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September 23, 2007
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Andy Roddick.
Q. So Russia in the final, what do you say?
ANDY RODDICK: You know, it's something that I know we've been -- we as a team have been dreaming of for a while, having a home final. I think we're all just really excited about the opportunity.
Q. The last time the U.S. had a home final, we understand that you were there. Can you tell us about some of your recollections of that. It apparently made quite an impression.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I think I was nine years old and I went with my tennis club to that tie in Dallas. It changed my life. I mean, it changed kind of the way I viewed tennis, especially the way I viewed Davis Cup. It was my first professional tennis match -- no, that it is not true. I had seen Jimmy at the Open in '91. It was the first time I'd kind of seen Davis Cup.
It just kind of blew my mind, to see the team that we had there. I mean, it was Agassi, Courier, Sampras and McEnroe. To be able to see that in that type of setting as a little kid, it definitely makes a bit of an impression, to understate it.
Q. You also beat Russia in '95.
ANDY RODDICK: That was in Moscow. It's tough for me to, you know, make that '95 tie relevant just because I was playing in 14-and-unders at the time, so I didn't really have a lot to do with it. It was a little bit far to travel for a 13-year-old to Moscow.
Q. When you say it changed your life, you were already playing by then, right? Did it solidify what you thought you wanted to do and where you belonged?
ANDY RODDICK: No. I wasn't one of these kids raised to be a tennis player at all. But just seeing something like that is pretty powerful. You know, being with the other fans in an arena like that, seeing your heroes play, hearing the anthem for the first time, it really was the first time I'd been at a sporting event which was just, you know, completely about patriotism and that whole thing.
I think I fell in love with it then.
Q. I think by now you're aware of your record in clinching matches. What is it about those big opportunities where you're able to cash in?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, let's call a spade a spade. Your team has to put you up 2-1 in order to be in that situation, first and foremost. My team's put me in good positions going into a lot of Sundays.
Secondly, I don't know. I don't really think about it. I don't really want to think about it. I've kind of found this comfort level with playing Davis Cup, whereas early on in my career I would be maybe get a little bit too overanxious. I feel comfortable playing for the U.S. flag now. Maybe that showed in the last couple of ties that I've been able to clinch.
Q. But you want that opportunity; you enjoy it when it does present itself?
ANDY RODDICK: I get nervous (laughter). It's tough the morning of and the night before. But it's a really good feeling when you are able to clinch.
I know we talk about it ad nauseam, but I really do love the guys that I play with. You know, they're like brothers. When you can do your part to help your team venture forward, when you have one common dream and one common goal, it's a very, very good feeling, and it's a very rewarding feeling for all of us, I think.
Q. If you as a team go on to win the Davis Cup, where do you think that will rank for you? Will that be your top achievement in tennis?
ANDY RODDICK: It's close. I always said as a kid I had four just dreams that I thought were just completely out of reach that would never be attainable. One was to win the US Open, one was to be No. 1, one was to win Wimbledon, and one was to win Davis Cup (laughter). It's big dreams for a kid, and I don't think I ever thought I'd ever be in the vicinity of that. Now selfishly we're here. Chance to get three out of four, it's exciting. You know, it's definitely right up there with anything that I've been able to do.
Q. Can you tell a few words about the decision making in your team for the final. It's a big event. How would you sit down what are their strengths, what are their weaknesses? Obviously not clay. How is the decision making?
ANDY RODDICK: For us?
Q. Yes, prior to the big final against Russia in the States.
ANDY RODDICK: You know what, I'm sure Patrick will talk to us about our preferences. I can promise you it will not be on anything other than a hard court or some sort of hard surface. We're going to try to export all of the clay out of the state of Oregon for the tie. I don't think we want to be -- I don't know if they have clay courts in Oregon, but hopefully they'll cover them up during that weekend.
I think it's a pretty straightforward decision for our captain. I'm sure he'll check with us. But ultimately the decision lies with Patrick, and that's why he's the captain.
Q. No grass? Grass is the weakness No. 1 for Russia.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, it's tough to make grass grow indoors in December in the States.
