September 6, 2003
NEW YORK CITY
THE MODERATOR: First question, please.
Q. You've been involved in some five-setters in your time, especially this year. How do you hope you'll be able to recover from this, in the short space of time you've got?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm just gonna have to deal with the cards that I've been dealt. I'm gonna have to accept the cards that I'm dealt. I'm just gonna do everything I can - get massage, get a lot of good food, hydrate myself, and come out. I have one more match to go; I don't have to play an entire tournament. I have one match to go. That's the way I'm looking at it.
Q. Not just getting to the final, but the way you came from behind to win this, is this a giant step for you in your career?
ANDY RODDICK: I hope so. I mean, obviously it's giant because it gives me an opportunity to win a Grand Slam title. You know, I definitely would have preferred to be out in three, but that's the way I had to do it today.
Q. What was the turning point, do you think, in your comeback?
ANDY RODDICK: It was obviously the third-set tiebreaker. You know, I was down a matchpoint. And, you know, to kind of come through that gave me a little bit of new life.
Q. Two 21-year-olds fighting for the finals. You seem so mentally prepared. Was there any sense of panic in you at all when you were down 6-5 in that third-set tiebreaker?
ANDY RODDICK: Surprisingly, no. I mean, I think at that point I was pretty much almost down-and-out anyway, so I didn't really have much pressure on me. I just decided to kind of go for it.
Q. Any explanation for the slow start? You just didn't feel that well, or he was kind of on top of you?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, I think you have to give credit to David. I thought he played super well today. It's not like, you know, it was all me, the reason that I was down two sets. Especially, you know, I had that one game in the first set where I had a bunch of breakpoints and I didn't get it. After that I thought he started playing very, very well.
Q. Yesterday you told us you don't feel invincible. Obviously, you didn't feel invincible the first two sets. When you win this many matches in a row, does it make you feel you have a million different ways to win a match now?
ANDY RODDICK: You know, digging deep hasn't been my problem before. It's been -- you know, probably if this would have happened a year ago, I probably would have freaked out that I was down, gotten upset. I tried to keep it pretty even keel. I think that's what it's brought, you know, like a moment -- it's brought a little bit of calmness.
Q. What were you telling yourself during the second set or after you lost the second set?
ANDY RODDICK: What was I telling myself?
Q. What were you saying to yourself to keep yourself in the match?
ANDY RODDICK: I was like, "Keep playing." I'm not saying, "Oh, you have to come back. You have to come back." I was just like, "Let's keep playing. Let's keep trying to win every game that you're participating in." There's nothing really secret about it. I just kept trying.
Q. That breakpoint in the eighth game, his forehand is called wide. He goes crazy. It gives you the break to serve for the match. He hits a forehand.
ANDY RODDICK: Backhand.
Q. Backhand, sorry. He goes crazy. You actually turned, if I'm correct. Did you turn to John McEnroe in the booth to see on the replay?
ANDY RODDICK: No.
Q. You didn't? He kind of went like this down to you to let you know he wasn't sure about the call.
ANDY RODDICK: I didn't see him.
Q. You didn't see him?
ANDY RODDICK: No.
Q. What would be your reaction if you would find out that he just said that he couldn't play his best because he couldn't serve too well, and when he was playing backhand, he was just slicing because he had some kind of pain in abdominal?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I'd say he did a hell of a job playing with it. If he's hurt, he's hurt. You know, I thought he played a great match, you know, for someone that was healthy. So if he was hurt, that's even a more amazing effort from him.
Q. Kind of lost your temper with the chair umpire a little bit. Did you feel you weren't getting the benefit of the calls?
ANDY RODDICK: When did I do that?
Q. When you told him to "step up."
ANDY RODDICK: Oh, yeah. Thanks for the reminder. The one that I -- I mean, I think there were -- especially in the first-set tiebreaker, there were close calls. I think he made the right calls, but I wanted him to make sure. I wasn't complaining just to complain. You know, that was a big call, that they did miss. I mean, it's tough to expect them to overrule that one, that second serve that I hit. You know, I'm pretty confident that it was good. You know, I don't know. Maybe I was just trying to vent frustration. Too bad for him.
