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August 20, 2006

Andy Roddick


THE MODERATOR: Andy captures his fourth career ATP Masters Series title and the 21st title of his career. He's now won at least one ATP title in each of the last six years.
Questions, please.

Q. When you were going down and kissing the court, making that victory lap, what was that like to you, especially with the year you've had?
ANDY RODDICK: It was good. You know, it was kind of a relief and, you know, this is a special place for me. I definitely wanted to share it with whoever I could in the crowd. You know, I don't know. It's tough to explain, I guess.

Q. How do you explain everything clicking this week? It seemed to click from the first round, really.
ANDY RODDICK: Yell, well, first round was interesting.
But, uhm, from there on I was really good. I actually feel like I turned it around in Indianapolis about a month ago and then I got set back with my injuries, so I couldn't play for two and a half weeks.
But I prepared a lot last week. I couldn't serve, but I was training from the baseline. Jimmy was in Austin with me. I started hitting the ball real well then, you know, so I felt prepared for this event.

Q. You said this is a special place for you. Is it all the humidity or the crowd?
ANDY RODDICK: I woke up, it was 72 degrees out this morning. I had to deal with it a lot less than anybody else as far as the conditions. I played a lot at night. Today wasn't too bad.
But I think the crowd more so than anything. You know, they have given me amazing support all week. It's been a real fun experience.

Q. How different is this place from most venues that you play?
ANDY RODDICK: It's great. I mean, I don't know if I -- with the exception of my first round, I don't know if I saw an open seat, you know. It seems like the people really enjoy the tennis here. They're passionate about it. It's kind of a fun event. They got a lot going on around the grounds, as well. So, you know, for me personally, it's, like I said, up there with my favorite places.

Q. Rome, Paris, London, Monte-Carlo, Cincinnati?
ANDY RODDICK: You can take those places. You know, if you ask me where I'd want to, you know, where I'd want to play, I'd choose Cincy to be honest. Those places are fun and everything, but, selfishly, I get energized to play here.

Q. When is the last time you kissed the court?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't think I ever have.

Q. Did you sense you were getting to him, especially with how well you were serving?
ANDY RODDICK: Serving, but I think -- I got broken twice. I think the biggest thing this week was returns and the way I was playing the points. Once I got into them, I didn't feel rushed, I didn't feel like I had to hit a winner. If the opportunity presented itself, then I was trying my best to take it and force the issue forward. But I was breaking serve a lot this week, which is nice for me.

Q. You seemed to be standing a bit closer in on returns, taking them inside the baseline. Is that something you've been working on?

Q. Working on it?
ANDY RODDICK: Trying to.

Q. What does this do for you heading to New York?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, it just -- I think it changes my outlook. I mean, if I lose first round here, I'm probably gonna play, try to take a wildcard next week and try to get my form. Now, I feel like I'm playing as well as anyone going in, going into the Open. So, uhm, you know, it's a complete 180.

Q. Do you feel like you're back now?
ANDY RODDICK: Getting there. Getting real close.

Q. How close?
ANDY RODDICK: We'll see (smiling).

Q. You talked a lot last night about what was said about you after Wimbledon. I'm just curious, how much of that did you start to believe? Did you think, Maybe these guys do know what they're talking about?
ANDY RODDICK: No, I don't know if I ever believed that (smiling).
Uhm, I definitely was questioning myself a little bit, uhm, you know, but it was -- there's a lot of different emotions when you ask me about that because it's part of me saying, Okay, a lot of the people who are on ESPN talk shows and all that stuff, they probably watch five tennis matches a year, you know, so I really don't respect that opinion too much.
But, selfishly, I know I'm going out of tournaments a lot earlier than I normally do and I'm not playing with consistency, and the people inside tennis realize that, as well. That's a little tougher for me, when I'm not performing up to my abilities.

Q. Whose opinions do you seek out then?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, that's one of the biggest things I think that Jimmy contributed, you know. He came in and it's coming from a guy who's been No. 1 in the world, is an absolute legend in the game saying, I believe in you, and I know he means it. And, Here's what we're gonna do, we're not changing a lot, but we're gonna tweak a couple things. I think that means more to me than, you know, anything else.

Q. Does that strike you as odd that you're making a "comeback" at not quite 24 years old?
ANDY RODDICK: Yes. We actually talked about that yesterday. You know, out of all the criticism, I said - I've said it 23 times this week - I didn't play well, that's fair. Say Andy's slumping, that's fair; I was. That's factual information.
But Dustin brought up the question, you know, talking about my career in the context of it being like a finished product. For lack of a better term, it pissed me off a little bit. I feel like any other player, you know, especially from America, when they're 22, 23 years old, they're considered an up-and-comer, and here I am the same age and I'm considered whatever it was.
And so that's maybe something that I took a little bit more personally.

