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October 12, 2009

Andy Roddick


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Do you find this a rather difficult time of the year in that the results -- you've made great results this time of year, either when it was Madrid or Bercy.

Q. Is it, with no Grand Slam on the horizon, does that make it difficult?
ANDY RODDICK: I think so. I'm not sure, you know. Maybe that's it, but I think we've been saying for a long time it's tough to compete 11 months a year, and this is going on my 10th year now, and, you know, we've tried to make our voice heard for a long time. We end up finishing a little bit later now.
So I don't think it's coincidental that you see, you know, Murray and Roger a little bit hurt now or Rafa missing four months in the middle of the year, maybe some odd results from Del Potro and myself last week. You know, I don't think that's all of one big coincidence, and I think -- you know, I just hope that the short-sightedness doesn't affect the length of careers, you know. I think in tennis you definitely want your stars around as long as possible.
You know, Andre was able to manipulate his schedule to what he needed to do, you know, the last five or six years of his career, so as opposed to it being a particular tournament or month of the year, I think it goes a little bit deeper than that.

Q. When you look at the women's schedule, do you think that they're getting things right now?

Q. And you'd like to see the men do the same?
ANDY RODDICK: Yes, I would, yes. I think it's ridiculous to think that you have a professional sport that doesn't have a legitimate off-season to rest, get healthy, and then train.
I mean, we have to -- we're finished, what is it, November 30, and have to be pretty much Grand Slam ready by January 4th year after year after year after year. And, you know, the people who are playing the most, they get added two weeks at the end of the year the people that have been playing the most.
I just feel that sooner or later that common sense has to prevail, and, you know, there's only so much we can do. To be honest, you all are our biggest allies in this battle, so I think at a certain point -- we've been pretty vocal, but I'm not sure what can be done. You know, if, you know, you pull out of tournaments, it hurts the tournament, it hurts tennis, and we end up getting the blame for it. So it's kind of, you know, a Catch-22, I think.

Q. Is it only about a longer off-season, or is it also about maybe some periodic times off during the calendar, whatever the length of that is?
ANDY RODDICK: I think an off-season would be ideal, but at this point anything is an improvement. You know, I think -- you know, you see some people where, you know, they have to tell you -- you're looking at Roger and Andy. At a certain point they have to be able to get a month somewhere to be recuperate, get themselves ready, and you have to be able to at least pick and choose your spots a little bit better. There has to be some flexibility.
We've been talking about this forever, and now we get slapped with mandatory tournaments, not only the Slams and the 8, but now -- it goes so on and so forth. So we don't really have a whole lot of choices, you know, in the matter, which I think -- I don't know if it's the right way to go about it.
I think you want your players around and you want to see the highest level out of them for as long as possible. And I don't know if this is the best way for that.

Q. In a sense, you're kind of the veteran of the tour now in terms of top 10 players.

Q. I mean, do you sense that for the younger ones coming through there is this same thought process going on, that we need to look at this once again very, very seriously indeed and get it sorted out?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm not sure, but they always have the option to play if they feel like they need to. You know, the guys that are 21, 22, 23 can play as much as they want. We don't have the option to space out our schedules at all. Do you see what I'm saying?
So, you know, it's a little -- you know, I'm not talking about three months here. I'm talking about another two weeks, you know. I'm not talking -- I'm not looking for an off-season like, you know, the other sports where it's three, four months. I don't think that works in tennis, especially where you have different parts of the world that want to see it.
I certainly understand that part of it, and, you know, I'm thankful that we do have the opportunity to, you know, that there is almost more of a -- people want us to be there, and I certainly get that part of it.
You know, you just want to see more moments like Andre had in '06 when it was his last match. I think that sort of relationship with the fans was built over time and over a 20-year period.

Q. You've been quite vocal in your discussions about this. Have you ever sort of had any formal or informal meetings with anyone on the tour?

Q. Do you meet with them -- is it something that players meet and discuss all time, or is it just something that seems to pop up and...
ANDY RODDICK: There's informal meetings, you know, every day with the powers that be, but, you know, the way the system has been, it's been -- you can get it to council, board, this, that and the other, but people on the board are the same people that run a lot of the tournaments.
So it's a little bit -- it's a little bit of a conflict of interest, you know. And then if you have, you know -- you can vote and vote and vote and vote. You get to a certain point and they just go (hammering fist) "No." You feel like you're spinning your wheels a little bit. I'd rather come in here and talk with you all and have a bigger voice (laughter.)

Q. You've certainly had the bigger voice today. Do you think your views reflect the rest of the top 20, say? Do you think players in the top 20 feel the same way?
ANDY RODDICK: I think so. I think if you ask the guys who have played the most, I know -- I hope I'm not misquoting someone, but I'm pretty sure I read Roger's quote that it's tough for me to play Davis Cup and this part of the year.
And I think we all feel the same. And then it becomes a Catch-22 between your country, and, you know, the swing through this part of world which has been so supportive of tennis.
I know Rafa has been pretty vocal about the season being long. He's had to pull out of the year-end championships a couple of times. I know Andy Murray is not feeling the best he's ever felt right now. You know, Juan Martin, I read his quotes last week, was feeling a little bit unprepared because of lack of preparation and time after the biggest win of his career.
I don't know that I've talked to everyone today, but judging from what I've read the last six years, it seems to be a pretty common sentiment. And then also seeing the examples of how Pete and Andre were able to keep their careers going as long as they did, you know, using that as an example.

