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August 21, 2014

James Blake

Andy Roddick


THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Andy, what made you decide to come here?  It is cross country for you.
ANDY RODDICK:  I think first and foremost, I know this is an event that's near and dear to James' heart.  I heard great things about Anne.  We had great conversations about coming here throughout the years.  It actually never happened.
I was happy to come here.  It gives us an excuse to kind of hang out and spend a couple days together also.  There are positives and negatives to that, of course (smiling).
But I'm happy to be here for the first time.

Q.  He said you had some spirited practices out in L.A. Still some intensity when you go out on the court?
ANDY RODDICK:  Yeah.  Unfortunately, you can retire from something, but still in private sessions I don't like it when he hits winners off my first serve.  I don't think that ever becomes fun.
It's still nice we're able to get out there and hit some good shots.  They're not all good anymore, but we have fun with it.

Q.  What about for the two of you guys and the rivalry you had over the years?  Do you feel you'll live that out a little bit tonight, too?
JAMES BLAKE:  Yeah.  I mean, the fun thing about our rivalry was that it was a relatively friendly rivalry.  We played and wanted to beat each other's brains in on the court, but were perfectly content to go out to dinner that night, too, no matter who won.  Unfortunately, that was often him.  That meant he picked up the check.  That was okay.  I won that way.
But we definitely had a good time.  We're two people that are extremely competitive, want to win everything we do.  We had a lot of intense matches on the court.
I know it didn't happen in a lot of other generations, but for some reason with us, it just seemed like tennis wasn't going to be something that was going to get in the way of us being friends.  We also were teammates on a Davis Cup team.  We really wanted each other to do well.  If I was out of a tournament, the first thing I did was check to see if Andy was in it, check to see how he was doing the next day, hopefully him or Mardy Fish or Robby Ginepri was going to win the tournament.
I got the texts, the rare instances he was out of a tournament very early, I got a text saying, Good job, congrats, keep going.
It was a rivalry that was extremely competitive once we were on the court against each other, then off the court we were perfectly content being friends and cheerleaders for the other one.

Q.  What is it like being a retired athlete, where you have to let that competitive nature dissipate a little bit?
JAMES BLAKE:  I think, like he said, you don't lose that competitive nature.  You don't do it for a living anymore.  We still want to win when we're playing in practice.  We still have that fire burning a little bit.  It's just not the same 'cause it's not our first and foremost goal or job like it has been for a large part of our lives.
Just like Jim said last night, once we get out there and we're playing, once the ball's in the air, we're playing, we're competitive, we want to win.  But we can have a little more fun in between when we're getting the crowd involved, when we're having a little more banter.  We can have some more fun.
But we're still competitive.  I mean, we could go out and play a game of checkers, and probably there's a chance the board would get flipped over if I won, so...
We still have that competitive nature.  But it's just not the same 'cause it's not our job.
ANDY RODDICK:  I think the thing that you lose is expectation a little bit.  With expectation comes a lot of pressure.
I didn't play much the first year I was retired.  I didn't hit balls much.  You know, I did some things here and there, but I didn't play much tennis.
This year I've actually enjoyed it a lot more.  I hit a couple times a week, played a lot of TeamTennis.  I found that kind of middle ground where I don't feel like I have to be perfect when I go out there, but I can go out and just enjoy it for what it is.
It's been a lot of fun.  I love tennis.  I never once took it for granted.  But I've enjoyed the move into retirement also.  It's been a little easier than I expected.  I think that's probably because I've been pretty busy with some other things.  So that's probably helped fill that void a little bit.

Q.  Have you played together in TeamTennis this summer?
JAMES BLAKE:  No, against each other.  We don't want to bring up the result.  Although the team won.
ANDY RODDICK:  Speak for yourself.
JAMES BLAKE:  Our team won, so I will bring that up.
We played in TeamTennis.  It was fun.  He clipped me.  But I'll see if I can get some revenge on home turf here.

Q.  Andy, you were saying you hit a couple times a week.  How much training do you do?  When you say you found it easier going into retirement, how long did it take you after all that happened in that September US Open to feel comfortable with it?
ANDY RODDICK:  I was pretty content with my decision.  I was pretty confident that it was the right one, even though it was made kind of on a whim.  I went into the tournament not retired.  After my first round, I was.
You know, I didn't have a lot of second thoughts.  I missed it a lot.  You have those moments of wishing you were there.  But it's the process to get to those moments that I couldn't commit to anymore.
As far as training, I'll tell anyone, I don't train anymore but I work out a lot, if that makes sense.  They're two entirely different things.  Training is an all‑day affair.  It's preparing beforehand, stretching beforehand, getting treatment afterwards, being mentally there, doing exercises specific to your sport.  I do a lot more jogging and hitting some balls now.  It's not as calculated.  I don't train at all, but I still work out.

