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March 27, 2008
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. In that first match you played against Pete here, where you nearly decapitated him with that one serve. Does that seem like yesterday or a zillion years ago?
ANDY RODDICK: Probably both, you know. If that's possible. I think it's gone by pretty fast. It's been a fun ride so far.
Q. Memories of this place? You've had a lot of big moments here. Do they kind of flood back when you come back here, or do you not go down that road so much?
ANDY RODDICK: No, I think they do. I mean, I was here for the actual opening of this place. They had like a junior tennis clinic for three days or something like that, and I think that had to be '92 or '93. We were getting bussed in every day, and it was just hundreds of kids. So we played a lot of junior tournaments here.
So I guess, personally, I have a little bit of history here. So, yeah, I mean, I think you definitely kind of come across different memories.
Q. How would you describe your year so far?
ANDY RODDICK: With the exception of Australia, which I was very disappointed in, I feel like it's been pretty good, actually, probably very good.
After that, I've had to, you know, travel a lot, and put myself in some pretty tough, you know, traveling scenarios, and I played pretty well pretty consistently. So I'm happy, and I actually feel very confident right now.
Q. And Indian Wells is just kind of...
ANDY RODDICK: You know what? I left that match not having lost any confidence whatsoever, which is good. I don't know if it was after a big week in Dubai and traveling or what not. I don't know if - first of all, I don't know if the court surface was great for me. It was pretty gritty and the ball wasn't getting to the court that well.
But I don't know. It was a bad match. I don't feel like I hit the ball that badly, but I didn't walk off the court really panicking or overly concerned. Since then I've been hitting the ball really well in practice, so I'm not that worried about Indian Wells.
Q. The top of men's tennis now is really interesting. I mean, Novak and Roger are like two complete opposites in the rivalry, and you have Nadal and you. Can you just talk about the top of men's tennis right now and how you fit in there?
ANDY RODDICK: Yes, I'm sure Roger would tell you he's probably not playing his best right now. I mean, I was really happy for Mardy last week, but I think I was as surprised as anyone, especially at the convincing score line.
That being said, you know, I think Roger's earned the right for us to give him the benefit of the doubt. You know, Novak seems to be playing well in the bigger events. He's been beaten in some of the smaller events, so like you said, it is pretty interesting.
With the clay right around the corner, I'm sure Rafa's licking his chops and kind of looking at that. I was able to kind of get a win against the Dubai field, which is about as tough as I've ever seen in a tournament like that, in a 32 draw. You had 1 playing 11 first round, which is really unheard of.
So it is a good mix right now, and I think it's interesting.
Q. When somebody has been as dominant as Roger has been for so long, there is a tendency sometimes to jump to the conclusion rather quickly that he's a little bit more vulnerable when he goes to one of these things. Do you see him as anymore vulnerable than he was at the top of his game?
ANDY RODDICK: Like I said, I don't know that he's played his best so far this year. Would it surprise me if he came in and won a tournament? No. You know, I think he said it in Australia, and he put it very well, that he's created a bit of a monster for himself.
He was in the semis in an event and lost to a guy who is 3 in the world and who is legitimately probably been the second best player the last six months, and there's like an uproar, or like a huge thing.
That's just not him -- No. 3 guy beating a No. 1 guy in the semis of a Grand Slam isn't unprecedented by any means. It's just, you know, Roger has kind of created a monster where similar to Tiger Woods, where it's not really a story about the guy winning, it's about him losing last week to Ogilvie.
Tiger lost, okay, but he's playing against 100-some odd guys. I mean, it's him versus the field. In a way, I guess Roger would have to look at it as a backhanded compliment.
Q. What do you expect? When you're No. 1 and you do usually win tournaments, by the end of March you've already won a couple of titles, and he hasn't. Everyone's not going to sit there and say everything's normal in tennis.
ANDY RODDICK: No, and I'm not saying they should. It's a little different. Even when Pete was No. 1, he could lose a match and it would be fine. It wouldn't be a huge story. It would be, Sampras lost. But it wouldn't be, There is something a little different here, and I think you would agree with that. Just the way he's dominated, he has created a bit of a, like I said, a bit a monster that I know I haven't seen since I've been a tennis fan. Not just since I've been on tour, but since I've been a fan.
Q. You've had to answer a lot of questions over the last couple of years about your relationship with Jimmy. Now you've parted ways. I'm wondering, number one, if it's a relief to not have to deal with those questions all the time anymore?
ANDY RODDICK: Well... (laughing)
Q. Number two, you've had the benefit of some terrific coaches over the years. You've had these serially monogamous great relationships with coaches. Is there something to this sort of notion that now it's time for you to try to put all that together and maybe have more of your own voice in your head for a while than anyone else's?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. Right now I'm not looking for, you know -- the thing that kind of gets lost in the shuffle when I see people writing stories a lot, it's like all these coaching changes -- my brother's been there the last three years or whatever it is. Jimmy kind of took on a mentor role.
So it's kind of like, Oh, another coaching change. But my brother's never left. He's always been there, and he's the one that's been there every week.
But you're right, I do need to take it upon myself. It's my responsibility, and it's my career at this point. I've had the benefit of kind of picking some of the greatest minds in tennis, and I'm thankful to have been able to spend time with those people.
Q. Also, very few of us got to see many of the points you played in Austria in that very difficult first match that you had, the successes on clay and Davis Cup. Does that give you more confidence going into the clay court season this year?
ANDY RODDICK: You would think so. You know, Davis Cup's just a little bit a different dynamic. You know, I don't know if I played my best that day, but somehow I was down a break in the fifth and things started to fall my way.
