Another loooooooong one - Siebel Open Teleconference
January 12, 2004
GREG SHARKO: Thank you for joining in for today's Siebel Open conference call with world No. 1 Andy Roddick who joins us from Melbourne. Andy will be making his third appearance in San Jose, having reached the second round in 2000 in the semifinals two years ago. Last year at 21 years, two months he became the youngest American to finish No. 1 in the history of the ATP rankings. He captured a career high of six titles in eight Finals highlighted by his first Grand Slam title at the US Open. Before we start, I just want to introduce tournament director, Bill Rapp who'd like to say a few words to everybody.
BILL RAPP: I just wanted to thank all of you for taking the time to spend sometime with the world's No. 1 player, Andy, and Andy, we are glad to have you back for a third year and hope you can pick up a title this year.
ANDY RODDICK: All righty, thank you.
GREG SHARKO: Thank you. Before we begin, I want to let you know that our friends at asapsports.com will be providing a transcript and you can go to their web site probably about an hour after the call and get the transcript from this call.
Q. What are your priorities for 2004 after a great 2003; what are you focusing on this year?
ANDY RODDICK: For the first time in a while where I am not really focused on numbers as pertaining to goals. I just want to keep improving. Even though I finished No. 1 and really had a great year in 2003 I still feel like I have lots of room for improvement.
Q. What areas are you striving to improve upon?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't think there's a shot that I can't improve on. Especially I'd love to improve on my return games. I feel if I can make that, you know, a threat every time out on the court that it will make things that much easier.
Q. Can you convey how your life has been different the last few months since you won the US Open; since you became No. 1?
ANDY RODDICK: It's been kind of, you know, kind of the same things; maybe just on a different level. I have gotten to do some pretty cool things. I think a lot of it is just -- it's just, you know, having deserved that attention for a while,(Laughs), as opposed to just having it be hype, and that has been a pretty good feeling.
Q. Any examples of some cool things that you have been able to do the last few months that weren't able maybe available to you before the fall?
ANDY RODDICK: Obviously hosting Saturday Night Live was pretty fun. That was something I never thought that I'd be able to do, so that was pretty cool.
Q. Any specific memory of that? What about that was maybe unexpected or particularly exhilarating?
ANDY RODDICK: It was cool because I felt, you know, extremely vulnerable -(Laughs) - you know, on the tennis court, even if I play badly, it's still better than most people, but, you know, going into Saturday Night Live I felt totally vulnerable. It was a different type of adrenaline rush that you get on the court, so it was a very cool experience.
Q. I wondered what kind -- having a season like 2003, what does that do in terms of your relationship with Brad now; how much does he become more central now or does he become less central because you have had that kind of success; does it change anything?
ANDY RODDICK: No, you know, I don't think you should change something if it's working. A lot of times you will see people try to do stuff like that, but I am just trying to keep it the same. I am not really getting too high or low on anything. I just want to kind of try to keep an even keel and stick to what has been working the last couple of months.
Q. What do you remember about -- I think you played San Jose twice; right?
ANDY RODDICK: Yes.
Q. You made the semis one time. But I don't know all the details.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I made the semis; then I got schooled by Andre pretty badly in the semis(Laughs) so, you know, I definitely had something to improve upon in regards to the Siebel Open.
Q. How about the other times?
ANDY RODDICK: The other time --
GREG SHARKO: Gambill.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I remember I beat Woodruff then lost to Gambill in two tiebreakers. That was -- I don't think I was ranked inside the top 130 at that time so yeah, it was very cool of Mr. Rapp to give me the opportunity to play there, and so I always will be thankful for that opportunity.
Q. A quick question, a follow-up on that Saturday Night Live, is that something that you can see maybe doing a bit more of even during your playing career?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I definitely don't think they will ask me to do it again (Laughs), but -- I don't know, you know, obviously tennis is my primary focus, you know, I will never say never to anything, but right now tennis is kind of what I am going for and it will always be my priority.
Q. The Australian coming up, obviously you are shooting to win that. Do you feel pretty good right now?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I feel good. I am excited to get the chance to play three matches this week here. I think that's pretty crucial to get some matches in. I feel good on the surface here, and I am ready to go. I am excited for the first tournament of the year.
