September 7, 2003
NEW YORK CITY
THE MODERATOR: First question for Andy, please.
ANDY RODDICK: No more, "What's it feel like to be the future of American tennis" crap! No more.
Q. What does it feel like to be the president of US tennis?
ANDY RODDICK: It feels good. That feels very good.
Q. Could you have imagined a better setting, your first Grand Slam, first of what I hope will be many, but out here, with the crowd charged up?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't think you could have written a script any better, you know. Starting it off with Pete's retirement, Chang is gone. All that. It's just -- it was just too good.
Q. Disbelief that you had won the US Open? You got so overcome there for the moment, just disbelief you had won the tournament?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I... I came here so much when I was younger. I still don't believe that I've won the US Open. It's so farfetched for me. I just -- I mean, I've watched so many, like, Grand Slam finals when people win and their reaction. I mean, there was just a million thoughts going through my head.
Q. The way you won yesterday, coming back like that, did that give you an emotional lift into today's match?
ANDY RODDICK: No, but it gave me the opportunity to come out and play today's match. I was one point away from, you know, from being at home right now. So, you know, it just gave me another chance.
Q. Can I just take you back to the very first day of this tournament and your reaction, sorry to ask a British question, when you beat Henman? Your reaction then. It was such an important moment for you. You kind of carried that momentum through this entire championship.
ANDY RODDICK: That was huge. I mean, I wasn't happy when I saw the draw, you know. I'd had a great summer, but he was the only person I'd lost to, you know. So I knew that was huge. I knew I was playing good enough tennis to make a run here, but I also knew that there was a chance that I could go home after the first round. So that was big for me.
Q. The momentum, you think, has carried you through that and all the ups and downs?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know if one win can carry you through a tournament.
Q. You seem to have been so focused all the way through.
ANDY RODDICK: Not focused, just really calm. You know, if anything, it's kind of -- I've kind of like stepped back. Once I'm on the court, I'm calm, focused. Away from the court, I just try to treat it like a normal day. I didn't really lock myself in my room or anything out of the ordinary like that. I just kind of lived my life.
Q. You talked often about your admiration for former champions here --
ANDY RODDICK: Where are you?
Q. Right here. I'll stand up.
ANDY RODDICK: Sorry.
Q. I know you were preparing for your match. Did you get a chance in the locker room to see on TV the honoring of Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert, maybe draw inspiration from that ceremony?
ANDY RODDICK: I didn't watch it. The volume was up, so I could hear some of it. I didn't really want to be thinking about anything else besides what was at hand.
Q. Can you take us through that last service game? You just seemed like you just wanted to keep ripping those serves and get point after point. It went pretty quickly.
ANDY RODDICK: Thankfully. It didn't give me a chance to get tight. I don't know. I mean, I decided to go with my best serves. You know, I hadn't really been doing that the whole day. I kind of tried to mix it up a little bit. I just decided,"You know what, I got to make first serves and try to do it." Before I knew it, it was over. I just wanted to go as fast as possible so I didn't have to think about it.
Q. We saw on your lips, "I cannot believe it, I cannot believe it," as soon as you won. You have a lot of things to believe, after all these wins. You should have believed, no?
ANDY RODDICK: No, I still don't. I can't believe I'm sitting here doing a press conference as the US Open champion. I mean, it's just -- I can't imagine my name and US Open champion together. It's more than I could ever dream of.
Q. Others have gone into the stands, particularly at Wimbledon. The reason you did it, had you seen others do it? Were you carried away?
ANDY RODDICK: I wanted to get to the people that I loved and share what I was feeling at that time with them. You know, I had brothers fly in this weekend from all over the place, and, you know, all types of friends come, drive 10 hours to see me play. I definitely wanted to share it with them.
Q. When were you most nervous today?
ANDY RODDICK: Probably when I had breakpoints in the third set 'cause I knew there was a good chance that if I got the break that I was gonna win. So especially the one game where I had it earlier in the set, I didn't hit the ball very, very well. I was just kind of hoping he would miss. Then the next game, I kind of calmed down and decided to hit through the ball a little bit more.
Q. So many emotions. So many feelings. Ups, downs. If you could for us step back and just try and capture this incredible two weeks in just one word or phrase, could you come up with something on that?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean "amazing." I really don't... Like I said, I'll probably have a better explanation for what just took place in a couple of days. But I'm in absolute disbelief right now, you know. I'm kind of shocked.
Q. Last year you lost to Pete Sampras. Pete had an incredible comeback. It was a clinical demonstration by him and you were very gracious afterwards. Can you sum up how far your game has come between that match and today.
ANDY RODDICK: It's come a long way. I think I've improved in pretty much every aspect, every aspect of the game. You know, like I said, I don't remember too much from that match last year 'cause it was over before it started (smiling). You know, he definitely took it to me, you know, schooled me.
Q. When you got up with your parents, what did you say when you hugged your parents? What do you tell them?
ANDY RODDICK: I said, "I just won the US Open. I just won the US Open." (Laughter).
Q. What did your mom say?
ANDY RODDICK: My mom said, "You just won the US Open. You just won the US Open."
