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Andy Roddick Interview
March 13, 2011
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA - BNP PARIBAS OPEN
A. RODDICK/J. Blake
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. How do you feel about your tennis today?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I thought it was okay. It was tough to get a gauge on how I was playing because James was playing so aggressively. You know, he came out -- from the first game I realized his strategy was any time -- he didn't want to let me got a rhythm. I felt like he was coming out of his shoes.
It was tough, but the numbers looked good afterwards. I felt like I was hitting the ball okay, so it worked out.
Q. How is it playing James? We asked him about his rivalry with you since you have played a number of times over your careers. How has that evolved over the course of your career?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, I definitely think we've gotten closer over the course of our careers. When we used to play in 2001 and 2002, you know, we didn't really know each other very well before that. We never were in juniors together. He was in college; I was starting out. So there was a little bit of gap.
But spending so many weeks early on we were the only two young U.S. guys who were at tournaments, so we naturally, I guess kind of gravitated towards each other. And then being on the team together for so long, you know, he's one of my favorite people. He's someone who I always cheer for.
Q. He's done so much on the circuit, high ranking, best American, Portland hero, so forth, and so on. People still talk about him for some reason about being an underachiever. Would you talk about that?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I think that's the nature of American journalism in general. You know, it's easier and more obvious to talk about what someone hasn't done as opposed to appreciate how hard it is to get to 4 in the world.
You know, it's not an easy thing, especially coming out of -- he wasn't a junior tennis prodigy. He went to Harvard for God's sake, and came out and was No. 4 in the world in tennis.
If someone's gonna, I guess, look down upon that, they'd be very, very good at whatever it is that they do.
Q. You were referring to getting to know James. Can you talk about the evolution of your relationship with Isner and his evolution as a player?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, yeah, I mean, you know, I think we're probably not as close as the group I came up with. Obviously I think him and Sam are probably that next group, and they're probably, you know, the closest. But we all get along. I think we all cheer for each other.
You know, certainly last week was -- we were around each other all the time. I like John a lot. I think he's got a good spirit about him.
You know, as far as what you're going to get on the tennis court, it's one of those matches where you can play badly and win or you can be in good form and lose. It's a scary prospect. A lot of it depends on his serve, you know, how many looks you're going to be able to get at it.
You have to make sure and stay tough and take care of your side of the net and hope the opportunities come.
Q. As far as James goes, how has it evolved between you between the lines? You've evolved your games over the last 10 years.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I mean, it's kind of -- there's no secrets. I mean, obviously he's, you know, more aggressive once we get into a neutral rally than I normally am. It's a matter of him taking, you know, kind of pot shots at the return and getting a couple of them to stick. You know, he's trying to take away rhythm; I'm trying to take away rhythm from my serves; he's trying to do it from the baseline.
It's an interesting matchup that we've had.
Q. Both Austin where you live and San Antonio where you do a lot of work are up for Davis Cup. Which would you prefer? I could imagine. What would it be like for Davis Cup to be in Austin, which is of course a great sports town?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, it would be great. Either way the odds are in our favor to have it in Texas. You know, obviously I'd love to have it in Austin. It's my hometown. It hasn't had, you know, a professional level tennis since WTC out of Lakeway in the '70s. So selfishly I'd love that.
But again, I'm just happy it's on home soil, and I'm thankful that they even considered Austin.
Q. Raonic has come on the scene kind of suddenly. How would you compare him to Del Potro or anybody else? Is there anything sort of special about him?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. I mean, listen, you look at him, and you say, Okay, I think he's gonna be in the top 10 at some point. It would be hard not to. He returns pretty good; he serves great.
You know, I can speak from experience, when you have a weapon like that, it's almost like on-the-job training, but, you know, even your bad days you can still compete.
So, you know, he'll be fine. What is tough to predict is if you have a top 10 guy who is kind of in and out maybe between 10 and 20, has a good year, comes back, or is he a guy who is going to consistently be in the top 5 for a long time, that's between the ears, and that's a little tougher to predict.
Q. Do you have any sense of how dedicated he is or how bright he is?
ANDY RODDICK: He seems -- yeah, you know, we certainly talked a little bit, and he seems very not affected by his success, which I think is a good thing.
You know, anything you hear him talk about is how he's trying to get better at certain things. Not kind of tooting his own horn. He's certainly not buying into the hype as far as I can see, and I think that will serve him well.
Q. What's your thought on guys like him? He's 6'5", and more of these guys are like 6'5", 6'6". What's your thought on how that's shaping the game?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, it's certainly a trend. You can't teach 6'7". I've said that for a long time. You know, like any sport, athletes are getting bigger, stronger, faster. Now the crazy thing is you have guys 6'10" out here who can run a little bit; you have Del Potro who moves great, and he's 6'7".
We thought when Marat came out it was like this crazy thing that a guy was 6'4" and could run. Now we're adding three inches to that. Certainly seems to be there are more and more of these guys.
