August 15, 2003
MODERATOR: This is Andy's tenth semifinal this season, and tomorrow he tries to reach his seventh final of the year. Okay. Questions for Andy.
Q. Andy, are you at the point where you think you can win a big match of a tournament to knowing you can win a big match in a tournament?
ANDY RODDICK: I've always known I can win a big match in a tournament. I don't think you get to 10 in the world without winning a big match in a tournament. But I definitely feel like I've taken it up a level from Wimbledon maybe.
Q. Was there one point in the last two months where that happened where you said now --
ANDY RODDICK: I don't think there's a specific point. I think it's just a combination of winning matches and feeling good and working on your game.
Q. Were you surprised how quickly you were able to get on top of him?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean I knew I was going to have some good looks at his serve. I knew I was going to get into some rallies, and I thought if I played pretty consistently and gave myself a chance in every point, maybe I could get some breaks.
Q. What were things that have improved in the last couple of months or even further back than that? What are you most pleased with?
ANDY RODDICK: Probably my demeanor on court. I'm staying pretty calm out there right now, and that's allowing me to think clearly on the court and that helps.
Q. Is that something that your new coach Brad Gilbert is trying to instill in you? What have you noticed in your game has changed since he took over?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. I'm just playing with a lot of confidence. He -- like I said, it's not so much he came in and said do this, do this, do this, do this. On the day we meet and he says, okay, you can beat this guy by doing this, this and that. And that's kind of -- it hasn't been vague and broad. It's been kind of on the day and that's the way we've been dealing with things.
Q. Looking ahead to the next round?
ANDY RODDICK: Max is a big player. He's going to serve big, volley well. He's going to pressure me as much as he can, and it's going to be tough. He's been playing pretty well. He's quartered I think the last two weeks, and I'm just going to have to look for my opportunities to break and take care of him out there.
Q. Quite a different kind of player from today then?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, for sure. They're complete opposite, but that's what makes tennis fun is the contrast.
Q. You mentioned about your serve, it's been a bigger weapon. Did you come to that by yourself or was that coached in to you?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know if it's either. You just play enough where you learn what works in different situations. You know, obviously if someone's -- I've come to the realization if someone's standing 12 feet behind the baseline on the return, you can probably take away their best play by just looping it back, by coming to the net. And I've learned that on the ad side, if I throw in a kick every once in a while, that makes them have to guard against that as well as my swinger up the T. You just play and it's just a learning process.
Q. James Blake says you're the best player on the Tour right now. That's the way he feels. Is that status something you're ready for?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. Ask me in about three weeks.
Q. Obviously his style is to play really on the baseline, but against somebody like yourself, are you surprised he didn't try to come a little closer?
ANDY RODDICK: Mariano? Oh, I don't know. I mean it's probably strategy. I mean he and his coach discussed that. I don't know if he wanted to try and take his backhand above his shoulders or what the deal was. You know, I really wasn't too concerned with it. I wasn't worried about what he was trying to do. I was just focused on what I was trying to do.
Q. You had your elbow wrapped earlier?
ANDY RODDICK: Yes. It's the arm from just playing a bunch of matches. It's nothing big, though. It's more precautionary.
Q. With all the rain how did the courts feel today? Were they okay?
ANDY RODDICK: They felt normal. They were fine. Completely dry when we played. If anything, it just felt humid because maybe a little heavier from the rain, but no major difference.
Q. If you win this tournament, you'll be in the Champions race. Is that significant milestone to you?
ANDY RODDICK: That's an "if" question. No "if" questions. I don't know. It's far away. It's something I'm not thinking. I'm thinking about tomorrow.
Q. What did you do during the rain delay?
ANDY RODDICK: I played that baseball game right there. I ate a sandwich over there, and that's pretty much it.
Q. Did you beat the machine?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm unhittable. No one -- I pitch so well in that game, it's over. Zach couldn't even -- he's not scoring any runs.
Q. So you're beating up on kids?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. Exactly. That's what I do for fun.
Q. Are you aware that even with some of the more popular players, the underdog is sometimes rooted for at some point in the match and yet in your matches people tend to root for you the whole way even when you just bury your opposition. Are you aware that they hardly ever go with the underdog in some of your matches?
ANDY RODDICK: I think that has a lot to do with playing in the States. I mean if I'm watching an Olympic race, and you know, it's a long race, I don't want to see someone come back and have a photo finish if an American can win a gold medal straight out. I mean I think it has a lot to do with that and playing at home here.
Q. Lots of different athletes talk about getting into the rhythm of their game or groove of their game, like baseball players. As a tennis player, do you feel you can have that going from one match to the other or is it just each match?
ANDY RODDICK: I think it's a little tougher to compare it to other sports because, you know, we'll take today and tomorrow, for example. There's always different contrast. You're always going up against something totally different. The match that I'm going to play tomorrow it might be a little tougher to get in a groove because I'm not going to get to hit as many balls, but I think tennis has a lot to do with confidence, and I think you can measure it more in terms of that.
Q. So your confidence obviously is very high right now?
ANDY RODDICK: I feel good.
Q. Will you see Mandy tomorrow?
ANDY RODDICK: No.
Q. How about Sunday?
ANDY RODDICK: Your wife, is she coming, or -- no.
Q. She's not a celebrity.
ANDY RODDICK: No. She's --
Q. In the second-to-last return his serve speed was 125, how did you do that?
ANDY RODDICK: Which one?
Q. The second-to-last return, when you returned the serve. He was serving 125. How did you do that?
ANDY RODDICK: That was -- you know, when you're down 40-0, it's not tough to take a big cut at the ball, and I was pretty lucky. If he would have served a kick serve to my backhand, I wouldn't have been there, but he just served it right into my wheelhouse, and I just took a cut. It could have easily landed in the first row.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.