April 7, 2002
RANDY WALKER: Questions.
Q. Can you put into words the excitement you had on court here.
ANDY RODDICK: No, I just -- I freak out a little bit during Davis Cup. I mean, it's just the emotion of playing for your country, and the crowd going nuts and, you know, playing for your teammates, it's just a rush. And, you know, it's just a great feeling.
Q. How do you prepare for playing? This morning you wake up, you're not quite sure whether it's going to be Corretja or Martin. What do you think of mentally?
ANDY RODDICK: Basically my thoughts going in were if I play well on grass against these guys, you know, I like my chances versus either one. So, you know, to tell you the truth, I really wasn't thinking about it too much. And, you know, luckily I stepped out on the court to practice this morning, I saw Corretja go out there and try to hit a couple. That wasn't going to happen. So then I kind of knew about five minutes into warm-up.
Q. You broke him right away that first set. Was that something that kind of helps set the tone the rest of the way?
ANDY RODDICK: I think it helped that I came out and returned well the first couple of games and really stuck my returns and hit my backhand well. I didn't do that the other day. I think that's the difference for me from, you know, playing well and playing average.
Q. How bad was the wind?
ANDY RODDICK: It was pretty gnarly out there at times, especially on serves, you know. I think I hit one in about the eighth row on one. It was there and gone a couple times. But the good thing about grass is that, you know, you can kind of hit through the wind because the surface is pretty fast. It's tougher than a court where it's windy before the bounce -- after the bounce it's not that bad on grass. So, you know, you could see I kind of came up short on a couple of forehands early on where I wasn't quite there. But, you know, it was pretty bad.
Q. Talk about the second set. I mean, you won the first easily, pretty far off in the second. He kind of clawed his way back.
ANDY RODDICK: He did claw his way back. But, you know, I wasn't too upset because he was coming up with good shots and playing good points. You know, that's what you try to get a second break for, is in case something happens, maybe you miss one or two shots and he comes up with a couple passes. So, you know, it was tough. I knew if I got through that set and kind of resisted his momentum that I'd be looking good for the third set.
Q. So many new firsts, new things going on last year. Now that you're a little deeper into this season, what does it feel like?
ANDY RODDICK: I feel good. I feel like I belong. And, you know, I feel like I'm a much better player than last year. Last year, you know, kind of everything went my way. This year it's kind of been up and down. But when I have been on the court I've put up pretty -- really good results. Gotten in the semis four times, won once, and finals once. So I think it's just a matter of getting there physically and mentally.
Q. What about physically, how is your health?
ANDY RODDICK: No, I feel good. It's just kind of been kind of a couple of unfortunate things where I recovered, I'm feeling good physically and my health goes down, so I don't get great preparation. It's just kind of been unlucky. But how I roll with those punches is going to determine how, you know, my sophomore year turns out.
Q. Andy, you talked about returning well. He didn't have a huge serve obviously. You were able to step in. Was that the thing, you were confident that he wasn't going to be able to pound any balls?
ANDY RODDICK: You know what, sometimes I return better against faster servers than I do against guys that kind of spin it in. I hit some returns yesterday. Sometimes I just get complacent and kind of push the ball in against those guys. And today I came out, and I was really hitting my returns very solid and kind of forceful. So that was what I needed to do.
Q. Houston has not seen you lose. (Inaudible)?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I mean, Westside's been good to me so far. I lost in an exhibition here. I remember - someone asked me yesterday - I lost in an exo to Andre like in late 2000. So probably right on this court that we're sitting on, right inside here. So I did take a loss.
Q. Which of the two surfaces do you prefer - grass or clay? Which do you like better?
ANDY RODDICK: You know, I'm not sure. You know, the thing that I'm kind of proud of is that I feel like I can compete on most surfaces and, you know, be competitive on any surface. So, you know, right now I just finished winning on grass, so I guess my surface of the moment is grass. But hopefully when I come back in two weeks I'll change my opinion a little bit.
Q. You do come back in two weeks. You play on Roland Garros clay. Will you be thinking about playing that when you return here in a couple weeks? Or are you looking ahead to September?
ANDY RODDICK: Oh, okay.
Q. Are these courts the same as Roland Garros?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, they're pretty similar. Jim and Linda, they don't mess around, you know. When they want to do something, they step up and do it. There's not much doubt about that. It is similar. But, you know, I don't know -- there's so much time in between, you know, the clay court season and when we will travel to France, that I don't know if there's going to be much correlation there. But obviously if I do well in the clay court season, it will help my prospects going in there.
Q. The Davis Cup follows the US Open directly, doesn't it?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know.
Q. Would you consider coming back here and practicing?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm not sure. You know, I'm not sure what I'm going to do tomorrow (laughter)... Much less later today.
Q. When you lunge for a ball on grass, is it different than when you're on clay so you don't hurt yourself?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I mean, obviously on clay you can slide into the ball and you're very there. Grass is kind of a sneaky surface. I think I might have spent more time on the ground today than I did actually up. But, you know, I actually just started sliding into forehands there at the end. That kind of was a good play for me.