Q.  Andy, Mardy said he was hoping to play doubles with you at the US Open.  Not being eligible, is that something you were disappointed about?
ANDY RODDICK:  It was my idea first.  Mardy actually talked about it this week for one of the first times in‑depth, which I was happy to see him do.
With me retiring, then James retiring the next year, we both had our good‑bye.  I got to enjoy that week when I stopped.  It was one of the best weeks of my career.  I loved it.  James got to say good‑bye to the guys in the locker room.
Mardy didn't have that.  There's still I guess some space where he hasn't fully retired yet.  But I thought it would have been a great thing for him to be able to enjoy it in a pressure‑free environment, something we don't do all the time, which is playing doubles.
Unfortunately I would have had to have entered the drug‑testing program months and months and months ago, which I understand.  I wasn't thrilled about it at all.  You know, you have guys winning junior tournaments, getting wild cards.  They're obviously not involved in the program at all.  It's unfortunate.
But I wanted that for Mardy.  He had his son earlier this year.  For them to come and enjoy it without the stress of it all, without everything, just really kind of have that moment.  If it was good‑bye, to have a nice good‑bye.  If it's not, maybe it's a springboard into competitive tennis again.  Either way, I thought it would have been a great lane for him.

Q.  What are you doing now?
ANDY RODDICK:  Gosh, I have a lot going on.
I work for FOX Sports 1.  They let me on TV every once in a while.  I work with a brand called TravisMathew.  I run a foundation in Austin, Texas.  That's a full‑time gig.  I'm a minority owner in World TeamTennis.  That takes up some time.  I still come out and do this stuff every once in a while also.  Then I do what my wife tells me also.  That takes up a lot of time (smiling).
JAMES BLAKE:  And play golf.
ANDY RODDICK:  I play a lot of golf, too, yeah.  That's true.

Q.  Has that improved?
ANDY RODDICK:  It would be hard not to.  I haven't missed many rounds.

Q.  Do you have any thoughts about playing some of the senior events?
ANDY RODDICK:  I've played some.

Q.  On a more regular basis?
ANDY RODDICK:  Yeah, I've enjoyed it.  I don't really have a mapped‑out thing as far as what I'm going to do tennis‑wise.  If there's an event like this, which I've heard great things about from James, I want to do that.  That sounds fun.
As far as a long plan, I don't know.  I don't think I'm going to be the guy who is going to travel all over again hopping to all the different senior events.
But I still enjoy playing sometimes.

Q.  Have either of you involved yourselves with younger players, coaching, advising?
JAMES BLAKE:  Yeah, I'm currently helping Jack Sock a little bit, not in a full‑time coaching world, just to help with a lot of the sort of bigger‑picture decisions, scheduling, the big picture mental outlook on a lot of stuff.
I think he's doing great.  He's really making progress.  I'm biased, but I think he's got a lot of potential.  I think he's going in the right direction.
Otherwise, I've got a couple friends that teach tennis back where I am.  I end up hitting with some of their juniors just to help out.  None of them are at the level that are going to be at the US Open or anything.  But just kids that hopefully will turn into decent college players and enjoy the sport for the rest of their lives.

Q.  Do either of you have one moment that really stands out from your career, good matches throughout your career, the Indy final, the D.C. final?
ANDY RODDICK:  He's going to say the Indy final, obviously.
JAMES BLAKE:  Indy final, that was the best one.
ANDY RODDICK:  I think, correct me if I'm wrong, I could probably speak for James on this one.  I think the long process of not winning the Davis Cup, then to win it, that's a moment we shared.  I needed him in my career.  I needed him to be that other singles player.  That probably brought us closer, it was necessity.  We knew we had to work inside of a team environment.  That was a huge, huge deal for us.
JAMES BLAKE:  That was actually the only reason I liked him, because he got me in Davis Cup (smiling).
No, we definitely felt like we needed to do it together.  We were lucky enough to have the Bryans with us to lock down that doubles point.  We feel like it helped a ton to have someone you could count on at that top singles spot.  Hopefully I was a pretty good number two guy and able to come through when we needed it.
Amazingly, throughout our whole Davis Cup career, we never had a live fifth rubber.  If we were up 2‑1, he came in and he won for us.  It took the pressure off me.  But I hope it gave him a little bit of confidence going into those matches that if it went to a live fifth rubber, I was going to be the guy counted on to hopefully win that tie for us.
That's the moment for me every time I'm asked what my favorite memory of the tour is, is winning the Davis Cup in Portland.  It was really emotional, a ton of fun.  To do it together as a team with guys you really care about, and the fact that also in the finals, for me it was awesome because it was the team, and all of us won.  Andy won, I won, the Bryans won.  We all felt we were a part of winning that Davis Cup, which I think is very fitting because we felt like we shared it, even though we were definitely following our leader.
But it fell into place perfectly.

