ATP TOUR TELECONFERENCE
June 20, 2003
GREG SHARKO: Good morning. Thank you for joining in for today's conference call with Andy Roddick, who joins us from London. Andy comes into next week's Wimbledon Championships seeded a career-high No. 5, and he'll play Davide Sanguinetti on Monday. As many of you know, Andy is coming off his first career grass-court title at the Queen's Club last Sunday. That was the seventh career ATP title and the second in his last three tournaments. He has a 30-11 match record on the season. At this time I'll ask first question.
Q. Let's talk about the decision with Tarik, sort of how it came about. We talked to you after you lost in the first round in Paris, you were still pretty committed to Tarik at that point. I wanted to know what changed in your thinking, how difficult a decision it must have been for you.
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know about totally committed. But I was sick of him getting the blame for my losses when I was the one out there playing badly, you know. Tarik's a great coach, he did a lot of great things for me for a long time. But basically I just felt that, you know, I needed a little bit of a fresh voice.
Q. Obviously with Tarik, you've been together a long time. Was the conversation a difficult one, something that he thought was coming? How would you describe that?
ANDY RODDICK: It was very emotional for me when I made my mind up to do it. Then, you know, I was in London, I took a train back to Paris to talk to Tarik. I don't know if he knew it was coming or not. But we had a talk. You know, we'll always be friends. We knew that even, you know, beforehand, that we'd be friends a lot longer than he'd be my coach. You know, we've been in e-mail contact even since the breakup, and, you know, we'll always be pretty tight.
Q. You're on a roll, Andy. Talk about your mindset going into Wimbledon, what you're looking at. Maybe it's a breakthrough for you.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, who knows. You know, I guess we'll know in a couple weeks' time. But, you know, I feel good. I feel pretty well-prepared. You know, I didn't know what to expect going into Queen's Club, but I had a pretty good week there, beat some very good grass-court players. So I'm optimistic.
Q. You hit the 149-mile-per-hour mark, the record. Where is your serve right now? What does that mean to hold that record right now?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, it's nice. But it's definitely not something, you know, that I think is all too important. You know, I'm more satisfied with the fact that I was hitting a high percentage of first serves in Queen's and I was holding serve pretty regularly. At the end of the day, a 149 serve still only counts as one point. You know, I'd much rather hold serve for the whole match.
Q. Brad says, "I'm giving him positive thinking." What does that mean?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, he's always pretty excited. When he calls me in the morning, you know, "How you feeling today? What's up?" It starts off on a positive note. He's never really, you know, down about anything. And, you know, it's contagious.
Q. Can you sort of change your mindset going into an event just because of what you talk about with your coach?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, that has, you know, a lot to do with it, you know. It's the person who's with you, along for the ride with you, you know, through these tournaments. You know, maybe it's just that I sense excitement in him about this new opportunity that we have together. You know, I can sense that in him, which makes me, you know, equally excited.
Q. Much has been made about your role maybe as the next generation of men's tennis in the United States, with all of us kind of talking about Pete being gone, potentially, Agassi, what his role is. How do you look at this when we anoint you and have expectations for you to be the next great American male?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I mean, it's been something I've been dealing with ever since maybe even before I hit a ball as a professional, you know. When I started doing well in Juniors, I think they were so hungry, you know, to have a new American player in the Top 10, competing for Grand Slams, that maybe I got stuck with it even before I deserved it. You know, it's just something that's there. You know, throughout my professional career, it's always been there. And so I've just learned to deal with it a little bit.
Q. Does it bring any added pressure to you?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I mean, pressure's all over the place in professional sports. You know, it's part of the deal. And it's something I've come to, you know, expect. And I just deal with it.
Q. A little far afield. In trying to sort of break down your serve a little bit, dissect it, do you have any sense of why you're hitting the ball 5% faster than the next closest guy? Have you thought about it?
ANDY RODDICK: Not really. I try not to think about it. As long as it's working, there's no need to think about it too much.
Q. Just from an equipment standpoint, can you sort of describe what your racquet is made of, what strings you're using?
ANDY RODDICK: I use Babolat strings. The mains are polymono and in the cross is gut.
Q. And the racquet is made of what?
ANDY RODDICK: I have no idea. Hold on, I'll check for you real quick. Doesn't say. I honestly don't know.