Q. They can do it in Holland, but not in December.
ANDY RODDICK: I promise you, any grass court that's put in indoors in December would be a piece of crap, I promise you. It's tough to make a makeshift grass court. They're not very good at all. We'll take our chances with our surface, I think.
Q. Today's match, you obviously found out late in the game you were going to be playing Jonas. Any sort of adjustments you had to make or did you see it as a pretty similar match-up?
ANDY RODDICK: I was the only one talking about it like it was still a possibility, to be honest. Ask Patrick. No one was really. I said, Are you sure? At the beginning of the tie, I didn't know if I was going to see Thomas for the whole tie. I've heard rumors that it's because of health issues and whatnot.
But, you know, it is what it is. An hour before, okay, I sat down, talked to James a little bit about his past matches against Jonas. You just kind of take it for what it's worth and go out there. At that point it's pretty much out of your hands. You just try to handle it.
Q. Now that you've won, how sick were all of you earlier this week? Something that kind of swept through the team.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I mean, I think we felt better at times. It slowly kind of picked all of us off one day at a time (laughter). Isner started it and we all just kind of followed suit.
You know, luckily we were able to kind of manage it and get through.
Q. Were you a hundred percent for your first match?
ANDY RODDICK: Probably not. But, you know, luckily there was a lot of serving and not a lot of running, so that helped a lot.
Q. What can you say about your serve today?
ANDY RODDICK: You know, if you would have told me going into this weekend that I wasn't going to get broken for the entire weekend, I would have looked at you like you were a little bit nuts, a little bit crazy.
But I kind of found a groove. I guess I was able to just build upon what I did at the Open. I felt like I played pretty well at the Open. I was able to carry that over, which was a good thing. My serve definitely, definitely was able to bail me out at some pretty key moments this weekend.
Q. You were 15-40 down on your serve in the second set tiebreak. Can you talk something about that situation.
ANDY RODDICK: I was down 15-40 and I didn't feel like I played a bad point on my serve in that game. I mean, he just played great in that game. You know, at that point I felt like if he got a racquet on it, I was going to be finding it off of my shoe tops. I just reached back and put something on it and I was able to hit some big serves to get out of trouble.
Q. Can you talk about the difference between the team that went to Seville in 2004 and the team you have now. Major difference. You had Mardy then. Now you have James. You've progressed in your career.
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, you want me to talk about the team or our team going into Seville?
ANDY RODDICK: Mardy, I think we all still feel that Mardy is part of this team. He's been the highest-ranked practice partner in the world a couple of times. I'm sure hopeful that he'll come to the final, as well. Everybody has been part of the process. He's definitely been a significant part of it.
That being said, James has been able to raise his level and stay in the top 10 consistently, which is big for us. I remember for a couple of years, it was always a debate who was going to play two singles. It was between three or four guys. You know, back then there was Taylor and Robby was in the mix, too. So it's nice to at least know what you're going in with ahead of time.
Q. And you personally, do you feel like you've cemented that No. 1 role for the team from four years ago?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I mean, considering I've never -- I don't think I've ever played No. 2 in a tie, I feel like I've solidified it (laughter).
Q. Jonas was very complimentary of your returning. I guess this is the first time you've played in three years. He said you move a lot better than people realize, and that your returning really got you into this match, made a big difference. Do you think you've made a lot of progress in that area in the last three years?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. To be honest, I feel like I get pigeonholed as a big server sometimes. There are a lot of big servers, people with a lot bigger serves than me, who are 50, 60, 70 in the world. So there's got to be some difference.
I did an interview last year in December. You know, he was asking me what I thought about just being able to serve. Then the next question was a question about me underachieving. I said, Well, you can't have it both ways. Either I don't know how to do anything on the tennis court -- I can't not know how to do anything on the tennis court and be an underachiever.
But coming from someone like Jonas, it's a compliment. He's seen a lot of tennis. You know, I think I would take his opinion on tennis matters very seriously pretty much all the time. So that's nice to hear from him.
Q. Did you think Sweden made the right choice of surface? You seem to love it. The Bryans loved it yesterday.
ANDY RODDICK: You know what, before I answer that question, I know there's going to be a lot of questioning probably in the press here and stuff, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Mats Wilander probably knows a lot more about tennis than people who are questioning his decision.
