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March 30, 2006

Andy Roddick


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Andy.
Q. It's hard to remember you ever having a 35% first serve factor in a set before.
ANDY RODDICK: What was that, in the first set?
Q. Yeah.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, the first set was a wash. That was pretty bad.
But, you know, I mean, I just try to kind of erase that from memory. I felt like the last two I actually started hitting the ball with some authority again, which was actually a good thing.
You know, second set I thought I played pretty well. Third set, I thought, you know, he deserved a lot of the credit. Probably could have put a couple more balls in.
But, you know, I feel a lot better about myself after this tournament than I did coming in, so I guess that's what you shoot for.
Q. You felt like you were pressing the serve a little too much in the first set?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I don't know. I just didn't -- or not enough. I don't know. I mean, it just felt like -- it felt like I was hitting it fine. They just weren't going in.
But, you know, I think it was good. I felt like I served okay the last two.
Q. Difficult loss, but was one of your better matches.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, it was. You know, like I said, this whole week I liked where my head was at as far as competing. You know, I wasn't -- even today, I got fired up but, you know, I got down, I came back, like Brick said, I played terrible in the first set and was able to kind of regroup and not lose it.
You know, that's a sign of, I think, confidence coming back, is being able to regroup a little bit. Even though I came up short, I can take a lot more out of this loss than, obviously, those of you who were with me in Indian Wells after that one. There wasn't a whole lot positive about that and I can normally try to find something.
Q. What does this guy do that's so bothersome?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, he's just solid. He's very solid, and fast. I mean, you guys probably saw, I mean, a lot of the balls that he was able to back. I'd uncork forehands and he was picking up half-volleys. All the things that, you know, the average person wouldn't consider spectacular he does extremely well.
And he's developed the ability to hit his backhand up the line and hit forehands for winners. I think he's an underrated returner as well. There's a reason why he's been close to the top 10 for about a year now.
Q. Do you feel like you are on the verge of getting back to where you were, or is it something -- do you feel you need a little time, take it slowly? Where are you?
ANDY RODDICK: I feel like I'm on the verge of playing really good tennis again. You know, I feel like I played pretty well this week. Like I said, today was probably the best I actually struck the ball, you know, as far as just making solid contact.
But the rest of the week, you know, parts of my game were really good at times, you know, throughout this whole tournament. And now, it's just a matter of trying to kind of take one from here, take one from here, and kind of put them together.
But I'm a lot -- I feel a lot better leaving this tournament than I did leaving the last tournament, or even, you know, a couple days before this tournament. So that's good. You know, you always want to feel like you're, like you said, going towards something instead as far as (sic) getting farther away from something. I definitely feel like I'm moving towards something right now.
Q. Do you think the conditions are slowing down court-wise, balls-wise? Some of your forehand shots that would have been winners in the past are not now.
ANDY RODDICK: Possibly, yeah. I mean, I don't think it was a big -- I don't think it would be a stretch to say, you know, starting in Australia it was a little slower. And, you know, most times when I hit a forehand as hard as I can, I like my chances of it not coming back, and it does a little bit.
You know, I don't know. I feel like even if -- I think even Roger said Australia was a little bit slower than normal. You know, it seems that way, but you want to think it comes and goes because sometimes places feel really fast and sometimes they feel slow. You want to think it's coincidental.
You know, also, I think, you know, I remember when I was growing up and, you know, 14, 15, all you guys were talking about, "Sampras and the big servers are coming in," no one really saw the transformation of the game being more tailored to speed and guys who can run well and move well.
I think that part of the game has become such a force, more so than at any other time. You know, you don't have, you know - with the exception of myself and Safin when he's playing well - you don't have, you know, power players in the top 10.
Q. So you feel that hurts you a little bit?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I mean, obviously, I'd love every week of the year to be on grass, but that's not the case. So you play with the cards you're dealt.
Q. Do you feel it's the balls or the surface?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know.
Q. This is a leftfield technical question. Why don't guys have a dropshot serve?
ANDY RODDICK: All right. A dropshot serve?
Q. Underhand, throw it in, when a guy's standing 25 feet behind the baseline to receive.
ANDY RODDICK: Really? Well, I'm going to break it down for you real quick.
