November 9, 2003
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Andy, please.
Q. So is dress-up a requirement for this?
ANDY RODDICK: I guess so, you know. They said, "Come in suits," so I came in a suit.
Q. You've been here, obviously, many times.
ANDY RODDICK: Yes.
Q. You've seen the new court. What do you think?
ANDY RODDICK: I haven't seen it; I just got here. But I've heard great things. I heard it's -- you know , I'm always a big fan of an outdoor hard court. I hear it's playing pretty well, so I'm very excited.
Q. Roger was saying about the size, he's used to a bigger arena for something of this magnitude. He seemed a little disappointed by that. Does that impact you in any way?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't see how it would impact me. You know, I'm not really focused on the size of the stadium, I'm focused on what I have to do to win matches here.
Q. "Saturday Night Live," how did you like it? How did it go?
ANDY RODDICK: It was a lot of fun. I definitely enjoyed myself. You know, I think it was a good thing. It kept me away from the craziness and getting too deep into all this stuff. Now I kind of come here with a fresh head, and I'm ready to go.
Q. John McEnroe, scale of one to ten, on his acting ability, his future as an actor on Broadway?
ANDY RODDICK: Future on Broadway, yeah, that's not looking good (smiling). I will say it was better than Mr. Deeds.
Q. Andy Roddick as an actor, scale of one to ten?
ANDY RODDICK: Very bad, very bad. Extremely bad.
Q. And most surprising thing about "SNL"?
ANDY RODDICK: Just, I mean, they come up with 45 new skits a week; you get down to eight. I don't see how you can come up with 45 funny skits a week. That's amazing to me.
Q. Who has a higher skill level - the eight guys here or the eight best writers "SNL"?
ANDY RODDICK: I'd still say the eight guys here, but those guys do a pretty good job as well.
Q. Nerve factor: Final US Open, "SNL"?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I know I can play tennis a little bit. I'd have to say for the actual show, I'd rehearsed, so I thought I was pretty ready. Going in to the week, I really didn't know what to expect. I was pretty nervous.
Q. The Reality TV thing that you're going to do, what made you decide to do that?
ANDY RODDICK: First of all, it's definitely not anything concrete. There were some quotes used that I hadn't really given permission to use. To be honest, I don't know a lot about it. It's definitely not something that is gonna happen; it's kind of taken on its own entity. To be honest, I read about it in newspapers, and that's where I get my information.
Q. It's not a "go"?
ANDY RODDICK: It's not a "go," no. I'm not sure, I think maybe someone got a hold of something and went with it. You know, I definitely never, you know, talked about it before, like it was a done deal.
Q. You played on this court in a charity thing for Andre a few years back.
ANDY RODDICK: Yep.
Q. Did you ever imagine at that time that your life, your career, would be where it is right now?
ANDY RODDICK: No. You know, I've never been one to, you know, think too far ahead or to look two years down the line. I've always pretty much gone day by day. I think that's helped a little bit.
Q. That follows up to my question perfectly. We're doing a thing where we're asking the top players, if they wouldn't mind, to project what they might possibly be doing in 20 years. Just for the fun of it, could you imagine what your life is going to be like in 20 years?
ANDY RODDICK: Watching lots of football, eating lots of potato chips. Beyond that, I would not have an idea.
Q. And the best potato chip out there?
ANDY RODDICK: Best potato chip is KC Masterpiece Baked Lays.
Q. Back to now, Andy, reaching your first season-ending championship, your thoughts?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm excited. That was definitely one of my goals to start the year, was to make Masters. I feel like I've gone above and beyond that so far this year. So I'm definitely excited to be here. I think you're gonna see a lot of great tennis, with guys knowing they have one more week left and trying to leave it all out there.
Q. What about the No. 1 ranking on the line?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, it just adds that much -- it makes it fun. It means we have something big to play for, which should make it, you know, very interesting and, you know, a lot of fun for all of us.
Q. How do you like this format, the Round Robin?
ANDY RODDICK: I like it. It's interesting. I think it's good for a tournament like the Masters because you want to see the top eight guys competing against each other. I don't think people want to see a regular tournament; I think they want to see something a little different. So I'm a big fan.
Q. Nothing beats a Grand Slam, obviously. But put this in perspective with those events.
ANDY RODDICK: It's huge. I mean, I think there's a lot of prestige. I think the guys here have taken a lot of pride in what they've done this year. You know, like you said, the Grand Slams are the biggest ones. But, I mean, you know, to make Masters is an honor. So, you know, I think we want to beat up on each other at least for one more week.
Q. Do you feel like this is a home-away-from-home-away-from-home kind of place?
ANDY RODDICK: Absolutely. You know, I've been to Houston many times. I have nothing but good memories here. So, yeah.
