September 5, 2002
NEW YORK CITY
THE MODERATOR: First question for Andy, please.
Q. What happened?
ANDY RODDICK: I got beat by Pete.
Q. How come?
ANDY RODDICK: Who's asking the questions? I can't even... Sorry. He played well. I mean, he played a lot better than I did tonight.
Q. Would you say that Pete is washed up?
ANDY RODDICK: No. You guys say Pete is washed up. I've never said it. I don't think many of the players doubt his capabilities. He's had maybe some subpar performances, but I don't think anybody, you know, doubts the fact that he's capable of great tennis still.
Q. Were you a little surprised his level was that high for three sets?
ANDY RODDICK: No.
ANDY RODDICK: Look at his record in night matches, you look at the way he plays the US Open. You know, he's come in the last two years, people say, "What if, what if, what if?" But he always backs it up.
Q. How much was your foot bothering you?
ANDY RODDICK: No more than the other night. I mean, I played on it the other night and got a win.
Q. The way Pete closed out the first two sets with pretty spectacular volleys, was that just the way you thought this night was going to go?
ANDY RODDICK: The first set, I wasn't upset, I didn't play badly. He played well. Second set, I gave him a little bit of a gift, a lot of a gift, in that game. You know, played one sloppy game in the third set and two sloppy games, if someone's playing well, can make you look pretty bad sometimes.
Q. Describe his volleying.
ANDY RODDICK: It almost seemed like, you know, I hit a couple cheesy -- like really not great returns and he missed the ball. Then when I'd hit a -- I don't feel like I returned that badly tonight. I put a bunch at his feet. He was picking them up, putting them in the corners. He was pretty spectacular tonight when he had to be.
Q. Anything different you could have done in preparation?
ANDY RODDICK: I wouldn't have done anything different as far as preparing for the match.
Q. Pete said the other day that your second serve was really intimidating - that how he did against that was going to be crucial. Can you describe how you felt you served on the second serve and what he did special to do so well.
ANDY RODDICK: It was tough today with the wind a little bit on the second serve. You know, he knew that. He was playing the wind pretty well as far as bunting it and looking for his opportunity to get in. You know, once he got in there, even if I did hit a good passing shot, he was quick and putting away volleys pretty quick. I definitely felt the pressure a little bit when he was coming in on it.
Q. Were you disappointed with your backhand passing tonight?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. More so my footwork after the first -- after the serve. You know? I hit a couple backhand passes that clipped the top of the net. Couple I was just lazy standing in the middle of the court and I had no business hitting a backhand on in the first place.
Q. You had to hear the buildup of the match, the hype surrounding it. Despite the beating, was it fun for you?
ANDY RODDICK: Despite the beating (laughing)... Thank you for taking it easy on me. Fun? It's always fun for me to play. Disappointing, yes. But it's a learning experience. I mean, it's still a learning experience. I'll try my best to soak it up. You know, I think I'll have my moment here some day. I'm just going to try my best and keep working hard and, you know, try to take something away from these losses, as well as the wins.
Q. What do you think you learned tonight?
ANDY RODDICK: You know, I watched what I should be doing, you know, on big points. I was on the other side of it. You know, how to come in and just really, from the first point to the last point, set the tone for the match. You know, that's something that, you know, I can definitely learn from by being on the other side of it.
Q. Do you think Pete is such a great athlete that in some ways he makes it look so easy and it's really deceptive to how fabulous he is as a player?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. Definitely. I mean, he's a great athlete. There's no doubt about it. He is very graceful and fluid when he plays. That makes it easy on the eyes to watch.
Q. You didn't seem to have the same energy level as you had in your previous matches. How much of that did Pete deflate you a little with the first break?
ANDY RODDICK: Not really. You know, I didn't have many chances to get excited. Maybe some of the chances I did have to get excited, it would have been, you know, down two breaks in the second set. I don't really know if, you know, that would have been the time for it or if I could have used it, you know, at that time.
Q. You've got a Grand Slam winning serve, Grand Slam winning forehand, enough Grand Slam win movement, is your backhand and volleying good enough at this point to win a Grand Slam title?
ANDY RODDICK: Obviously not. I haven't gotten one yet.
Q. Is that where you think you have to concentrate your efforts?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I mean, you know, it's... It's funny, if I win a match, it's improving and it's so solid and it's great and it's grand and wonderful. As soon as it -- there's a bad match with it, it's terrible and it sucks and, you know, useless and whatever (laughter). Take your pick. I don't know.
Q. Of course the matches get tougher as you go deeper into the draw.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, like I said, I think my footwork was -- I was standing still half the time out there today. I think that had a lot to do with my backhand as opposed to it not being a good shot. It's been , I feel like, you know -- in Wimbledon I hit it like a beginner, like I didn't know how to do anything. Tonight I don't think it was a factor of the backhand; I think it had more to do with footwork. I was a little unlucky. I caught the tape a couple times. But, you know... I don't know. I'm still gonna work on it.
Q. What message is Pete sending by his showing at this Open?
ANDY RODDICK: What he's been saying all along, "I'm not done yet."
Q. Last year you played a young Australian in this round. How much of a difference did it make in the environment, playing an American legend?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, obviously, you know, the crowd support was split, but that's expected going in. I mean, I don't know if Lleyton made a lot of fans here last year - whether that was deserved or not, I'm not sure. The crowd was definitely on my side last year, gung-ho. I don't know if it was the fact that it was an American legend or that it was an American that the crowd wasn't one-sided.
