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INTERVIEWS

March 10, 2007

A. RODDICK/F. Lopez

7-6, 6-4

An interview with:

ANDY RODDICK

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please, anyone?

Q. What did you think of your performance out there tonight?
ANDY RODDICK: You know, I did what I needed to do. I think I probably could have hit the ball a little bit better. I could have hit the ball better on transition. I don't know if I was committing to my shots enough.
But I served well and I put my returns in the court and, you know, gave me a chance. And I played well when I had to.
The first round is always a little awkward. I thought he served really well, so that made it a little tough as well.

Q. He looks good. He's got a game but he doesn't win that much, does he? Why? What holds Lopez back from being a better player than he is?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. Yeah, I don't watch his matches too often, I don't think. But I thought he played pretty well tonight. I thought he served -- I thought he served up in the 70s, which made it tough. So, you know, I thought I saw the good side of him tonight. Maybe just consistency. I don't know.

Q. If you had your druthers, what one thing would you like to improve the most on?
ANDY RODDICK: Oh God, I don't know if we have that much time. I got a pick one? I'd like to be -- you know, I return -- I return well in spots and I return well for a tournament at a time, and I'd love to be more consistent as far as how well I return. I feel like when I am returning well, it even helps my service games out, you know. So I'm capable of returning well. I just need to do it on a match-to-match basis.

Q. I work for a newspaper in Santa Barbara and I was wondering if you enjoy Jimmy Connor's hospitality there, what sort of things you work on? I understand you've been there.
ANDY RODDICK: Yes, I enjoy his hospitality very much. You know, we just work on tennis. You know, I'd never been to Santa Barbara before last summer, but, you know, it's a place I enjoy going to. It's a fun little town and, you know, there could be a lot worse places to have your coach live, that's for sure.
THE MODERATOR: Anymore?
ANDY RODDICK: Oh, we were close there.

Q. How is it to be coached, for differences in your other coaches, by tennis legend, you know, the fans come asking for interviews, they watch your games even more, the practice more than some matches? What's the main difference between other coaches and being coached by a legend, tennis legend?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm not sure, you know. When we're on the court and we're talking about tennis, he doesn't ever refer to himself as a legend. He doesn't bring it up. I've said before I have to, you know, almost beg him to talk about himself or what he accomplished. So that's probably a little bit different than other coaches I've had, but it's nice.
I mean, I don't know. I'm still a fan also, so I think I understand the fans' points of view when they are coming up to him. And I've never seen so many middle-aged men get absolutely dumbfounded when he walks around the corner. I get a kick out of it, you know. Between like the 14-year-old girls and the 60-year-old men, we've got it covered. We've got all the demographics (laughter).

Q. What is the single most important thing he's done to help improve your game, do you think?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I mean, technically, we've made a lot of changes, but I think the biggest thing was just right away, having someone who believed in me and kind of maybe knew that the player that I am was, you know, actually closer. I mean, we came out, I was kind of in the middle of a confidence crisis. I still knew I could play tennis. It was just a matter of kind of getting over the hump, and, you know, having him come in and say, you know, let's just not even think about it anymore. Let's just fix it now.
You know, it was nice to have someone of his stature kind of come in and have that confidence in me. Now whether it was false confidence or whether it was made-up confidence, I'm not sure, but it worked.

Q. As far as confidence, where do you think you were last year at this time at this tournament compared to now?
ANDY RODDICK: It was a bit of a struggle, as you guys probably remember. You know, the first six months of last year was pretty forgettable. I still -- I mean, I still somehow got through some matches, and, you know, was meeting matches most weeks, but it was never really that comfortable, you know. And, you know, I kind of had to go out there, and your guess was as good as mine as to how I was going to play.
So that's not a fun feeling, and, you know, I feel like it's a lot better. I feel like I'm in more control of what I'm doing out there right now.

Q. What are you talking about confidence level, where do you think you are compared, say, to, well, when you were at the U.S. Open -- can't remember?
ANDY RODDICK: '03. It was a long time. I can't remember either (smiling).
I feel like I'm a better player. I feel like the game has gotten better, and I've had to, you know -- I think the way that I played during the summer last year was probably some of the best tennis I've ever played, probably even better than from Cincinnati to the U.S. Open last year. I think it was better than the '03 run.
Yeah, Cincinnati, after the first round, I didn't get pushed to 5 in a set. I was pretty comfortable through most of the U.S. Open with the exception of Verdasco. I think that was a pretty high-level match, as well. But besides that I was getting through guys in straight sets pretty much every match.
If you compare the numbers, it would ring true. It's tough to compare the two. Confidence-wise I'm probably up there, but I've had to kind of overhaul it. It's a completely different game to me now than it was then. I've had to make adjustments.

Q. You may have addressed this the other day, but I wasn't here for most of the round-robin?
ANDY RODDICK: Slacking off?

Q. I was up at the dogs in Alaska?
ANDY RODDICK: What happened?

Q. Iditarod?
ANDY RODDICK: You did what? You were with the dogs?

Q. Yeah.
ANDY RODDICK: You're a dog reporter, too?

Q. I'm dogging you.
ANDY RODDICK: Come on, man. Come on, Rob. You're better than that, bro, I hope (laughter).

Q. Are you in favor of shelving the round-robin?
ANDY RODDICK: I think everybody is.

Q. At this point, without even going any further with the experimentation?
ANDY RODDICK: There's nothing to experiment with. There's too many holes in it. There's too many holes in it. I mean, you have the possibility of guys ducking matches, pulling out so other guys can go through. I mean, you have -- you know, there's just too much room for human error. There's too many holes in the rules of it, you know. I guess some people don't even know the rules of it - especially people who invent it.
So, I mean, I just don't see a lot of positives in it. Besides getting -- you know, it guarantees your guys are going to be there, you know, your top guy is going to be there for two matches. But I promise you, if they're playing that second match knowing they're not in anyways, it's not worth having them there. It's a glorified exhibition at that point.
So I guess the short answer would be no. Or, yes, I am in favor of shelving it. I personally don't think we'll ever see it again. It's got more holes than Swiss cheese, I'm telling you.

Q. Have you actively expressed that to ATP leadership?
ANDY RODDICK: I think we expressed that before it even happened. I promise you, when I got back from Australia, I tried looking at the draw from Del Rey Beach, I had no idea what I was looking at. I'm thinking, "If I don't understand it as a tennis player, I don't know how the casual tennis fan is going to understand."
I don't know what the hell an elimination round is or to get into the round-robin to play two-out-of- -- I mean, I just don't see a lot of sense in it. I mean, it's tough enough to follow when it's not in a major, much less making it like that. So, no, I'm not in support of it much.

Q. But it seems to work in Master's Cup. I know it's a smaller field, but I mean...
ANDY RODDICK: It's a lot easier to make it work when there's a year-end championship. There's a lot of pride between 10 guys. It's a lot easier to make it work when there's not 32 people or 64 people. And I think it works in the Master's Cup because it is such a unique event. It makes it a unique event. And, you know, like I said, I don't know if there's going to be as much wiggle room with the top 8 guys as far as ducking and pulling out and doing this and doing that and playing matches where you have to win a certain number of games. And if I'm being frank with you, at the Master's Cup, you win, what, 120 grand per match that you win. You know, so it's not a glorified exhibition. You're still -- I mean, if we're being honest, you're still out there playing for something, you know, at the end of the day.
So I think it's a completely different scenario than every week. I don't know if it's an every-week format.
THE MODERATOR: Anymore. Thank you very much.

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