Q. Did you feel things kind of went your way with the draw, as far as you're the only Grand Slam champion in your group, and there are three in the other group?
ANDY RODDICK: As much as it can in a tournament where you're with the top eight players in the world (smiling). I mean, I don't know. The Round Robin is the Round Robin. I'm almost looking at it as, "Okay, the Round Robin is one tournament. If I do advance, that's a whole other tournament." I don't get too concerned with draws, whatever. I know I have to play Carlos Moya Tuesday night - or Tuesday. You know, I'm excited about that.
Q. Are you concerned about the weather? I mean, you never know at this time of the year what it's going to be like, and you're outdoors.
ANDY RODDICK: No. Whatever it's gonna be like for me, it's gonna be like for the person across the net as well. So be it.
Q. How much of a bigger thing is it to be No. 1 at the end of the year rather than No. 1 now?
ANDY RODDICK: Absolutely. I think it's a cool stat; that no matter what, I can look back and say, "I was No. 1 in the world for some time." Like I said after Paris, I'm just kind of maybe renting the ranking until Masters starts. It will all be settled there.
Q. What time did you get in? Did you fly during the night?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, we took a nice plane, got here, slept on the plane, literally woke up for five minutes, went up to my room, and slept the night. So it actually went really smooth.
Q. Is it a dilemma at all, bearing in mind the No. 1 and this tournament?
ANDY RODDICK: Not really, because, you know, I've always been one, during the Open, I was out. I wanted to go to a concert, kind of take my mind away from it. I knew this is gonna be madness like it is right now. But, you know, I thought it was great. I got up to New York. I was practicing twice a day there. Just kind of away from everything and everybody. Just kind of working with my coach. You know, came here. I'm gonna get ready, get used to the courts, and be ready to go. I have a very fresh mental outlook on this week because of that, I think.
Q. This was a big focus of yours. You just wanted to qualify, like, last April at the clay courts. When was the turning point where you thought, "I could actually enter this at No. 1 and have so much on the line"?
ANDY RODDICK: Maybe after the Open. I wasn't thinking along those lines. You know, I had a good -- pretty good grass court season. I thought, "Okay, that's a great building block. Maybe I can really make a push for Masters now." I played unbelievable this summer. You know, it definitely surpassed my expectations. So after that, I was, you know, No. 1 in the race and not far behind in the entry system. So I said, "I might have a shot at it."
Q. Does it concern you, not being able to adjust to these courts? Greenset, the only time you play on it is here. You haven't had too much time to get used to it.
ANDY RODDICK: I'm all for an outdoor hard court any time. I'll get in a couple practices today, couple practices tomorrow. It shouldn't be a problem at all. If I can't adjust to a court in two and a half days, then something's wrong.
Q. Did you tell Brad you were going to do "Saturday Night Live"? Did he say that was a good idea, or did he try and persuade you against it?
ANDY RODDICK: He was like, "That's great." When we started the American summer hard court season, that's what we did, we trained in New York for a week. Kind of got away from everything and everybody. Kind of had our own little thing going where we could just, you know -- it was just me and him practicing. I said, you know -- I definitely went to him and said, "What do you think?" He said, "I think that would be great. Just us, get to Houston ready to go and fresh."
Q. You've obviously been asked this, but did you enjoy it? You seemed to be enjoying it.
ANDY RODDICK: It was awesome. It was, you know... Definitely a different sort of adrenaline rush, I don't think one that you can compare to a tennis court or vice versa. You know, it was definitely something that was extremely fun and a very cool experience.
Q. Something you'd like to repeat?
ANDY RODDICK: Some time, but I don't know if they'll let me. I doubt the invitation will get extended again any time soon (laughing).
Q. In a sense, can you use that to your benefit, the fact that you're doing something else apart from just practice, practice. You've had a long year, and you've just come off an indoor season as well.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I think if I would have been here, would have been somewhere else and just practicing tennis, I would have been, I think, really stressed out. You know, kind of been beating myself up in practice. It was something, it was cool. I practiced, I was like, "I'll go over to the studio for a little bit, check the lines, go rehearse." It was a very mellow week. It's kind of the way I've been doing things since Brad came along, so we decided to stick to it.
Q. You got some practice in, though?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, absolutely.
Q. What happens after this? Do you just wind down completely after this week?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. I mean, you know, I think everybody's looking forward to doing a whole bunch of nothing after this week.
Q. Are you buying a house in Texas?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, yeah. It's about three hours away, I think. Maybe I'll get down there and try to work on putting that together.