Q. You set such a high standard in previous years. When you don't match it in the next one, it's almost natural for us, for people to question what's going on, whether you've changed something.
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I understand that. I understand that. But at the same token, wouldn't that -- because I had played so well, wouldn't that mean that it would be easier for me to get back there as opposed to someone who's 60, 70 in the world getting up there?

Q. I don't know. I think sometimes it's hard when you set such a high standard and dip a little bit, whether it's a little bit or whether it's everyone else coming up, to then get back is almost as hard as it was to get there in the first place.
ANDY RODDICK: I'm gonna disagree with you there. I don't really see that because you've been in those situations before. You know, if I was just coming up and this was my first-ever final, I might get a little bit freaked out and whatever. I played, this is my seventh Masters Series final. I know I have it inside me. It's just a matter of finding a way to kind of bring it to the surface.
I don't know if I totally -- I don't know if I totally agree there.

Q. The criticism that you received, in the long run, does that kind of help you?
ANDY RODDICK: Possibly. I don't know if the criticism helped me. I think having to, you know, kind of redo everything and almost start from scratch. I'm not used to being outside the top 10 and, you know, battling and worrying about coming here and if I don't do well maybe I'm outside the top 20. You know, that's new ground for me. I guess what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
It's something new for me, but, you know, I think it will make me appreciate it more if and when I do get back there.

Q. Is it correct that you considered nearly not playing in this tournament because of the rib? And, if so, do you look back and think just on small things a lot can depend?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, well, I'm thankful that my trainer Doug was with me for two weeks, that's for sure. We were doing treatment on it four, five times a day. Definitely, I mean, if it's Thursday, Friday, the week before the tournament and you haven't really served yet because it's been painful, obviously I think you wonder a little bit.
You know, I don't know if you can go back and play the "what-if" game. I think you have to take everything at face value, you know, from here on out. But I'm thankful that I came around, you know, the last minute.

Q. It okay now?
ANDY RODDICK: I still feel it a little bit but, uhm, I said earlier that the biggest thing for me was playing that first match. It really wasn't feeling good during that first match. But the next day, it wasn't any worse, which means that it's getting stronger, and the way it recovered was really good and it was positive.

Q. Where do you feel it most, the serve?
ANDY RODDICK: Probably the serve still, yeah.

Q. On the court you mentioned a lot of people don't give Juan Carlos enough respect, he's former No. 1, former Grand Slam champion. Did it mean something for you to beat him in these conditions, with so much on the line?
ANDY RODDICK: I think it might have been nice for us just because maybe we could relate a little bit. There have been some of the same things. You know, he feels a little bit forgotten in Spain, obviously, with what's been going on with Nadal and the whole deal. And Nadal deserves all the credit in the world. At the same time, you know, it's not easy to be No. 1 in the world in something.
So, you know, I'm happy to see him playing well again, and hopefully he'll get back up there where he belongs.

Q. When you're serving as well as you were today, on your first serve, are you always rearing back and throwing a fast ball?
ANDY RODDICK: I haven't been throwing -- I've been throwing fast balls sometimes, but I've been trying to change it up a little bit more. I feel like I did that pretty well this week.

Q. Especially the slice out wide.
ANDY RODDICK: That and the kick on the ad side. Not so much today because he handles his two-handed pretty well up high, but throughout the week. And I was getting good movement on my serves, which definitely helps.

Q. Why Jimmy Connors?
ANDY RODDICK: Uhm, well, why not? You know? I've always admired him. You know, it intrigued me. I had a list of names and I saw his name and it kind of just stuck out, it excited me. I was nervous to call him. I was nervous to hear back from him. It just really excited me. You know, I figured I'd throw a call out there and worst-case scenario he says no and I'm no worse off.

Q. When you say a list, like five, six?
ANDY RODDICK: Probably -- no, probably not that many. Probably three or four names.

Q. Like physically written down on a sheet of paper?

Q. What part of your game you are still not satisfied with?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, this week I'm pretty satisfied. I'd like to maintain it. You know, I still feel, you know, I'm nitpicking, but, you know, you can always cut down errors a little bit.
But I was pretty happy with my form this week.

Q. Those winners we were seeing from the backhand side is an influence of Jimmy Connors?
ANDY RODDICK: It helps. We kind of retooled it and started from the basics. The technique is a little bit different. I feel a little bit more relaxed when I'm hitting it. You know, so he's definitely a huge influence on that.

Q. Can you coach tenacity, his intensity?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know if it's coachable, but you know it's expected. You can't go out and see the way he was and then, you know, be on a practice court and not run for a ball. I mean, that's -- you know, it just kind of -- I don't know if you do it because of his reputation or if you do it, you know, but he doesn't really need to tell you that's unacceptable to know his opinion on it.

Q. So do you feel like you're more on edge? I mean, not in the nervous way.
ANDY RODDICK: I'm just excited again, to be honest. I mean, I don't know how much of that is a direct correlation and what's not, you know, but I'm sure it doesn't hurt having his opinion and his advice around.

End of FastScripts...

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