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January 6, 2006

Andy Roddick

GREG SHARKO: This is Greg Sharko of the ATP Communications Department. Good afternoon to everyone. Thanks for joining us for today's conference call with two-time SAP Open champion Andy Roddick who joins us from Hawaii. Andy is on his way to Australia and will be playing in the first Grand Slam tournament of the season beginning on January 16th. Last season Andy finished in the top three for the third year in a row, winning five ATP titles and seven finals, reached his second straight Wimbledon final and advanced to the semifinals at the Australian Open for the second time in three years. At this time I'll have Bill Rapp, tournament director, make a few opening comments.

BILL RAPP: Thanks, Shark. Andy, thanks for taking time away from your day to join us. We're very much looking forward to having you back in San Jose. Maybe a three-peat, I guess. I want to also thank all the writers for taking the time to be on the call today. Let's move ahead.

GREG SHARKO: We'll open it up with questions.

Q. Do you believe you have kind of more of a focus or a plan going into this season after last year not going quite as well as you would have liked?

ANDY RODDICK: I think the biggest thing for me is having an off-season to prepare. I've been off for six weeks and have worked extremely hard on getting fit and getting ready. I'm definitely going to take a lot more aggressive mindset into this year.

Q. What has your training been like when you've actually had time to do it? Can you take us through a little bit what your focus has been there?

ANDY RODDICK: Well, there's been a lot of track work. There's been a lot of strength work just to try to become a better athlete in general. I feel about as fit as I ever have been. I'm probably more excited to start this year than I ever have been. So I'm hopeful.

Q. The loss at The Open obviously was tough. How much do you use that as a motivator going out in the first round?

ANDY RODDICK: A lot. I mean, I think to be completely frank, it really pissed me off, kind of put a little bit of a chip on my shoulder. But I think I work better like that. It gave me something to prove, which is nice. Who knows, maybe it was a blessing in disguise.

Q. Obviously, you have a bigger tournament coming up in the next couple weeks. Looking ahead to the SAP Open, what do you think of the field? They just added Andre yesterday, James here, Lleyton.

ANDY RODDICK: No, I mean, it's a tough field. It has been every year that I played it so far. I think Bill definitely prides himself on bringing great players to play. With the addition of Andre, that's only going to help that even more. It should be exciting.

Q. I know you've practiced quite a bit against Dimitry Tursunov, who is from this area. Wondered what you think his strengths and weaknesses are, how high you think he can go in the rankings?

ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I don't know if I practiced with him that much. You know, he hits a big ball. He does everything pretty well. I definitely feel like he has his best tennis ahead of him. He's one of those guys that can definitely make a move 30, 40 spots.

Q. When you won the US Open in 2003, since that time, did you think it was a little easier to win a Grand Slam title than it's turned out to be?

ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I mean, that wasn't easy. I was down match point. I don't think I've ever underestimated what it takes to win a Grand Slam. I just think -- people act like I've been far away. I've had breakpoint in two Grand Slam finals and however many semifinals. It's just a matter of playing well enough to get past that last hurdle.

Q. I talked with your coach, and he said he believes you're as fit as you've ever been. Beyond your fitness, what else did you work on in the six weeks that you had?

ANDY RODDICK: I think the biggest thing with me is just mindset, you know, going out and being aggressive on every ball. I did a good job of that after The Open this year. The biggest thing that upset me about playing at The Open was that I played -- the guy played more aggressively than I did. That shouldn't be the case with what I'm able to do with the ball. I think being fit and trying to take as aggressive a mindset into next year are two keys.

Q. Three of the guys that are ranked below you and Andre - Ginepri, Blake and Dent - had pretty good years last year. I'm curious if you have an opinion on their progress and do you think they can build on what they did last year?

ANDY RODDICK: I hope so. You know, I hope they continue. James and Robby especially played very well towards the latter part of last year. Supposedly Taylor has been working really hard in the off-season. He's definitely shown the capabilities to beat the higher-ranked players. Now it's just a matter for those guys to be able to do it week in and week out, not have month-long slumps, stuff like that. I don't see any reason why they shouldn't keep rising.

Q. Do you think that will take some pressure off you if they're challenging with you for Grand Slam titles?

ANDY RODDICK: Probably not (laughter).

Q. Vince Young had an incredible performance the other night with his athleticism, speed, size. How do you think he'd do on court as a tennis player with some decent instruction?

ANDY RODDICK: Considering he's, what, 21 and has never played tennis before, probably not well. That goes for him doing like ice skating or anything else he's never done before.

Q. If he had gotten it as a kid.

ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I mean, obviously he's a great athlete, but who knows. It's like saying if I would have tried to become a quarterback. Who knows. I probably would suck at it still. I don't know. I don't even know where to go with that one.

Q. We're about to start this tennis season, obviously highlighted by the four Slams. Could you give us a snap judgment about what you like best and what sort of pisses you off the most about the four Slams?

ANDY RODDICK: What do I like and what pisses me off about them?

Q. About each of the four.

ANDY RODDICK: Australia, I like all around. I think it's a great event. The only thing that sucks is getting there. The French, again, I think it's great. I think the fans are very passionate about what they do. I just don't like my results there. There's probably nothing I dislike about Wimbledon.

Q. Even the food?

ANDY RODDICK: The food's fine for me. You just got to find the right restaurant (laughter). You know, New York, I love New York, and I love the tournament. Traffic is a little suspect sometimes, though.

