August 30, 2002
NEW YORK CITY
THE MODERATOR: First question, please.
Q. Third round of a Grand Slam. Got to feel pretty good this year?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. Yeah, I don't know what to say. It feels good to actually win some matches in a Grand Slam. I did at Wimbledon but I still didn't -- I think I was a pair of twos there, I was kind of bluffing my way through to the third round. But, no, I feel good about how I played.
Q. You don't feel that way this time?
ANDY RODDICK: No, I feel like I'm actually competing and I'm actually feeling my shots and hitting the shots that I want to this time.
Q. What's the difference between then and now?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm in better shape. I've probably shed about 10 pounds. I was probably eating a little too much over there (laughing). I don't know. I just love it here. I'm very comfortable here. I'm pumped up. You know, I had -- I was playing well all summer and, you know, I just feel good right now.
Q. You talked about having found your game the last couple weeks. How is that out there?
ANDY RODDICK: For sure. For sure. Any time I was competing, I was enjoying myself. That's what it's about at the end of the day, win or lose. But the most important thing is to enjoy what you're doing.
Q. What do you think took the fun away for a while?
ANDY RODDICK: You know what, I was paying too much attention to outside stuff and not, you know -- I was getting ahead of myself, trying to rush my progress a little bit. If it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen eventually. I'm just gonna bide my time. I feel like I'm improving, I'm a better player. I'm more solid than I was last year. I just timed it better last year with when I played my best tennis. You know, so I just needed -- it's a long process. I'm going to be here 10 years. So I do have some time.
Q. Pulled that kid out of the crowd today.
ANDY RODDICK: I literally saw the kid take about three elbows to the face. That didn't shake him. It was rough. He was getting beat up pretty good. I didn't sign too long. I don't think it was too safe for the kids in the front.
Q. Reaction to you can be pretty overwhelming.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. I don't really understand it. But, yeah, I mean, kids just trying to -- it's normal, they want to get an autograph and push to the front. It's better on the other side where there's a tunnel and they can line up on the sides. When it's on that side, they all push into the front. You know, it makes for, you know, a little bit of a dangerous situation sometimes.
Q. Do you remember when you were first asked for an autograph, the first autograph you signed?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I think I was at Roland Garros when I was 15, walking around. I was playing quallies, I think someone asked me. They said, "Hewitt, Hewitt (laughter)."
Q. Did you sign it?
ANDY RODDICK: No, I'm just joking (smiling). I think at Junior Nationals in Kalamazoo or, you know, that's a pretty big deal in Kalamazoo. All the kids, it's like -- maybe their older brother got a couple autographs back in the '80s that are worth something now. All the kids, that's kind of a cool time.
Q. Competing with James for the hair?
ANDY RODDICK: I can't compare with James. He's got that Sideshow Bob look from "The Simpsons." I don't know.
Q. Getting closer?
ANDY RODDICK: Just laziness.
Q. Aside from practice tomorrow, are you going to take time out of your schedule to watch the choice day game?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't think it will be much of a game, personally (laughing). But, yeah. You know, that definitely takes priority over the US Open for sure.
Q. You're known for a big forehand, big serve. I was wondering if you could talk about the best backhand you faced. Who was the best backhand you've seen? What's good about the stroke?
ANDY RODDICK: Huh... Well, there's different types of backhands. There's Lleyton, who has missed about three this year. There's, you know, guys like Haas and Pavel and Kuerten who take with one hand, can pretty much take it up the line for a winner as they choose. There's Andre who can generate and move you around. Those are some of the top guys, but there are different types of very good backhands.
Q. Do you go into those matches thinking, "I'm going to avoid that stroke and go to the forehand"? Is there anybody who you pick on the forehand more than the backhand?
ANDY RODDICK: Of course. There are guys who have better backhands than forehands. It works both ways sometimes.
Q. Obviously, there's a general comfort, familiarity, but what are the different things that are being in the US Open this year?
ANDY RODDICK: Louis Armstrong Stadium. There's just a bunch of things. I feel last year was just -- it was new and exciting. This year, I feel like last year I got to the quarters, I was like, "Wow, this is pretty cool." This year if I go to the quarters I'll think, "Okay, I'm here. Let's try to get further." Everything was positive last year. Everything was just a bonus. After each match I won, was just a bonus.
Q. Can you comment on the Blake-Hewitt match in the next round? You know James really well. You played Lleyton on a number of occasions. Obviously, with the reasons from last year, there's added attention on the fact that they're playing again this year. What would be your observations on that match?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I know people are pitting it up as this match with all the controversy from last year. But I'm looking at it as two players that, you know, Lleyton's the best player in the world right now. James has had a great summer. He's playing great tennis. I'm excited to see the tennis aspect of it. I'm sure it will be a night match, very electric. From that end, I am excited to watch it.
Q. You talked about maybe getting ahead of yourself, wanting things to happen prematurely or quickly. How much of that was rooted in last year's US Open? You had such a good showing. Was that part of, you know, the expectations?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I mean, it was just -- it was a bit weird. Obviously I had confidence in myself. You know, I still think maybe some day I have a chance of winning a Grand Slam. But, you know, after the US Open, I mean, it was a quarterfinal finish. It's not like I had matchpoints in the final and people were already pitting me 10 Grand Slams, just because it's that easy (snapping). I thought that was a big excess. But, you know, at the same time, it was nice to see that people had confidence in me.
Q. Earlier Marat said success can kind of work on your head sometimes and make you think things. Is that what happened? Did success work in your head a little bit?
ANDY RODDICK: Not really success. I mean, I haven't had the kind of success that Marat's had. So maybe I can't really identify with what he's saying, you know. He was No. 1 in the world and just missed that by 10 points. He's won a Grand Slam. So we've had success on, I think, different levels. So maybe I can't relate to that as much.
Q. Are you dating Mandy Moore?
ANDY RODDICK: We're friends. You know, we hang out a little bit.
Q. Did she come see you play at all?
ANDY RODDICK: She's come out to the tennis a couple times. Her mom's a pretty big tennis fan.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.