November 16, 2004
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Andy, please.
Q. Your matches with him are notoriously close, tiebreaks in all of them, one or two shots make the difference. Today your backhand was the shot, wasn't it?
ANDY RODDICK: Go figure. Yeah, I don't feel like I served that well. I don't feel like I hit my forehand that well. I felt like I moved great and volleyed great, so especially an atypical match for me. But I felt like I competed well. I felt really fresh out there. You know, like you said, I was able to win the big points when I had to, so I can take a lot of positives out of this.
Q. It would appear you put a lot of court time in since Bercy.
ANDY RODDICK: Yes and no. I mean, I felt like I was hitting the ball real well at Bercy. Like I said, it's just tough going up against a player like Max, who gives you no rhythm when you haven't played a lot of matches. I left Bercy, you know, I wasn't down when I came home. Obviously, Brad came down and we did put in some court time. I think the bulk of the work was done even before Bercy, and then just continued when I got home from there.
Q. A lot of us can't remember seeing you attack the net quite as regularly as you did today. Was that part of the game plan?
ANDY RODDICK: It was when I felt like I was doing it pretty well and it was effective. That's something that Brad and I, we were working on last week in Austin, and something that I felt, you know, I could maybe try to do here a little bit more. You know, I can't remember volleying as well as I did tonight, you know. I hit them pretty good.
Q. You think that game plan will help you against Roger Federer also if you play him, that kind of game plan, to attack more the net?
ANDY RODDICK: I have to do something else, so we'll see (smiling)...
Q. Can you talk a little bit about saving the breakpoint at 5-All. Again, it was that backhand.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. Going into the match, Brad said, "He's going to be all over you. He's going to put a lot of pressure on you. Just try as much as you can not to worry about him. Pick your shot and hit it." Once I had a crosscourt, just lined it up and hit it. I was lucky enough that I put it in the lines that time.
Q. Then the set point, return on the backhand, did that kind of shock you?
ANDY RODDICK: I had a pretty good inclination of where the serve was going. He's served me there a couple times on big points in other matches. I felt like I hit it well, but I actually didn't see it because I was this way hitting it. I didn't see it. Then all of a sudden I looked up and it was past him and people were cheering and stuff, so I figured I made it. But those last three shots I hit in the first set, I mean, I couldn't have asked for much more there. I definitely pulled something out of a hat there.
Q. Considering he's the "old man" of the tournament and a lot of people have mentioned the fact that he hasn't won a title this year, he showed tonight, didn't he, he deserves to be here?
ANDY RODDICK: If people are questioning if he deserved to be here or not, what people are they? Who's questioning what? He's made semifinals of Grand Slams. He's been playing well all year. He's beaten the top players. The rankings don't lie. So, you know, the truth is in the rankings. So for people who are questioning who should be here and who shouldn't, you know, just tell them to look at the format and look at the way you go on. It's no secret that Tim's had a great year.
Q. Have you applauded an opponent as much as you did in one match as you did tonight?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, he came up with some good shots. There were a couple points where I did everything I wanted to and still lost the point. There's not much else you can do. You know, sometimes you just got to say "too good."
Q. He believes he's improving all the time and there's still room for improvement. Do you get a sense, over the matches you've played, he's an improving player even at 30 years old?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, look at his results this year in Slams, were his best ever. So, you know, it's the first time he's made Masters, you know, besides being an alternate. Once again, the results, they don't lie. They're definitely showing improvement, so there's no reason to think otherwise.
Q. Could you perhaps pinpoint one or two of the areas you think where he is still...
ANDY RODDICK: It's tough for me because I only played him for the first time in late 2003, so I don't know how to base now versus '99 or 2000 because I wasn't even a thought then. So, you know, it's tough for me to compare. I mean, he's always played pretty well against me.
Q. You're in a pretty tight race with Lleyton Hewitt for that No. 2 spot. How important is that to you? Is that important at all to you?
ANDY RODDICK: It would be nice. But I've said all along, Lleyton and I both had a taste of No. 1 and finishing there. If it gives you guys something to write about, then great. But I'm here, I'm going to try my best. If I finish there, then that's great.
Q. In a tournament like that, how important is it to get that first victory?
ANDY RODDICK: That's huge. Especially, you know, there's no grace period in a tournament like this. You get thrown in the fire right away against the best players in the world. To get through that first one I think is huge. It's definitely a big weight lifted off my shoulders. That being said, there's still some work to do.
Q. Because of how close the matches are between you two and the nature of the matches, when you see that you're going to play him, do you actually look forward to it?
ANDY RODDICK: I think so. I know the match is going to be a pretty high level. Our contrasting styles make for -- I hope it's fun to watch because it's definitely fun to play. The history of the matches definitely show that it's probably going to be a tight one.
Q. You've had a pretty good year, but I think you'd be the first to admit that it's been disappointing compared to perhaps what you were expecting at the start of the year. What do you think you need to do now to step up to the next level and maybe challenge Federer and other players for the world No. 1?
ANDY RODDICK: Uhm... (smiling). I'm going to try to answer this as politely as possible right now. If leading the tour in match wins is a disappointing year, I'll take it. That means anything not disappointing is going to be a lot of fun.
Q. When I say "disappointed," you haven't added to your Grand Slam tally.
ANDY RODDICK: Well, that's disappointing, but that's not what you said. You said "disappointing year." I'm going to look back on 2004 and take a lot of positives out of it, I promise you that.
Q. You said you didn't serve well, but do you think Henman is a bit of an underrated returner?
ANDY RODDICK: Oh, there's no question. If he gets his racquet on it, he's going to make a good play on it. You don't see him just miss a lot of returns. I definitely had to win my fair share of points after I -- he does as good a job as anybody, maybe with the exception of Federer, of neutralizing my serve right away. You know, I definitely think -- he's not underrated in the locker room, but maybe outside of the locker room he may be a little underrated because he's not taking the huge swings that an Andre takes or a Lleyton takes. He's effective in a different way, but he's still very effective.
Q. How similar is it to playing Henman and, say, Federer? Is it as pretty close as it comes?
ANDY RODDICK: Yes and no. I, you know, I think a lot of the same stuff with the way they return, they both volley well, they're able to come forward, they both move great. They're very light on their feet. But, you know, there are some differences as well.
Q. And your approach, do you have to think more with these guys, or is it the same?
ANDY RODDICK: I think, I mean, you think all times, but it's just a little different because it's a little more old-school than just, you know, bashing the ball from the baseline with someone else. I do think it's just a little bit different because you don't see that style every day.
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