Q. Pretty light stick, though?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, yeah.
Q. Did you just wake up one morning and think "Brad is the guy" or had you thought about a couple other alternatives? How did you come upon reaching him?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, you know, once I made a decision that I felt something needed to happen, I had a list of people that I thought were pretty cool. You know, the prospect of working with Brad is the one that, you know, sparked the most curiosity in me. I thought it had the best chance for being something really special.
Q. Did his son or daughter hang up on you when you first called?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah (laughter). I called the house, and one of his daughters picked up. I think it was his youngest daughter Zoe. She picked up. I said, "Is Brad there?" She said, "No, he's not here right now." I said, "Can I leave a message?" She goes, "Yup," click. I called back, asked to speak to her mother, got the message that way.
Q. We all know Brad, we know what he's like. We're not coached by him. Can you just describe his style, how much of a difference it must be.
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, it's pretty different, you know, than from what I'm used to. But it's good. He's full of information. He's not afraid to, you know, tell you what he thinks. He's honest at all times. You know, like I said, he's full of energy and he's full of excitement, so it's fun.
Q. Has he told you anything where you said, "God, I'm not going to do that"?
ANDY RODDICK: Sorry?
Q. Has he told you anything, come up with strange ideas, where you think, "I'm not going to do that"?
ANDY RODDICK: Nothing too far out of left field. We kind of got put together, you know, in the middle of a pretty important part of the season. And so, you know, like you said, he's not going to make too many technical, you know, changes right away. Maybe just work with what we got, but focus more on tactical, you know, the way you go about your business.
Q. I was just wondering, all through the French Open Albert Costa was talking about how he feels so much less pressure now that he has a major under his belt. Can you just talk about, has Brad been able to help you with just dealing with staying in the moment when you have all these expectations of your own and other people on you, especially now with the Queen's Club win?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, not really, you know. He doesn't really talk about outside, you know, interferences or things on the outside. He kind of focuses just at the task at hand, you know, what's going on between me and him, you know, how to best go about it. You know, we don't really focus on things that don't help us put balls in the court.
Q. Did you learn anything from the French that will help you deal with like the next few days? Obviously you've got that second round looming with Rusedski. You have a pretty tough draw early.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, you know, the French, I didn't practice much on the courts going in there, get used to the atmosphere. I've been at Wimbledon, you know, all week this week. You know, got a lot of practice on grass before Queen's Club and a lot of matches during Queen's Club. I feel like I'm pretty well prepared and I'm definitely ready to try to get it started.
Q. Being at Wimbledon this week, is there buzz around you having that Queen's title? A lot of people have won that and gone on to win Wimbledon.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I think so. You know, I definitely think, you know, if I would have lost second round Queen's Club, I don't know if I'd be having this call, as well as a lot of others (laughter). You know, that's what happened. I'm happy that I won Queen's Club, and I played well there. And, you know, I've had a lot of matches in, so I feel good.
Q. A little more about the match at the French. Do you think if you hadn't lost that match, you would have changed coaches or was it something you were already thinking about before that tournament?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm not sure. You know, I'm not sure. That's tough. I wasn't put in that situation, so I don't really know what would have happened.
Q. How much better do you think a player you are now compared to end of last season when you played the French in Davis Cup in Paris? How much better are you moving? How much better is your backhand, some other things you were working on?
ANDY RODDICK: It's a lot better. You know, but the thing about me, you know, even beforehand was that I could get through matches with my serve. But now I feel, you know, more complete. You know, I don't know last year if I could have gone through the draw I had even at Queen's, you know, in succession. I'm feeling better and I'm feeling like I'm improving.
Q. Pete Sampras isn't at Wimbledon, first time since '88. May not play again. Do you feel it's a little empty without him around?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm not really sure. I mean, I haven't really put a whole lot of thought into that. You know, he's still everywhere around the grounds. You see his name up on the championships' list, you see his name all around the All England Club. He's definitely still around in some sense.
Q. I know you're a big sports fan, Nebraska fan, other sports. How would you describe for the average American sports fan what Wimbledon means to you or to a tennis player, where it would rank in terms of other great American sports achievements?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, the only way I can describe Wimbledon is maybe if you had the World Series at Wrigley Field or Fenway Park. You know, it's just really full of tradition. You know, it's got so many little intricacies that you can't really explain unless you're there and you see them.
Q. What do you think of sort of how the health of tennis is doing right now? You say you probably wouldn't have been on this call if you hadn't won. Obviously the minute you win, everyone is so desperate to cling onto something. How do you think the health of the sport in general is with all these factions fighting it out?
