January 14, 2003
THE MODERATOR: First question for Andy, please.
Q. Was it frustrating when he came back from 1-4 in that first set?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. He played well, and he fought hard. I kind of let it get away from me a little bit. I think I made myself work a little harder by losing that first set. But, you know, got a win at the end of the day, so still alive.
Q. You had a good off-season, you were working on a few things. What sort of things did you work on? What are you focusing on now as the season begins?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, it was good. I wasn't happy with the way I played; I thought I played very passively, not aggressive. I think from then on I started doing a lot more coming in and hit my shots, my backhand up the line a little bit more. That's what I have been working on, coming in a little bit more and going for my shots. The last three sets I went for them, and it worked a little bit better.
Q. I was talking to Patrick at the end of last year. He said he felt like your game was there, but that you needed to get stronger physically to compete at the very highest level. Did you work on that in the off-season?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I did. Yeah, that was a priority. Most days I was putting in more work on that than I was in the court, especially earlier on in the off-season.
Q. What kind of stuff were you doing that maybe you didn't do before?
ANDY RODDICK: I was doing it, just not as much. It's tough during the season when you're playing every week, you don't want to kill yourself for the next week. It was nice to get consistent work in over an extended period of time.
Q. How often do you get asked about being the next "great" man in American tennis? How frustrating is it for you when you kind of work your way through the rankings?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, yeah, with that question, it was probably 289 straight press conferences (laughter). But, you know, it's tough. I mean, I'm coming up and it's a hard act to follow, you know. It's tough, you know, being in the shadows of Pete and Andre. But, you know, that's the way it is and that's just the way I have to deal with it. American tennis fans have been spoiled in the best possible way since Open era tennis has begun. We've always had somebody in the top - if not No. 1, then the Top 2 or 3 and competing for Slams. So, you know, I'm trying to get there. I do believe that I'll get there. But, you know, it's going to take more work and, you know, I'm going to have to take my opportunities as they come.
Q. You happy with your serve tonight? It seemed to be working pretty well for you.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I thought I started hitting my spots a little better later on in the match. In the first set, I was just going big. He was standing back, and was able to, you know, get it back in the court somehow. So I thought I used the off-paced stuff and the stuff out wide pretty well tonight.
Q. As a tennis fan as well as a tennis player, were you happy Pete decided to keep playing this year? How did you feel about that?
ANDY RODDICK: As a tennis fan, yeah; as a player, no. That's just one more threat in the draw. But, you know, I'm just glad to see that Pete shut everybody up last year. That was satisfying. Everybody was bagging on him. You can't bag on guys like Pete or Tiger or Michael Jordan. They can play as long as they want, they can do whatever they want, it's their prerogative. Nobody should be able to tell them differently.
Q. Did you talk to him about that?
ANDY RODDICK: No. I mean, people in press conferences and stuff would ask me about Pete. I said, "Don't sleep on the guy." All year I said, "Don't sleep on the guy." People did. You know, he kind of put it where the sun don't shine. I was happy to see it, you know - not at my expense, which it was. But, you know, it was good to see.
Q. Have you declared some concrete goals for the year?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I'd like to end up in the Masters Cup at the end of the year. That means that I will have performed better in the big tournaments. And, you know, that goal pretty much means that the results will take care of themselves. So that's what I'm shooting for.
Q. As far as Slams go?
ANDY RODDICK: As far as Slams go, you know, I definitely want to make a dent in one this year. The only one I've played well at so far is the Open, and I've run into two winners the last two years. Besides that, I haven't performed very well at any of the Slams - decent, but not well. So I'm definitely looking to improve upon that.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.