August 21, 2003
NEW YORK CITY
GREG SHARKO: On behalf of the ATP and the USTA, thank for joining in today's conference call with Andy Roddick, who will be making his fourth appearance at the US Open this week. He took over the No. 1 after winning the Tennis Master's Series title in Cincinnati on Sunday. Prior to that, Andy won the Tennis Masters in Montreal and the RCA Championship in Indianapolis in the last month. Roddick comes into the US Open as the hottest player in the summer hardcourt swing, and has compiled record of 30-2 since playing under coach Brad Gilbert.
Q. Just wondering what your reaction was when the draw came out and found that you were playing the only guy who has managed to put one over on you this summer?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, for sure, obviously I don't think it's a great draw for either one of us. I imagine he wasn't too happy about it, either, but that's just the way it goes. First round, third round, whatever, you've still got to beat seven guys if you want to win the tournament, and I'm sure he's looking at it the same way.
Q. How important is it for you to be on a roll going into a big tournament like the US Open, this 20-1 run, the three titles?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I think it's very important for me. Obviously, when your confidence is high, you feel like you can win, even if you don't play your best on that day. I couldn't have asked for a better summer so far. I just hope to continue it. This is a brand new tournament, and what's already happened really doesn't matter too much anymore. I just want to go in and try to keep my level of play up.
Q. Is there some in particular part of your game that you think of as being key to a long run here, the way you have the couple other Grand Slams this year?
ANDY RODDICK: Obviously, my game centers around my serve, and I feel like if I serve really well, that's obviously the key to it. Hopefully I can return well and move well, also.
Q. I was just wondering, so many people have hyped you at the Open, ahead of your time maybe, what is it like for you going into this Open with the No. 1 ranking? Are your expectations for yourself markedly different than in the last two Opens?
ANDY RODDICK: I think so. You know, I probably didn't go into the last two Opens to win the tournament. I probably went in to make a good run. I definitely want to try to take this title. I know that's big talk, but I feel like I've played pretty well this summer. But first and foremost, I have to deal with Henman first round. He's a very good player, and I did lose to him in Washington, so that's where my focus is right now.
Q. So is it safe to say in your mind that anything less than a win would be an unsatisfactory showing at this point?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know about unsatisfactory. If I play great tennis and beat really good players, obviously, you never know, but I'd definitely be disappointed. I definitely want to try to step up to the occasion and play well.
Q. I wanted to know how much of your success you attribute to Brad, and if there's been one moment since he became your coach where you felt like, "That's the reason I picked this guy," something he said to you or a moment where he just really gave you some confidence?
ANDY RODDICK: Brad has been great. Obviously you never know what would have happened if he would not have come on board. I'm not big on "what if" questions. As far as something that impressed me, the first time I ever called Brad, he said, "I'd be interested in talking to you about possibly coaching me." And he said -- he was in California and I was in England at the time, and he said, "Okay. I'll be there tomorrow." For someone to just drop everything and really sound so excited on a moment's notice, that was pretty impressive to me.
Q. When you serve, does your right arm ever hurt, does it ever tire?
ANDY RODDICK: No, not really. Obviously, if you play a lot and a lot of matches, obviously things get tired from overuse and stuff, but never really sharp pains. I always feel like I could hit a serve just as big at the end of the third set as the beginning of the first set. I take care of everything that I do, and I do the proper training, and I'm really flexible so that helps a lot, also.
Q. I was just wondering, would you ever consider loosening the tension of your racquet for a game, just so you could get the world's fastest serve record?
ANDY RODDICK: No. It really doesn't matter to me, to be honest. That's more for people writing about it. The one time I did hit it, it came back. I'm really not interested in that, to be honest.
Q. Congratulations on the summer you've had. It's been quite incredible. I'm wondering from there was any particular match or any particular moment in this run when you really felt as though you came to your optimum level, or are you on a gradual improvement all the way through do you think?
ANDY RODDICK: I've had really good matches, but I'd like to think it's gradual improvement. You know, the match I played against Lanford (ph) where I had 39 winners was pretty cool. I was two away from not making an error the entire match, which was pretty surprising. I think it's a mix of playing well and when I'm not feeling the greatest on the day, just winning the big points. I don't know if I've just been playing lights out and killing everybody. I think it's been more along the lines of just winning the big points and playing confidently.
Q. Can I ask you about the kind of aftermath of the Federer match at Wimbledon; did you and Brad sit down and consciously go through that championship and perhaps your grass court speed and look forward to what you had to do to perhaps set out on this particular sequence that you've enjoyed?
