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March 26, 2009
KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. I think your decision not to go to Dubai is fairly unprecedented. In 1936, the original men's basketball team from the U.S. was supposed to go to the Olympics in Germany, and they did the same. I was wondering if you could expand upon when you first thought about taking the stand you did, and also if you have any thoughts about why you think other players didn't step up and do the same?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I'm not going to talk about other players. I don't know. It just didn't seem right or fair. I mean, in the world of tennis, if you qualify or are good enough you should be allowed to play.
I don't know if it was -- doesn't really have much to do with what's going on over there outside of this tennis decision. You know, I just didn't -- I don't know if the need to mix the two is necessary. That was pretty much the basis of it.
Q. What did the victory over Roger mean here last year? Did it mean more than just winning a tennis match?
ANDY RODDICK: I think it was more to it, just because of the fact of how badly I had done against him before or, you know, how long it had been since, you know, how many matches we had played on bigger stages.
I mean, it gets, you know, obviously amplified a little bit more because we're playing in the semis and sometimes in the finals of Slams and later on in tournaments. It was nice. It was just -- it was a relief, and, you know, it obviously meant a little bit more to me than just a normal match.
Q. Can you just give us a sense of where you think your game is at the moment and how pleased you are with your progress this year?
ANDY RODDICK: I feel pretty good right now. I had a good run in Indian Wells, especially on the surface doesn't that doesn't do a lot to -- doesn't do me a lot of favors. It's slow, gritty, and pretty high bouncing.
So to get wins over Ferrer and Djokovic and have a shot in that second-set breaker against Rafa was a good thing. But I still feel -- I've been playing well and winning the matches I'm supposed to win.
I think there is some room for improvement. I'm excited about the rest of the way.
Q. Can you talk about your conditioning? I know you've lost some weight in the off-season and that kind of thing.
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know that it's so much of my decision as opposed to following orders. There's a big difference there. (laughter.)
So, I mean, you know, I hired Larry, and told him that I would -- you know, I'm not here to run it. This is your show. I'm here to follow.
He promptly said, Okay, lose 15 pounds, and I regretted saying what I said. No, but obviously it's helped, and it's made things easier.
He, you know, recognized that there is a change in the game, seems like everything is slowing down a little bit as far as surface and balls and whatnot, and therefore you see a lot more guys dependent upon their running ability and their legs.
So, you know, we're just trying to keep up. It's worked so far, but we're talking about two-and-a-half months. It needs to be proven for a little bit longer than that to consider it an ultimate success.
Q. A little bit of follow-up on that about how important mobility is to the game. Doing something on Isner and Sam Querrey, about how maybe their height can help them or hurt them. You've obviously known Sam a long time from Davis Cup and all that. What do you see from those guys as far as their pluses and minuses of being so tall?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, if we're looking at a general trend of height as -- if it's beneficial, I mean, you just look back to the average height of a player now as opposed to 20 years ago.
I was tall when I came on tour, and I think I'm extremely average now as far as height goes. Not as far as charm, but as far as height goes.
So it's going to be a big factor, especially for John, because he's like Sasquatch tall as opposed to extremely tall. But the thing that's going to help Sam is he actually moves really well for someone who is 6'5" or 6'6". If they can develop that side of the game it's only going to help them more. You can't teach 6'7" or 6'10", but you can teach someone how to move better.
Q. His serve is the big thing?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, sure. I mean, you're hitting it from angles that no one else sees. Even people returning it as opposed to being used to being here, and all of a sudden you're a foot higher. It's definitely an adjustment.
Q. I'm working on a story about kind of the young tennis player and the path they take becoming a pro. What do you recall about being 12, 14 and having all these people around you tell you you're going to be great or you're going to be this? Do you have good memories of that?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't, actually. The girl sitting right behind you actually used to beat me when I was 12, so you can probably ask her. She's all of about 5'3", so...
5'4", sorry. I think I was a little bit different. I don't know if -- I don't know if I was one of these prodigies groomed to play. I think I kind of started getting looked at as far as pro potential when I was 17, maybe, 16, 17.
It went from, you know, good enough to go where I wanted to go to college to five months later turning pro, and that gap closed very quickly for me.
So I don't know if -- I don't know if that was normal. But, you know, it's tough for me to relate to maybe the kind of the general path just because I went -- I went to a normal high school. I worked very hard before and after school, but, you know, I had a pretty normal existence through that part of my life.
So I don't know if, you know, there's only one path there.
Q. How important was that balance for you? Because a lot of tennis players get in the academy and that's their life.
ANDY RODDICK: Sure. Tennis was my life. Let's not get -- we're not going to get backwards, but I wasn't -- I didn't sign with an agency at 12 years old. I wasn't supporting my family by 13, 14.