Q.  Because you both do embrace that Davis Cup so much, is there excitement for American tennis anywhere?  Do you see things headed in the right direction for the men?
ANDY RODDICK:  I'd be speaking from a place of a little bit of ignorance.  I know the names after they're 17 and are right next to that pro step.  I don't want to be one of those guys who's criticizing something that's going on in Florida that I've actually never been to see.  I don't think that's fair.
But judging from just based on numbers at Wimbledon, I think we had seven out of the last 16, three out of the last four.  Some of these kids are winning matches in the quallies at the US Open.  That's what you want.  Forever and a day, it's been you have seven to 10 guys who are really talented.  Hopefully they like to compete against each other.  Not all of them are going to make it.  Hopefully six go through, hopefully two become top‑10 players.  It's a number's game.  Hopefully if we keep creating looks at the basket, a couple shots will go in.  It looks like there is a little momentum building.
And jealousy is a good thing also.  Whether it was Mardy, James.  If James won a tournament, I am like, Man, I want to win a tournament.  It's healthy.  It's good for you.  Hopefully these kids will push each other.
From what I've heard kind of on the periphery, you know, there's eight or 10 pretty good prospects.  Hopefully we can get some players out of it.
It seems like there's a little bit of momentum from the 16, 17, 18‑year‑old group, more so than we've had in the last five or 10 years from what I've seen and heard.

Q.  Appreciating the playing days are behind you, it's a different time of your life, but the trophies around the house, videos, whatever, how much time do you take to look at a particular trophy and remember back to what happened?
JAMES BLAKE:  I don't have as many as him.  Mine are not very prominent anywhere in my house.  I don't notice them at all.  In fact, I joked about the fact that I did win a trophy at a golf tournament this year, and that went right on my counter in my kitchen.  My wife made fun of me endlessly.
The others are just definitely tucked further away.  Honestly, I haven't looked at any of them in a long time.  I know when my kids get older, I'll probably want to show them something.  They'll probably think, Daddy is such a dork, why is he telling us this stuff for?  At that point I'll probably mention it.
I haven't seen a video of myself.  I definitely haven't watched any of that.  Especially from our PowerShares, I have buddies text me and say it looks like we're in slow motion.  It still feels like I'm moving quickly, but apparently I'm not.
ANDY RODDICK:  My wife got mad at me because we moved in the last year and I didn't move a lot of the trophies I had, probably four or five that I like.  Again, they're not really on display.  I just know where they are.
Yeah, I don't watch too much.  If I'm flipping through, Tennis Channel is showing a match, I'll watch it for about five minutes.  That's about it.  As far as me actually going, putting in effort and deciding that I'm going to go watch old tennis matches of mine, that hasn't happened.
Trophies are nice, but I have the memories of it.  I remember it.  I think about it a lot.  I always enjoy the memory and the memory of process.
But, no, I don't tap into the glory days very often.

Q.  You hear a lot about retired athletes who live in the past once their playing days are over.  It doesn't sound like either of you suffer from that at all.
JAMES BLAKE:  No.  I know for me, my wife had heard all those stories about that, that athletes have a tough time once they retire.  She was pretty honest.  She didn't think I'd be similar to that because you just have other things in your life.  It's an easier transition when you have other things in your life.
I won't speak for Andy.  But he went through a whole list of things that he's doing now.  At the end of your career, okay, my career just ended, I have no idea what I'm going to do with the rest of my life, all I think about is that part of my life, that I was an athlete, then I think it really is tough.
We're fortunate enough, we don't have very strict plans, but we have an idea of what we want to do.  I have kids that keep me pretty busy and occupied.  Even when I don't feel busy, I have two lives that I have to try to account for.  I end up being busier than I really think I'm ever going to be.
Andy has a ton of things that he's doing.  It keeps you busy so you don't think about it as much.  I was, I would say, lucky or unlucky enough to have a break in the middle of my career where I was educated on the fact that it's a finite career.  I was probably an inch from having never played again.  I was lucky enough to have that perspective, that the rest of my career I was just lucky to be playing.  I know this will end soon.  I'll still be pretty young when I'm retired.
So I've got a lot more to do outside of tennis.  Tennis is just that part of my life.  It's not my whole life.  So I was lucky enough to have that.  That's the way I feel.  I had a great time.  14 years of my life.  That's a big part of it, but I hope I got a lot more years left where it's not the only thing that defines me.

Q.  James, you had Breaking Bad.
JAMES BLAKE:  That would have been much more profitable (laughter).

Q.  You had a very colorful career.  Any thoughts on a book?
ANDY RODDICK:  No.  There's two things.  I don't have the inspirational story that James has.  There's not that.  There's two types of books that have been written.  There's one where you talk about occurrences that were meant to be private in a given moment.  The insides of locker rooms is something I'm never going to mention.  I'm not going to name names and stuff.  If it was said in confidence, I think it should remain that way.
Or there's the book where you tell everybody how awesome you are for 1200 pages.  Unfortunately, mine would be a lot shorter.
I don't think so.  If there's a way to do it in a humorous way, sharing stories maybe like that.  It's something I've thought about, but I don't know that I'm going to force one just because it's what people think you should do.

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