before Saturday?
BOB BRYAN: It's always nice to see that guy working hard on a Friday, hopefully expending some energy.
But, yeah, he got Melzer pretty good on the dirt, killed his legs. So hopefully he'll do the same in three sets.
MIKE BRYAN: Or five.
BOB BRYAN: Mike wants five (laughter).
Q. Patrick, can you just talk about the tie and how you perceive it and how maybe the dynamics might have changed without Tsonga?
CAPTAIN McENROE: Obviously, Tsonga getting injured is a tough blow for them. Gasquet, I think we were all expecting to see him at some point. So I think a little surprising that he's not playing tomorrow.
But they have a lot of very, very good players. So that's part of the strength of the French team, is they have different guys that can step in. And I think each match, you know, poses its own problems for us.
But at the same time we've had a great week of practice. All the guys came in this week with a lot of confidence, having played a lot of matches. So we've really just used this week to stay sharp, sort of gear ourselves up for a couple of big matches on the weekend.
So I think our preparation has been excellent. We've gotten used to the court pretty quickly. I think it plays into our strengths as a team. And if we play well, we certainly feel good about our chances.
Q. Andy, can you give us your thoughts on why playing for your country is such a big deal for you. Do you wish it was a bigger deal in the U.S.? It's huge everywhere else. Davis Cup play doesn't have the cachĂ© here sometimes I don't think.
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, I'm going to disagree with you, considering we sold out the final in about three minutes. You know, when we first started playing here in Winston-Salem in '01, I think our crowd was about 4,000. I don't know if you were here last year or not, but it was 14 and a half thousand strong.
Q. Still like page five after NASCAR and football. Do you wish it was better?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, it's a little disappointing we're behind a sport that you turn left for four hours. You also have to realize that a big part of it is, you know, most of what I see is upcoming American players, upcoming American players. It's pretty easy to have American superstars in sports that only Americans play.
So we're not concerned. I mean, around the world it's probably just behind soccer as far as the biggest sport in the world. Why do I think? I'm not sure.
Q. Why is it a big deal for you to represent your country?
ANDY RODDICK: I love this team, first and foremost. I've been in love with Davis Cup for a long time, since I was a kid. And, you know, it's a different kind of pressure. It's just a different kind of event. 90% of the time we're playing for pretty selfish motives. You know, so it's nice to be part of a team atmosphere. These guys all played in college. I didn't get that experience. So this is kind of like my team experience. I really, really do enjoy it.
Q. How meaningful is the ring ceremony tomorrow?
CAPTAIN McENROE: We'll let you know afterwards. I was very excited that as a captain that these guys would get a chance to get their rings and have a home tie after winning it last year. So that made that win in Austria all the more special for us, I think. The guys really came through in a very tough situation in Austria to win that match.
So it will be fun. You know, it's got a lot of history for us here as a team, playing here back in 2001, as Andy said, that was a first home tie for both James and Andy together. And now they're Davis Cup wily veterans. You know, I think it will be a great moment for us, for all of us, to get those rings. Hopefully that will spur us on to win this match and try to take another step this year.
Q. James, talk about Mathieu a little bit and playing in the second slot as opposed to the first, since you've been in both situations.
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, I feel like I've been getting used to playing in the second spot. I think it's been about six or seven in a row I've played second. It's worked out pretty well so far. We're doing well. I don't think Andy's lost the in the first spot. He gets us off to a great start generally. I just try to kind of ride that momentum.
I hope I have a pretty good demeanor in being able to sit through and watch the ups and downs of the first match. Not that Andy doesn't, he's very calm always (laughter). So it's a lot of fun to watch that first match.
Speaking about Mathieu, the one time we played, excellent match, 7-6 in the third. I just squeaked by him. It was a match that could have gone either way, one or two points here or there. It's a good chance it will be the same way tomorrow.
In that match I had a pretty good home crowd at the Pilot Pen in New Haven. I have a feeling I'll have a pretty good home crowd here tomorrow. That can sometimes be the factor that makes a difference in one or two points.
Q. Andy, sort of mad you didn't get a crack at Tsonga? Good back and forth thing going.
ANDY RODDICK: Yes.
Q. What kind of game do you expect against Michael?
ANDY RODDICK: You know what he's going to do. He's going to come out and try to get in on every ball. He might even try coming in off second serves. He's just going to try to make it as kind of random and uncomfortable as possible, I think. Obviously he's gonna try to rely on his serve a lot and holding serve and serving big. He's going to play the match so it comes down -- he's going to try to play the match so it comes down to a couple of points and try to, you know, charge, just make things uncomfortable, I think.
For me I just need to focus on holding my own serve and staying the course and also, you know, maybe banking a little bit on I don't know if he's ever played a match like this before in a live rubber in a big situation in singles. So I know that I have before, so maybe that will help a little bit.
