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August 28, 2004

Andy Roddick


THE MODERATOR: Andy is the defending champion here. He comes in with an ATP match record of 60-12 on the season. That's the most wins on the tour this year. He's also 44-8 on hard courts and second with four ATP titles. Questions for Andy.

Q. On the lighter side, I have two questions related to this ad, a picture of you that ran in the New York Times. It says, "127 men want his title. 40 million women want his number." My first question to you...

ANDY RODDICK: Okay. You can have it (laughter).

Q. Give us your thoughts on being one of the world's famous sex symbols.

ANDY RODDICK: I don't know about that. I really don't think of myself in those terms. I think it just makes for a clever ad campaign, that's all.

Q. You don't find the women following you or going after you or anything like that?

ANDY RODDICK: No, I don't know. I'm oblivious to most things, so I'm not sure (smiling).

Q. When did you first get to the National Tennis Center this week, and was it kind of a special feeling walking back in here?

ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, this has always been a pretty special place for me, even regardless of last year. I got here Monday and came out and hit Tuesday for the first time. And, you know, it's good. I definitely feel comfortable here. I have a pretty good groove in the city. I stay in the same place and, you know, I like the court here. So it definitely has a good, familiar feel to it.

Q. Assess your summer post Wimbledon.

ANDY RODDICK: It was good. I mean, you know, I had three very good tournaments in a row, you know, with the win in Indy, finals in Toronto, then I lost to both winners the Masters Series events, deep in the tournament. Obviously, I would have hoped for more at the Olympics, but, you know, it's been a pretty tough schedule. But I feel fresh and I feel ready for the Open, and that's the most important thing.

Q. Barring the outcome of the Olympics, was the actual atmosphere everything you had expected it would be?

ANDY RODDICK: It was awesome. I had a great experience. I mean, obviously on the tennis side, I would have loved to have done a little bit better. But in the grand scheme of things, the whole Olympic experience and the whole vibe was something I won't forget.

Q. How would you compare the atmosphere at Olympics, US Open and Davis Cup?

ANDY RODDICK: Compared to each other?

Q. Yeah.

ANDY RODDICK: I think they're totally different. I mean, the Olympics, you're with, you know -- tennis is on the back burner. You're not there for -- it's definitely not the main event. But it's fun to kind of see all the other athletes, watch the other events. This tournament's a little more -- you're not part of a team, obviously. So you have like your coach and your trainer, kind of the people that are closest to you year-round. Davis Cup is fun because I have a bunch of friends on the team, and we always have a pretty good time. It's always kind of fun to play for your country there, you know, when it is kind of the main event of what's going on there.

Q. Does the wonderful experience at the Olympics sometimes make it harder to play well?

ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I mean, I don't think that had anything to do with it. I mean, I've played enough tennis matches where I should be able to kind of handle that. I've been in a lot of situations. So I don't think -- it didn't affect Mardy in a negative way, and he was able to play well. So I don't think that was too much of a factor.

Q. After Wimbledon, did you and Brad sit down and say, "Okay, what else do we have to do now to get to that next level on grass," and if you did...

ANDY RODDICK: "Next level" meaning...?

Q. Win it.

ANDY RODDICK: Oh, okay. Hold serve at 4-2 in the third. You know, I don't think it was all that. It was a match of a couple points. So if you're asking if we had a crisis talk afterwards, we didn't really. I think I improved this year from last year on grass and, you know, will continue to try. But, you know, we're not big on getting too up or too down. We like to keep an even keel with wins and losses. That's what works for us.

Q. You have an appreciation of how young Mr. Jenkins might be feeling at the moment, facing you on the first day?

ANDY RODDICK: No. You know, I never won Kalamazoo. I'm not really sure. By the time I started playing against these guys, I had at least played challengers and gone that route. So I'm sure -- I mean, he's got to be excited. He's probably been watching this tournament for a while now, and he's going to get the opportunity to play on center. So if I was him, I would just try to make the most of it. Hopefully, that won't be enough (smiling).

Q. Who is your tennis mentor?

ANDY RODDICK: Mentor? You know, obviously, my coach right now, Brad Gilbert. You mean as far as when I'm younger? I think a lot of people had...

Q. At different stages, at this stage.

ANDY RODDICK: Well, it's Brad. He's my coach.

Q. Does it matter to you or would it mean something to you to develop something with Roger? And besides winning, what has to happen for that to happen, for it to be a true...

ANDY RODDICK: What do you mean?