Q. A little bit after that it looked like you were jawing at Nalbandian and saying something. Do you remember what that was about?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I didn't notice that there were new balls in the fourth set. The umpire, I don't know if the umpire said new balls; neither one of us knew, neither one of us heard him. I saw him kind of hold the balls up after the game that I served, which was the first game with new balls. I thought he was going, asking the umpire, "Are these new balls," like we were starting from his service game. Did you get that?
Q. I got it.
ANDY RODDICK: Okay. Then I kind of asked. The umpire told me, "No, you just served with them for the first time." I said, "Well, it was nice of you to tell me. I didn't really know." Then he kind of gave me like the thumbs-up. I didn't mean to deceive him or anything like that - maybe he just felt I did; I'm not sure. It was just too bad. It was my mistake. I should have noticed, but I didn't.
Q. If a year ago you would have freaked out, what is different this year?
ANDY RODDICK: Define a "freak-out." I definitely didn't freak out. I've been much worse.
Q. You said down a set...
ANDY RODDICK: Oh, okay. I thought we were still talking about the "step up."
Q. What is it, a year later, that makes you capable of going down two sets and not losing confidence?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. Just maturity. Just playing. You play and you learn. You know, I feel confident right now, so I didn't feel like there was need to panic. I definitely wasn't feeling good about my prospects, but I didn't think it was 100 percent over. I just tried to play it point for point and not really worry about what had already transpired.
Q. 38 aces, innumerable winners off your serve. How important was that in the match today, and how important will it be for tomorrow?
ANDY RODDICK: Huge and huge. To only get broken once by him in five sets after the way he's been breaking people this whole tournament, that's a pretty good effort. You know, I knew that was gonna be key today.
Q. With Pete retiring and who knows how many more years Andre will play, you seemed to be thrust into this role of leader of the ATP ...
ANDY RODDICK: Oh, we're not just going American tennis anymore, are we? Wow!
ANDY RODDICK: No, normally -- never mind. Sorry, go ahead.
Q. I'll finish the question. You seem to be thrust into the leader on the tennis tour. How do you feel about that at this young age?
ANDY RODDICK: Indifferent, I guess. You know, I'm just trying to win matches. I'm not really thinking about issues that, you know, other people have or, you know, what I'm being thrust into. I'm not thrusting myself into anything. I can just worry about what I do.
Q. You hit a lot of your forehands with a snap of the wrist. You obviously play a lot of ping-pong. Any experience with other racquet sports?
ANDY RODDICK: No.
Q. What kind of match do you anticipate against Ferrero tomorrow?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, obviously it's gonna be tough. I thought he played great against Andre today. You know, he's -- he probably doesn't get enough, you know, not respect, but enough play. I mean, people maybe don't realize what a good player he's become. He's won a Grand Slam. I guess he's No. 1 now. So, you know, maybe that's -- a match like today is what he needed for people to take notice. It's gonna be very tough.
Q. Andy, the press conference that David just had was, at least to a very small degree, reminiscent of the comments that Ivan Ljubicic made after his match. David said today that everything that was close would go with "them." Could you comment on that comment specifically.
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know.
Q. Do you smell a trend?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I don't smell a trend. I don't know. I mean, I think there were -- you know, through the first two sets there were a bunch of balls on the line. They were the right calls. It's not like I was given calls on the line. I think that's absurd. I think the umpires do their job, just like we do. You know, obviously people are entitled to their opinion. Maybe he saw things a different way; I don't know. That's not my area.
Q. You said before that you don't think of all the other issues, about being a leader on the ATP Tour. When you were standing there after Andre walked off the court, were you realizing you were the last American? Were you realizing that maybe you were down two-sets-to-love? Did that add to it in any way for you?
ANDY RODDICK: Not really. You know, I didn't really think of it like that in terms of Americans and not Americans or whatnot. I was ready to go and try to win a match.
Q. If you start thinking about all those things, you got to worry about the next point, isn't that what...
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know, man. I'm not smart enough to think about a bunch of things. I'm very simple. You guys are giving me a lot more credit than I probably deserve.
Q. How excited are you about tomorrow?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm pumped. I mean, I came here so many times when I was younger. I can't believe I'm actually in a US Open final. You know, that being said, it would be great to go one step further.
Q. If you win tomorrow to Ferrero, you will be really close to get the No. 1. How much of a motivation is that for you tomorrow?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, it's nice. But, you know, if I had the choice to end the tournament No. 1 or win the US Open title, I'd probably pick the US Open title right now.
