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September 3, 2006
THE MODERATOR: First question, please.
Q. Andy, I'm sure you made Andre proud with that performance there. Just talk about pulling out the five setter.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, well, you always hope so. You know, it's tough 'cause I feel like I got the best of Verdasco today. I mean, I thought he showed his best stuff today. And so that makes it especially satisfying.
You know, I just tried to fight the whole way, and was fortunate today.
Q. Feel like a second fiddle act from this whole day? It's been about Andre.
ANDY RODDICK: Sure, sure. But that's expected. You know, I think that's the way it should be. I'm not looking, you know, looking or even come close to expecting to be the first fiddle, you know.
It was a weird position to be in, you know. There were so many mixed emotions because I knew if we'd both won, we'd play. Then there's the fan in me. There's the player in me. You know, it was just afterwards, I would have loved to have, you know, sat down and talked to him for a second but I had to go play, so it was, you know, different.
Q. Do you feel relief that that's not going to happen, or would you have rathered it happened differently?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I'm so torn, you know. I was so torn with that matchup. Obviously, you want to play against your idols, but then again you don't want to be the guy who shot Bambi (laughter).
You know, there's a million things. And then obviously you're dealing with one of the best players ever, you know, as well. That's further down. So I was very torn with that prospect, to be honest.
Q. Can you describe what you felt in the locker room?
ANDY RODDICK: Was that before or after you guys knocked down the door to get in?
Q. That would be before.
ANDY RODDICK: Before, it was a nice setting. It was very nice. Got a standing ovation from the players in the locker room when he walked in. You know, was it was a nice scene. He was hugging those who loved him, and then we heard the cat calls and the people knocking down the doors, the revolution coming through the locker room, and it kind of ruined the moment.
But, you know, it was special, you know. I guess it's what you would hope he wanted with the end of it.
Q. Did you actually get to hug him?
ANDY RODDICK: I just went up, and I shook his hand and I said, Thanks for teaching me. He said, Good luck.
Q. Had you been facing Andre in the next round, do you think you could have gone on court as a cold blooded SOB you'd have to be in order to play that match and shut up, all the emotion that was coming down on him?
ANDY RODDICK: I would have had to. I would have had to. I would have gone in, you know, feeling like a foreigner here in this stadium, I'm sure. I wouldn't have been angry about it at all, you know.
But I would have had to play a very stoic match. I probably most likely, if I would have won, then I probably would have broken down. And if I would have lost, I would have probably broken down.
It would have been a very tough match emotionally for me.
Q. Given that, would it make any difference that you're now playing the villain that beat Andre?
ANDY RODDICK: In my mind, I'm playing a player, to be honest, no. I don't know if the fans will see it that way. Hopefully they won't. Hopefully they'll see it as something else (smiling).
(Phone ringing). My mom.
Q. Answer it.
ANDY RODDICK: I probably should have.
I don't know what I was saying, but I hope it was sufficient.
Q. How about a few words on the fight in the fifth set there.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, it was tough. I mean, I felt like I even after I lost the first set, I looked up at the stats and I was 12 winners, 4 errors. I looked at the end of the fourth set and I saw that he had hit 28 winners I think in that set alone. I felt like I was playing well. You know, I felt like I was throwing it at him. I felt like once I got down 1 0 in the fifth, I think that was the first time I actually questioned where I was in the match.
Luckily, I was able to get a break back and, you know, it was the last four games or so, it was a dogfight. It was nice to go in there and get through.
Q. Like Grosjean at Wimbledon last year, you were down, had to come back?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know if I was down last year against Grosjean in the fifth set. I think I
Q. Down two sets to one.
ANDY RODDICK: No.
Q. No, okay.
ANDY RODDICK: But if I was, it would have been similar, I'm sure (smiling).
Q. The way Andre interacts with fans, can that be taught?
ANDY RODDICK: No.
Q. Just have to have the natural ability to connect with people?
ANDY RODDICK: No, no, no. I don't know if charisma is taught, you know. I don't think you can teach appreciation for the fans. Then you certainly can't teach how to articulate yourself in moments like that.
Q. Now that Andre has officially retired, can you just talk about what he has meant to the game of tennis, and on a personal level, what he means to you and your career.
ANDY RODDICK: We were just talking about it in the locker room. You know, it's crazy. Like I said, every person in the draw probably, with the exception of if you're like 33 years old, probably idolized Andre at some point. You know, that's weird. It's got to be similar to what the NBA rookies were like playing Jordan in his last year, you know. I mean, he's just revolutionized the sport. Everything we have, you guys being here, who knows if you would be here if it wasn't for people like Andre. He's irreplaceable.