Q. How much did it mean to you to have Mandy fly in to see you win?
ANDY RODDICK: It was great. You know, she called me a couple days ago and said, "I have a flight booked for the red eye on Saturday night. Is that okay or am I gonna jinx something?" I'm kind of like that. I was like, "Oh, you can come. You just can't sit in the box." (Laughter.)
Q. Did you have any concern about how you would handle the big occasion?
ANDY RODDICK: Yes. Obviously, like I said, the hardest thing is the fear of the unknown. You know, I didn't know how I was gonna feel going in. I didn't know what was gonna happen. You know, I... But I'm baffled by how calm I felt out there, how easy. I almost didn't feel anything. I was just kind of going through the motions. I didn't really -- I don't know. I didn't feel anything out there.
Q. After all the years of one question a day, a week, future of American tennis, were you scared that this wasn't gonna happen and it would be such a big letdown?
ANDY RODDICK: No, you know. I don't play for others. I don't play for what people might say or what people will say. I play for myself. I play for the people that I love and that share in the joy that I get out of it. But, you know, you can't be scared of what's gonna be written about you or what's gonna be said. I could come here, lose first round next year, and people would say, "I was lucky, I was that." Bottom line is I'm a pretty good player and I just won a Grand Slam.
Q. Do you also play for the country? There's an individual sport. But you felt a lot of American pride out there today. Do you play for country as well?
ANDY RODDICK: Definitely. You know, I think especially here, with the crowd support that I got, I'm playing for everybody there, you know. They're living and dying each point with me. So I definitely felt that a little bit.
Q. You said that if it felt like you weren't feeling anything. It's impossible to feel that way. Do you want to get back, do it again, do it differently so you have a better feeling for what it's like to go out there and win a Grand Slam?
ANDY RODDICK: Nope. (Laughter.) If I had to do it again, I hope it would go the same way.
Q. Can you actually imagine playing better than you did today?
ANDY RODDICK: I think you never want -- as an athlete, I don't know if you'll ever hear an athlete say, "I can never do better than that." I played a hell of a match today. But I'll never say I can't do it again.
Q. What do you think about Juan Carlos' game? Did you think he could have done a little better? Did you expect a tougher fight?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, obviously. He's No. 1 in the world. But I think in the first set I played really well. I took it to him. I was very aggressive. The part that surprised me was the second-set tiebreaker. He made a couple errors that maybe he wouldn't normally make. That was the part that surprised me a little bit. I don't think he played so well in the first set but I think a lot of it had to do with I was pretty aggressive today. I thought a lead was big today considering we both have played a lot.
Q. That last game, two aces, looking at matchpoint. Did the theatrical part of hitting an ace on matchpoint occur to you?
ANDY RODDICK: Did it occur to me? What happened on matchpoint?
Q. You aced.
ANDY RODDICK: I did?
Q. Yes, you did. Down the middle.
ANDY RODDICK: Okay, not really. I was getting goose bumps, but, you know, I wasn't -- I would have taken a let cord winner for sure there.
Q. This is generally regarded as the toughest of the Grand Slams to win because of all the conditions. Does the fact that it was even harder this year, at the end of the championships, all the matches coming together, do you derive any greater satisfaction winning it in those circumstances?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't think so. I just think I take the ultimate satisfaction in it. When it started raining and people said, "It's the survival of the fittest," I said, "oh, God. That's not good, is it?"
Q. But it is. That's the great thing about the event.
ANDY RODDICK: I guess. I don't know if I'm the fittest, but, yeah, sure.
Q. As a young boy, did you ever go out to hit against a backboard, you by yourself, and rehearse or dream of winning a Grand Slam and rehearse your move, like you dropped to your knees like Borg or something like that?
ANDY RODDICK: Not that I can remember. I know I used to have a rebound net, which is this net. It has springs. If you hit it, it comes back to you. I used to have that in my garage in Texas when I lived there. I would spend ours out there. My mom would ask, "What did you do today?" I'd say, "I beat Lendl, Becker, Edberg. They didn't put up much of a fight. But Pete and Andre were a little tough, but I took them out, no problem."
Q. How would you define Brad Gilbert's influence on this title?
ANDY RODDICK: It was huge. I think we have a great camaraderie. We have -- you know, we just click. You know, he knows what to say to me, when to say it. He makes things simple for me, which helps a lot.
Q. This may be hard for you to reflect on now, you said in the match you were very calm, just floated by. Great champions will say that in tense moments, that kind of calmness comes. Can you look at that and say, "Maybe I am going to be a great champion, a multiwinner"?
ANDY RODDICK: Obviously, I can say maybe. But I think it takes -- it definitely takes more than once, one time doing that to start thinking that way. There have been lots of players that are a lot better than me. I'm just happy to get one, then I'll think about the future when it comes up.
Q. How old were you when you were hitting that rebound net in Texas?
ANDY RODDICK: I was -- moved there when I was 3. So probably 7, 8, 9.
Q. I think this win's going to have enormous repercussions for the sport - a young guy with a bit of an attitude. Are you aware of that?