ANDY RODDICK: No. We never sat down and had the big pow-wow afterwards or anything. It was more along the lines of me saying: "Thanks for coming and helping me out, I really needed you and you came for me"; and him saying: "I'm excited for the opportunity." We kind of split up for two weeks and got back together the week before Indianapolis and just started training. It's been a pretty simple relationship so far. Maybe we talked before I played Federer again, we sat down and talked a little bit, but it wasn't some big thing.
Q. Just wondering if you could talk a little bit about how things have changed in your life going into this Open, as opposed to last year's Open and everything that you've gone through in the last year?
ANDY RODDICK: You know, it's been a whirlwind, kind of like last year was to the year before and so on and so forth. I think it would be easier to talk about for like the last three years. It's just been a complete whirlwind from being able to go out and grab a hot dog on the grounds of the US Open to the kind of madness that's kind of been created so far. You know, I feel like I've deserved the hype this year a little bit more so than the other years. The other years maybe people, especially in America, were kind of hoping that I would come through and do well and maybe hoping a little bit too much. But this year, I feel like I kind of deserve my place as one of the top players, and hopefully it will translate into this some good tennis.
Q. Are you comfortable carrying the mantle for American tennis with Agassi getting older and Pete officially retiring next week? It now fall on you, are you comfortable with that?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I was pretty lucky, Pete and Andre were both playing when I kind of started to make my move, and Andre is still playing great tennis. So, it's been kind of easier for me. Now I'm at the point where I feel like I am ready.
Q. It was mentioned a second ago, Pete saying farewell, they are going to have a thing for him on Monday night; can you talk about his lasting legacy and what you think it will be?
ANDY RODDICK: I think it will be pretty much what everybody thinks. He was just one of the most graceful players of all time, one of most quietly competitive people of all time. And he's got to be one -- when I think of him, I think of him as one best pressure players of all time. It seemed like the bigger the match was, the better that he played. You know, he just did it all in his own time. He didn't really make a big fuss about things. He just made his name by winning.
Q. How has the relationship with Brad evolved from those early days where you told you to take the visor off and start stop looking like that; how has it become sort of you and him, day-to-day?
ANDY RODDICK: Actually, luckily enough, we are both pretty outgoing off the court. We don't really beat around the bush too much. There really was not a lot of weirdness, even when we first got together. I kind of took his word for what it was worth and he takes mine for what it's worth, and I think that's why it's worked so well.
Q. Can you pinpoint what has improved so much in your game this summer, which specific thing or things?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm not sure. You know, I'm playing just with a lot of confidence. I think I'm staying a lot calmer on the court. I think I'm better between the ears and I think my movement has been a lot better, moving really well around the court and seeing the game pretty well.
Q. Regarding Henman, do you see yourself playing him any differently than when he beat you in Washington? Do you see yourself actually as attacking him a little bit to put him on the defensive at all?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I definitely think there's some adjustments to be made, but I'm not going to go and kind of spell out for him what my strategy is going to be by telling everybody in that room. But I definitely think there are some adjustments to be made and he'll adjust, too. Maybe he's learned some things even though he won. So, it will be a good match up.
Q. You talk about being in the limelight and the pressure that's kind of come your way, are you enjoying it?
ANDY RODDICK: I enjoy it for the simple fact that it means I'm doing something right. You know, it's not really my cup of tea. It's not the most important thing to me. I'd rather win matches than anything else and that's my priority.
Q. What is it about your communication and your chemistry with Brad that has seemed to really work well this summer?
ANDY RODDICK: We have a very relaxed relationship. It's very simple. It's not complicated at all. He's come in and really simplified things and made things pretty clear to think about, so, that's probably it. We are just really relaxed with each other and we have a lot of fun.
Q. Have you read his book? He talks about winning ugly.
ANDY RODDICK: No, I don't need to read the book. I hired the real deal.
Q. Could you just explain the attraction that skydiving holds for and you how you actually picked up such an interest?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm not sure. I think it was me and my buddy sitting around one day. We were kind of bored. I don't know what to do with myself when I'm not training and stuff, and we were just sitting around; let's do something funky, kind of crazy and we went. I enjoyed it. It's a pretty good rush. It's just a good time. I enjoy it.
Q. Could I just ask, if you think that the ranking should allow a player who has not won a Grand Slam to actually achieve No. 1 on the entry system; do you think that's a good ranking system?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know, that's not my deal, man. I'm just trying to win matches. I'm not here for the big debate. Obviously, I think it would be a lot nicer if someone made an entry system ranking of No. 1 by winning a Grand Slam, but if they had not won a Grand Slam, that means they played a lot of good tennis elsewhere.
