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OLYMPUS U.S. OPEN SERIES MEDIA CONFERENCE
July 20, 2008
TIM CURRY: Thank you for joining us this evening for our Olympus US Open Series conference call with two-time series champion, Andy Roddick. The 2008 US Open Series marks the fifth year of the series which links ten summer tournaments to the US Open, creating a cohesive six-week summer season for the ATP and Sony Ericsson WTA tournaments in North America.
The first week of the series concluded earlier today in Indianapolis and Stanford. Andy is entered in each of the next four Olympus US Open Series men's events: This week's Rogers Masters in Canada, the Western and Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati, the Countrywide Classic in Los Angeles, and the Legg Mason Classic in Washington, D.C.
The series will then conclude as traditionally with the final week with the Pilot Pen in New Haven. All of this, of course, is leading up to the US Open. We will ask the operator to give instructions for asking questions.
Q. Could you give us a quick update on what your health is and what's been hurt and how things are feeling overall?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I feel great, actually. I'm probably healthy for the first time since before Rome. Probably the first time since our Davis Cup match against France.
I feel good. I've been on the court a lot the last couple of weeks and I haven't had to, you know, censor my practices at all. I've been able to go as long as I want, as hard as I want, which is a good thing. I'm not short of practice, which is a really good.
Q. What was the injury that kept you out of World Team Tennis? Was it the same one that you had in Rome?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, it's just the shoulder that was bothering me. But more so than anything, I just wanted to continue my rehab program, and, you know, I felt like we were getting on top of it and I didn't want to interrupt momentum as far as that went.
Q. Let me ask you straight out - how important do you think to American tennis is it to get an American guy to win the US Open again? How would you reflect on that?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I mean it's always important. I don't know how to compare it to last year or the year before. You know, I think with, you know, actually this Nadal-Federer generating the type of buzz they did at Wimbledon, and even on American kind of sports talk shows and TV shows and whatnot, it was talked about as one of the first stories for three or four days afterwards. I think that's good for tennis in general even in America, and the ratings were great in America.
I think the most important thing in tennis is rivalries. And the more people can you get into those rivalries the better. So instead of just having a Nadal-Federer, you know thing going back and forth, if we can get a couple more names in there, I think that's good for tennis.
Q. You have wins over Novak this year and Roger, but how important would it be to you to get a win in a major over Djokovic or Roger or Rafa?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I mean, that's kind of the next step. I feel like I had a lot of momentum going through April of this year, then you know kind of had a little bit of hard luck with the injury and stuff.
I kind of almost feel like I'm starting again, you know? I'm starting a new season because I haven't played that much. I've only played a couple matches in the past couple months. You know, that's the next step.
Q. Finally, at Wimbledon you spoke about how the pressure is coming from within you, can you talk about that dynamic within yourself? What kind of pressures do you feel at this point in your career?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I was feeling a lot of different pressures at Wimbledon just because I expected myself to perform and I wanted to perform in a big tournament, even though I maybe, I might have had a reason not to be there. So you're fighting a battle of wanting to do well, but then, you know, still not being prepared and not having the repetitions in, so.
It showed. It showed in my practices and in my matches. I was probably really frustrated with that. I feel physically prepared now, which is big for confidence.
So right now it's just a matter of getting out there. You can't replicate a match situation in practice, but you can get your reps in and train your muscle memory and so on and so forth. So now it's just a matter of I'm playing the four weeks. It's just a matter of going out there and playing each day so it happens again.
Q. Obviously, travel is a huge part of your job and I understand the decision to skip the Olympics was made to put you in the best position of winning the US Open. Could you elaborate at all on how you viewed the pros and cons of that sort of commitment? Going to Beijing and what the tradeoff was there?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, absolutely. Let me first say that it was probably one of the most difficult decisions I've had to make in my career. You normally don't have to choose between two huge events.