ANDY RODDICK: I haven't been to the States in about three months, so I don't know (laughter). I'm not sure. You guys probably have a better sense from the outside looking in. I think it's a little different. I played in front of a bunch of people in a lot of tournaments I go to that are pretty close to sold out all the time. From my point of view, it looks healthy.
Q. I know there's going to be a lot of stuff at Wimbledon with the ATP, the Grand Slams. Are you participating in all of that?
ANDY RODDICK: To be honest, I don't know if I've been around long enough to really know what's going on, you know, in full force. I have somewhat of an idea. I think I'll leave it to the people who are really, you know, involved on a day-to-day basis.
Q. Do we overstate the difference between grass and clay? How much difference manifests itself in your game? How much of it is you hit a big serve and set up for the forehand, tennis is tennis?
ANDY RODDICK: It's a lot different. I mean, that's why you don't see any of the big clay-courters going deep at Wimbledon. A lot of the guys with maybe just a big serve and one other shot, sometimes they don't go too far in the French. I think that's what makes tennis unique, you can totally change the surface the game is played on, do it so quickly. I don't know if that happens in any other sports.
Q. Apart from sort of the physical adjustment, how does your mentality change? How has it for you when you've moved surfaces?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm not sure. If I could take positives away from Paris, one of the them was that I was able to get over to the grass and not have it be such a shock by the time I got to playing my first round. I had already been on it for a week. I try as hard as I can to go into each surface with a positive outlook. You know the first couple days going onto a new surface, they're not going to be pretty. You kind of maybe want to keep your mindset maybe open to the changes.
Q. Can you talk about getting through the draw at Queen's. Seemed like you exorcised a lot of demons there in getting past some people, avenging some losses. Can you overstate how much that helps you going into this tournament?
ANDY RODDICK: I guess I won't know until after Wimbledon's done. You're right, if you looked at my portion of the draw, the last four people I got through, I think my record was combined, you know, maybe 1-7 against those people going into Queen's. You know, it's definitely a tough hurdle for me.
Q. Are you capable of surprising yourself? Were you at all surprised? You staved off a match point in the Agassi match, handle Rusedski, Taylor. Are you capable of surprising yourself in situations like that?
ANDY RODDICK: You know, I'm trying not to think about it too much because I have to do it all over again in a couple days (laughter).
Q. Do we need to bring you over a copy of Vanity Fair? Have you seen the cover, the story?
ANDY RODDICK: No, I saw it. I'm up to date (laughter).
Q. Quick, annoying question. You hit the 149 bomb, I think you hit a 153, 154 a little out. When you hit a serve like that, do you know it when it leaves your racquet? Are you as surprised as anyone when you look at the board?
ANDY RODDICK: I didn't know about either one of those until I got in the press conference afterwards.
Q. You serve a big bomb like that, you don't say, "Holy cow, that was a 149-mile-an-hour fast ball I just threw"?
ANDY RODDICK: I know my range. I know if I crank up, hit it as hard as I can, it's going to be a big serve, and it's going to be a big number. But it doesn't really interest me. I can't really feel the difference between a 144 and 149, if that's what you're asking. All I know is that I hit it really hard.
Q. Can you see opponents react to your serve? Can you sense you get kind of a couple bonus points from them the way Pete used to say he did because they knew his serve was coming?
ANDY RODDICK: Not really. I mean, it's a little weird. If I hit an ace, I'm onto the next one, I've already forgotten about it, unless they're throwing their arms up in disgust or doing something really, really noticeable. Not normally. You can't read someone's mind normally.
Q. You said you had a list of people you thought were pretty cool in terms of coaches. How long was that list? Several names?
ANDY RODDICK: Not too long.
Q. Why was Brad the guy you called first? Because of the way he worked with Andre?
ANDY RODDICK: Numerous things. The way he worked with Andre. His name excited me the most. I looked at it and I was like, "Wow, I'm really curious about how this might work out." After talking to him, I realized how excited he would have been. I mean, he was ready. When I called him, he was over here, you know, two days later or a day later. You know, that showed me a lot right off the bat.
Q. Had you had any contact with him in the past, any meaningful contact or conversations over the years at all?
ANDY RODDICK: No, not really. I mean, obviously when he was on tour with Andre, it was hello and good-bye. We were cordial. But I don't think we knew each other that well at all.
Q. First real conversation was when he came to London and you started working together?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah.
GREG SHARKO: Thanks, Andy, for joining us this afternoon. Wish you all the best at the Championships.
ANDY RODDICK: Thank you.
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