I remember back when I was watching tennis in the early '90s, you'd see Rosset and they referred to him like a giant. He was 6'5" and serving 125 miles an hour. I think the record was 128 for a while.
So the way it's going it definitely seems like a trend that's not going to stop soon.
Q. Besides the serve, what's the presence of playing someone like that?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, the serve. I mean, besides the serve, normally once you get past that, you know, you'd like your chances against most of the guys, you know, the big guys in a baseline game or something like that. But you have to deal with their serve. It's a game changer. It's the thing that's out of your control a lot of the times.
You can be playing great, like I alluded to earlier, and if a guy drops 10 aces in a set, then it really doesn't matter. If he hits a couple of good returns at the right time, it's a big advantage for them.
Q. You have put efforts into your philanthropic, into your organization. Can you talk about Andre? He's been sort of a model to you.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, personally he was very involved at the beginning of my career. You know, before it became awkward and we were both top 5 in the world, you know, he kind of let me at that point go and do my own thing.
But certainly -- you know, not just Andre, but, you know, I'm proud to be from tennis. We have a long lineage, whether it's Arthur Ashe or Billie Jean King or Andre, I feel like we do have a responsibility to live up to the people that came before us, and they've certainly gone to bat for their causes.
You know, Andre was the person who was, I guess, in my ear more than anybody else as far as that's what you need to do. You kind of need to give back. He certainly, you know, led for me vocally and by example.
Q. When did he tell that?
ANDY RODDICK: I was 17 years old.
Q. Did you go to his event?
ANDY RODDICK: No, I didn't even go to his event. We started practicing together a little bit. I would kind of bum around with him and he would use me as a practice partner. And, yeah, some day, you know, he'd say, If you have any questions for me, let me know. I didn't really talk until he gave me permission to.
But, you know, I asked him what his biggest regret was, expecting to hear, you know, something from -- you know, we've all lived Andre's career with him. He said his biggest regret was not starting his foundation earlier.
For someone who has accomplished as much as he has philanthropically, that hit home. We started mine six months after that.
Q. Can you talk about Davis Cup surface, assuming obviously clay is out. But if Nadal, Ferrer, Lopez, Verdasco all end up playing, I guess it would be a toss-up between fast hard or grass.
ANDY RODDICK: Well, like you say grass, but Rafa has won Wimbledon a couple times. I think it just -- obviously it's gonna be something quicker, but I don't necessarily -- I've heard grass, and I don't think that's necessarily any more of an advantage over a fast hard court.
You know, plus these guys might have -- you almost might want to switch it up because you're coming off of Wimbledon. So it's not my call, but, you know, I think the grass thing is a little -- I think people are being a little dramatic about it. I don't think it changes the dynamic of the tie that much.
Q. Do you like the Davis Cup format? You're still committed to Davis Cup?
ANDY RODDICK: What we think doesn't matter until -- I mean, we can sit here with all our hypotheticals. I don't like the format as is.
Q. What would you change if you could?
ANDY RODDICK: How much time do you have? I mean, I can't really --
Q. How much time will they give us?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, well, how much time, I guess that's up to me. I'm not gonna get into a real long-winded answer. I think scheduling, the fact that a defending champion wins in December and has to play the first round in February is ridiculous.
So you start with a two-team bye. Then also you can't get relegated. It's amazing to me that you can win, lose in February, and then be relegated out of the World Group a year later. I think that's ridiculous.
You can be sitting there at 2 in the world rankings or in the Davis Cup rankings that nobody really cares about, and all of a sudden you're being relegated. It's like Swiss cheese. There is a lot of holes in it.
Q. Early in your career you had a similar run to Raonic's rise up in the rankings. Can you compare what you see and how he's handling it and how you felt you handled it at the time?
ANDY RODDICK: We see through two different eyes. I mean, there are some similarities. I can relate just to the fact that I was - like I touched on earlier - just being able to have a serve. I was in the top 15 and I was still learning what I was doing out on the tennis court, and I feel he's going to be afforded that same luxury.
Q. The last shot against him in the final in Memphis, what would have been the goofiest follow-ups from it or people have said to you about it? How big a shot was it?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, it was great. Listen, in the moment, I mean, you're stressing. I let a break get away in the third set. You're stressing about winning a tennis tournament, you know. You're playing, I hit it, I didn't see it.
I rolled a couple times. I just assumed that I hit it in the third row. Two, three seconds go, the roof comes off the place. I look at him, and he kind of nods at me, like yes. That was it.
When you consider the circumstances, probably the best shot I've hit.
Q. What did you say when you shook hands with him?
ANDY RODDICK: I was like, I'm sorry. I was pretty lucky. He was good with it.
Q. Still, at the end of the day, does an athletic shot like that give you more pride, or really taking someone down with your legs and your condition like you did a couple Sundays ago?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, both. The thing that I took pride in, yeah, it was a diving shot, but I feel like 50% of the guys wouldn't have bothered with running for it. You throw enough crap against the wall, something sticks.