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INTERVIEWS

March 17, 2007


R. NADAL/A. Roddick

6-4, 6-3

An interview with:

ANDY RODDICK

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Was that a question of him playing perfect or you not establishing what you wanted to establish?
ANDY RODDICK: Probably both. I thought he played real well. I mean, when I watched him the last six months or so, he kind of, I'd been playing a little bit more defensive and leaving balls short sometimes, and today he came out and played super-aggressive, got great depth. I never felt comfortable. I felt like his ball was really jumping out there. So I wasn't getting good swings on it. Combine that with me on my own service games, it makes for an uphill battle.

Q. So you talk about coming in the other night about making aggressive shots, moving in. When he's hitting without the top spin, it's tough to get in?
ANDY RODDICK: Especially on this court, the ball really takes off and, you know, I just felt like I was kind of -- I was kind of fighting it off some points. Then if I did get a look I got so excited, I maybe rushed it a little bit.
You know, so I think a lot of the credit goes to him, though. I thought he returned well. I thought he served really well today and kind of had me on heel step.

Q. You almost seemed to get over ran sometimes. You know, Australia was a tough match. It seemed like you were overeager, you were dying to get at these guys, and some how, it throws you off a little bit?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know about that. I don't feel that way, so I guess I can't comment further on it.

Q. You've had a couple really tough matches with Fernando Verdasco, another Spanish left-hander. Do you think it's the left-handed baseline game that maybe is challenging for you?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I've gotten Verdasco a lot more than he's gotten me. But my record against lefties in my career is actually pretty good. You know, I think it has more to do with just the kind of ball that he was hitting out there today rather than being lefty, righty. He was picking balls off both sides today, so, you know, I don't know if that's as key as him just playing well today.

Q. How tough is it to close points out at the net against him 'cause he passes unbelievably well?
ANDY RODDICK: A couple times he picked a couple off his shoes running in the forehand and hit them. I mean, just crushed them up the line. It wasn't even like he was hitting set passes. I mean, I had him running, I had him kind of below the net where I wanted him, and he was almost hitting them flat and hard up the line.
When he hits passes like that, it makes it real difficult. He's tough, because, I mean, it's no secret he moves well, and when he's kind of adding playing aggressively and clicking and hitting the ball confidently as well as his defense, it's -- you know it's why he's become the player that he's become.

Q. Is it surprising that he played so aggressively today, were you playing --
ANDY RODDICK: I didn't -- no. I mean, I've watched a couple matches throughout the week, and he's obviously gotten better as he's going along.
Over the last six months, I feel like guys have been getting hits in on him, kind of hit one, two balls maybe, get a short one. He's had trouble with a couple of big hitters, and today, he was -- you know he wasn't only hitting like his hook forehand to the backhand, but the shot that he was killing me with, he was just cracking it up the line, from his forehand, you know, kind of going this way and almost, you know, just hitting up the line. I haven't seen that one a lot from him lately. So it did surprise me a little bit, yeah.

Q. Playing like that, could he beat Federer?
ANDY RODDICK: This is a good surface for him to do it, you know. Obviously it's tough, you know. But I think if he plays like that, he definitely gives himself a shot. He must have played similar to that last year in Dubai if he beat him on hard. You know, but he's beaten him before, so I don't see why not.

Q. If you were to play him again, say, next week, would you imagine having to do something different or doing what you did today better?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, we were talking about it, Jimmy and I just now, and we said, you know, we're going to have to go back and look at this match and really kind of think about what we would try to do a little bit differently. You know, you can say you want to go with this stuff, but with him playing the way he was, I got outplayed, start to finish, that's the bottom line.
He out played me today. His ball was jumping. It was tough for me to really get much on my ground strokes because of that. I definitely have to play better. The things that I did well this whole week was serve and that first forehand. I played two really bad games with those two shots. So I'd have to clean up those to give myself a better shot.

Q. A little bit more of a touch game in there. Did that mess up his rhythm at all or mess you up more than him?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, I hit a couple slices deep and he kind of crushed them today. But I don't know if that my best play against him is dropshots and finesse. I mean, he seemed like he was coming out and swinging from the hips today. I don't know.
I personally don't feel like that would have been the play today, but what do I know, I got my butt kicked, so, you know, maybe you're onto something.

Q. Back to his serve, what you mentioned a little bit, is it spin and placement or is he hitting a little harder than you expected it his serve?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I mean both. I thought he mixed it up well, but he was hitting flat up the T on the add side today, which you don't see a lot. You normally expect the can opener and then he's going to take the big one. He was doing that. He must have hit the line six or seven times where I didn't a play on it so, credit to him. He served well today.

Q. Your game seems to be changing right in front of our eyes, basically over the months as you're incorporating different things and trying new things. Is that -- I mean, so is that match like a barometer for how you're coming along? Does it make you wonder about what direction you need to take now?
ANDY RODDICK: No. I look at it as -- you know, I kind of try to look at it as a process. If you're telling me, you know, I was two points away from dropping out of the top 20 if I lose that first match in Cincinnati, and now I'm 3 in the world. I'm losing -- the guys I've lost to this year, Murray, Haas, Federer, Nadal - that's right, right - there's progress being made. It's a matter of stepping it up to that next level. I've gotten back to where I feel like I belong, you know, kind of in the spectrum of the game. And now it's just a matter of finding that next level and improving that much more.
And that's it's easier said than done. But I'm going the right way. I'm, you know, even the weeks where I don't feel like I'm hitting the ball great, I'm still getting deep in the tournament. I'm giving myself a shot. I just have to keep plugging away. It happened real fast at first. It's a matter of trying to maintain that and getting better. You know, I'm going to keep plugging.

