January 20, 2003
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. It was exhilarating to watch. How was it to play?
ANDY RODDICK: It was exhilarating to play. It was fun. Midway through the fifth set I was thinking if there was a flight out tonight or tomorrow or what it was. But, you know, if you stick around till the fifth set and you try your best, I guess good things happen.
Q. When did you decide you could win it?
ANDY RODDICK: Before I stepped out there today.
Q. Yeah, but things went a little bad.
ANDY RODDICK: I was actually pretty -- I was a little frustrated but I didn't let it get the best of me today. Even when I was down, for some reason I thought I still had a chance. It felt nice.
Q. How much did all the work you did in the off-season, conditioning, help out?
ANDY RODDICK: It probably helped a lot. I was feeling really good in the fifth set, probably the best I felt in the fourth or fifth set before. It feels good to know that the work paid off somewhat.
Q. No signs of cramps or anything?
ANDY RODDICK: No. I feel good.
Q. Do you think you could have done this a year ago or two years ago?
ANDY RODDICK: I doubt it. I don't think so. You know, I think there are a lot of reasons why.
Q. Can you mention a couple?
ANDY RODDICK: Between the ears I probably would have gotten too frustrated. It might have overwhelmed me. Physically, I don't know if I could have gotten through it either.
Q. Why did it work for you today?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. Some days it just does, I guess. You know, it was in his hands. He kind of gave me a break back, played his first bad game of the match in the third set. I played a really strong game to win the third set. From then on I was feeling, "It's anybody's match."
Q. During your match, the extreme heat policy was activated. How were the conditions on your court?
ANDY RODDICK: Not as bad as South Florida (smiling). Yeah, I mean, I come from and grew up in places like Texas and Florida where it's pretty toasty there, too. So, you know, I don't mind it so much.
Q. Do you think that's a pretty good advantage for players like yourself that have come from that? It's quite distressing for others.
ANDY RODDICK: I'd like to think so. I don't know, you know . I'm pretty sure it's better than coming from snowy weather, and used to that.
Q. Is it a curious thing, though, that given your match, the heat, the extreme heat policy was evoked, then taken away, and all the time you just kept playing, given that this is something that supposedly is to protect players? What are your feelings about that?
ANDY RODDICK: I literally had no idea that other courts weren't playing. Didn't really cross my mind. You know, I don't know if I would have wanted to stop. Maybe I would have early on. But, yeah, I don't know what to say about that.
Q. How is this, in the broad scheme of things for you, this match today, coming from two sets down, a bloke that's never lost a five-set match?
ANDY RODDICK: It's good. It keeps me alive for another round, which is the goal going into the day. Just happened in a more dramatic fashion than any other days.
Q. Is that it? Is it one of those matches that you'll look back on in a couple years and see a bit of a turning point in terms of your career?
ANDY RODDICK: Ask me in a couple years (laughter).
Q. You've been in a couple of quarterfinals before. Is your approach going to be different this time around? If so, how?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm sure it will be a little different. I'm not really sure how. I think the more you play, the more comfortable you are in that situation. I definitely don't think, you know -- I don't know. I've been there before, twice. So the more you get there, the less of a, you know, huge deal it is. So maybe experience. I don't know.
Q. How good a ball player is he? What did it feel like in those first couple sets?
ANDY RODDICK: It felt like he was playing ping-pong with me in the first two sets - even throughout the whole match. He's a great ball-striker. He's great at, you know, one hit and winner. I was looking at the winners after the first set. I think he was up in the 20s after the first set. I don't know if I played a bad set or he just played really well. Even after the second set, I was thinking to myself, "I'm not playing a bad match; he's just playing very strong right now."
Q. Is there a sense that here you can be yourself more, perhaps? The burden of expectation is not so much on you here, the media spotlight is on others. Is that helping you a bit perhaps?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. Because I've always done crappy in the ones outside of the US before. If I said yes, it would kind of be a little hypocritical because I haven't performed well outside the US too much. It's nice. Having said that, it's nice this week, not having to worry about it, like you said. No one's really paying attention to me, which I don't mind.
Q. Did you watch James' match at all?
ANDY RODDICK: I did. I did.