My decision had nothing to do with lack of respect for the Olympics or anything like that. I completely am the biggest fan of it, and I'll be a huge fan watching it from home. It had to do more with at the end of my career I want to have been making runs in slams.
So I felt the best way to do that is to play a lot in the hard court season and get my body ready for it. Especially with everything that's gone on. I didn't feel like a trip to Beijing, you know, followed by playing a first round match five days later at the US Open was the best preparation for Flushing.
Q. None of us are elite athletes and few of us have made a 12-hour trip to Beijing. Could you just talk about for an athlete at your level what sort of difficulties is presented by jet lag at that scale?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I guess it would be like trying to figure out, I guess, forcing yourself to sleep at about 5:00 in the evening, waking up at 10:00 in the morning and making it to, you know, 3:00 in the afternoon the next day and expecting to play also. I'm not really sure how to put that in there.
But then you have to put in all the extracurriculars that go on at the Olympics as well. It's not like you're taking a car five minutes to the courts. You know, there are huge amounts of traffic and security and buses and, you know, there is a lot that goes into it.
I felt the better preparation for me would be to stick here with the similar court conditions and so on and so forth. But, obviously, the fact that it's on the other side of the world played a big part in that.
Q. I'm curious, it seems to me that these US Open Series tournaments are really trying to accomplish two things; one is to try and win, and you have had a great success in these. But you're also trying to make sure you're playing at peak level by the time you get to New York if you're not already there. I'm curious how you are able to kind of accomplish both things and whether sometimes there are sort of opposite agendas to some degree?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't think so. I don't think you're going to have anybody saying, you know what, I played well and won a bunch of tournaments in the summer therefore that's a detriment to my chances at the Open.
Every time I've played well at the Open, I've played well in the lead-up events. I don't see how playing well all summer and trying to win events can hurt your preparation for the US Open.
Q. Aside from just making sure you're 100% and ready health-wise, is there anything specific you're trying to work on in terms of your game for New York?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I think the pace of the court in New York allows you to play a little bit more aggressively. It's probably one of the faster courts on tour, so that helps me out. I just need to get forward and get the repetitions in so I have confidence and playing aggressively.
Q. Why do you think you've been able to be so successful at the Legg Mason Classic and do you see that success continuing this year?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I hope so. I don't know if there's anything in particular. I think it's the time of the year and the conditions. I don't mind the hot weather. Hard court's probably my favorite surface. I've always kind of played well in the North American summer swing. Obviously, the D.C. tournament is a big part of that.
Q. Do you look forward to the Legg Mason tournament every year? Or how do you go about stepping up to the Legg Mason tournament?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I've always enjoyed playing there. I had my first ever really good pro tournament there when I was 17, back in 2000. I think I've won it three times now. You know, when you have success like that at a place, even just stepping on the grounds there, you have a certain sense of confidence. You know, it's always been a big part of my US Open preparation and hopefully it will continue to be that.
Q. I wanted to follow up about the Olympics. I know Greece isn't Beijing. But how was the turn around for you? I know there are some different circumstances, but how difficult was it in '04?
ANDY RODDICK: It was tough. Coming back on short notice, it was pretty tough. I think I definitely remember that. I don't know if my body was in the greatest shape for that tournament. I was playing good tennis at the time, but I remember feeling a little bit beat up before that Open. You know, that probably played into my decision as well.
Q. Didn't you stay to watch Mardy or were you gone by then?
ANDY RODDICK: No, I stayed. There was actually decent practice there. No one was going straight to New York from there. They were either playing in New Haven or whatever it was, and no one would have been in New York yet.
So there were a bunch of players there, so my best practice was there in Greece until the end. And, obviously, the fact that Mardy's a close friend and was having one of the tournaments of his life, I stayed for that as well.
Q. I know you're going to be pretty busy this summer not probably a lot of time to be glued to the TV set. But if there is one event or one race in the Olympics, is there something that you're going to be into? Do you know some of the swimmers at all from Austin? Some of those guys?