Q. With the heat in Australia now how is that doing? Obviously you are not coming -- you didn't come from some place that's real hot, so how is the heat and how are people coping with it?
ANDY RODDICK: Honestly it's not that bad right now.
Q. I know it can get bad there.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, but it is a drag, you know, I think being from Florida and having grown up in that climate it's not really -- the heat isn't something I mind too much. I think I played last year on one of the hottest days and we were the only match on-court at that time because they had the heat rule in effect so they couldn't start any new matches so I don't really mind it too much. To be honest, it's really not even bad at all right now.
Q. Can you sort of speak about what impact Brad Gilbert has had? I think there were quotes where you said you guys really just clicked, but I am curious sort of how specifically he's helped you think better and strategize maybe better about your tennis game?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, he's kind of changed my thinking a lot. As opposed to focusing on what your deficiencies are and trying to fix those, I think he focuses a lot more on what your opponent's deficiencies are and how you can take your game and exploit those. So it's kind of been a really different way of thinking, and Brad is just really relaxed. We have a really good time, you know, it's not do-or-die every second of the day. We goof around. We have a good time. So it makes it a lot more relaxed atmosphere which makes it a lot easier to perform.
Q. Was there a specific match last year where that really came into play, where you were exploiting someone else's deficiencies rather than maybe concentrating on your own?
ANDY RODDICK: Not one specific match. It is kind of something I tried to adopt from our first tournament together in Queens. I think it was just a gradual process of improving at that. I still feel like I am, you know, still trying to grasp it everyday. But I don't think there was one specific instance, you know, I think, you know, as soon as we started that whole kind of trip from Queens through the US Open was a testament to that.
Q. Talk a little bit about Federer, how you feel like you match up against him, what you are looking to do against him this year and whether or not is he pretty much the bar for you at this point?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, obviously, I mean, he's gotten the better of me so far. I feel like the first, you know, three times we played it was earlier on in both of our careers and he was just much better at that point, plain and simple. I didn't have nearly the amount of polish on my game that he had, and, you know, the last, I think it's, what, the last two times I have lost to him have been first set tiebreakers and I think that's crucial; whereas normally I can find a way to win those, he's gotten the better of me in those. He's a great frontrunner. Once you get down to him you don't see him, you know, just all of a sudden take his foot off the gas so I think it's crucial to try to play well from the start against Federer.
Q. Is he the kind of guy that makes you not only mentally, but on-court, improve your style and add some new elements to your game?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, absolutely, you know, all these top guys are good because you know as good as you are, they can still show you -- exploit you on certain days so that's obviously very inspiring.
Q. I was wondering in the past a lot of the most interesting subplots in tennis were the women, and you would find people talking more about the women's side of it. Have you noticed a sea change in that in the last few months or even since you rejoined the circuit, do you get a sense that people are really interested in just what is going on in men's tennis right now?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, 100%. Absolutely. There are a lot of personalities right now in the men's game, a lot of contrasting styles, and, you know, with the exception of Andre, there's been almost a complete changing of the guard as far as the young guys kind of taking over, you know, at the top of the game. So I think that makes it very exciting; people are getting intrigued again; maybe they can sense a new generation of players that they will be able to watch for a little while to come.
Q. Did you ever get that situation where you would be out and about and the people in the public wouldn't want to know about men's tennis but would be asking you "What do you think about Venus and Serena" or "What do you think about Jennifer Capriati" and did it ever at all frustrate you?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, the question you get sometimes is: "Can you beat Serena?" And -- (Laughs), you know, so that would be like, okay, well, you definitely get the feeling that they were -- I mean, the Williams' sisters totally took over, you know, the game for a while and took it by storm and deservedly so. They are a great story, but, you know, with them kind of maybe taking a little bit of time off maybe it's our turn to maybe step it up a little bit.
Q. (Inaudible) Kid on the show, I think Richard, talking about adopting you -- Were there times where they had lines where you -- would they actually let you do that, like, script control, in a sense?
ANDY RODDICK: Absolutely. There were lines that I definitely cut out (Laughs) when it became a little too risque, I guess, you know, and they are not the most knowledgeable tennis crowd in the world so if there was something that I could three in here or there, you know, then I would, I'd volunteer it. But it was totally an open mike as far as that stuff went.