Q. Your coach was enjoying the best stretch of his playing career coming into what I believe was the '89 Open, and he lost in the first round of the grandstand to the late Todd Wiskin (ph). Has he ever related to you any experience about that year and what a great year he was having and if he burnt out or whatever happened with him there?
ANDY RODDICK: No, we haven't talked about it. It's kind of come up in passing, but he hasn't really gotten into it or told stories or anything like that.
Q. Agassi, similarly overly-aggressive, forehand dominant; Gilbert gets in and makes a great counter-puncher and match manager, is he trying to model you after Andre or the styles, are they individualized at this point?
ANDY RODDICK: I think they are individualized. While there are certain similarities, I think me at this point, and Andre at the point where Brad picked him up, are two totally different players. He was almost return dominant and I'm kind of the opposite, being serve dominant. There might be bits and pieces, but I don't think they are super comparable.
Q. I was just wondering if you managed to get Brad skydiving yet and how it went?
ANDY RODDICK: Oh, yeah, he's been. He went.
Q. He did?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. I don't think he liked it too much, judging by him keeled over on the side of the road afterwards. But he definitely did it.
Q. What's going to be the next bet? Have you got a bet for the US Open?
ANDY RODDICK: No, I don't know if I can top that one, but maybe I'll think about it.
Q. While we appreciate your focus is understandably on your own game, I was hoping to get your opinion on what some of the factors might have been for Lleyton Hewitt's reason sort of uncharacteristic run of form, and also to ask whether you think Lleyton might be the factor in the deciding of the US Open this year?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I think obviously he's a huge factor. He's still No. 5 in the world and he's won Grand Slams in the world and finished in the last two years. As far as his recent form, I don't know if I would be the best person to ask. I don't know what's going on. I don't know a whole bunch of the details. I don't know Lleyton that well on a personal level, so it's not like I have a real good feel for what's going on.
Q. Perhaps if I could just ask, is it a surprise to you considering his consistency over two years now?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, but everybody goes through peaks and valleys. I think people are hyping it up a bunch. You know, it's tough to -- Pete is the only guy I've ever seen just win everything for six years. So, who knows.
Q. When people hit 21, it's usually a big party time, not exactly going to be possible, how the hell are you going to handle it?
ANDY RODDICK: I won't. You know, I'm just going to -- everything is going to get put on hold until after New York, and then afterwards, hopefully I'll have a couple of things to celebrate.
Q. Could you talk a little about ringing the bell to open the NASDAQ yesterday? Your dad had said there were times he wanted to take a sledgehammer to that, what was that like?
ANDY RODDICK: It was a pretty cool experience, to think that just by me pressing this little button is going to send people into a frenzy all over the world. It was cool. It as a new experience and I'm always kind of up for doing different things like that.
Q. Was it at all nerve-wracking or what did that seem like?
ANDY RODDICK: No, it wasn't really nerve-wracking. They had all this intense music going on and they tried to play it up a lot, but basically it was just me pressing the little touch screen.
Q. Looking at your game, what surface is best suited for your style of play?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I guess I'm still trying to figure it out. You know, I'm going to say whatever surface this US Open is played on right, now because that's the way I've got to be thinking for the next couple of weeks.
Q. Can you talk about your experience this past summer with World Team Tennis?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, World Team Tennis is great. It's kind of a relaxed way to get back into competitiveness after Wimbledon and the whole European circuit. I always have a blast playing down in St. Louis and they incorporate music and interaction with the crowd, so that's right up my alley.
Q. I was just curious as to whether this Grand Slam above all others, you've been -- people thought you might do well in Australia and you got to the semifinals, and people thought you might win Wimbledon and you got to the semifinals. Now they are talking about, this is yours to win or lose, is that a fair assessment of the situation at the moment, do you think?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know if it's that easy for anybody in the world, except Serena. I don't know if you can go in saying it's yours to win or lose. It's always possible one of these guys can come in and just play a lot better than you. It's always possible. With that being said, I feel like I had the best summer out there and I'm definitely looking forward to this tournament.
Q. Would you say that the Argentines, perhaps at the moment, the way things are shaping up, perhaps pose the greatest threat?
ANDY RODDICK: To who?
Q. To anyone. As a bunch, they look like a fairly intimidating group of players who are having excellent results.
ANDY RODDICK: For sure. I don't think it's any secret that they have been coming strong. I like the way the Americans look right now, though. With James has been picking up his game, Andre is always a favorite in any Grand Slam he enters, and Mardy coming up last week, as well, it's an exciting time.
Q. I'm calling from Thailand, we were wondering what do you think about comparisons between yourself and Paradorn Srichaphan, through your encounters this year and last year?