I had a chance to actually go to school and to, you know, enjoy friends on the weekends. I was still training three, four, five hours a day. That's probably necessary if you want to do this.
But I did have those other things. I don't know how much I realized it helped me then, but now I look back and I'm thankful for that.
Q. I know you said that your decision about Dubai had a lot to do with principle, but do you think maybe the women's tennis association, when it happened, they should have boycotted the tournament on the spot?
ANDY RODDICK: Listen, I'm not here to tell people what decisions to make. I can make my decisions for myself. As far as anything else, that's not my place.
Q. Apart from the weight loss, what has Stefanki brought to you?
ANDY RODDICK: He has a huge knowledge of the players. He's worked with, you know, guys who are on tour, and he knows -- you know, it's very nice to trade thoughts about people's tendencies and how to go about a game plan.
I like his energy, also. We're not scared to work. We both enjoy the process of training. It's just been a real good fit so far.
Q. What have you learned?
ANDY RODDICK: What have I learned?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know if I could kind of give a general statement that would encompass what I've learned in four-and-a-half months and 30-some odd matches.
You know, I think I knew how to play tennis beforehand. A lot of times it's just little reminders and keeping the discipline on a day-to-day basis.
Q. You've been to one final here, I think, Andy; is that right?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah.
Q. Do you feel like you've underachieved here? What's your thought about the way you've played overall?
ANDY RODDICK: That's kind of a microcosm of my career, I guess. You know, I mean, you look at it one way: winning a tournament, a Masters Series event here, you know, and making a semi. It's just a matter of how you want to grade it.
If I've been to a Masters Series event and I won it, it's tough to say I haven't played well there.
Q. I just talked to Mardy, and I had a nickname for him when we were in high school. It was Booger.
ANDY RODDICK: Don't do it.
Q. I told you several years ago that once I was going to get into reporting. I'm going to put you on the spot and see if you remember the nickname I gave you and why.
ANDY RODDICK: I do remember it a thousand percent. I don't know if I'm going to share with --
Q. I'm sure everyone would love to know. Go ahead. It's okay.
ANDY RODDICK: I knew this was going to be bad when you told me you were going to be a reporter.
Q. We're all ears.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, that's good. It was Bear.
Q. And why?
ANDY RODDICK: What?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. That's for you to explain.
Q. Well, I stopped growing when I was 12, and I'm 5'3". It's because Bear was pretty, like about my height or smaller, but then once he started getting on the tour, about 17, you shot up.
ANDY RODDICK: That was it. It had nothing to do with us making out or anything like that, so... (laughter.)
I knew -- I told you I'd win this one. I have the microphone. I'd like to apologize to my fiancĂ©e.
Q. Roger lost some matches against Rafa and Andy. For you personally, is he still the toughest to beat?
ANDY RODDICK: For me personally, it's been the toughest matchup throughout my career. You know, it's going to be a tough standard to live up to for five years of averaging losing three matches a year. I mean, that had to -- you know, it seems like it had to stop sometime.
But I think a lot more of the credit should go to Murray and Nadal.
Q. Right now, if you had a Slam final, would you rather play Roger or Rafa?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I don't know. I mean, it's -- I'd like to have that option to be there at that point.
Q. Safin was saying at Indian Wells that the thing that most surprised him about Rafa is his hands. He thinks that people didn't really appreciate how great his hands were coming in. Is there anything, tennis-wise, what have you seen of him that surprised you over the last few years?
ANDY RODDICK: Marat is 100 percent spot on. He developed a chip that gets him out of trouble a lot that no one ever really talks about. They talk about the running and heaviness, but he volleys well. He's able to transition into the court now. He's able to play returns, as evidenced by Wimbledon last year.
No one really mentioned the fact that he was standing a foot inside the baseline and hit a return. They talk about how he stands back, but he's able to mix it up. I don't really think he gets credit for how complete of a tennis player he is. I think he kind of gets pidgeon-holed into what people remember from five years ago.
Q. Do you think it's more of a tennis mind? Especially in the States, he's just this great will...
ANDY RODDICK: Well, he is.
Q. Absolutely. But do you think he's underrated as a tennis mind?
ANDY RODDICK: The thing about Rafa's game, and the type of ball he hits and coming from the, you know, the left side, is that maybe more so than other players he's able to kind of say, This is what I do. You're going to have to deal with it.
You know, but that being said, I mean, the guy knows what he's doing on a tennis court. He knows his way around. He has the luxury of not really having to play into that too often.
End of FastScripts