ANDY RODDICK: Attitude? Attitude? I don't have an attitude (laughter).
Q. You have more attitude than most in terms of the way you play, your demeanor on court. The fact you're American.
ANDY RODDICK: Demeanor, I didn't say anything.
Q. The whole "you"?
ANDY RODDICK: Sorry. I don't even know what the question was (laughter).
Q. You're going to be at the Vanguard of a potential explosion of interest in the sport?
ANDY RODDICK: I hope so. I'm always up for good things in tennis. If my winning promotes the sport and makes it bigger and better, then awesome. I'm all for it.
Q. Talking about promoting the sport, Jimmy Connors said he liked the enthusiasm on the court, he liked the nature of this tournament with the cheering and all. Do you agree with that?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, for sure. You know, you can definitely give a New York crowd a little bit and they're gonna give you a lot in return. So I definitely agree with that.
Q. How will you celebrate? Will you have a legal drink?
ANDY RODDICK: Oh, I'm already ahead of you (laughter). That's so old news.
Q. We're writing about how Brad helped you. Do you have any thought about Tarik at the moment?
ANDY RODDICK: Tarik, yes, I definitely thought about him. I guess they did an interview instead of a speech. I was definitely gonna thank Tarik if I did have a speech. Brad's getting a lot of credit right now, as he should. But Tarik was with me for four years. He knows, you know, he knows me about as well as anybody. He took me from, you know, a kid who was just content to maybe get a college scholarship somewhere, just go, he taught me -- maybe the first one with a serious face to say, "You can be a professional tennis player. You can be really good at this game." You know, so it kind of feels empty not having him here. Hopefully, I'll see him soon enough.
Q. What's your schedule for the rest of the year?
ANDY RODDICK: Schedule for the rest of the year? I don't know. I'm not gonna think about it. I know we got Davis Cup coming up soon, so I'm gonna try and run and get some focus going there in the next week or so.
Q. How much do you feel your game can improve? Today you did something you never did, coming in on your second serve. Do you feel you have space to improve?
ANDY RODDICK: I think so. You know, like I said, I'm focused on what I have to do to win on the day. Obviously, against Juan Carlos, if he's back and putting the ball in play, then it's an even game. But if I'm forcing him to maybe, you know, hit a passing shot from up here, 10 feet behind the baseline, I have a little bit of a better chance. So, you know, I think -- I'm not gonna become a serve and volleyer, but if it's something that I have to do that will help me win on the day, then I'll do it.
Q. Some young champions are quick to talk about their ambitions to win multiple champions. Tiger Woods talks about it.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, but he's Tiger Woods.
Q. You're Andy Roddick, an extraordinary player. You seem very reluctant to go that route. Are you just a guy who would really rather just live in the moment?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, well, I'll live in the moment. It's about a half hour afterwards.
Q. Career in the making?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm not gonna come say I'm gonna be the best thing since sliced bread. I just want to keep playing, working hard, and try to improve. Who knows what the future will hold? I'm just gonna try my best and we'll see what happens.
Q. Had you ever played serve and volley on the second ball so frequently?
ANDY RODDICK: Yes, I was doing it a lot in the Masters Series events earlier this summer. A lot of guys choose to stand back on my serve. I think that's a good play. When they're standing back.
Q. What do you think might be the one or two keys perhaps in terms of which of that group of guys in their early 20s might end up being the best of all when it's looked at in hindsight?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know, but it's certainly shaping up to be a really good group, huh, with Roger winning and Juan Carlos winning, now him becoming 1. We're all kind of close. I think it's gonna make for a real exciting group. I'm just kind of pumped to be part of it.
Q. What about the impact on your school, your generation of Americans - James and Mardy and Dent and Ginepri? You think it will give them a kick start, so to speak? A stimulus?
ANDY RODDICK: I definitely think so. You know, when you see your friends doing something really well, you're extremely happy for them. But at the same time, you want to go do it yourself. You know, I think we've already seen that with the guys pushing each other up the rankings last year and this year. You know, if James wouldn't have made his move last year, who knows if Mardy and Taylor -- who knows. I think if we're constantly pushing each other, it's only good.
Q. There were eight different winners in the last eight Slams. Do you think this will continue? Or you think that Ferrero will be, again, the strong favorite at Roland Garros?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I don't see eight different winners winning the next eight Slams, for sure. I don't think so.
Q. You said the other day that you wouldn't take Sjeng's suggestion about a vacation or break. How do you feel right now? Ready for a little rest?
ANDY RODDICK: Yep (smiling). I'm not gonna do anything for the next couple days.
Q. When you said you used to watch celebrations when people won Slams. If you saw people crying, would you think, "Oh, gosh, why are they crying? I would never cry." Federer, when he won Wimbledon, said he was telling himself he wasn't gonna cry and then he cried?
ANDY RODDICK: No, I knew I was going to. You know, I don't know what kind of person it takes, to see someone achieve their ultimate dream or their ultimate goal and to have them show some emotion and be like, "What's that all about?" I don't think I ever sat there -- I thought I just really appreciated it and was happy for the people.
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