Q. I understand your aces, you're donating money to Lance Armstrong. Is there something to that?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I wasn't sure if I was going to hop on the plane to Monte-Carlo or not right after a grass court tie. But, you know, I am going to go there in it. I was committed to go to Lance Armstrong's fundraiser before I made the choice to go to Monte-Carlo. Since I'm not going to be there, I decided every ace that I would hit this week I'd donate some money to that cause.
Q. Andy, do you guys consider yourselves the underdog against France? If it's on clay over there.
ANDY RODDICK: I think, you know, home team is always the favorite almost. You know, unless it's just overwhelming. You know, but we're going to go in there. We're not the overwhelming favorites like we have been the last couple of ties, that's for sure. They're the defending champs, they're going to throw us on some dirt, I'm sure. So we're just going to have to get dirty.
Q. Are you capable of beating them on clay with the team you have now? Do you think you'll need to add Andre?
ANDY RODDICK: We'd love to have Andre in the fold, but we're a team, it's Davis Cup. And, you know, we have a lot of faith in each other.
Q. Practice with Sebastien a lot at home?
ANDY RODDICK: I do practice with him. I mean, Sebastien's a great guy. You know, we live probably ten minutes away from each other in Boca. Maybe we'll be on the same flight over to Paris.
Q. Given your passion for Davis Cup, do you envision yourself ever not playing Davis Cup?
ANDY RODDICK: If I'm healthy and fit and chosen, I don't see myself not playing. I mean, I see myself playing at all times if the circumstances are favorable.
Q. What's the difference in playing Davis Cup versus, say, a major championship?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm playing for myself and, you know, a lot of personal reasons when you're playing a major championship. Davis Cup you're playing for -- you're representing your country, you're playing for your teammates, yourself, the people in the stands. So it's a lot more emotional.
Q. Do you find your focus is better in Davis Cup than it is in regular tour matches? Or is it just having Patrick helping you out on the sidelines?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, obviously, you know, Davis Cup is more important in my heart than, you know, an everyday tour event. You have to get up for every match, obviously, but Davis Cup, you don't have to try very hard to get up for it. It's just the juices are flowing as soon as I wake up.
Q. And having a coach on the sideline, is that an extra benefit?
ANDY RODDICK: It helps. You know, I talk a lot to myself, so it's nice to have some company there, someone to talk to (laughter). Maybe I don't look quite so odd.
Q. Patrick said he thought this was your best Davis Cup match. How did you feel?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. The one against Paes I thought I played pretty well, obviously. But considering the circumstances, I think this was my best match, you know, start to finish. You know, but hopefully, you know, I can get a couple more.
Q. Did you come into this match with a lot of natural nervous energy, or did the circumstances make you feel --?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm always nervous, man. No... Davis Cup, you know, Davis Cup's one of the only times, we're riding over here, it's two and a half hours before we play, and I have butterflies on the bus still. It's kind of like a thing I can't wait to actually get on the court and start it up.
Q. Do you still feel like kind of the younger rookie on the team, or do you feel more like a veteran type of leader?
ANDY RODDICK: I wouldn't go as far as to say "leader," but I definitely feel like I'm part of the team now and not just visiting. You know, this is my fifth tie, including LA where I was a practice partner. So, you know, I'm definitely familiar with kind of the ropes of Davis Cup now.
Q. Do you feel a little uncomfortable or odd because you were the No. 1 player and Pete was No. 2?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, that's just a number. It really doesn't mean anything. We all know Pete's the best grass court player on the team and probably the best grass court player of all time. So it's just a number. It's a team event, it really doesn't matter.
Q. Was there any sense of urgency just because of the threatening weather, so to speak?
ANDY RODDICK: No. Jim Courier yesterday had said "Beat your opponent, not the rain." So that kind of stuck with me today.
Q. Getting a week here with Jim and Pete and the other players, what will you take to Wimbledon that you learned here on grass?
ANDY RODDICK: I was asking a lot of questions this week. They were probably telling
me to shut up behind my back. But I was asking a lot of questions about volley patterns and, you know, passing shots and stuff like that. So, you know, I definitely picked up some good pointers this week.
Q. What was the best advice you got on that front?
ANDY RODDICK: Uhm, you know... Todd definitely helped me out with, you know, placement of volleys on difficult balls. And, you know, Pete told me, you know, you don't have to hit it 140 every time here; you know, 135 will do just fine (laughter). So, you know, they definitely, you know, helped me learn a lot about grass this week.
Q. Were you chipping your backhand more this week than you did at Wimbledon last year?
ANDY RODDICK: I really don't even remember. My last -- I don't know if I had many balls to hit my last match at Wimbledon last year, so...My neck was sore from watching them go by me. I don't know. Today, you know, I hit my chip well. That's one of the best I feel, you know, I've hit my chip in transition. I pinned him back there a couple times. That's something I worked on yesterday. So it was nice to get out there and hit it well today.
Q. Can you just talk for a minute about Jim and sort of in general year-round what he does for the young American players and especially in the situation now that he's in with Davis Cup.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, he's great. You know, we talk about everything from rock and roll bands to, you know, what's going on with us to tennis to, you know, he's just -- you would never look at him as a tennis legend. You look at him as one of the guys that, you know, you hang out with and, you know, go watch sports with or something. He's just one of the most unassuming people you'll ever meet, especially considering what he's accomplished.
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