Since Mardy has his own forum now, he can have his own thread for news too
Here's a teleconference he did today with Andy, and also the Olympics Coaches PMac and Zina Garrison.
An Interview With:
COACH ZINA GARRISON
COACH PATRICK McENROE
RANDY WALKER: Thanks Zina. We’ll now we'll turn it over to the men's program. Right now, we have Andy Roddick with us on the phone from Paris, France. Andy, where does the Olympic Games fit into your career plans as far as competing and possibly winning a medal?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, it's something that I've dreamed about forever and a day. I'm super-excited. It's definitely right up there with the Slams for me this year.
Q. A lot of people in other sports are backing out, concerned about the season and wear and tear, and obviously your situation is very unique, but can you j ust talk about having the US Open so close, and obviously it's very important for you to compete in Athens?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, it's a packed, it's no doubt. It's every four years; it's the Olympic Games. Someone is going to have to drag me off the court not to play there.
RANDY WALKER: Also just called in is Mardy Fish, a member of the U.S. Davis Cup Team from Slovakia from the Playoff Round last September. The hero of Bratislava. Mardy, tell us about the thrill of representing the United States and international team competition, and then what it would be like to represent the United States in Athens.
MARDY FISH: Well, it should be great. One of the things I'm looking forward to is the opening ceremonies, walking out there with all of the guys from the United States and with my teammates, as well. It should be exciting.
Q. What kind of plans do you have to get to New York right way? Have you already looked into travel situations? And if you could talk about your experience with the fire in the hotel and what you learned from it, and if you'd do that again?
ANDY RODDICK: I have not made travel plans yet. I'm not sure what I'm doing tomorrow, much less two months down the road.
As far as the fire goes, the story's been told. I'm trying to -- I'm not trying to dwell on it too much. Hopefully I can avoid those situations.
Q. How would it rank in your career, would it be sweeter than a Grand Slam?
ANDY RODDICK: You know, like I said it's definitely right up there with a Grand Slam in my eyes. Obviously my ultimate goal in tennis was the US Open, but I want that gold medal, and I would definitely cherish it as much just as a Grand Slam title.
Q. It's expected to be very hot in Athens, what's the hottest tournament you guys have both played in and how do you prepare for those conditions?
MARDY FISH: I'd probably say Cincinnati is the hottest. It's really hot in Cincinnati and in Washington, D.C. Both of us grow ing up from Florida and me moving to Tampa now, and Andy in Boca and Austin, we're really used to the heat, especially in the summertime in Tampa. It's extremely hot, hot and humid so we definitely get used to me practicing here at Saddlebrook, and him practicing wherever he practices. (Laughter).
ANDY RODDICK: I definitely have to echo Mardy on that one. We are probably more used to it than probably 90 percent of the other players on Tour. Obviously, being in Florida and Texas, and all that good stuff, you know, I don't really mind the heat too much. I'd like to think that it affects my opponents more than it affects me.
Q. How is your hip and give us an update on that.
MARDY FISH: It's getting better. I am instructed to stay off of it for two weeks, and it will be two weeks tomorrow. So I'm going to start in tomorrow and see how it feels. They just diagnose it as tendinitis, hip tendinitis, and with a lot of rest and a lot of rehab, it should be fine.
Q. I kn ow don't really want to talk much about it, but it seems like what you did with the fire was pretty courageous. Are you embarrassed by the attention it received?
ANDY RODDICK: A little bit, because you don't do stuff like that to garner attention. Out of respect for the people who did not survive, I've chosen kind to talk about it once and then try to pay my respects.
Q. I just want to follow up with that briefly. How do you feel, though, personally, has it changed you at all, that experience, did it help you re-evaluate priorities, or are you just the same Andy?
ANDY RODDICK: Trying to be the same Andy. It's easier said than done, obviously. In the aftermath of it, kind of next couple of days, the more I thought about it, it shook me a little bit. But I had some good time at home to kind of regroup and coming over here, and my focus is definitely on tennis.
Q. Mardy, as it gets closer to the deadlines, the cut-off on the rankings, with your injury, are you con cerned at all about possibly not being able to play, and also your ranking not being a good consideration that one of these other guys might make a jump in the meantime?
MARDY FISH: I don't really know when the cut-off is for the four singles spots. I'd say I'm sitting pretty good right now, though. I don't have any points to defend since I haven't won any matches on the clay in about six years. I don't have anything coming up and I'm looking forward to the grass, and if the Olympics cut-off is after the grass, then, you know, that only helps me a little bit more, I guess, being my favorite surface is on grass.
RANDY WALKER: The cutoff, the ATP and WTA rankings from June 14 will be used for determining direct entry into the Olympic Games. Those rankings will be used as a consideration for Coach Garrison and Coach McEnroe to name the U.S. teams. They are, however, not bound to go directly by the rankings.