Q. Has the practice with Brad changed very much since the US Open? I mean, have you worked on different things?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, we've definitely worked on things here and there. You know, I think the major work is going to be done in the off-season when we have a significant amount of time. We have something we don't have to worry about, you know, fiddling with, you know, a stroke and then having it -- thinking about it during a match to where I'm like, "Okay, am I hitting it like this or am I..." I think a lot of focus right now is just on maintaining and, you know, staying in shape and stuff like that.
Q. How long are you going to take off, and when will you start to get down to the knitty-gritty work again?
ANDY RODDICK: I'll take at least two or three days off...
Q. That's a lot. You shouldn't do these things, you might lose the touch.
ANDY RODDICK: At least. I don't know how long I'll take away from tennis. I look at the off-season as a chance to really get strong physically, you know, without having to worry about breaking down because you're playing. I mean, you can have little knickknack things during the season and train through them and stuff like that. I'm not sure. I can't really stop too long. I get antsy. But I don't think I'll take that much time off, especially, you know, fitness-wise. Tennis-wise, I might take a little bit of time off.
Q. In preparation for the Australian, is it going to be the same as last year in terms of tournaments?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm not sure right now. It should be pretty much the same. I'm not sure. I know Brad doesn't like me playing too many tournaments, you know, or a tournament maybe the week before. So I'm not sure about that.
Q. Might go to Kooyong?
ANDY RODDICK: It's a possibility. Yeah, I think so. That sounds like a pretty good format, to get there, get a couple matches on your legs. Yeah, I think so.
Q. Got over that Henman defeat, have you? Finally laid that one to rest?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah... I wasn't too killed about it. I mean, he played a good match. You know, I felt like the two times I've lost to Tim this year I've definitely had chances. The margin between 1 and 2 against him and 3-0 is pretty slim. But he played the big points well, you know. But there wasn't much I could do. I felt like I was on the verge of playing really well, you know, and I just didn't quite get to that level. But, you know, a lot of that had to do with him.
Q. Are you pleased, is it a big enough event anyway, or that something is riding on it as well with you and Juan Carlos, and Roger has an outside chance? The fact that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow as well, it's not just another week?
ANDY RODDICK: Oh, absolutely. I think if any of us had the choice to have already clinched it and have this be a vacation, we would have taken it (laughing). But I'm excited. I think it's gonna be a great week for, you know, for all of us and for tennis as a whole. I think it's good for tennis that there's something riding on it and there's something to focus on each day.
Q. Do you ever get tired? You've hardly any sleep, to be honest. You're up for this.
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, how much sleep did you get last night?
Q. A lot more than you. Six hours or something.
ANDY RODDICK: You didn't get any more than me. I got two more hours than you did (laughing). But, no, I'm, you know, very energetic. I think as long -- the big thing for me is as long as I eat well and get my eight hours, I'm all right. That was a priority last week. We let the people know there that, you know, this was gonna take priority and, you know, I'd do my best outside of that. But they were very, very cool with it. It was easy.
Q. What's the most important thing for you this year, the year-end No. 1 or winning the actual title?
ANDY RODDICK: Probably year-end No. 1, if I had to choose. But...
Q. Would be nice to do the double?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, absolutely. I don't think you ever go to a tournament planning to lose. You know, I definitely want to go into it, try to win it. But, you know, at the same time, you know, my goal here is maybe do one match better than Juan Carlos.
Q. You've been here since clay courts, Jim and Linda took over this thing. You've watched this place grow.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah.
Q. It build. How important is it for you, I know Andre said kind of same thing, kind of what they've done for tennis, you want to give back, you wanted to get here. What are your thoughts on that?
ANDY RODDICK: They're amazing. Their event during the year is definitely one of my favorites. I mean, they pack the stands all the time. I mean, sometimes you'll see these huge stadiums, but it's about a quarter full. So I think it's cool that it's a little more intimate but, you know, I'll tell you, there's not going to be a seat open. I can assure you that.
Q. Houston fans have loved you from day one when you got here. Is there a special bond between you, yourself, and Houston, or...?
ANDY RODDICK: I think so. They kind of grew with me. I came here - I think the first year I played here, the first time I played here was actually in 2000 against Andre when no one knew who I was. I think I was ranked like 400 in the world. Then the next year at the tournament I got a wildcard in and won there. So they kind of saw the start of everything. So I definitely think there's a cool relationship there.
Q. How about coming in? You said at the beginning this is where you wanted to end up, this is where you wanted to be. Now you come in, you're not only here, but you're the top-ranked player. How crazy is that?
ANDY RODDICK: It's extremely surreal. At the beginning of the year, I just wanted to make it here. To come in and, you know -- I don't think of it as being No. 1 or No. 2. I don't think that makes a lot of difference at this point. I think to be in position to have a chance at No. 1 is a very, very cool prospect.