Uhm, now, if I'm hitting -- yeah. If he's fast enough to get to a forehand when he's in one alley and I hit it to the other side of the court as hard as I can and he's fast enough to get there, I'm guessing he's going to be fast enough to get it if I hit it 10 miles an hour underhand where it has to go up, then come down, and then also -- then he's just got crazy good court position.
A lot of using a dropshot - not that I know much about dropshots (smiling) - but when they're hit against me, a lot of it is about kind of the person getting wrong-footed and then playing a dropshot behind someone or against their movement. It's hard to play against someone's movement when they're standing still and their weight is not going one way or another. I just don't think that would work at all.
Q. When you broke him and there was a big dramatic moment, the crowd was cheering, did you think at this moment you were going to win this match? Then what happened in the next game?
ANDY RODDICK: I felt like I had a real shot the whole time. You know, I just felt good out there. You know, but at the same time, he's just so good at -- even the last two points of that game, I hit -- or the last three points, I think, I hit monster serves and he found a way to get them back and to find his way back into the point, whereas normally that might have worked, you know. 140, normally when someone's full stretch, normally gets the person, followed up by a forehand approach where he's six feet behind the baseline, is normally a good play.
So I think he deserves some of the credit there. Obviously, I double-faulted the first point, which is not ideal. Then I missed a slice, but felt it was the right play coming in and getting in. I just missed it by a couple inches.
I think he deserves some of the credit there.
Q. You're playing close to the baseline receiving serve now. Particularly with a player like this who doesn't hit a monster serve, we still see you behind the baseline. What's your thinking on that?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, my thinking is, Brick, that when I was No. 1 in the world, I was 15 feet behind the baseline as opposed to 10.
You know, that only became -- that only ever really became an issue when it was made an issue when Federer came into the picture and you guys started, you know -- everybody started nitpicking and kind of, you know, trying to figure out a way.
You know, I went back and watched a lot of matches and I was, you know -- I've never -- it's not like all of a sudden I was playing up close to the baseline and then started kind of not playing well and then drifted back, you know.
So, you know, I guess it's kind of damned if you do, damned if you don't in that case.
Q. Do you feel your game is pretty much -- you don't need to change or tinker --
ANDY RODDICK: I feel like I changed and I tinkered and now I'm kind of getting back to maybe untinkering - wow, that's a great Scrabble word if it's in there.
Q. No shot.
ANDY RODDICK: No? Dude, you know what's in there? "No shot." You'd be surprised. I have a Scrabble dictionary, yes, I do. "Za," short for pizza.
Q. No.
ANDY RODDICK: Swear. I promise you. What do you want to bet? What do you want to bet? In the Scrabble dictionary --
Q. "Untinkering," eleven letters.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, but it's just a matter of getting a "K" on a big word score because it's worth five. "Za" is in the dictionary - not in "the" dictionary. In the Scrabble dictionary, official rules, it's in there. I promise.
Q. Looking forward, last year you won more clay matches than you had in previous years, which is not to say you've become a great clay court player.
ANDY RODDICK: Thanks (laughing).
Q. What's your plan in terms of the clay court season?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm not sure yet, to be honest. Obviously, Houston is a huge priority for reasons that extend beyond tennis.
But right now, to be honest, I haven't thought about it. My focus right away goes to let's get to the semifinals of Davis Cup, and I'll probably have a better idea of where my head's at after Houston.
Q. Speaking of Davis Cup, how much of an adjustment will it be for you to go on the grass next week, or it's just automatic?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I'm like jonesing at it, at the chance to get there, you know. Instead of two weeks a year on grass, I get three now, so that's great.
But normally I just go right into it. I mean, the first day at Queen's a lot of years I'll be playing sets already. So I guess where a lot of guys just feel, you know, you can take a lot of guys and just put them on a clay court and that's, you know, that's where home is, that's kind of the way I feel on grass a lot of times.
Q. Where will you be for the Blake match tonight?
ANDY RODDICK: I am going to stick around. I'm gonna stick around and check it out.