Patrick McEnroe is going to be calling in shortly. Oh, Patrick is here, so I'd like to introduce Patrick McEnroe who is a resident of New York, in addition to being the Olympic Men's Coach, he is the Captain of the U.S. Davis Cup Team and is right now in the country of the 2006 Winter Olympic games, Italy.
If you could give us a little bit of your thoughts on the 2004 Olympics and a little bit about where the American men stand.
PATRICK McENROE: Well, obviously, I think I've been excited about the Olympics, mostly because of how excited the players are. The guys seem very much to be looking forward to the Olympic Games, Andy Roddick in singles and the Bryan brothers in doubles, certainly we go in with an excellent chance to win the gold. And certainly with our other players like Mardy Fish and the other two slots are up for grabs a little bit at the moment, but between James Blake, Robby Ginepri, Taylor Dent and Vince Spadea, we have guys that love to play in hard courts and it's in the middle of a big summer, and the guys are very much l ooking forward to it.
It's going to be hot over there and fitness will be a key factor for the team and hopefully we can be ready.
Q. For Patrick, first of all, do you have a preference, would you rather have Olympic or Davis Cup titles, and do you have a concern about the time you get to the Davis Cup in September, you might have a burned out Andy Roddick or Bryan brothers, are you concerned about that at all?
PATRICK McENROE: The first part of your question is I'd rather have both. Obviously, we're doing pretty well this year so far in the Davis Cup, and we have bigger goals as far as trying to advance a couple more rounds. That's a big goal.
It's separate. If you asked Andy, I'm sure if would you prefer to win Wimbledon or the US Open, you'd like to do both. We'd like to have success in both and I think we can. I'm not worried about the guys being burned out. I think they have taken care of their bodies well. Obviously Andy had some time off now, which will pr
obably help for the rest of the year, looking ahead because it's going to be certainly a very busy couple of months.
As I said, what's really inspired me about being in the Olympics is how inspired the guys are. They have been talking about it all year, and I think it's something that they have really been looking forward to for a while. So for me, that's enough excitement to get me going and to try to help them in whatever way I can to have them do their best, and I think we'll do that over there.
I think Andy certainly played a lot in that last summer, and it didn't hurt him going into the US Open at all. You know, with his type of game and his style, he can win quite a few matches pretty comfortably. I think we'll be in good shape and I think the Bryan brothers thrive on playing a lot of matches and constantly being out there. You know, there certainly will be no lacking in motivation to do well at the Olympics.
Q. Back in 1988 some people questioned the status of tennis in the Olympics because it was not the biggest sport in the other tournaments, US Open, etc., Now that we've played four Olympic tournaments, how would you suggest tennis has countered that initial opinion?
PATRICK McENROE: I think it's changed. I agree that was initially the assessment of a lot of us, certainly myself, I didn't grow up with tennis as part of the Olympics. I have my reservations at that point, but I think now, it's such a worldwide sport, and obviously with the Olympics being really professional, essentially these days you want to have the best of the best, and that's what you have in tennis now.
I, for one would like to see the Olympics move to a little more of a team concept. And I know that's something that's being discussed for four years down the road, more of like a team against team, and maybe you have individual medals going along with that, as well. I think that would be better for the Olympics, but that's just my opinion.
Sure, I think the players now that are playing the Olympics have grown up with tennis back in the Olympics. So to them, it might be bigger than the Slams. You ask a lot of the players, I think they might say they would want to win the Olympics this year more than any other tournament.
So, you know, that's great that that's happened, and I think tennis deserves to be in the Olympics as the premiere sporting event in the world. Tennis is such an international sport, I think it is just helping the game overall that it's part of the Olympic Games.
Q. What will it take for you, Andy, to do well at the French Open?
ANDY RODDICK: For me it's just a matter of being consistent on clay. When I'm not playing my best tennis, it shows a little bit more on the dirty stuff. But, you know, some things need to go my way. Obviously, if it's dry and the court plays a little bit faster, if it's sunny out the whole two weeks, that's preferable. But at the same time, you know, I choose to believe th at I do have a chance.
Q. Coming on the 15-year anniversary of Michael Chang's landmark victory at the French Open, I was wondering Patrick or anyone else, can you reflect back on Michael's impact on the game, a guy who was not the biggest?
PATRICK McENROE: Well, Michael was a guy who got every single ounce out of his ability that anyone possibly could. He was the ultimate competitor. And that French is still one of the most remarkable wins I've ever seen in Grand Slam tennis of what he was able to do. He was No. 2 in the world, he was in multiple other Grand Slams Finals and a match away from becoming No. 1, and I think he lost to Rafter in the semis. He had a remarkable career and just the ultimate competitor. I don't think there's any better way to describe Chang than he literally squeezed every ounce possible out of what he had and put it on to the tennis court.