Q. Could you contribute any one thing to your comeback today?
ANDY RODDICK: Just hanging around, you know.
Q. In your early career, in the Juniors...
ANDY RODDICK: Am I late in my career now (laughing)?
Q. You're an old guy at 21. But when you were coming up through the ranks, watching your older brother and so forth, when did you first sense that you had the potential to really be a champion?
ANDY RODDICK: A champion at a major?
ANDY RODDICK: Probably earlier this summer, to be honest. I mean, I always thought that I might have the potential to, but without thinking, "You know what, I'm gonna go in, try to win this major." Juniors, it seemed wickedly farfetched. I was just hoping to be a regular tour professional.
Q. So at what point this summer did that kick in, when you said to yourself, "I could be a major champion"?
ANDY RODDICK: I think during Wimbledon I was starting to get that feeling, that I was playing well enough to win. Didn't happen. Obviously, with the results this summer, I feel like I can win a major some day.
Q. When you were growing up, was there one US Open final that you watched on television that stood above the rest?
ANDY RODDICK: Uhm... I'm not really sure. I mean, obviously, I think everybody was super jacked about the -- I think it was the '95 final with Andre and Pete. I think Andre had won 20 matches that summer. Pete was No. 1. They were battling back and forth. So I thought that was a pretty cool story. I was pretty into that.
Q. You were bounced out of the French Open first round this year. Are you surprised how things have turned around for you this summer? You've done extremely well on hard court. You're in the finals of the US Open. Can you explain how you feel going into the finals after being bounced out in the first round of the French Open?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, absolutely. After the French I kind of took five days and didn't really do much. I was just kind of hanging around. You know, if you would have told me that I was gonna have the results that I've had over the past couple of months, I probably wouldn't have believed you.
Q. Had the final been Nalbandian-Ferrero, would you have watched it?
ANDY RODDICK: No.
ANDY RODDICK: 'Cause nothing against those guys, but it would have hurt a lot, you know. Not to, you know, say I wouldn't watch it because -- I mean, they're awesome players. I wouldn't watch it because I'd be really mad at myself and it wouldn't be fun for me.
Q. Has been taking off that visor really been the key?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. All credit goes to the removal of the visor (smiling).
Q. If this was a defining moment or milestone moment in your career, will it mean nothing unless you win tomorrow?
ANDY RODDICK: It still means something. You know, I still fought back today. But, obviously, I mean, the big thing about today was that, like I said, it gives me the opportunity to win tomorrow. You know, it kept me alive another day.
Q. To make your first Grand Slam final at a US Open, is that more meaningful to you, or does it matter where?
ANDY RODDICK: It's probably pretty special, you know. I think you always want to do well in your, you know, in your home country. Especially, I mean, I always said if I had to pick a Grand Slam to win, it would be the US Open. So it probably does make it a little more special.
Q. Do you think you're gonna have an easy time tuning out , like, you're the last American hope. Everybody wants to see an American. CBS wanted to see an American. Can you tune that out and go about your business?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I'm worried about tennis. I'm not worried about CBS.
Q. Expect to get a good night's sleep or is it tough to come down and not be too jacked up?
ANDY RODDICK: No, I'm gonna sleep well.
Q. Any sense of relief, getting over the semifinal hump in a Grand Slam?
ANDY RODDICK: I didn't really look at it as a hump too much. I mean, Australia, I didn't think I had much chance going into that semifinal, if I'm honest. Roger just definitely outplayed me in Wimbledon. I really wasn't thinking about that.
Q. Talking about your tactics today, you started off defensively. When you went two-sets-to-love down, you started to become more aggressive.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, yeah, for sure. Obviously, I had to change things up a little bit because it wasn't working for me too well. You know, I was trying to feel David out a little bit to see where he was physically early on. You know, he responded. I mean, I was super impressed with how he was early on. I mean, he was very alive and very quick. You know, once I realized that, you know, I definitely had to try to step up and do something a little different.
Q. Is that where maturity comes in, knowing that the game plan's not working and you have to find something that works? You used to stick with the saying...
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, that or desperation (laughter).
Q. Will you turn to anyone in particular to try to get any advice between now and 4 o'clock tomorrow about just how to deal with this experience that's entirely new for you, playing in a Grand Slam final?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, probably my coach. I'm probably not gonna do anything, you know, different than what I've been doing thus far.
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