January 23, 2004
THE MODERATOR: First question, please.
Q. If somebody had told you you'd break Taylor's serve eight times, what would you have said?
ANDY RODDICK: I would have checked their temperature immediately. Yeah, I felt like I was -- last two days in practice we really have been working on my returns. I guess it showed tonight. I returned better than I thought I would. That coupled with him having an off serving night, I guess it counted for that.
Q. He said that was the worst experience of his tennis life, not only professionally. Do you feel a little sorry for him?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, absolutely. You know, people aren't very understanding that, you know, you can have an off day. You know, I think the crowd was giving it to him a little bit. That's the nature of sports. But, you know, at the same time when you're out there and you're frustrated with yourself and you're still trying your hardest, it's still pretty annoying.
Q. By the same token, he said today was his worst experience ever. Does it get much better than that for you?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, it just depends. I mean, obviously, winning tournaments is a better feeling. But as far as -- you know, I was super happy with the way I returned tonight. I don't know if I've returned that well in a match before. I was coming in expecting just a huge battle, and, you know, it's always nice when things go your way.
Q. Were you getting some cues on his serve you didn't get in other matches before?
ANDY RODDICK: Not really. I was toying around with my returns the last couple days and figured some stuff out. So, you know, not really. I was just seeing the ball, you know, very clearly tonight. When he would serve 205, I was reacting well and I was on it. Even the last couple of matches when they have been serving 180, I've kind of been lunging. I think I was just feeling it tonight.
Q. Did you actually feel embarrassed for him while you were out there?
ANDY RODDICK: No, because, I mean, the thing is, you know, you're so paranoid that, okay -- at least the way my mind works, you're up a break in the third, he breaks back, you're on serve, it's a battle again. So I was busy trying to focus on my match. I just heard, you know, when people were calling out and stuff, giving cat-calls and stuff. I kind of felt a little bit. But, you know, I was out there trying to play my match. I really wasn't too worried about him.
Q. At 3-love, when you walked back to the chair, you were kind of pumping yourself up. Was that just to keep steady, keep focused, don't let whatever else is going on get in your way?
ANDY RODDICK: Exactly. I just wanted to kind of stay on as opposed to, you know, letting it go, then having it be a struggle. I wanted it to go as smooth as possible down the stretch.
Q. Did you start to use the match to try out things?
ANDY RODDICK: No, not at all. You know, I'm not -- I can't do that during matches. I'm too focused on a game plan, I think. You know, when you're out there, that's what practice is for. You have to focus on the match at hand when you're out there.
Q. I suppose the beauty of the sport is no two players are the same; Sjeng Schalken is chalk and cheese to Taylor Dent.
ANDY RODDICK: Chalk and cheese!
Q. What sort of match do you think that will be?
ANDY RODDICK: Obviously, there's gonna be a lot more rallies. I don't know if they could be any different. I don't know if they could be any more different, you know. Sjeng, you know, I played him a couple times last summer. I played pretty well against him. He's the kind of guy where you can't really have an off day or he's going to make your life miserable. He's solid off both wings, returns serve pretty well and moves well for how big he is. I definitely have to be very concentrated.
Q. If things go as scripted, you're expected to meet Andre in a semifinal. Is there temptation to look forward to that? Are you keeping an eye on what Andre is getting up to at the moment?
ANDY RODDICK: Not really. There's a lot of tennis to be played before that. You know, obviously, I would jump at the opportunity. I'd be super excited. But I have a long way to go to get there. So I'll worry about that if it comes.
Q. There was a point in your career where you had to learn to kind of temper your game a little bit. Do you see like tonight, you kind of pushed the envelope a little bit.
ANDY RODDICK: Yes and no. Even though Taylor and I are similar with our big serves, that's pretty much where it ends. I had to temper back just going for broke from the baseline. He's a different kind of attacking. He's almost controlled attacking, like slicing and coming in as opposed to going for baseline winners. I really wouldn't be the best person to tell him how to play because I have no idea how to play that kind of game.
Q. Ever have a deer-in-the-headlights feeling like that in a big match?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, absolutely. Pete tuned me up pretty good at the Open a few years ago. You know, I think I've been there before a little bit.
Q. Tell us about the shoes. You had some sparkly shoes on?
ANDY RODDICK: No, the same as I've always worn. Just some lady wanted to call me sparkly for the night so... I mean, same ones I've been wearing, you know, since last summer.
Q. You have a pretty handy habit of being able to convert breakpoints. What do you tell yourself when you're down a breakpoint?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't really treat it as any different than a regular point. Obviously, if you can make a first serve, that's half the battle. But, you know, I try not to get too psyched out from it. I think if I play a good service point, the majority of the time I will win it. I try not to, you know, change my mindset too much.
Q. Sjeng was having dinner during your match. What were you doing during his match?
ANDY RODDICK: What was I doing? I was probably sleeping. I was at the hotel during his match. So, you know, yeah, it wasn't on TV. I couldn't come out here. I wasn't going to come out here and watch it. I think we've played each other enough that there shouldn't be too many surprises.
Q. You played a couple of five-setters here last year. Are you cognizant this year of trying to finish the games, sets, matches quickly to preserve a bit?
ANDY RODDICK: Yes and no. I think you're always trying to win as easily as possible. Not like last year, I decided to go for, "Okay, let's go for 21-19. That should be fun. People will talk about that." No. I think I'm just a better player than I was last year when I came here. I'm not consciously thinking of, you know, playing quick matches or anything like that.
Q. What areas do you think you've improved?
ANDY RODDICK: I've improved a little bit in most aspects but a lot of it's just learning. A lot of it has to do with between the ears, not getting, you know, overly excited during matches or, you know, focusing at the task at hand. I mean, obviously physically there are some things I've done better but a lot of it is between the ears, I think.
Q. The return thing you figured out, was it more compact? What did you actually solve there?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm going to see if you can figure that one out.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.