Selfishly, he was I'll miss him, you know. I'll miss him as a friend, as kind of a mentor. He was unbelievable to me, you know, with how accessible he was when I was younger. He would call me before matches and give me strategy advice before I was playing people when I was 17, 18 years old. I don't know many people who will take time out of their day for some little punk, trying to give them strategy.
You know, he was just always great to me. And then, you know, we haven't gotten into the example that he's set off the court and that a lot of us have tried to follow, you know. Obviously, it's near impossible to even live in the shadows of what he's accomplished off the court with his charitable ventures. He definitely set the tone as far as a lot of those things go.
Q. Will he be at your celebrity event this year?
ANDY RODDICK: He will be. He will be.
Q. Why do you think he took such a liking to you? Have you ever thought about that?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I don't know. Still not confirmation if he liked me or not, he just helped me (smiling).
I don't know. I really don't. But I'm thankful and grateful that he did.
Q. You had a moment of sportsmanship in Rome against Verdasco. Do you think back to that time, and do you ever think how it affected you?
ANDY RODDICK: You know, I've always said that it's the biggest farce of sportsmanship of all time because there was a mark (smiling). I saved the guy's walk down and, you know...
I got like praised unbelievably for that and I didn't really do anything out of the ordinary besides I think I could have went on technicality. I think once you say, Game, set, match, there's no going back, if I'm not wrong. The mark was there. It's not like there was any doubt about it in my mind and I was feeling generous. It's just the way it was. I don't really think about it that often.
Q. You guys never talked about it?
ANDY RODDICK: No, no. We're friendly. I mean, I'm sure, you know, maybe he respects that. But it's not a hot topic of conversation.
Q. You've seen enough of Becker now to know what to expect tomorrow?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I watched a lot of it today. He serves out of his shoes. He takes huge cuts. He looked like he returned pretty well. You know, there were some things here and there that I was able to pick up on a little bit. So, you know, we'll see.
Q. Kind of a first strike player?
ANDY RODDICK: On the returns, I think. I don't know about the rest of it.
Q. You've been asked enough Jimmy Connors questions to last you a lifetime already. I want to ask you about the progression of coaches you've had since you've begun and what each of them have brought to your game.
ANDY RODDICK: We really have to do that right now?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, Tarik was great because he kind of was, as opposed to like a coach, he was more like a teacher. When I was 16, 17, you know, as he said to my dad after he watched me play here in I think it was '99 in Juniors, he goes, Yeah, he's a good hitter, but he has no idea how to play this game. So I thought that was true. I don't really know how to play it much more, but he helped me with what I do know, that's for sure.
Can we stop there, please? Thanks.
Q. You've always been pretty active about coming into the game. There's a tangible void now, do you feel like you need to double him to fill that void?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know if I can double him, to be honest. I know I do put a lot of time into it. That's a responsibility. I don't know if one person can help to fill that void. I think it's a team effort with all the guys and all the stars on tour. Even then, like I said, he's pretty much irreplaceable, you know.
I think we can watch and learn, and kind of take his example that he set and do our best.
Q. Earlier this week we were talking to Ryan Sweeting. He was talking about being able to go to Moscow and hit with guys like you. You are kind of in that position that Agassi was in with you when you were younger. How does that feel at this moment?
ANDY RODDICK: It's a little weird. You know, it didn't really click at first. When I first started playing Davis Cup, I was younger than a lot of the hitting partners that we had. But slowly but surely I've come to enjoy it. The razzing that Andre gave me, I'm proud to pass on to Querrey, and I'm sure Sweeting has something coming his way in Moscow, as well. That's all part of it. It's fun. It's a fun position to be in.
Q. We've been talking about the passing of the torch now for three years. Now it's really passed today with Andre.
ANDY RODDICK: It gets passed to me?
Q. Yes, it does. And to James.
ANDY RODDICK: Wow. You can just change your opinion all the time, Matt. I'll be Top 5 again, too, by the way.
I don't know what you just said because I was just too busy torching you.
Q. Yeah, you are. And by the way I never said that you wouldn't
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, you did. You definitely did.
Q. I never said
ANDY RODDICK: I'm going to bring it in. But that's irrelevant. It really is. And I've actually thought about that. I've always been blessed with this nice cushion of, you know, when I was first coming up it was Pete and Andre. Then it was Andre. Now it's time for us to step up. That cushion isn't there. My training wheels are gone. I'm sure it's gonna be a little different. But it's an exciting prospect, as well.
Q. You were playing really fast today it seemed like when you were getting up after the changeovers, you were waiting for him to come on court. Were you conscious of that, just anxious to get on with it and get this victory?
ANDY RODDICK: I just get bored really easily. I don't know. I've always had that habit. I kind of get around and just cruise around a little bit. I'm not big on the whole sitting down for extended periods of time thing. That's why I want to stand up right now.
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