ANDY RODDICK: What comparisons?
Q. Some people say you have similar styles.
ANDY RODDICK: I think we both like to hit the ball hard. (Laughing). Besides that, I just think Paradorn is a great player. He shows a lot of flare on the court. He's very kind off of it. He's just doing great things for tennis.
Q. He is the most popular player in sports in this country; you are right up there with him, too, any thoughts on that?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't really know the outside perception of myself, but I can tell you that Paradorn has a lot of friends on Tour and he is very well liked.
Q. Just wanted to ask you about last year's match against Sampras, what did you learn from that match and can you just talk about -- describe Andy Roddick at that point in your career and now.
ANDY RODDICK: I don't remember much from it. It was over too quickly. But I think a year has made a big difference. I don't know if I'd be scared if I was in that same situation. He just hit me I can like a ton of bricks and I didn't really know how to respond. I kind of panicked a little bit, and I don't know if I would panic if I was in the same situation this year.
Q. Can you talk about the difference between winning a Masters Series event, which you've done all summer, and winning a Grand Slam, what is the difference?
ANDY RODDICK: Obviously, the same players are involved in Masters events and Grand Slams, but it's just on a bigger stage. It's three out of five sets.
Q. I understand you don't want to tell us how you're going to beat Henman on Monday, but can you tell us what problems his game posed when he beat you recently?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I thought he did a great job. He just played a solid match throughout. He hit his forehand very well. That was one thing that really surprised me was he was dominating play with his forehand. He just played a very high-level match. He deserved to win that day.
Q. What do you think of -- do you know Henman at all personally?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I do. He's a super nice guy. We kind of laughed when we saw each other today. I like Tim a lot.
Q. When you were thinking about different coaches to come in and help with you your game this summer after the French, what was it about Brad that was the most attractive?
ANDY RODDICK: He just excited me. Anything that I'm going to go through, he's already been through before, either playing and coaching. His excitement and his passion was really up there, too.
Q. What distinguishes the US Open in terms of the crowd and the atmosphere from the other tournaments?
ANDY RODDICK: It's amazing. It's definitely the rowdiest tournament in the world. You get people out here that are ready to seriously cheer. You've got the New York kind of people. So it's very exciting.
Q. Can you just talk about your experiences at the US Open as a kid, whether you came to watch it live, whether you watched it on TV and maybe a couple of the matches that stand out in your mind?
ANDY RODDICK: I came to the U.S. when I was nine years old for any ninth birthday. My parents give me that treat; that was pretty cool. It was my first chance of seeing live tennis and I'll always remember that. As far as matches, I remember that I was there the year that Connors went nuts and got to the semis when he was like 67 years old -- no, I'm just playing. That was one of best times. I had so much fun watching him that year, and it was amazing.
Q. We are assuming this is going to be a night match against Tim, can you talk specifically about how much of a buzz it is to play at night at Flushing Meadows?
ANDY RODDICK: It's amazing. That's prime-time. There's not much else going on around the grounds. Everybody's focus is on that much, that match, so it's awesome.
Q. Everyone knows of your Midwestern roots and being born in Omaha and all. You mentioned the whirlwind of past three years or so; how much of yourself do you feel now is still that Midwestern kid and how much is the jet-setting professional tennis player who dates an actress?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I'll never lose my roots. I think I'm too close to my family for that. I still make my trip back to Nebraska every year, and I still love going back to Texas where I grew up, as well. I've just kind of had to mature a little bit more and get used to a little bit different style of life.
Q. Is there any truth to -- there are some theories that because you've won so much this summer, you've played more matches than a lot of players, is there any concern of any fatigue factor?
ANDY RODDICK: I feel fine. I've just been hanging out sleeping in New York last couple of days. I'm ready to go. I'm still 20 years old and I have a lot of legs left in me. I'm not worried about it. I'll take my chances.
Q. Pete Sampras was a person who beat you in last year's quarterfinals, what do you feel about not being able to have your vengeance this year?
ANDY RODDICK: That's okay. That's just one less player that's a threat, you know.
Q. So who would you like to see in the finals and why?
ANDY RODDICK: I'd like to see myself in the final.
Q. Playing who?
ANDY RODDICK: Anybody at that point. I'll be ready to go. (Laughing).
Q. I'm looking at your ascension in the rankings, what has had a bigger impact, your physical skill or mental preparation in the game?
ANDY RODDICK: I think it's a hybrid of both. I don't know if it's one or the other. I think it's just kind of both of them coming together a little bit.
GREG SHARKO: Thanks for joining us and giving us your time this evening.
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