August 24, 2002
NEW YORK CITY
MODERATOR: If we could have questions for Andy Roddick.
Q. Are you a fan of any of the musical acts here today?
ANDY RODDICK: I thought Vanessa Carlton was great. I think she's extremely talented and when I learned she signed on, I was looking forward to seeing her.
Q. What goes through your mind when you see that huge American Express billboard right near La Guardia, sprawled larger than life?
ANDY RODDICK: I honestly haven't seen it, so I'm not sure what I think. (Laughs).
Q. When did you start that endorsement?
ANDY RODDICK: Maybe two months ago, I came up here and we shot a commercial.
Q. Are you going to be wearing a cap or a visor this week?
ANDY RODDICK: Down to the really nitty-gritty questions. (Laughs.) I don't know.
Q. Did you get your hair cut? In L.A., you said you wore the visor because you had not got your hair cut.
ANDY RODDICK: In Europe, I wore the hat because my hair was too long and flapping everywhere. I honestly don't know. It's pretty much whatever comes out of my bag first, so we'll see.
Q. Is there a comfort zone for players at certain tournaments where they have done well before; you actually get an edge just walking on to the site because you know you've reached the quarterfinals at New York or wherever it happens to be?
ANDY RODDICK: For sure. Regardless of how I do this week, I feel very comfortable at this event, and I like this event a lot. I think it's great seeing tennis, just really almost taking over a great city like New York City. It's a lot of fun to come here.
Q. Not saying that this is going to happen, because you have to get through your opening round first, but have you ever played Taylor Dent, even a practice match anywhere?
ANDY RODDICK: No.
Are you already telling me that he's in my draw?
Q. He might be.
ANDY RODDICK: Thanks.
Q. You've never had a practice with him?
ANDY RODDICK: Honestly, no. We haven't really practiced together.
Q. What is the abiding memory of last year here? Would it be the Hewitt match?
ANDY RODDICK: No. If anything, I mean, if anything, just the whole thing was great last year. I came in not really knowing what to expect, and I played really well and I got to play a lot of night matches, which it's a special experience here. It's unlike any other tennis experience. So I'm really looking forward to getting out there again. I love this tournament so much. Hopefully we'll see it happen.
Q. The form that a player has before a Grand Slam, can people read too much into that, whether they are having a very good run or not such a good run? Does it change completely the minute you walk into a Grand Slam?
ANDY RODDICK: It kind of depends on the person. If someone came from 50th at the beginning of summer and won a bunch of tournaments and now they are 20th, you look at them to play well. But there are some guys that just come to this tournament and feel so at home, they are going to play well regardless of how they have done in the summer.
Q. Whatever form you might have had coming into the US Open, do you feel here it doesn't really matter; you feel good and comfortable and strong coming into this event?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't think my summer was totally terrible.
Q. No, I didn't mean that. Just whatever the results you might have had, you feel very confident about your chances here?
ANDY RODDICK: Oh, chances, I don't know. I'm just going to go first round. I'm not going to get ahead of myself. That's kind of -- I'm just going to really enjoy my time and go match by match and we'll see what happens.
Q. Do you look at your record on this continent, it's as good as anybody on the Tour, but you've had not as good of results in Europe. Is it just happenstance or have you thought there might be a reason for that?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I was just talking to Jim Courier just now and we were talking about it. Two years ago, I was traveling maybe once a month and I went to Europe maybe once a year; I've been there twice in my life beforehand in everything I've ever played and it's just an adjustment period. It's not going to last forever. I think a bunch of players go through that. It's not like it's a bad place. It's just not home; it's not familiar. Maybe that might have something to do with it.
Q. As a follow to that, Boris Becker was on a teleconference call talking about how he thinks you guys are sort of forced to play too much because of the way the rankings are set up. Are you finding that you have to sort of figure it out as you go, or do you feel comfortable with the pace or do you sometimes feel like you're forced into maybe playing more often?
ANDY RODDICK: There's a lot of tennis out there. You know, you look at other sports where they have four and five more golf seasons. Tennis really isn't comparable to that. You would like to pick and choose your spots, but there are mandatory events that you do have to play.
Q. Does the whole "Young American" thing ever get old to you: You and James, Pete and Andre, does it ever get old hearing about that?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, it depends in what context. I mean, I am young and I am American, so it seems fitting, right? Yeah, it's just something that's there. I mean, there's no bones about it. That's what I am. I'm a young American guy. I've heard it over and over for last two years, but it's just something I've kind of accepted and it's not going anywhere. I just try to make the best of it.
Q. From last year this time to this year at this time, what would you say your greatest improvement as a player has been?
ANDY RODDICK: There are a lot. Last year, I would go into Masters with a serve and a forehand and just try to play my way through, and lucky enough, I played well in some of the bigger events and timing my peaked well. This year, I've already won more matches than I won all of last year, by a decent amount, and I've been playing week-in and week-out, my timing hasn't been as good . I played well, kind of not so much the wrong times, but not the right times. Back to the original question, I feel like I'm returning better and breaking serve a lot more this year. I've won some matches 2-2, 2-3 this year that probably didn't happen last year. I think I've gotten quicker on the court and I think my backhand is better. With that being said, I do have a lot of room for improvement.
Q. You have a birthday coming up Friday. What are you going to do to celebrate?
ANDY RODDICK: Hopefully be in the tournament still. I'm not really thinking about any celebrations. No longer a teenager. Probably just a quiet dinner with close friends and family.
Q. Those physical breakdowns that you had last year, they were not there this year, what do you attribute that to?
ANDY RODDICK: They are not there much this year. I was a little unlucky earlier in the year, but recently it's been okay. My diet, I kind of adopted a new way of eating, and that helps me feel better on a day-to-day basis. I feel like I've gotten stronger. I'm a little bit bigger than I was last year, but I think fitter, also. I think those are the main things.
Q. What do you feel your greatest strength is as a player?
ANDY RODDICK: Serve.
Q. Do you think it will take a little bit of time, most people are saying your serves are a little bit slower at the moment, slower than last year at the start?
ANDY RODDICK: They are slower than last year. I don't know, I mean, it's a couple of tournaments that it's been a little slower this year, but that's the way it goes. Last year, they were a little -- you could almost see like a little, I don't know how to explain it, almost a shine on the court last year, and it's a little more gritty this year.
Q. Has that added grit give you a little more kick on your second serve?
ANDY RODDICK: It could. It could. But it's kind of -- when I play on slicker courts, I can go for the buck-5, buck-10 (105, 110) kind of slice, serving into the body and it's just the courts kind of help me pick which second serve I'm going to go for.
Q. Have you given the kicker a good test?
ANDY RODDICK: I haven't hit on the stadium yet. I played on Louis Armstrong, and it was biting a little bit there, so we'll see.
Q. When you played Greg Rudedski at Wimbledon, everybody sort of acknowledged that that was a tremendous display from serve-and-volley tennis, but a lot of people have been saying before that match that Wimbledon grass courts were playing a lot slower than they have in the past, maybe because of the mixture of the ryegrass. Did you feel that or would that come as a surprise to you to hear that?
ANDY RODDICK: No, I think they were slower. I think maybe they slowed up, especially later in the tournament. I was watching the finals on TV and it almost looked like a clay court match. Obviously, when I was playing Greg, it didn't feel that slow. (Laughs). But that might have been more me than the courts.
Q. Is the feeling here different this year after September 11th? Do you feel like a different atmosphere?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, it's special coming back here, especially as an American player. I'm glad it's here. We all look forward to coming back to New York City. We all love it here. It definitely takes on a special meaning this year.
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