Q. Andy and Mardy, if you are selected to the Olympic team, would you like to be on the other doub les team?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I've already made it known to Patrick that I would love to be on -- I would love to play doubles in the Olympics.
MARDY FISH: I think, yeah, that would be great, obviously to, play with Andy. He's a really good friend of mine, growing up with him and thinking about playing the Olympic, playing doubles. I've played some doubles with him, so hopefully I'll be able to play with Andy.
Q. There's been a lot of talk this week from a lot of athletes about the whole against-the-Americans thing, this and that; and you of course being in such a fine player, already a lot of places root against you because you're so good. Is it going to feel like a Davis Cup situation on the road where your opponent, the crowd gets behind them a lot?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm going to cheer for the Americans; that could just be me. I'm not too concerned. I've had enough experience. I played Davis Cup in France. Obviously, playing players like Federer in Switzerland and Rusedski in England and stuff like that, I've kind of already been in most situations, so I'm not too concerned. I'll be so happy to be playing there. I won't let it affect me too much.
Q. Regarding Mardy, two questions. First, you and Mardy, can you talk about your friendship and how that helped you guys? And secondly, can you provide any kind of funny stories about Mardy about maybe times you guys have had together?
ANDY RODDICK: I have plenty of stories about Mardy, but I don't know if they would be suited to this phone call. (Laughter).
I mean, it's obviously nice to have a familiar face on Tour and someone that I've known before we got into the whole professional tennis era, and it's kind of fun to have someone to measure ourselves against. We talked about all of these things when we were 15 and 16 years old, and it's fun to share with him as we're going through these experiences.
Q. If you don't mind, could you sort of speak as a tennis analyst o n the handicap of the men's field at the French, if you don't mind?
PATRICK McENROE: Well, briefly, I think Coria is one of the favorites, from Argentina, he has had a tremendous season, I think you'd have to throw Federer in there now obviously. To me, he was one of the contenders and now maybe he's one of the favorites; he just won at Hamburg. Ferrero, the defending champ, has got to be in there. Despite the fact that like Andy says, he has not played a lot in the last few weeks, but certainly clay is a favorite surface.
So to me, I think those three guys would be the favorites. I think Andy is certainly in contention. I wouldn't -- no offense to him -- but I wouldn't put him as one of the favorites like I would any of the other Grand Slams. This is definitely a tougher surface for him, but in saying that, he's won multiple tournaments on clay in his career. I think it's just a matter of time before he puts it together and plays well in Paris. And as he said, his goal it to get through the first round. I think he's going to have a great French Open, and certainly, if he gets to the second week, he knows how to win in the Grand Slam.
But you certainly, you know, the Ferrero and Federer guys, it's hard to say that they don't come in as favorites. But it's pretty tough to say that one guy is clearly the guy. There's just too much depth at the top of the game and there's great young players that are winning the big tournaments. To me, that's what makes it such an exciting time in men's tennis with Federer and Andy with Ferrero, Coria, these guys are all under 22 and playing their best tennis in the world and winning at the big tournaments. It should be just a hell of a year with the French, Wimbledon, Olympics, the Open, Davis Cup, for men's tennis.
Q. If you have one of the top guys, you're starting to look at three, four, five and six, Spadea is in there, James Blake, Taylor Dent, would doubles have any -- would the second doubles team ot her than the Bryan brothers, potentially being the first would that have any influence --
PATRICK McENROE: I envision that happening. As I said before, and I'll say it again, my intention is to go directly by the rankings for the four single spots for the Olympic team. I think that's the fairest way to do it, unless there's a serious injury or there's some extenuating circumstances that are related to what's happening. That's my intention. I feel like the Olympics is too important. It's every four years. It's not a Davis Cup type situation where obviously I haven't always gone by the rankings based on matchups and based on court surface and based on who is hot, etc.
I feel like the Olympics, it makes the most sense. It is the fairest; I'm going to go straight by the rankings. Bryan brothers are going to be a team, and then we'll get a doubles team out of the four singles players. I'm pretty confident that amongst those four singles players, whoever they may be, we'll be on the field with an excellent doubles team.
Q. So you may have Spadea on the Olympic team without him ever on the Davis Cup team?
PATRICK McENROE: Well, he's played on a Davis Cup team before in Spain, not when I was a captain. He has played in a match in Davis Cup.
Q. Will you be looking closely at how they play during the French Open to assess, you mentioned you wanted a slower surface for the semifinals, will you be looking at that closely?
PATRICK McENROE: The first we are going to play on will be a slow hard court. That's been decided by us, by the team members, and that's what we are going to go with. It will be an outdoors, slow hard court.
RANDY WALKER: And we, the United States Tennis Association, will be announcing that venue probably in the next 48 hours or so. Thank you for joining us today, and we wish Andy luck at the French Open and we'll wish Mardy a speedy recovery and good luck on the grass season.
You can hear Patrick provide his excellent commentary at the French on ESPN.