Q. I can only imagine that Mac had a few contributions too?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, he came in, I think it was one day during rehearsals and took over and gave his ideas on what he thought should happen and how the show should go, but it was great to hear him. I thought he did a really good job. It was nice having him there.
Q. Last year's Australian Open, obviously the Younes got all the attention, just the drama of it all, but do you think in a sense, your previous one against Youzhny, it was like a coming of age that sort of propelled you forward to the next one?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I hate to think of it in dramatic terms like that. I think it just showed me that I'd never done it before, and, you know, now that maybe I knew I could do it, when I found myself in the similar situation, you know, a couple of nights later, it was a little bit more familiar for me. Those were definitely two big matches, I -- it showed me that my fitness levels were good enough to play two back-to-back five-setters, you know, and have the mental kind of strength to get through it also.
Q. You talked a little bit about working with Brad, but this is the first chance you will have had a time to work without tournaments being involved. Did that improve your relationship? Did you think it was good enough before, and what are some other things that you have learned?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I mean, as far as, you know, our relationship goes, I don't know if it improved it. It didn't change. Our relationship was always very good from the word go. So I don't think it changed in that aspect. It's just working on little things, and I am not going to tell everybody because then they'd all know (Laughs) but, you know, it was good maybe to get away from the Tour and just have it kind of be us in training.
Q. You also bought a new house in Texas?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah.
Q. Moved in the off-season too?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, was trying to touch it up a little bit. I am still going to spend a lot of time in Florida, but, you know, in the future, hopefully I will get to spend a little bit more time there also to be closer to my brother.
Q. Everyone always says it is much harder to stay on top than to get to the top. Now that you are there, you know, is your mental approach different than from getting there?
ANDY RODDICK: No, I don't think so. I feel like I am on top of the rankings but I don't think there's any player that's clearly head and shoulders above the rest right now. So I was just the one who was lucky enough to be on top of the points standings. So I definitely feel that there's a lot of guys and we are all pushing each other to become better. So that's kind of the way I see it.
Q. Do you notice that players approach you differently now than they did, let's say, one year ago?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I mean, obviously, you know, I feel like I gained a little bit more respect from the players, but with that being said, there's also a bull's eye on my back every time I go out there now. They'd all love to beat the guy who is ranked No. 1. I know I have a couple of times that I have done it in the past, so, it does make it harder, but I enjoy challenge like that.
Q. Is there anything specific that you have worked on during this -- I mean, you have a very brief off-season really, it's not like other sports, but is there anything specific in the last few weeks that you have done or --
ANDY RODDICK: It's just a lot of work overall. There's not one particular thing that I just went all out on. I think it was a combination of a lot of different things.
Q. Where were you? Were you here in Florida?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I was in Texas some of the time and I was in Florida some of the time.
Q. I was wondering could you tell me where Davis Cup rates for you? How important a part of your season is it? Is it something that's even on your mind now given you have got the Australian Open coming up between your first round match?
ANDY RODDICK: No, I mean, right now, no. It's obviously in the back of my mind, but obviously what is in the forefront is the Australian Open. With that being said, Davis Cup is one of my highest goals and one of my highest priorities. But we can worry about that as soon as the Australian Open is done and then I will throw myself fully into winning a Davis Cup tie.
Q. A couple of people have talked about -- Andre talked about it in Houston; John McEnroe recently was talking about it, the need for, they expressed their thoughts that there's a need for a commissioner in tennis, somebody to bring all the different organizations together, bring the alphabet together; one person in charge, do you have an opinion on that?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I mean, agree. I think there's too many people with the say and maybe we are not maximizing the sport because of it. I'd love it if everybody kind of was under one umbrella and had to work together in order to see it. So, you know, I definitely agree.
Q. (Inaudible) when you look back at 2003 was that the crucial match in terms of testing the depth of your reserves or was there another match that sticks out?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, I guess it depends how you look at it because testing my physical reserves, by far, that was the biggest, but the Nalbandian match at the US Open was pretty crucial for me too. I think there was a lot more on the line. Maybe I thought -- I knew that I could maybe win the US Open, and so, you know, that one was big for me.
