March 17, 2004
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA
THE MODERATOR: Andy becomes the first 20-match winner on the ATP circuit this season, improves his record to 20-4. Second straight quarterfinal here at Indian Wells. Questions for Andy.
Q. I presume you must really be happy with that overall performance, with the exception of the odd one or two things that went astray, seemed to be going smoothly for you?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, it has. Kind of throughout this tournament, I feel like I've been playing the big points pretty well, which is a good feeling because a couple of the other weeks recently I feel like I haven't been playing them that well. So it's definitely a good step forward for me.
Q. Useful if you could come up with the odd ace when you face a breakpoint?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm going to work on that in practice tomorrow (smiling).
Q. Have you hit as many as that in succession before, seven out of eight?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I think last year against Andre at Queen's, I hit 12 in three games. Not in succession, but that was as comparable as I can remember.
Q. Do you actually get the sense then that the opponent, can you see a deflated feeling come over him when you land so many in succession?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't try to notice. But I definitely have been on the other side of it before. I know how I feel. Maybe I can relate a little bit.
Q. Can you talk about what a good groove you are in that service?
ANDY RODDICK: I feel good. You know, I feel like I'm in a pretty good groove right now know. I just want to keep it up.
Q. You mentioned the other day that you would like to do more attacking on the first serve. Did you feel you were doing that tonight?
ANDY RODDICK: On my first serve?
Q. No, your opponent.
ANDY RODDICK: My big thing is probably I've been trying to attack more on the second serve. You know, first serves a lot of the times you're just at your opponent's mercy. But, you know, I feel like I got a hold of a couple returns tonight. I don't think he made as many first serves as he would have liked. So I got probably, you know, a couple more looks than normal. But, you know, I was pleased.
Q. Talk about the match-up with Tim. These gentlemen next to me are interested.
ANDY RODDICK: Are you guys from England? Rains there. No, I'm just joking.
Q. It did today.
ANDY RODDICK: That's shocking, as you guys would say. It's going to be a tough match. Obviously Tim has shown for years and years and years and years that he's capable of beating anyone. I'm definitely going to have to serve well because he's great at making you play well on your own service games. If he puts a racquet on it, he puts it in play. I'm going to have to return well. He's not going to give up a lot on his serve. He's obviously one of the best volleyers in the world, if not the best. It's going to be a good match. I'm looking forward to it.
Q. Did you get to see any of his match today?
ANDY RODDICK: I didn't see any of it. Brad came over and watched the whole thing. The score line seemed pretty convincing.
Q. The returning was very convincing.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, that's not surprising from Tim. But, you know, it's even more impressive that it came against a guy like Arthurs.
Q. It took him a long time to break through at this level, strangely, to win a Masters Series. Is there a sense that perhaps he's a better player now because of that? Does that really help to cement something in a player's mind?
ANDY RODDICK: Maybe if it was a younger player, I'd say yes. But there's no doubt that Tim has been one of the premiere players in the game for the last seven or eight years. The fact that he just won a Masters Series, I don't think he's automatically thinking, "I'm a good player now." He's been a good player for many, many years. Probably not so much in his case.
Q. I wonder if there was a surprise that it had taken a player of his quality so long to win one of the big nine?
ANDY RODDICK: Sure. You know, absolutely. You know, you look at the book where it says Masters Series title winners, you think about it, and all of a sudden you realize Tim hadn't won one. But maybe that's just unfortunate. I don't know if that showed a direct reflection of his ability at all.
Q. What was the classic difference between the one you beat him and the two he beat you? You serving better or what?
ANDY RODDICK: Not a whole lot. I mean, I had match point in the one in DC, lost in a third set breaker. In Paris I lost 6-6. At The Open, it was a tight three-set match. We've always been pretty even. It's just who's going to win the bigger points, who is going to step up and hit their shot. You know, there wasn't a whole lot of separation with any of those three matches.
Q. Do you have to keep him off the net as much as possible to beat him or is it just a matter of passing and returning well?
ANDY RODDICK: He's going to get to the net. That's a given. You know, that's what he does. Obviously, if you can try to keep him off of there, you try, but it's going to be inevitable. He's going to show up there. A big part of it is returns. You know, if you return well, maybe get a look at a good pass. If you don't return well, he's probably going to put it someplace that's going to make it difficult for you.
Q. Do you think you two actually enjoy playing each other, almost as if you feed off one another?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I enjoy playing Tim. I mean, he's a great sportsman. You know, I enjoy him as a person. I think it's fun for the fans to see maybe our contrasting styles. I definitely enjoy playing against him. Not when I lose. No, I'm just joking. It's fun to play against him.
Q. When did you decide to start implementing this sort of net-charging style in matches. I don't remember you doing that much in Australia.
ANDY RODDICK: It's something that we worked on last week after Scottsdale. I felt like when I played Spadea, he was kind of chipping a bunch of returns deep, and then we were neutral after that. So, you know, Brad and I kind of went back to the drawing board. We finally made up our minds that you can work on it as much as you want in practice, but if you don't set your mind to actually go do it, it's not going to improve. I came to the net a couple times against Spadea and just really looked terrible. You know, it's something that I think I have to commit to doing a little bit more.
Q. How natural does it feel?
ANDY RODDICK: It's better. I mean, it's kind of like the more you do something, the more natural it feels. I know I can volley a little bit. I'm not a good volleyer by any means, but I can do it. Especially after a big serve, I should be able to have that option.
Q. Do you have any Irish blood in your veins at all?
ANDY RODDICK: No, huh-uh. How about you?
Q. No. Did you sort of lose your footing in the second set?
ANDY RODDICK: I just decided to fall down. I didn't lose my footing.
Q. Your leg went out?
ANDY RODDICK: I decided to take a breather.
Q. Needed a time-out?
ANDY RODDICK: No problem.
Q. Confidence, which you talk about every week, you have a tough match, then another two big ones. Is the confidence level there to beat three very good players in a row?
ANDY RODDICK: I hope so. It's a lot better than it was at the beginning of the week. Obviously, to get through, you know, two guys that have given me a lot of problems in the past, and then a guy like Escude, who is very dangerous, without dropping a set, that helps me. I feel match tough now, you know, if that makes sense. Win or lose tomorrow, I feel like I will have gotten matches and got my feet in the trenches again.
Q. If you had to choose one thing that distinguishes you now from the year 2002, that's an improvement, what would that be?
ANDY RODDICK: The one thing? I mean, as stupid and trivial, run-of-the-mill, it's just experience, man. It's just getting out there and playing the big match time after time. You get used to it. It's not so nerve-wracking. I don't get so anxious going out and playing a night match here, you know, anymore.
Q. But it's not a particular stroke or a particular strategy?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, yeah. But you asked for one thing. That's probably the biggest thing. That's probably the biggest thing. I mean, there are a lot of things that are different. But that's probably the biggest thing.
Q. Do you feel like you're at the level you were last summer going through the US circuit right now?
ANDY RODDICK: No, no. That's the best I've ever played. You know, that's kind of what I'm trying to get back to. But, you know, obviously the more matches I win, the closer I get. Especially the next couple days are going to be very crucial for that.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.