Q. Where is the best place to go for food for Wimbledon?

ANDY RODDICK: I'll keep my spots to myself, you know.

Q. Generally, what are your thoughts about the upcoming San Jose tournament, if anything sets it apart from others? How do you feel about playing in San Jose?

ANDY RODDICK: I like San Jose a lot. Obviously, I've played well there so far in the two years that I've been there. I like the court because I think it's pretty neutral for all players, so you get to see a lot of different styles kind of compete on a level playing field. It's not like clay where the surface really determines how the match is going to be played and stuff. I think that definitely contributes to a pretty high level of tennis.

Q. You mentioned Andre being a good thing playing in San Jose. How is it special competing against a guy like that?

ANDY RODDICK: Well, it's great. I mean, he's probably the biggest crossover star that has ever come out of our sport. Any time he's in a field, it just adds a certain electricity. When I get to play against him or hang out with him, it's great. He was one of my idols growing up. So now to be kind of in his peer group a little bit, it's pretty cool.

Q. If a fan is seeing you for the first time, what kind of persona or demeanor do you have on the court, maybe an image? Do you have an image? What kind of style do you play? Do you show your emotions?

ANDY RODDICK: Sometimes. No, I'm pretty -- you know, I don't know if there are a lot of secrets out there. If I'm thinking of something, most people know what it is. Not too much left to the imagination, I guess.

Q. You talk about kind of focusing on being more aggressive this season. Do you feel like that's something you can just go out there and do from day one or is it going to be any kind of a transition? How eager are you to see what this might do for your game?

ANDY RODDICK: I think it's more of a mindset thing, you know, just not going -- not to stop hitting your shots if you feel like you're not hitting them well that day. I think it's something that you can try to make happen from the word "go." I'm extremely eager. I'm really excited. I'm really looking forward to this year. Like I said, probably more so than any other point in my career.

Q. There was a newspaper article recently that put together some stats and then argued that you should come to the net more often. Your thoughts on that?

ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I mean, I would challenge that person to go back and look at the stats on the percentages that I went to the net last year as compared to the years before, to actually have a little bit of knowledge about what's going on before writing articles.

Q. Where do you see James Blake's game right now? How inspirational was his run at The Open?

ANDY RODDICK: It was great. The biggest thing, it was great for tennis. It was nice to see good things happen to a good person. He was probably the person that deserved what happened to him the least out of anybody. It's exciting. I hope it continues.

Q. How frustrating, if at all, has it been to know that you'd have won even more Grand Slam titles if not for Federer? Do you also feel you need to be more aggressive when you play him?

ANDY RODDICK: I mean, of course I would have loved to have won more Grand Slams. I think you have to give credit where credit's due. I would just beg you guys, when watching tapes of me against Roger, realize what I'm doing to him. You rarely see me playing back, you know, letting him be the aggressor. He's just come up with the goods. I just feel that's such an uninformed comment about going aggressive against Roger. I mean, if you watched the Wimbledon final this year, I was putting pressure on him every point. So I'm just going to have to completely disagree with that notion.

Q. You mentioned earlier you got six weeks to actually rest and train. Part of the deal with the tennis season is that it is very long. Would you like to see something done to shorten it a little bit?

ANDY RODDICK: Yep. You know, I've been outspoken about this for a while. I mean, we're pretty much the only professional sport without somewhat of an off-season, especially last year the Davis Cup final, you literally have 20 days or 25 days from when that ends to when the first tournament begins. That's no amount of time. People wonder why you see huge injuries in tennis, guys having surgery, guys pulling out of tournaments. They act shocked when that happens. It's a pretty simple case of cause and effect.

Q. They used some instant replay at the Hopman Cup. Apparently there was some success. Do you like that? Do you want that in the game?

ANDY RODDICK: Yes, I do. If we have the technology to do it, I don't see a whole lot of -- I don't see a lot of reason why we shouldn't. On top of just getting the calls right time after time, which would be nice, I think it would add another aspect for TV viewers. Someone could have one or two challenges a set. I think it would add some sort of drama and some sort of excitement. It's always fun to kind of see the replays in football when they show it and you're kind of having dialogue back and forth with your friends, in and out, what is going to happen. I think it would add something to the game, take out a lot of the human error.

Q. With the strength work and track work that you said you've been doing, how much different is that approach than from what you've done before? Is it more weightlifting than you've done before?

ANDY RODDICK: It's pretty much more of everything than I've done before. I really wanted to try to improve leaps and bounds this off-season. That was one way I could do it. It's just a matter of putting in the work. Last year, it was tough because, like I said, there was no off-season. There was no time to put in the work. Fortunately this year I was able to get an extended window of time to really try to make a difference. Hopefully that will help.

Q. Have you gained weight in terms of muscle mass?

ANDY RODDICK: I think so. We'll see.

BILL RAPP: Thanks again for taking time to do this with us. I wanted to let everybody know, what are your plans when you leave Hawaii, where will you be going and playing?

ANDY RODDICK: I'm playing the Kooyong event next week in Melbourne, then I'm going to play the tournament called the Australian Open right after that.

BILL RAPP: I've heard of that.

ANDY RODDICK: Then I'll be coming to play a little Davis Cup, then come your way.

GREG SHARKO: Thanks again, Andy, for your time this afternoon.

ANDY RODDICK: Thanks a lot, guys.

End of FastScriptsâ?¦.

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