Q. How great was it being able to do "Saturday Night Live"? I saw a little bit of that.
ANDY RODDICK: It was a lot of fun. It was a blast. The hour and a half show went by in about 15 minutes for me. They're yanking you to go do something, then yanking you to do something else. It was a lot of fun.
Q. I saw this skit with you knocking the ball through Billie Jean's head. That was pretty funny.
ANDY RODDICK: Sorry about that. I didn't know what to expect, to be honest. I went in, and I didn't know anything about that at all. So I went in and, you know, I kind of just winged it. You know, I think it worked out okay.
Q. Is Mandy going to sing the National Anthem here?
ANDY RODDICK: No.
Q. Linda couldn't convince her to do that?
ANDY RODDICK: No.
Q. Thoughts about just being here, kind of the bond? I think Jim and Linda, it's different, I guess, than other tournaments. They really take it personal with you two especially. Like they have a definite bond.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah.
Q. It's the one time they stop working is to watch you or Andre's match.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, absolutely. I think they've done amazing things for tennis. Now to bring the Masters back to the United States, you know, I don't know if I'd want to play it anywhere else than here, because I've had good memories here. Since they've come to the game, they've been "If we're gonna do it, we're gonna do it 100 percent and we're gonna do it right." I think you definitely have to respect that.
Q. Would you say you feel home here more than anywhere else on the tour?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, probably. Obviously, Miami is pretty close to home as well. But, you know, like I said, I have a lot of history here. I've played some good tennis here. We played a Davis Cup tie here. I've played charity events at this place before. So, you know, it's definitely, you know, a very familiar feeling coming back.
Q. Maybe you already spoke about it, but what do you think about the playing conditions, the cold, the balls? Do they fit your game?
ANDY RODDICK: The balls are gonna be all the same. You know, from what I've heard, the court's pretty high-bouncing. My favorite surface is an outdoor hard court. So, you know, it should be okay. I think it's a very -- maybe very even surface for all players. I think that will make for better tennis.
Q. Have you already moved to Austin, or will you move there soon?
ANDY RODDICK: Maybe I'll go there next week.
Q. Next week?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. I'm gonna drive home from here (smiling).
Q. Did you rehearse a lot for the show yesterday?
ANDY RODDICK: I rehearsed a little bit.
Q. You looked so natural.
ANDY RODDICK: (Laughing) Right, thanks. No, I mean, I did -- I made sure that I knew my lines. But, you know, I was practicing a lot, so I didn't practice -- I didn't rehearse as much as most of the people would. You know, but they were very cool with that. They said, "Okay, that's fine. Just make sure you know your lines." If I was in a car, I'd be looking at my lines. I made the most of my time.
Q. And you were playing tennis?
ANDY RODDICK: That was shot about 20 minutes after practice one day.
ANDY RODDICK: I think the point of his is to kind of get across I think he was playing a different role.
Q. You mentioned you've had a lot of history here. Do you have a favorite memory?
ANDY RODDICK: That's tough because, you know, it's the only final I played Pete in. So I beat Sampras in a final here. We clinched a Davis Cup tie here. You know, those are probably the top two. I mean, I'd probably have to lean towards Davis Cup because that's a big deal to me. But definitely some to choose from.
Q. What was the first thing you thought about when you walked up here? Were you thinking about that or just any kind of nostalgia walking in?
ANDY RODDICK: Not really 'cause your cameras were in my face (laughing).
Q. That wasn't me!
ANDY RODDICK: No, I mean, it's just great whenever -- I mean, when you walk into the gym and when you go somewhere that you know real well, it's like the familiar smells. You see even the guy who's making pasta, you know; I know him. I know all the people in the locker room. So it's just cool to see familiar faces and familiar things.
Q. We know you are the toughest player this year. So do you feel some pressure?
ANDY RODDICK: No, not any more than I would normally feel. Obviously, you feel pressure because it's the end of the year and there's a lot on the line. But I don't feel added pressure just because, you know, I'm coming into this No. 1.
Q. What do you think of the matches?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, they're gonna be tough. It's not going to be often you're going to play nothing but the top eight players in the world for a week. That's always very tough. But I'm excited. I'm going to have fun.
Q. What's your goal?
ANDY RODDICK: I'd like to come out of this ranked No. 1. I think that's my immediate goal. Then, you know, I'm going to try to take this thing all the way through. But we'll see what happens.
Q. You have a good draw in this final. What do you think about that?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know if there's such a thing as a "good draw" when you're talking about the top eight players in the world. It's out of my control. You know, I just kind of have to play, you know, who you're dealt. I think everybody here is very tough. They've won a lot of matches this year. I'm not really focused on anything else that's going on; I know I'm playing Carlos Moya first, and that's what I'm looking forward to.
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