Q. ...classic rivalry?

ANDY RODDICK: I think we just go more along the lines of what we've been doing. You know, I think we had a pretty good Wimbledon final. We both got to the finals of Toronto. I think we've been performing more consistently than the other players throughout this year so... But I don't know. People want to make a big deal out of it, but I don't think Roger or myself think about that. Right now we're probably both thinking about our first rounds. I think all the talk is a little premature until it actually comes to fruition.

Q. Do you feel different nerves coming in to defend a Grand Slam title than you've ever felt before?

ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I'm just trying to treat it as another US Open. You know, I'm not -- last year's over, you know, and I realize that. So I have to start anew. I'm in the same position as 127 other players right now. That's kind of how I'm looking at it.

Q. What was preventing you from winning three of the titles you lost this year? You lost to Roger, you lost to Andre, lost to Gonzalez, very close matches but you don't seem to be quite closing the door when you need to be.

ANDY RODDICK: Okay. I don't know. I think -- I mean, if I'm being honest with you, I think you're nitpicking. But both matches, I thought I played well against Roger and I thought, you know, I thought Andre played really well. I mean, he hit the ball about as clean as I've ever had it hit against me. I don't know. I'm not, you know, too worried. I've won my fair share of tournaments. You know, I've proven myself in the past in big matches. I'm not really too concerned. I thought I played well. Just got beat by a better player on the day.

Q. Would it be fair to say you feel as good this year coming into the Open as you did last year?

ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, because I have that thing in the back of my head that I've done it before. Last year it was set up for catastrophe, with me playing so well coming in. Then if something would have happened, then it would have been chaos. But I think I am a little bit more relaxed this year. You know, I'm a little bit more -- deep down, I think I'm a little bit more confident.

Q. You mentioned a little bit earlier that you were happy being in New York, you have a groove here, place that you always stay. Has the Republican National Convention disrupted any of that, and has the security concerns, do you think that will affect the Open at all?

ANDY RODDICK: No, you know, I haven't noticed it. I mean, you see police directing traffic a little bit more, but that's about as much as I've seen of it. I really haven't put too much thought into that, to be honest.

Q. Do you think players who didn't go to the Olympics will have any advantage from being more rested, not having made that trip?

ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. It's a possibility. But, I mean, we've had a significant amount of time to recover from the travel. I mean, it's not like we were there on back-to-back weeks or anything. I definitely think there's sufficient amount of time to kind of get back here and feel comfortable and be ready for the Open.

Q. Did you sky dive this year?


Q. You say you're not thinking about Roger so far in advance, but is it good for tennis to have a rivalry, a modern-day Agassi-Sampras, McEnroe-Borg?

ANDY RODDICK: Well, I've always said rivalries don't just pertain to tennis. If you have the Yankees and Red Sox playing in a playoff series, that's going to be interesting to people. If you have them playing year after year, that's going to be more interesting to people. That's the way sports works. I mean, sports are at their best when there are rivalries. I don't think that is just the case with tennis; I think that's the case with sports in general.

Q. Have you gotten to a point in your career where a good year for Andy Roddick means you have to win a Grand Slam?

ANDY RODDICK: I don't think a good year; I think a great year, yeah. You know, that's the goal, you know. I think if you win a Slam, that's a great year so, you know... But that being said, and if I don't win here, all isn't lost. I mean, I still have played pretty well this year. But, you know, obviously that would be a little disappointing.

Q. It's Arthur Ashe Day. Where do you place Arthur Ashe among the tennis icons?

ANDY RODDICK: Well, I mean, he's an icon. Not only was he a champion, but he did so much outside the sport. He kind of used his pedestal of being a great athlete and, you know, a famous person to kind of take that one step further and help people. So he used his power for the right reason. I think that's pretty admirable.

Q. Putting the question of rivalries aside, do you think tennis needs younger superstars like yourself to keep the crowds interested?

ANDY RODDICK: I think in the last couple years we've kind of seen a little bit of a new generation come through. You know, with Roger, myself, you know, all the guys in the Top 10, with the exception of Andre, are pretty young, you know, 23, 24 and younger. So, you know, I definitely think that's a necessity, yeah.

Q. When I think about four, five players now, including you, Mardy Fish, Blake, do you have to advise them to pick up their game because you have a lot of weight to win a Grand Slam?

ANDY RODDICK: Not so much. I mean, I think they're all doing pretty well for themselves. I'm not their coach, you know. I'm not one, you know -- I'm their friend. If they have a question they want to ask me, then that's fine. But, you know, that's really not my place.

Q. Of all the young Americans that you've come up with, Robby, James Blake, etc., etc., one thing that you've done that they haven't is you've stayed healthy all year. They've missed times with injury. What's your key?

ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I think over the last, you know, year and a half, two years, I've become more responsible as far as stretching before matches, icing before and after. I don't think there's a magic potion, but I think you do have to put in the time - if it means getting a massage every day after icing, and taking care of things before they become a problem. But I don't know their situations. You know, I don't know if these are fluke injuries or whatnot. So I can just kind of speak on what I've been trying to do to prevent it.

Q. What do you think Mardy's silver medal does for his chances here? Does he come in here with a lot more confidence?

ANDY RODDICK: Oh, absolutely.

Q. Or does he have problems shaking off that loss in the final?

ANDY RODDICK: Either way, I mean, you can ask Mardy. He wasn't having a good summer till his run in Athens. So, obviously, that's, you know, that should work as a booster. Obviously, he's coming in with a lot more confidence than, say, had he lost second round to Ferrero when he was down and out. So the rest of it, if he's having trouble getting back up, I mean, he shouldn't have trouble getting up for the US Open. That would be questionable.

Q. What was your favorite Olympic moment either involving you or somebody else?

ANDY RODDICK: I had a blast watching Mardy. When he won his semifinal match and I knew he was going to play for a gold, I was extremely happy for him and proud of him. I mean, selfishly, that was probably my favorite.

Q. Do you think Mardy played his way on to the Davis Cup team there? Do you think he deserves to be on the Davis Cup there?

ANDY RODDICK: I think him and Taylor are deserving. They both played pretty well in the Olympics. Fortunately, that's not my decision. I'm not in the hot seat.

Q. Any plans to do things in the city besides playing at the Open?

ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I mean, I'm not one to sit in my room and order room service every day so, you know... I should be able to find something to do in New York City, right?

Q. Can we ask what some of your favorite hot spots are?

ANDY RODDICK: I don't really do the "hot spot" thing.

Q. Cold spots.

ANDY RODDICK: That's kind of the question when you're playing. I don't know. I mean, I like going out to dinner, I like kind of just bumming around the city, people watching, walking around. You know, I don't know. I don't have any really formal plans of what I'm going to do.

Q. Do you find people notice you when you walk in the streets of New York? Is it different now being a celebrity?

ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I mean, people notice me. But, you know, people in New York are great because they're happier if they just say, "Hey, what's up," and you say, "Hey," then they're fine with it. That's cool 'cause they got a story. So the people are really cool. They're nice about it.

Q. Tarik's cuisine favor was a lot of French food.


Q. What about Brad? What kind of cuisine does he like?

ANDY RODDICK: Expensive cuisine that I have to pay for (laughter).

Q. Meat and potatoes or something more exotic?

ANDY RODDICK: He'll eat anything as long as it's expensive (laughter).

Q. Honest assessment of Andre's chances of reaching a final since he's on the other side of the draw.

ANDY RODDICK: Good. I mean, obviously, if you had asked me before the Cincinnati tournament, I probably would have said he's not playing well, but he's capable of anything. But he played great in Cincinnati. If you look at the caliber of players he beat round by round there, it was pretty impressive. I don't know how to do chances by percentages, but, you know, he's got a good shot.

Q. What is your assessment of US tennis right now?

ANDY RODDICK: My assessment of US tennis, I don't know. That's for you guys to decide. I'm probably a little biased towards that question, so I'll leave that to you guys.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit more about this young guy Scoville Jenkins you're going to be playing?

ANDY RODDICK: I watched him a little bit at Junior Wimbledon. He hits big. He's a good athlete. He's not scared to hit the ball. So, obviously, that's something we'll have to look into, and I'm sure Brad will go scout him a little bit in his practices the next couple days. More than anything, I'm just going to try to focus on playing my match. So, you know, hopefully that will work for me.

Q. Would you have any interest in attending the convention if you had time permitted?

ANDY RODDICK: No, no, not really.

Q. When you played high school basketball with Mardy, which one of you guys was better?

ANDY RODDICK: Mardy. Yeah, no, I don't want to talk about that (smiling).

Q. Talk about the crowds here, especially playing at night, what that's like out on the court and the support.

ANDY RODDICK: It's not like anything else in tennis, I mean, especially being an American, playing here, kind of having somewhat of a history here with the crowds here. I'm excited. It's electric when you get out there. I can't wait to do it again.

Q. Do you feel a little bit like, I mean, "This is My House," kind of thing?

ANDY RODDICK: Oh, that's probably the worst thing I've ever said. Not really. It's just a place that I'm comfortable, you know. I don't know about it being "my house," but maybe it's a hotel room I've stayed in before (smiling).

End of FastScripts….

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