February 6, 2004
UNCASVILLE, CONNECTICUT, A. RODDICK/S. Koubek 6-4, 6-4, 6-2
Q. Robby down two sets to Love, a lot of people from Connecticut are saying where is James Blake at that time. What was your rationale for picking Robby who came through for you?
CAPTAIN McENROE: I love James Blake. I wasn't thinking, as much as I love him, I wasn't thinking about him at that point. Robby has had a great year. Robby deserved a shot. I think he showed why in the last three sets. He kept his composure. He has got a big game. I think he has got a big upside. I felt like he was playing the best tennis out of the rest of those guys. I watched them all in Australia. I thought James played real well in Australia myself, but so did Robby. I thought Robby deserved the opportunity. I think he proved he deserved it.
Q. Patrick, Robby said that when he came back at the beginning of that first set, and you asked him whether or not he'd ever won a five-setter, he said, no. You said, "well you are going to do it today." Did you believe that?
CAPTAIN McENROE: That was after the second set that I said that. I did believe that. I really did.
ANDY RODDICK: That was tremendous foresight knowing he was going to lose the second too. You are an awesome captain.
CAPTAIN McENROE: I felt like -- I really felt like he could, and Melzer was taking a lot of high-risk shots at big moments and Robby, you know, understandably, first match -- I don't know one player that's not been a little nervous in their first match in Davis Cup. Melzer was taking some big cuts on big points that happened to go in. And I felt like if Robby just played a little more consistently and worked every point that sooner or later he'd be able to break his game down. That's what happened.
Q. Andy, opening up a Davis Cup match with a record breaking serve --
ANDY RODDICK: I missed it so that one goes out the door. I kind of -- first couple of games I glanced at the radar, kind of used it as a gauge because some days you are hitting your out-wide serve pretty well and T -serves some days are going pretty well, I opened up with a buck fifty, I thought that's out of the ordinary, I guess. After that I thought it might happen but, you know, at the end of the day the thing that matters is, you know, serving stats that say I didn't get broken. That's the one that I will take any day.
Q. Davis Cup team members getting the short haircuts?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, no. (Laughs) Robby's got enough hair for all of us so we decided to take ours off.
Q. What was behind it, anything special?
ANDY RODDICK: Not really. I think boredom? (Laughs) no. I think one of the Bryan Brothers or both of them they were talking about getting haircuts. I said, well, I could go for one too. I guess, we might as well do it right if we are going to do it. We were lucky enough to be able to finish five haircuts in 16 minutes, so, it's all about planning out your day, I guess.
Q. Are you going to coerce Patrick into shaving his head --
ANDY RODDICK: He said he wouldn't do his hair so I am leaning towards eyebrows right now. No, his response was actually a pretty good one. He said maybe later in the year if we are still here, we are still getting together for these Davis Cup weeks, so we'll see.
Q. Was the match easier than you might have expected?
ANDY RODDICK: No, I mean, I don't think you go in really expecting anything. I was confident that if, you know, if I stayed the course and played my game that I would win today. But, you know, I didn't feel like -- I felt like he was getting the better of me, more baseline rallies, than I would have liked today. But my serve got me out of trouble. It was my wildcard today and, you know, that kind of was the difference, I think.
Q. What would you make of the fans of Connecticut, how did you think they responded?
ANDY RODDICK: It was great. I know, for sure, Robby came in, he was feeding off of them big time. You don't come back from two sets down without feeling support or feeling some sort of jolt of emotion to kind of inspire you. So that was great. I think they are very knowledgeable. It was very cool because they knew kind of, you know, when a really good shot was played and they kind of respected it. So it was a lot of fun to play here for the first time.
Q. What were you thinking when Robby went down two sets?
ANDY RODDICK: You know, obviously I wasn't thrilled, but I thought Jurgen, like Patrick said, was kind of going for broke. And I was interested to see if Robby kind of stayed the course which he did, which he ended up doing, and made him play every game, if he could keep that kind of tennis up for another set. I felt like Robby should have won the first and maybe after that Jurgen kind of got on a hot streak end of the first and into the second. I never really lost hope in Robby. I thought if he stayed the course and played his game and, you know, maybe got on top of Jurgen a little bit maybe the crowd would get to him, you know, I thought he had a shot at all times.
