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August 31, 2011

Michael Russell


A. RODDICK/M. Russell
6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Does it get a little frustrating playing that well and coming up the wrong end of the result?
MICHAEL RUSSELL: Just frustrating obviously with my serve. I mean, I felt like I struggled even from the beginning of the match with my serve. I never kind of found my rhythm on it.
In the beginning, I was trying to serve normal, like hard. I couldn't make a serve in the court. I obviously threw in a couple of doubles and gifted the first break to him.
The third and fourth, I just tried to go high percentage with my serve because I was really struggling with it. At least I was putting it in.
From the ground, I feel like my groundstrokes are just as good as anybody out there really. So it's just a question of hopefully after 13 years on tour I can develop a better serve (smiling).

Q. When you go up a break in the fourth, what are you thinking at that point? Did you feel you had a shot to take this five?
MICHAEL RUSSELL: Definitely. I had the momentum. I felt Andy was getting a little bit frustrated. He was missing a lot of returns. I mean, the crowd was starting to get into it. Obviously it's getting late. People are enjoying it.
I think I just made a couple bad decisions. I fought out of that game. I think I was down 15-40. Came back to deuce. Had a couple opportunities to maybe win that game.
I mean, the broken string backhand down the line was a pretty good shot he hit second point of the game. Might have relaxed him a little bit after hitting that shot.
But, yeah, definitely. If you're up a break in men's tennis, maybe not with my serve, but usually close out the set, so...

Q. How much does it mean to you to play a night match like that against a guy like him?
MICHAEL RUSSELL: It's awesome. I played in all four stadiums, but I never played a night match here. Obviously with the crowd it's electrifying, it's loud, and they get into it.
Obviously Andy is kind of the poster boy for American tennis the last 10 years. I mean, Mardy is playing great, but he doesn't have the popularity figure as Andy. You know, we've practiced together a thousand times in the last 10 years. Obviously we're good friends.
So it means a lot. I'm happy with the way I competed, the way that I played from the ground. I thought I gave myself a real chance to obviously at least go five. I felt he would kind of maybe panic a little bit if we went to a fifth.

Q. How does that stack up with you and Guga and Hewitt?
MICHAEL RUSSELL: It's different. I don't know. I feel like I'm -- this summer was probably one of my best U.S. hard court summers I ever had. I won a lot of tour event matches and I even skipped Cincinnati.
Coming in here obviously it's unfortunate that you have to play Andy first round. I figure 80% of the guys in the draw I have a very good chance of taking out.
I mean, it's a great match to play in front of the crowd. Obviously they enjoyed it. Hopefully I'll be back healthy next year at 34.

Q. A lot has been made of his dealing with a lot of injuries, but struggling uncharacteristically on the hard courts. How do you size up his game right now?
MICHAEL RUSSELL: Well, you know, obviously he relies a lot on his serve. Obviously his serve is huge. There are a bunch of games that he served great today. There were others where I was able to get on it, you know, and really give him trouble.
You know, tennis, it's such a fine line with confidence. You see Federer, Nadal, this year obviously they're still amazing players, but you look at Nadal last year, look at Federer in '06, Djokovic this year, the confidence in this game, it makes such a big difference.
Coming in, groundstrokes-wise my confidence is up there. I felt whether it was Andy 2011 or Andy - he won in what, '03 - I still feel fine groundstrokes-wise toe-to-toe. Serving, the court is a little bit slower. It doesn't go through as much as probably maybe previous years.

Q. Do you look forward to playing with Mashona and Donald?
MICHAEL RUSSELL: Oh, for sure. I'm still in the US Open, which is great. I have an opportunity to play doubles and mixed doubles, hopefully play longer into the second week of the tournament.

Q. A lot of people double-fault in the last game. When you play tennis, do you sort of wonder where that came from?
MICHAEL RUSSELL: Obviously nerves play a big part of it. I wish after playing for so many years I could say I get nerves out of my system, but it happens. Just like Federer double-faulting or shanking a forehand, or Rafa. Andy had a couple of doubles. I think the game I broke him he doubled at 15-30.
You try not to think about it. It happens. Everybody can relate to it so it kind of makes it human.

Q. As you said, with Andy being the poster boy of U.S. tennis, even though you may not have been the crowd favorite, did you really feel the crowd start pulling behind you and it elevated your game a little bit?
MICHAEL RUSSELL: Definitely. Being an American playing in New York, I know the crowd is going to be behind me a little bit. Andy, obviously with his previous history playing tennis, having so much success here, as soon as I won that third set I felt the crowd, they really wanted to see a fifth set.
I came up with some amazing shots. He came up with some great shots. I felt the crowd was starting to get a lot more into the match than it was in the beginning. I think some of the tennis was a little boring. I wasn't playing great either.
As soon as the second set ended I felt the crowd started to get into the match for sure.

Q. With how Andy was playing, how far do you see him going?
MICHAEL RUSSELL: It's a tough question. I haven't seen the draw. I know he plays a young American next round. He's a great player. I think it probably will be his first time playing in Ashe. I think Andy can use that to his advantage a little bit, the inexperience.
You know, I felt like, you know, maybe he missed some more shots than he usually does. But at the same time, I wasn't missing a lot of shots either. Who knows. If he serves well, he could go deep in the tournament. The guy serves 130. If he's serving a high percentage, it's tough to get back, doesn't matter who you are.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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