Q. What was your feeling about that? Give you extra motivation?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know about extra motivation. Obviously, you know, I felt for him. I don't know if he played his best tennis today. I'm sure he really would have liked to. Probably one of his biggest matches thus far. But credit to Rainer, he played a very solid match and made James work for what he got.
Q. Is there any difference in conditions from one court to the other, Rod Laver or Vodafone?
ANDY RODDICK: It's tough for me to say because I played on Rod Laver at night in very cold weather then I played today on Vodafone in very hot weather. That makes a world of difference. I don't know if I can, you know, compare it right now.
Q. Is the court sticky?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, Rebound Ace is sticky, you know.
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I mean, it was hotter than any other day, which probably makes it a little more sticky. Rebound Ace is, you know, notorious for being sticky. It is a sticky surface.
Q. How much of a better player would you say you were than, say, the US Open of a couple of years ago when you had that tremendous match with Hewitt?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, that's kind of weird because Washington and the US Open that year, I was playing very well. Probably one of the top five or ten players in the world right then. But on a consistent basis, week in and week out that year, I was kind of hit-or-miss. I'd lose first round, get to a quarter, lose first round, then do something really good. I definitely think I'm more consistent now.
Q. How good does that feel? Perhaps you sense inside that you're not going to have one good week, one bad week, you feel you can get a real momentum going?
ANDY RODDICK: It feels better. It's just something that I've been working towards, you know. It's a process. You know, I feel like I'm making, you know, steps forward, which is nice.
Q. Did you feel this was your best day at the net?
ANDY RODDICK: Not early. But the one thing that I am proud of in this match is that, you know, I told myself in the off-season I'm going to work on my transition game, work on getting in. I looked up at the stats midway through the second set, I think I had won 37 percent at the net. By the end of the match I had to be up in the 60s somewhere. I kept at it, kept doing it. That's pretty satisfying.
Q. Board-watcher, huh?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, it's interesting to know, you know.
Q. Is it, during the match?
ANDY RODDICK: They're flashing it all the time. You kind of can't help. I was actually paying a lot of attention to it today. I was like, "Okay, haven't made too many errors in the last two sets. This is getting better." Half the time you're out there, you think you're nuts. You don't know what's going on. You're in a different mindset. Nice to have some facts to look up.
Q. Can you talk about the thoughts going through your mind?
ANDY RODDICK: I said, "Make some first serves and keep on him. It's not done yet." Even once I got the second break, it's tough. You have two breaks, come back like that, it's easy for a letdown. I wanted to stay solid through it. Once I got up 40-love, I figured, "Okay, I'm going to win one of these points." I let a smile crack. It felt very good to close it out.
Q. Will you go and pay attention to the match that's being played now?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm going to try not to. I don't want to live and die with every point that's being played out there now. I'm going to let my coach live and die with every point and I'm sure we'll chat about it.
Q. When the season ended, did you have a feeling you had a successful season, mediocre season?
ANDY RODDICK: Probably mediocre? I won a lot of tennis matches. I had some gaudy numbers as far as win-loss record, but it wasn't at the right times. I did well in a lot of smaller events, I was consistently winning. That was nice. If you win 56 matches in a year, it's a good year. But same token, I won, what, five, six in Grand Slams. So, you know, that was where I was kind of a letdown.
Q. Would you agree or disagree if someone would say that in order for you to get in the top three players of the world you have to improve your backhand? What do you do about the backhand?
ANDY RODDICK: I think I have to improve everything. You know, I don't -- I thought I hit it pretty well today, a little bit better than normal. I think I have made strides in that area and I am going to continue to work on it.
Q. Would you say that is your weakness or not?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. If you think it is, then that's all right. No, I try not to think in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Obviously, I know my serve. I think of my game as a whole.
Q. The match a couple years ago with Lleyton at the US Open was sort of a fantastic match. How would you feel playing him again?
ANDY RODDICK: I look forward to the opportunity. Obviously, with him and Andre, they're probably the two favorites to take it right now. But I'll go out there; I have nothing to lose. I'm the visitor here. You know, he's playing great. But I'd love to get out there and, you know, try to get a win and we'll see what happen.
Q. Are you an advocate for stats on the board?
ANDY RODDICK: Someone sitting next to me on the switchovers? I don't know, I'm not going to be an advocate for stats.
Q. Like at Wimbledon?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.