ANDY RODDICK: You know, there's a huge swimming program there. I think Phelps' run -- he's always kind of an Olympic legend. He's so young and he has a shot at so many more medals this year. I'm big into track and field and the swimming. I think those are probably the events that make the Olympics.
Q. We can see the ranking here at the top change pretty soon, I guess we could see a change. As a former number one, what do you think is the mental significance of earning or losing that top spot?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I think the biggest thing about getting the number one, I don't think anybody doubts that Nadal's probably he's had a better career than a lot of people who have been number one, myself included.
So I don't know if anybody views him as someone who hasn't been a number one or anything like that. So I don't think it's going to be a huge deal in the locker room as far as the ranking goes. I feel like a lot of us feel like Rafa is probably going to get there sometime in his career. Now he's just kind of closing in on it.
But I think the biggest thing as a player about getting to that spot that it can't be taken away. You know, that is something that every time there is a career high ranking, it's a good number to look at.
Q. Did you get a chance to watch them play in Wimbledon?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. I mean, it was great, you know. I think there were so many story lines going in and so much hype. Then to have that final live up to it and to have kind of Rafa dig in and force his will at the beginning. I think Roger showed people a lot coming from two sets down and showed a lot of heart, which is an underrated part of his game just because a lot of times it looks really easy to him, and then the drama with the light going away.
You know, just all of that. It's all great for tennis. I think we needed a final like that. It's probably going to be the match most remembered so far in their rivalry.
Q. Since Marat Safin is going to be here in D.C. with you, I'm wondering two things about him. To what extent did you pay any attention to the run he had at Wimbledon? And if you did or didn't, could you speak -- he seems to so much rise and fall on his degree of confidence which seems so volatile. I'm wondering if you could speak to the element that confidence plays in the way you approach a match?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, yeah. I think every person out here can play. I think the difference between someone being in the Top 10 and the Top 5 is being able to win those matches when they're not playing well.
You're never going to see anybody who kind of gave up on Marat's talent. But also in Marat's case, I think injuries have a lot to do with it. If you're out for an extended period of time coming back, you're wondering if you can get back to that place. You take a loss or two and you start wondering if it's going to be different.
I don't think people talk enough about that with Marat. He's had a rough go of things physically a little bit. So I don't think that tennis has ever been questioned with him.
Q. You traveled the world, obviously, all these different tournaments in give countries. What is special about the Open? Is it your favorite tournament? What makes it so special when you go out there?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't think any other tournament in the world has that kind of almost rock show kind of feel to it. Night session at the Open is probably the most electric atmosphere that you're going to find in our sport.
I remember last year when I played Roger, the feeling before, you can feel the energy in the air and the buzz. And I think just the fact that you're in New York and they almost put on a show at the US Open also with all the big acts and ceremonies and all the celebrities that come out and watch. It's not just a tennis tournament, it is an event in everyday life, and even in pop culture. So it's kind of transcended tennis, and it's just really fun to be a part of that.
Q. Did you watch the Wimbledon final from home on the couch, or were you out with friends? Where did you take it in?
ANDY RODDICK: I watched the first part of it. I was up at my fiance's Parents house. I got to watch the first set and a half. Then I took a flight home and got to watch the last little bit when I landed at the airport. So I actually watched the last half of it at the airport.
Q. Was it fun watching with the crowd in the airport? Was that kind of a kick?
ANDY RODDICK: There weren't a lot of people there. I rushed off the plane and had about 20 text messages on updates from the match. I kind of just ran to the TV and settled in and watched the end of it.
The coolest part about it is it's just great for tennis. The next morning I go and get my bagel and my coffee. Everyone's coming up to me and wondering about the match and talking about it and making comments about it. Wanting to know what I thought. That's never really been the case before. It really was different. I was long gone. But to have people excited about it outwardly was pretty cool.
TIM CURRY: Thanks, Andy, for taking the time before playing this week in Canada, and that will conclude our call.
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