Like I said, my focus is on Davis Cup now. If James can get through, obviously, I think that can only help us for next week. You know, like I said, popcorn match.
Q. Coming into this tournament, did you do anything to change things up, get your mind in the right place?
ANDY RODDICK: I just mellowed out a little bit, to be honest. You know, I touched on it a couple times this week. You know, if something wasn't working, I'd go get a good night's sleep and then try to go after it the next day as opposed to obsessing about it and staying out there for two and a half hours and trying to fix it, like, now, you know.
And went back, kind of just started relaxing again, you know, away from the court and not -- like I said, I was almost trying too hard. And, you know, now I didn't try that hard and I started playing better again, you know (laughing). Not trying that hard, but I relaxed a little bit and then didn't kind of obsess about things and, you know, I feel like that helped a little bit.
Q. Can you remember a time when you were this - I don't want to say "chipper" - but kind of okay with a loss?
ANDY RODDICK: Not okay with it. But, like I said, going in, I felt so bad, going into this tournament, that if I were to come out of it and say, "Okay, you're starting to hit the ball pretty well, you hit the ball with some authority, you made more errors than you wanted, but a lot of them were trying to do the right thing, with the exception of a set you served pretty well for the whole tournament," you know, and, "You feel a lot better leaving it than you did going in," I probably would have taken that.
And so, you know, for the first time in, you know, probably two months, I feel like, you know, the process is one that's going up as opposed to trying to keep it here and not fall down. So I'm not sure how much everybody can relate, but inside me, that feels good.
Q. One of the disturbing things that's going on with the electronic line calling is umpires are advocating the responsibility to overrule calls. They're waiting for players to use the challenge. Do you think the umpire should be stepping in and overruling as they normally do?
ANDY RODDICK: They're going to tell you, "Well, we only overrule if we're absolutely 100% sure that..." You know how sure you have to be to be "absolutely 100% sure"? You know you put your socks on every morning, but if someone tells you to bet $2 million that you put your socks on, you're kind of like... (scratching his head). So if I was up there, if you had to be 100% sure on a clear mistake, I'd probably sit on my hands all day.
I don't know. But in all fairness, you know, if I'm an umpire, I'm probably doing the same thing, you know. I'm not sure about it, you want to complain about it, you challenge it, you have the option now.
Q. It seems like their attitude is they may be sure about it, but their attitude seems to be "You've got the challenges, why don't you go ahead and correct the call for us"?
ANDY RODDICK: That's probably something you'd have to ask them. It would be tough for me to say what their mindset is. I know yesterday - or, when was it? - couple days ago, Greul, the guy I was playing against, hit a serve, was called in, guy overruled, he challenged. So he actually overruled the overrule. That make sense?
So in my experience, they're not doing any less, you know. But you're getting the calls right, so let's be happy that, you know, you're not seeing matches decided on mistakes. And, you know, maybe they are a little bit more tentative, but I think it's a good thing that we have a say in it and we can do something about it.
Q. Has there been a psychological impact other than the fact that there are more correct calls now? I mean, is there anything about your mindset when you're playing now that's different because you have the HawkEye challenge system?
ANDY RODDICK: I think it's easier.
Q. Is it?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, for me anyways. You hit a ball close to the line and you don't really wonder. You're just like, "Okay, it's up to me. If I'm really sure about it, I can challenge. If not, then not." I mean, even today, I was -- I kind of got the short end of it whereas if there wasn't the challenge system, it would be 30-All instead of 15-30 in that last service game that I lost. It shows up, I missed the shot, I missed the shot. They got it right. I'm not upset about it. Hell, yeah, I wish that they would have forgotten about the line calling thing for that point, but in the grand scheme of things, I think it's a good thing.
Q. Were you aware of Ferrer being allegedly coached?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, he got one yesterday, too, or the day before or whatever it was, I guess. But I wasn't aware. The last thing I'm looking at is what he's doing in between points, you know.
The vast majority of our time between points is spent with our backs turned towards each other, so I didn't really know. I hadn't noticed anything.
Q. How is the coaching with your brother working out?
ANDY RODDICK: Better than it was last week (smiling).
No, no, it's fine. It's nice. You know, it will be okay.

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