Q. You have reached No. 1, so what advice have you gotten from Brad or anyone else about how to stay there?
ANDY RODDICK: I think you just got to keep working hard. I don't think there's some magic potion and, you know, obviously I have always heard that it's tougher to stay No. 1. I haven't experienced it yet, but I am definitely going to take that as fact. I am just going to have to keep playing. I am not going to psych myself out by numbers. I am just going to try go out there and keep improving and doing the things that I have been doing the last couple of months.
Q. But has anyone give you a nugget that you thought, oh, that's good advice?
ANDY RODDICK: Not really. We are trying not to focus too much, you know, on the ranking, or, you know, I think we just want to keep improving. Brad keeps telling me, okay, we did good things, but, you know, you still have a lot to improve on. So that kind of sticks with you, you don't have the time to think about what you have done because there's always maybe a new challenge ahead.
Q. You have talked about the changing of the guard. Is there kind of a kinship among you and some of the young Americans to be that new Sampras/Agassi/Chang/Courier group to come up again?
ANDY RODDICK: There's never going to be another group like that again. I will just start by saying that. I don't think it's possible. You have two of the greatest of all time and then you add in, you know, Jim Courier, who is maybe the next tier; then you have Chang, and Todd Martin and Washington and all of these guys that were competing for Grand Slams. It's definitely a tall task, but with that being said, we need to focus on what we can do. We definitely want to bring the excitement back to the game and give people something to watch.
Q. You mentioned Saturday Night Live and some of the other aspect of being No. 1. Has it been sort of equally dizzying to see yourself in non-sports magazines and see your personal life cover being treated like a celebrity the last couple of months?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, that stuff absolutely means zero to me. It means nothing. That's stuff is just people talking. And it kind of just rolls off my back.
Q. Can you even go out in public? When you go out socially, has it become -- reached the point where, given you are on People Magazine and Vogue and everything else, that you are approached regularly or can you go out and enjoy a night out without being hassled?
ANDY RODDICK: Both. I don't see it as too much of a hassle. When I do go out people come up and, you know, say "Well done," or, you know, want to chat for a second but that's fine. For the most part I get to hang out with my friends with no problems.
Q. You obviously have given your heart and soul to this sport. I was wondering if the spector of performance enhancing drugs perhaps is clouding the sport as power becomes more of an issue worries you at all?
ANDY RODDICK: No, I mean, the thing that, you know, pisses me off about it is that it's taking away from the good stories in the game right now. It's like we are building momentum; then something, you know, like this comes up, and, you know, I am not here to talk about guilt, innocence, this, that, or the other, but it's disappointing when you are reading the papers here in Australia and that's what they choose to focus on.
Q. Are you getting lot of questions about that?
ANDY RODDICK: No, I haven't really talked to the media at all. Since it's come out, this is kind of the first time that I have talked about it.
Q. Following up, you are reading the papers down there and Greg was saying a lot of things, he's saying there's 47 guys who tested positive for some levels of Nandro. Today his lawyer said there were six top guys who tested and that they are afraid to come out and say something about that. Is he just shooting off at the mouth because he's been called to the mat on this Nandro issue or is there more behind this that we don't know about?
ANDY RODDICK: I am not sure. Maybe he does know something, but if he does, he's kind of giving some information that, you know, that I am not sure where it's coming from. As much as I know, that information is pretty privileged and pretty private. So, you know, not really sure where it's coming from.
Q. From your own experience, do you think that doping with things like Nandro is a problem in tennis or do you think it's something completely overblown?
ANDY RODDICK: No, I don't think -- I see on a daily basis how hard people work, so that's kind of, you know, the way I approach it, and, you know, it just takes, you know, a couple of people who maybe have done the wrong thing to bring the focus in there. I know that the players I play with are clean, and, you know, it's disappointing to see it taken away from all the good stories in the game.
Q. I know you said a couple of times that you are not focusing on numbers, but coming off a U.S. open title, will this year be a bit of a disappointment if you don't match that with another Grand Slam title?
and then it just ends.... too bad, I'd like to have heard Andy's answer.