Q. Do you feel like you composed yourself well enough on your own service games? Couple loose breaks there, especially the one in the second set, you had the one breakpoint. Then the game after...
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, that game was terrible. I don't know if that -- I don't know what that was. I don't know if composure had anything to do with it. I missed four straight balls and double-faulted. That was just... That was just... Yeah... It was bad.
Q. Were you upset about not breaking him the game before?
ANDY RODDICK: No. I didn't play -- I was lucky to be in the situation. I didn't have great returns and he just dumped a couple volleys. I made him play the last one. He snuck one on the back of the line. I wasn't really too upset with it. You can't get upset for not breaking Pete Sampras, you just kind of have to be happy when you do. But that game was really bad.
Q. As you pointed out, not winning a Grand Slam by the age of 20, is not a bad thing. You certainly have plenty of time. That being said, what do you have to do in the next year to build on your game as you do get older?
ANDY RODDICK: I have a lot to build on. That's what keeps me optimistic on downer days, is that I know I'm winning matches. But I have a lot of work to do still. You know, I'm, you know, floating around the Top 10, you know, with a lot of things that I can improve, you know, a lot on - pretty much everything. So, you know, I just have to keep going and keep working.
Q. Overall how would you assess your year, now that the US Open is over? There's obviously some big tennis to play, generally it's considered that this is the last huge event of the year.
ANDY RODDICK: You're forgetting about Davis Cup? You don't consider that a big event?
Q. I said there's a lot of big matches to come. In terms of individual play, there's this and there's the European season, Shanghai. But through this day, how would you assess your play?
ANDY RODDICK: It was good. I mean, I'm still confident that I'm going to finish Top 10. You know, I don't have much to defend in the fall. That was my main goal for the year. With the exception of this, I didn't play well in Grand Slams, but I played well, you know, throughout -- I played, you know, pretty well throughout the rest of the year. I had times when I played really well. You know, it's -- like I said before, it wasn't an awesome year; it wasn't a great year; but it was a good year.
Q. Speaking of Davis Cup, we've all been discounting Pete as a singles player primarily because he's not a great clay courter. Do you think his results here speaks for his ability to have a singles spot on the team?
ANDY RODDICK: Luckily that's not my decision (smiling).
Q. What's your feeling?
ANDY RODDICK: (Shrugging his shoulders.)
Q. How important is Shanghai, where you could be invited to play with the best eight players in the world? Is that a confidence builder?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, it's an honor. If you make Masters, that means -- it would show that I did have a pretty good year. Not a lot of players make the Masters. Definitely something I'm still shooting for. I have a couple tournaments left that I can try to sneak into one of the last spots. You know, it would be fun. It would be fun.
Q. What did you say to him at the net at the end?
ANDY RODDICK: I just said, "Too good," and, "Hope you do well the rest of the way."
Q. You've obviously played Pete before. How much different a player is he here under the lights? Just a different player?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. He played -- this is the best match he's played against me.
Q. Psychologically for you, though, on this stage, was it -- how different was it to be across the court from Pete?
ANDY RODDICK: You know what? I really didn't think about that too much, to be honest. I've played him before. You know, we played , I've been around him in the locker rooms and stuff, I've gotten to know him a little bit better this year. So while it's still Pete Sampras, I'm -- I definitely have gotten to know him a little bit and, you know, that wasn't too much of a factor for me I don't think.
Q. All things considered, you seem to be handling things pretty well tonight. How disappointing is it come Saturday, semifinals, you're not playing?
ANDY RODDICK: It's disappointing. I mean, it's not fun to be home watching a tournament when you were in it. It's not a good feeling. It's not like I enjoy, you know... I'm not gonna bring out the popcorn and the soda and sit down and watch it probably. I don't know if I'll watch it, but...
Q. Did you have a sense he came to the net even more tonight than he had in the two times you beat him?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. Yeah. You know, his returns are falling, you know, off the second serve. He was putting them deep. You know, pretty tough to do off my serve, I think.
Q. How much higher was his level tonight compared to the two times you played him?
ANDY RODDICK: It was higher. I mean, it was definitely higher. There's no doubt about it. I don't do percentages or anything, but it was definitely higher.
Q. At this level can he beat Lleyton or Andre?
ANDY RODDICK: Can he?
Q. Can he?
ANDY RODDICK: He has the ability to, yeah.
Q. Do you think you guys are playing too many tournaments during the year? How do you feel about the scheduling?
ANDY RODDICK: There's so many factors that go into it. I mean, it's not just that -- I think we do have the longest season of any professional sport.
Q. Did you feel like you were watching the Pete Sampras that you watched growing up?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. I mean, any time I feel like that, I feel like I'm watching him. I mean, I'm not gonna, you know, dog him or think differently of him just because he hasn't had the best year.
Q. You had conversations with the chair umpire. What was going on there?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't... Tony was making his presence felt, so, you know, I just questioned a couple times of -- yeah... I mean, I don't know.
Q. You accused him of having a personal thing against you. What's that about?
ANDY RODDICK: No, it's... Don't worry about it. Not a big deal.
Q. Was it just frustration in the middle of the match that's not going your way?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, yeah. You know... Tony and I go back a ways. It's more of a, you know, joking thing than anything else.
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