Q. Andy, what is the story behind the good-looking hairdo there?
ANDY RODDICK: I lost a bet.
Q. I thought it was the good luck 'do.
ANDY RODDICK: No, my fiancĂ©e beat me in our NCAA bracket. Thanks for asking (laughter).
Q. James, who hits a bigger ball, you or Mathieu?
JAMES BLAKE: I don't know. I think it's more important who hits it in between the lines more often. And I hope that's me.
Q. Andy, could you talk about your confidence level, how you feel your play is at this level, and right now with some of the big wins you've had in the last month or so.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I feel good right now when I'm in the matches. Even on days when I don't feel like I'm hitting the ball maybe as well as I could, I've been getting through some matches. Then, you know, to beat the top three guys in the span of five or six weeks, it's definitely big for my confidence.
Q. James, I just wanted to ask you about your good friend Andy. Do you notice a difference in his confidence, the way he's playing, why he's playing so well?
JAMES BLAKE: It's tough for me to explain why he's playing so well. He's really good. I've never known him not to play well.
I think being an athlete, you know you're going to go through some ups and downs in your career. And I think luckily and through a lot of hard work for Andy, he hasn't had very many downs. And when they're downs, they're not very far down. I think that shows his determination to get back to the top level of this game always.
I've definitely seen his confidence at all times. He has the game to back up that confidence. And I think he's put in a lot of hard hours. I don't know if he's always given enough credit for that, because people just see his serve and think it comes easy.
Nothing in this game comes easy, no matter how easy some of the top players make it look. And he's someone that at times does make it look simple, but it's through a lot of hard work on the practice courts that makes it look so easy.
His confidence right now I believe is pretty darn high, and he has good reason for it. Like he said, beating the top three guys in the world in the last couple of months is something not many people can do ever in their career. To do it in such a short span means he's playing some of the best tennis in the world. I think he often brings his best tennis; even brings his level up for Davis Cup. So that's why I'm always proud to be his teammate.
Q. Andy, is there anything you can pinpoint over the last few weeks that your game really seems to be coming together? Anything you're feeling or it's just happening?
ANDY RODDICK: I think it's just happening. I think I put a little bit more of an emphasis on giving my forehand a ride a little bit more. I think that's helped. Besides that, a lot of it's just confidence and how you feel. You know, there's no -- I don't think there's any, you know, equation or formula to come up with recreating confidence. Sometimes it just happens.
For me it probably happened, you know, in an unexpected place. I played okay in San Jose. But Dubai, I literally arrived Monday morning, had to play Tuesday night, ways fighting jetlag, and started played well. You really can't predict that stuff a lot of times.
I don't know if it's such a huge difference between the way I normally play. I think it's just, you know, having the confidence to step up and hit your shot on some big points right now, which I feel okay with.
Q. Andy, tell me some things you like or don't like about playing in Winston.
ANDY RODDICK: Well, there's not really anything I don't like. You know, obviously it's great coming back to a place where you have good memories. You know, from our first tie when it was after 9/11, emotions were high. You could really feel kind of the passion of the people. To last year when it was 15,000 strong, it's probably if not the best one of the best crowds I've played in front of.
You know, it's just great. It's a big deal around the city. You see kind of banners and flags. I feel like the whole city gets involved in it. I think we appreciate that. And I think that's what makes it special.
Q. Patrick, in terms of the surface, is it just about the same as you had in Portland? Talk about what it's been like practicing on it this week.
CAPTAIN McENROE: I think the guys feel like it's maybe even a little bit quicker. My intention was to have it basically the same as Portland, but it may have come out just slightly quicker. I think that also could have to do with the fact that the guys are coming off playing outdoors and on pretty slow surfaces.
I think it's pretty fast. It seemed real fast the first day. But I think, you know, once the guys got their rhythm and got used to it, I think they looked pretty comfortable on it.
But it's definitely, you know, a very fast surface overall, especially compared to what's out there most of the time on tour. The courts have slowed down quite a bit over the years. So I think, you know, it will be nice to see an event or two with a surface like this because it's a different kind of tennis. It's a different kind of test for a lot of different players.
Hopefully I think our guys will be up for that challenge.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I mean, I kind of am just going to try to rephrase what Patrick said for you. It's a quick surface. It's been fine. You know, the adjustment coming from a slow hard court to a fast hard court was weird and different the first day. But I think, you know, personally speaking, I like that adjustment because I enjoy playing on fast courts.
Q. How meaningful is it to have Mardy out here? He's playing the best tennis of his career. Doesn't need to be here, yet he wants to be here.
MIKE BRYAN: No, I mean, it's great to have Mardy on the team. Obviously he could be playing for any country. He's playing well right now. He beat Federer two and three. We all love Mardy. He's a great team player.
You know, it's great to have him. I mean, he's the best practice partner you could ask for.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
End of FastScripts