Q. Did you talk to him at all before the tie just even right before the match to give him a little bit of perspective of being in a Davis Cup debut?
ANDY RODDICK: No, Robby knows his stuff. He's always pretty relaxed. I knew the situation wouldn't really get the better of him. As we were standing in the tunnel just about to walk out I said, you are going to feel a rush of blood like you probably haven't felt before. You have probably had a big adrenaline rush, but this is just a different type in Davis Cup with the chants of USA, all that stuff, I kind of just said, play your match and don't come out of your shoes too early. And, you know, just go about it like a normal day of tennis.
Q. Have you ever had the impression that you could get in danger today?
ANDY RODDICK: That I could get in danger today? You are always I mean, you got -- you go out there everyday to prove yourself against the best players in the world, I think that's what we do for a living. But once I had the first set in hand I thought if I kept serving the way I did that it would be a very long day if he wanted to try to come back.
Q. Robby mentioned he watched Elf. Do you have any special pre-game rituals or something?
ANDY RODDICK: I was watching it with him. But not really. I mean, not really. I used to kind of listen to a lot of tunes before I went on the court and all sorts of stuff like that. I think when you are with a team especially a Davis Cup, your nerves can get the better of you. Sometimes it is good to relax with the guys when they joke around, it was a pretty relaxed atmosphere in the team room this morning.
Q. Do you feel a little bit like a team leader?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, I don't know, obviously our captain is our team leader, but, you know, I was talking earlier this week, this my fifth year being at Davis Cup matches, as scary as that is, you know, I kind of do feel like the elder statesmen of our team now as far as Davis Cup Ties played in.
CAPTAIN McENROE: He's an old hag now.
ANDY RODDICK: Over the hill, former No. 1, and all (laughter). It's all downhill.
CAPTAIN McENROE: Really on the downside.
ANDY RODDICK: Kind of, but I think we are all learning together. I don't think there's one of us that kind of tries to take over. I think we try to handle our business, and have a good time.
Q. You do show some leadership quality?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I don't think it's too much on purpose. I mean, I think any of us -- if the other has a question and we think we can help them we'll volunteer information, but, you know, as far as more than that, I am not so sure.
Q. Is this a day where you might take some more satisfaction in Robby's win more than your own?
ANDY RODDICK: No question. Absolutely no question. Everything I did out there today pales in comparison to the effort that Robby put in today. Even in Slovakia when Marty stepped up, I didn't play so well, he stepped up and won the second match. Robby stepped up today. It is a good feeling, definitely feel like something good is growing here.
Q. If you have to play the Russian Team the second round --
ANDY RODDICK: We play the winner of Australia and Sweden.
Q. When they were having trouble in the first two sets with Robby, looked like he was doublefaulting a lot. Maybe hitting off his back foot. Anything technically you said to him about how he's playing?
CAPTAIN McENROE: I think keep moving, sometimes Robby's, he's so quick that sometimes his footwork he gets a little lax with it, and obviously that comes from nerves as well. But he does that in some of his other matches. I really felt that this was a big match for Robby because I think he learned that if he plays the kind of game that he can play, which is work his opponents, playing some long points, that that's going to wear guys down. I have always believed that about him, and I think winning a match like that from two sets down when noticeably the other guy is fatiguing and you are having a lot to do with that, I think it's big boost for his confidence.
Q. When you look at the other countries they don't always have as many choices for their Davis Cup teams. How difficult is it for you to choose between five, six excellent players out there?
CAPTAIN McENROE: It's a blessing and toughest part of the job. It's a good problem to have. The toughest part of my job is to tell the guys who aren't going to play. And to tell James Blake in Slovakia that he was going to sit on the bench for that, and to tell Todd Martin when James Blake was first coming up and playing. Luckily all these guys so far want to keep coming back and playing, and hopefully that will continue. I think we are going to need all of them at different stages to have success year in and year out. But it's a good problem to have.