But also I think it needs to be noted that indoor clay is probably a little bit different than outdoor clay. So it's definitely never going to hurt winning tough clay court matches in that kind os big scenarios, or Davis Cup scenarios, when the odds are a little bit stacked against you. That's not going to hurt. I hope that translates to a better season.
Q. Can I ask about Mardy? He's going to be playing today. Can you talk about his sort of little comeback? I mean, obviously beating Roger Federer?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, that's one match. You almost hate that his whole tournament gets pigeon holed into that one win. When he beat Andreev, who going in I'm not sure if he was the favorite, and then Hewitt -- or Davydenko and then Hewitt and then Nalbandian, these are serious players here.
To tough out big matches, you know, tough out really tight matches on a big stage, is something that I think is going to be really big for his confidence.
Mardy's had runs like this before, and I think the biggest thing for him is to be able to build on it now.
I was so happy for him last week, and I was superstitiously watching - I didn't watch any of the first couple on TV, so I didn't let myself watch the last ones. I was watching them on live scoring.
But it was great for him. I just hope that fuels him even more to keep going.
Q. Roger Federer said in response to a question last session that playing well in recent matches has helped his confidence come back. Now I think the top athletes, like Michael Jordan or Tiger, their confidence is, I suspect, what they find inside of them maybe deep down rather than the results of a particular game or whatever.
ANDY RODDICK: I would completely 100% disagree with you.
Q. Okay. So could you comment on that?
ANDY RODDICK: Sure. The thing about an athlete, you know, Michael Jordan had his moments. When he first came back he lost the series to the Orlando Magic, where he was the go, and the ball got stolen from him with 40 seconds left.
You don't remember that because of how great he is normally. You're probably not going to remember this stretch in Roger's career ten years from now. Those great athletes have the benefit of retrospect now. You're only going to remember their really high moments, because that's what gets celebrated and gets etched in your mind.
The thing about being an athlete, every day you come to the office, you have to beat someone. It's not like being an actor, you have one movie, you're celebrated forever and you don't need to do anything and that's what you're remembered for.
As an athlete, you have to come every day and beat the guy across the net from you. If he's low in confidence and wins matches, I don't see how you say that's not going to help.
If you lose a couple matches in a row, that's going to affect you. I don't care if you're Albert Einstein at the Intelligence Olympics, it's going to affect you (smiling).
Q. What I mean is not just waiting until you have the results to get your confidence.
ANDY RODDICK: Okay, I have a question for you. Okay, now if you're a journalist and let's say your last couple of stories have been crappy, even if you have ten years of good stories behind you, it's going to weigh on you a little bit. You're going to have a little more pressure to make that next story really good.
If you have a couple of good ones, that's going to make you feel a lot better about the crappy ones. It's no different being an athlete. You can't simulate in practice what it takes to win an actual tennis match in the moment.
You can't recreate the ball kids, the atmosphere, everything. The only thing that can get your confidence back -- and I can tell you because I had a confidence crisis a couple years ago -- nothing can recreate that feeling than actually going out and doing it.
I can make a million balls in practice. The only thing that will make you feel better is going out and actually performing it. It is a process to build it back up.
Granted, his confidence is going to be more ingrained in his mind than probably any player on tour. That being said, it's winning matches that helps make you feel better about the situation.
Q. If Roger's confidence is down a little bit and he's in a bit of a lull here, to what extent does that create an opportunity for you particularly in this tournament where you might face him?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I got to get there, so it's not even relevant for me right now. You know, I think the only way Roger could have just an absolute crisis of confidence and he's still one of the best players in the world. There is no question about that. He's earned that right. He's still capable of playing terribly.
Kind of like Pete. Pete played terribly in all of 2002, came out and won the US Open. He's a special player. He's capable of that. Roger's that same sort of thing. No matter how much everyone's creating questions and whatever there is, he's still capable of coming out and winning this tennis tournament. I don't think anybody's going to dispute that, and that's what makes great players great.
Q. How much do you think Novak is riding confidence as opposed to being that much better than everyone?
ANDY RODDICK: I think if you would have asked me after Miami last year and after the French and Wimbledon, I would have said maybe he's riding confidence. But he's put it together for a year straight now, so I don't think you can put that as momentum. Momentum doesn't normally last years.
Q. You just saw him. What in his game right now is making him so difficult to play?
ANDY RODDICK: He stays on the baseline. He doesn't give any ground. I think he's able to change directions with the ball about as well as anybody I've seen. You can hit a hard ball, and he's able to play it up the line or play it wherever he wants with control.
Obviously confidence plays a big part in that as well, and he's confident. But behind that, he's able to win matches maybe when he's not playing up to his level, and that's what separates guys.
Q. So is confidence a muscle then, where you have base training and it's always kind of there but it can atrophy?
ANDY RODDICK: Sure. Confidence comes and goes. You go out to any court -- you go out to Court 14 right now, and I guarantee you the guy out there can hit the crap out of the tennis ball and knows how to play tennis.
I think what separates guys is probably more between the ears than anything.
Q. Talking about confidence, do you think James Blake's victory on Gasquet last week at Indian Wells could have any effect on the next match in Davis Cup?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I mean, I know I wasn't disappointed to see James win that match convincingly. That being said, it's going to be a completely different atmosphere for Davis Cup. The court surface is going to be very different. I know he's had success against James in the past. I think it's definitely not going to hurt anything, but it's always tough to tell.
I'm sure I could give you ten examples of when it worked and ten examples of when it went the opposite way. So it's - I don't know. It's definitely not going to hurt James at all, but we'll see how much it helps him.
Q. Would you be happy to meet Tsonga here before Winston-Salem?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, because that means that I would be -- you know, that means I would have won some matches here, so, yes.
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