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March 20, 2002

Andy Roddick


THE MODERATOR: Andy comes in here No. 12 on the ATP entry ranking system. Questions for Andy, please.

Q. How are you doing physically at the moment?

ANDY RODDICK: I feel good right now. You know, I started coming around feeling better last Friday and Saturday. I felt really good Sunday. So, you know, I've been out on the court and I've been feeling well.

Q. Was it a tough decision to skip Indian Wells? Or were you just feeling that bad where you didn't give it much thought?

ANDY RODDICK: I mean, obviously it's tough any time you decide not to play a tournament. Especially, you know, a Masters Series in your home country. That's kind of tough. But, you know, I was just worn down. And also, you know, I had, you know, I had the flu. So, that doesn't make for a good combination. I thought, you know, with the stretch coming, this tournament, then Davis Cup, that it was best for me to kind of make sure I was 100 percent for those tournaments.

Q. How big is this tournament for you, being that you live down the road and everything?

ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, this tournament definitely means a lot to me. I mean, it's probably my favorite tournament to play each year. I've had some good memories coming up through Juniors. I had my first really good pro tournament here. So, it's definitely a special place for me.

Q. Greg mentioned a year ago you were 118th. You're all the way up into the Top 12 now. Would you have imagined a year ago that you would have bolted that far?

ANDY RODDICK: No. You know, I was just trying to, you know, win a match or two last year. And, you know, I just kind of went with the flow of things and it worked out well for me last year. But, you know, I definitely don't want to get complacent and be satisfied.

Q. Can you talk about Hewitt? What about him, why is this guy No. 1? He's not a big guy, not an overpowering serve. What about his game?

ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, he's really fast and he hasn't -- he's missed maybe ten balls in the last eight months. So, it's kind of tough to handle at times. But, you know, he brings it every day. You know, if someone's going to beat him, they're going to have to put in 65, 70 percent first serves. They're going to have to not make stupid errors. He's just, you know, he's kind of a -- I mean, he just puts every return in, makes you hit every shot. Eventually, you start to wear down, and you know that. So, he's just playing great tennis at the moment.

Q. I have a quick question. Marcelo Rios fired his coach. He said that he want to be alone for a while. Do you think that a player can stay at a top level on his own without a coach? What is your experience?

ANDY RODDICK: You know, I don't really know how to comment on that because, you know, I have a great, you know, relationship with my coach. You know, Marcelo's been there before. He's an experienced player. If that's something he wants to try, then, you know, that's his decision. Personally, I don't think I would, you know, I wouldn't like to go on my own. But, you know, we're different people.

Q. Andy, how do you look back on last year, especially this tournament last year? You had an incredible week. What are your memories of that?

ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, you know, only have good memories from, you know, this tournament last year and most of last year. I mean, it was kind of like a joyride. Now it's -- now I wake up and it's more of a reality coming to the courts and practicing and stuff like that. So, you know, I'm trying not to look back too much. I'm trying to live in the now and look towards the future.

Q. Played against Andre in San Jose. You faced him in the past. What amazes you most about him? Did you think he might be a little vulnerable in San Jose, the fact that he didn't have matches under his belt?

ANDY RODDICK: You never really look at Andre and think, you know -- the word "vulnerability" isn't the first word you think. He kicked my butt out there. I could have played my best tennis out there, and it was one of those days where he was just painting the lines and handling me very well. You can't get too upset about a loss like that, because he just brought it that day.

Q. Last year you came in here, obviously a huge breakthrough for you, knocking off the likes of Rios and Sampras. Friday, you have to play Chela. He's no giant in the game, but he's a solid player, isn't he?

ANDY RODDICK: You know, his ranking was not so high at the beginning of the year. Now he's, what, 40 in the world or so? That obviously means he's playing some good tennis. He's definitely someone I'm not going to take lightly. It's a rough first-round match. I'm going to have to play well to get through.

Q. Being from Argentina, you assume he's a clay courter, but he's had tough matches against Pete and Andre this year, he really stretched them. You have any strategy against him? Do you know his game?

ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I got to watch a little bit of the match today. Tarik (Benhabiles) was watching while I was practicing. His match record is pretty impressive on hard, 11-3 or something like that on hard this year. That's not exactly -- you can't really classify him as a clay courter when he's winning matches like that on hardcourts. He makes you play. He has some pop on his strokes. He hits a good backhand down the line. So, you know, I'm just going to have to bring it and, you know, just try to enforce my game on him.

Q. He stays 20 feet behind the baseline.


THE MODERATOR: Any other questions for Andy?

Q. You have a phenomenal serve; everybody knows that. Do you do anything to protect your shoulder?

ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I'm on, actually, a program that we've set up for, you know, upper back and shoulder. You know, I do that. Honestly, people always ask me that question, but the shoulder's the only thing I haven't hurt in the last year (laughing). So... You know, I'm really not -- not really too worried about it. It feels good. I have almost like a freakishly flexible shoulder. I don't know if that helps it not getting injured and not getting sore. But it feels good.

End of FastScripts….

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