Q. Can you talk about your conversations with Robby about when to go with his slice serve; when to take something off the big serve. He had Melzer stretching with that backhand at times. It was ---
CAPTAIN McENROE: Any time you get a player tired you want to make him run more, and, you know, I kept reminding Robby that I'd rather see him win a point hitting three, four shots than hitting a big serve. If it's -- Andy obviously, that's different, you know, Andy one of his big shots is his serve. You have to understand what is the strength of your game and, you know, Robby wins a few cheap points with an ace, great, but I'd rather see him count hit a one, two punch or 1-2-3 shot, because that's when you can count on when it gets to 4-All and 5-All. That repetition of doing that. He's learning that pretty quickly. I think that's really going to be what, you know, what determines how far he's going to go. I think he can go quite far.
Q. What do you think Robby needs to do to take his game to the next level?
CAPTAIN McENROE: Needs to get more consistent. Needs to play like that type of tennis he played in the last two sets from the start, point in and point out. And not to take anything for granted. Just be relentless in the way he plays because he can play that well from the ground when he's on.
Q. In Australia you had a lot of guys that during that first week were really playing well. What was the deciding factor for you and how tough a decision was it?
CAPTAIN McENROE: Well, I thought I answered that already. But I will be happy to answer it again. Deciding factor was that Robby has had great results --
ANDY RODDICK: Stop with the attitude. (Laughs).
CAPTAIN McENROE: -- not just in Australia but in the last six months. James also played well, but Robby had -- I thought a couple of better wins, and his ranking is just moving up. I thought this was a great opportunity for him to play. Obviously Taylor also has played well, and certainly until he ran into Andy was looking good. Marty didn't play many matches, only played two matches in the last three months so he lost first round of Sydney, first round of the Australian Open. Now the good news is that James has played some matches for us and won. Marty has done the same now Robby has done the same. So as we go forward, I think we have a lot of options to choose from and I think those guys are going to continue to sort of battle for those spots down the road. And we need that. We really need those guys to all be improving, I think to continue to have success.
Q. Remembering back to your first Davis Cup match, how did you feel then and how did you compare your emotions now?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I think it's a lot different than what Robby went through today. I played a dead rubber for my first Davis Cup match so the outcome was already decided so it was more of trying to ignore the Swiss players drinking champagne on the sidelines, but, you know, it's a different entity because you don't know - it's the first time you deal with a crowd, you know, like Davis Cup, that's just -- such a partisan crowd so it's just a different thing. I am still learning how to deal with it. It's not like Davis Cup you play every week and you lose okay, but I will work on something next week. It happens, you know, in the last year I played one Davis Cup match, sorry, two, I mean, one tie, so it's just something different and I think it comes with experience.
Q. We have not won the Davis Cup since 1995. Does this team have what it takes to do it?
CAPTAIN McENROE: I don't think there's any doubt we do. I mean, there's a lot of great teams out there, but I think we are developing the right chemistry and, you know, more and more guys are playing damn well. And we have depth and we have a great doubles team, and when we have had great doubles teams over the history of the US in Davis Cup we have been pretty successful so I think we have a great chance.
Q. One game you served wide, ace, and radar registered 117 miles an hour. It went down the middle and it registered 150. I am sure you don't take account of this but do you know of any of the players that purposely go down the middle because the radar gun registers a hotter speed? It does by the way. Players are aware of it or not?
ANDY RODDICK: Of course, I think it's common knowledge just to answer the reason for that's just because they spin. You can't hit a flat serve out wide.
Q. Actually one of the reasons the radar gun is on the side. Do players go for speed rather than tactically go for the big hit down the middle because the gun registers faster?
ANDY RODDICK: Only really, really stupid ones. And I think the one that I broke the record on was into the body anyways, I don't think it was down the T.
CAPTAIN McENROE: Actually hit it pretty clean the return.
ANDY RODDICK: I don't think that factors into a player's mind.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.