Q. We don't know who's going to play in the final, but who would you give more chance, if he plays well like this, maybe Djokovic or Murray in the final?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. If he plays like that, I think it's tough for either one, to be honest. You know, I know him and Murray had a tough one in Australia, but I think a lot of it depends on how Rafa plays.

Q. Did you watch Murray last night?
ANDY RODDICK: I did.

Q. What did you think?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, I don't know. It was good TV. You know, I had a Holyfield fight on ESPN Classic that I had to turn off to watch Murray and Haas. So it was -- I didn't know what the hell was going on at any time during that whole match. I was thoroughly confused.

Q. Is that part of his secret, to thoroughly confuse people?
ANDY RODDICK: Confuse and conquer?

Q. Is that an element to his game? Is it part of his game to confuse your position and then to beat you?
ANDY RODDICK: I guess. I don't know if you -- I mean, I don't know, Neal, you think he goes into -- in the matches saying, "I'm really gonna confuse this guy, and then once I'm down a set and roll around for a while, I'm gonna come out and kick his ass"? You think that's a planned attack (laughter)?

Q. That aside, part of his strategy is to bamboozle the opposition, something that he does?
ANDY RODDICK: I love your words.

Q. He does it better than anybody else?
ANDY RODDICK: Let's not get carried away with "better than anybody else." I mean that's --

Q. Better than 75 percent of the players?
ANDY RODDICK: At least 75 percent, for sure. I'll give you that. But, no, he does -- the way he's able to kind of mix it up and, you know, you kind of have trouble getting a read on how he -- he is able to play different ways. You feel like he's about to die, then he's running like crazy, and then it's, you know -- and so he's tough.
I mean, he's tough. He doesn't go away and he has a lot of shots to -- he definitely makes you think out there. It's a chess match with him.

Q. So what were you thinking when he was sitting there having his ankle worked on for seven, eight, nine minutes?
ANDY RODDICK: I was actually at dinner thinking, "I hope my steak gets here soon. I'm hungry." And then I said -- I remember I was waiting for my food and I was over at the bar watching the TV, while we were waiting for our food, these guys were sitting behind, they were saying, "Oh, he's out for four months."
I said, "I think he'll be running around in about 15 or 20 here." And I won, yeah (smiling).

Q. Is that annoying?
ANDY RODDICK: Sorry?

Q. As an opponent, is that annoying?
ANDY RODDICK: No. I mean, you look at the replay, he definitely tweaked his ankle a little bit. A lot of times you don't know how bad it is at first. There's that shooting pain. There's a matter of if you can walk it off or not. Sometimes you can five minutes later and sometimes you can't. I mean, I'm sure it didn't feel good today, but, you know, you like to give the guy the benefit of the doubt there.

Q. Can you give me an update on your charitable foundation? Is there anything happening this year? What's the final total, because the book, you know, is up to your mom, I assume?
ANDY RODDICK: Yep. No, we've got a couple events later in the year already. We actually have some exciting people come. I'm not able to say yet, but very soon we'll have -- we have a good lineup this year at a couple of events, so I'm excited about that.

Q. Andy, in terms of Davis Cup, it will be a fresh new day there, 14, 15,000 screaming Americans. You'll be wearing the red, white, and blue, so to speak. Is that a fresh start and can you comment on that?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, it's a fresh start. I'm not going to carry this over, whatever, a month, three weeks from now or whatever it is. And hopefully, the court will be a little bit different. Hopefully the ball will stay a little bit down. If I drive through the ball, it will go through the court a little bit more. It's a different time, you know. It's why you play tennis. You come to prove yourself on a weekly basis. I'm going to have to do it there a little bit better than I did this week. It's as simple as that.

Q. Back to today's match.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah.

Q. Was there any point you thought --
ANDY RODDICK: That's no fun.

Q. Party pooper. I'm sorry.
ANDY RODDICK: I was having fun for the first time.

Q. Was there any point where you thought you could turn it around or did it go by so fast you really felt like you couldn't get it if you wanted?
ANDY RODDICK: I really screwed it up in the first game, second set, because I was starting to play -- I played a bad game in the first set. I played a really bad game at the start of the second set. He kind of -- when someone's confident, you kind of give him charity on top of it, it really doesn't help the situation. And, you know, from there, I felt like I was really playing catch-up. Because in the first set, besides that, I probably hit double, and I missed a forehand.
But besides that, I actually didn't hit the ball that badly, and I played just a horrible game the first game of the second set. You know, it was -- I made it real tough on myself there after that. You know, I felt like he did a good job of putting the clamps down after that.

Q. Do you feel like you're able to shake it off, though? I mean, sometimes it looks like you get yourself going just a little bit and can you pull back any time before it disintegrates totally?
ANDY RODDICK: What was that question? Sorry, I didn't --

Q. It looks sometimes like you get a little excited about the couple mistakes you make. I wonder if that takes you over the edge and that game is gone?
ANDY RODDICK: I love these questions 'cause if I use it like the other night and I'm excited and go, it's like, oh, you've got this good positive energy going the last couple of months, if I -- I'm expressive on court. I always have been. It's the way I play. It works for me. I actually didn't -- I yelled late in the second set, but besides that, nothing was broken today. I didn't drop my racket at all. You know, I don't know if that was the case today.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

Q. Which Holyfield fight was it?
ANDY RODDICK: Who was it? It was against Mercer. It was the first, the come-back fight. I didn't see it, though, because I had Days of Our Lives going on the other channel.
Thanks.

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