Q. Is there a point where it just becomes too much and enough is enough? Is there ever a point where you'd consider the top players deciding that they're not going to play anymore and they'll strike?
ANDY RODDICK: It's tough. I mean, that's the last thing that anyone wants to do, but, you know, you get pushed -- you get pushed against a wall. I don't think any of us wants to do that, because even more so than feeling a responsibility to the powers that be in tennis, we feel a responsibility to the fans, you know, and I don't think we want to do that. We don't want to alienate our fans.
It's a tough situation, and that's why I think that we've put up with it as long as we have. You know, the last thing we want to do is cause, you know, something, let's say, the year-end championships where, you know, potentially you bag that, and, you know, that's the ATP tour's biggest moneymaker.
We don't want to have to go through setting up a new tour. Who knows how many, a year or two, we're going to lose in that process? It is a tough situation, you know. But I feel like you want to err on the side of having your best product out there all the time when it is out there.

Q. On a slightly positive side, something new and invigorating to get the juices flowing a little bit, the fact that London is staging the -- you're almost there. Is that an exciting prospect for you just to be there the first time that London is staging the finals?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I think so. Let's give credit where it is due. We did express the fact that it was a tough trip from the last tournament of the year from Paris to Shanghai, and I think they found a solution that made everybody happy.
There is a permanent tournament here in Shanghai now and not just a three- or four-year contract, and, you know, the players are happy because we'll probably be fresher for the year-end championships because we don't have to travel across the world again. So that is a definite positive that they listened to us and were able to find, you know, a great solution.
I think we all are excited to play in London. I was at that arena earlier this year for a concert, and it certainly is -- it's quite a place, and, you know, selfishly I've had great memories from playing tennis in London, and I always look forward to it.

Q. Just reflecting back on the last bit of the conversation, I mean, the calendar has been an issue now for years and years and years. None of this seems to get solved. 2010 and '11 have already been set in stone, aren't they, in terms of where you're going to go and the process. So when can we see, do you think, a situation where it could change, and who needs to be in that discussion? Who needs to make these decisions?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm not sure, but I don't know that it's up to the players to be making business decisions about the schedule, you know.
At a certain point, I wish our input would be -- you know, it's got to be someone's job to figure that out, right? You think?
You know, the question that was asked over here earlier, that's pretty much the only option. I don't think any of us want to do anything like that or anything that drastic. I mean, I think we enjoy being able to play enough. You know, we certainly respect our fans enough for it. I don't think that's a possibility.
I don't know. I hear a lot of -- you know, when I express these concerns, I hear a lot of problems with it, but I don't hear a lot of solution.

Q. Do you think back before you played and everything, one of the reasons they kind of joined the union to become the tour, as well, was to combat these problems, but now it seems like maybe the players would have benefited by a separate union to represent them as opposed to just the ATP?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I think so. I don't think -- I certainly don't see any other sporting leagues or federations following our lead as far as not being individually represented.
I was talking to a representative today, and they said, Well, it's 50%, you know, ATP and 50% players. I said, If that was the case, we would need one of you to agree with us. The numbers don't really add up to me too much, which maybe is our fault. Who knows? Maybe it is our fault.

Q. Just asking about your year.

Q. Given where you were at the end of last season and given your performances in the first three Slams in particular, would you have settled for this year the way it's gone?
ANDY RODDICK: Oh, I don't know that you ever settle as an athlete. I don't think that's the way we're made up, but, you know, I had kind of at least matched my career best showings with the first three Slams of the year. That was a really good thing. I was really close to winning a Grand Slam, which maybe a lot of people thought was maybe a goal that was in the past.
So overall, I'm happy because it was improvement. It was going, you know, up instead of down, which is, you know, the first time it's been that way in maybe three years or so.
So, you know, it certainly -- it's a process and we'll try to get it going the right way again. If I can improve as much next year as I did this year, then there's a shot.

Q. After the first-round exit in Beijing you had some extra time to spend in China?

Q. What was your schedule for practices or sightseeing?
ANDY RODDICK: I actually played doubles last week and was in the final, so I was doing that a lot, but only in between sightseeing visits. (laughter.)

Q. Juan Martin is basically in a position you had been at one point, winning his first Slam at the US Open and everything, and people are starting to pay a lot of attention and everything. What kind of situation is that for him? What kind of advice would you give him in terms of that?
ANDY RODDICK: He'll be fine. You know, first and foremost, his game is there, and that's the most important thing. It's not a -- you know, he's not one of these Grand Slam winners where you really question his game and think he was on a hot streak.
He has the goods and he has a pretty laid-back and relaxed personality, so I don't see him being fazed by a whole lot. Again, he's been a top 5 player for, you know, a year and change now.
So I don't think that is a new position. It's just maybe the outside stuff that's going to be a little bit newer, but, you know, he certainly doesn't need any of my advice.

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