Sweden is probably one of the only countries away that would hurt their players as well playing on clay. So I think what he did was tried to roll the dice a little bit, gamble a little bit, make it a quick surface, kind of make it a little bit of a shootout.
Make no mistakes, I feel like I played some of my best tennis this weekend. If I would have come in here a little bit low on confidence, then this surface would have been very, very uncomfortable. You know, unfortunately Mats doesn't have the luxury of seeing how my form is coming in two, three weeks before. He has to make the decision a couple months out.
I think you'd have to be a little bit ignorant to question someone of his caliber.
Q. Considering you have the final to play at the end of the season, will you play less in Europe than scheduled?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm not sure. You know, I think I'm playing next week and then I'm not sure. I'm kind of gonna have to see. I'm going to have to listen to my body and see what it tells me. I can assure you my No. 1 priority for the rest of this year is that Davis Cup final. You know, if I don't win one more match and we win that, I would take that right now.
You know, that's gonna be the first thing that I think about when deciding tournaments now. I'm not sure how that's going to affect what I play, if I play more because of it or if I play less. I think that's something I'm going to have to talk to Jimmy about, Patrick about, kind of see where we all stand on it. But I'm not sure right now.
Q. In Davis Cup team spirit is crucial. Different teams approach this differently. The way to bring out the spirit is very important. In Russia, they would open up the team, include private coaches, family members. The French are just the opposite, they will close and keep it there tight. What is your idea of a workable team?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I think it's tough to generalize 'cause the personalities on the Russian team are a lot different than the personalities on the French team. So I don't know if there's one general rule that could apply to every team.
I like our team. Coaches are welcome. Private coaches are welcome at practices. But all our meals are done as a team with nothing outside. So maybe it's a little bit of a mix between those two. I think everybody's more than welcome to come, have tickets. But when it comes to before matches and preparation, you know, it's normally private coaches and people that affect the tie tennis-wise.
Q. Jimmy is not here?
ANDY RODDICK: No, he's not here.
Q. On court you were very focused, businesslike. There's a group out there calling themselves the Net Heads. How much are you aware of them? How much of a factor for you is that when you're playing?
ANDY RODDICK: You're aware, you know. It's nice. We've been hearing those chants for a long time now. Especially at away ties, it's nice to have a little bit of support, someone to look up to at tough moments.
I like the Net Heads. You kind of get to know them a little bit at the hotels, away from the courts. They're all just good people, just genuine, genuine tennis fans. They make Davis Cup as much of a priority as we do. It's nice to be able to share that and have their support.
Q. You made reference to Oregon. Is Portland a lock? I know there was some talk about how you really enjoyed your time in Winston-Salem.
ANDY RODDICK: No, it's not a lock. I was just using a state just for reference, to get my clay court point across. As far as I know, I think you know as much as we do, they're down to a couple cities, which I think they've announced. Hopefully we'll know something in the next four or five days. I was more just trying to get a point across.
Q. Patrick is an underrated influence on the team, in my opinion. Can you talk about Patrick and what he brings to the team as a whole.
ANDY RODDICK: Well, you know, Patrick's dynamic in the team, it's great, because he's kind of evolved with us. When we started out, you know, it was kind of closed door, we were pretty young. We've kind of grown together. I think he's done a great job of -- no decision is really made, whether it's surface, whether it's venue, whether -- anything to do with the team, he'll call us and get our opinion, kind of gather those opinions, then make his decision. It's not like a thing where we hear about it secondhand. I think we're all pretty involved in the process of it.
I think it's good. I think we've all kind of evolved together. I think he's doing a good job.
Q. As you have gotten less nervous, overanxious, have you gotten more nervous watching the other guys?
ANDY RODDICK: I've always been pretty nervous. You're seeing the first set tiebreaker there. I mean, pretty much every breakpoint, they get up a break, up a set, the whole tie can almost hinge on that. It's such a big swing in that doubles match.
I was freaking out. I had to leave after the first set and take like a 10-minute break to compose myself. It's a lot easier playing out there than it is watching, that's for sure.
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