SAP OPEN MEDIA CONFERENCE
January 31, 2008
BILL RAPP: You won twice here in San Jose. I know SAP is thrilled to have you as their ambassador around the world. Talk about be winning title No. 3 this year.
ANDY RODDICK: It's an important tournament for me, especially coming off of a disappointing Australian Open. I think it's important to try to reset the tone. I'm looking forward to it being my first tournament back on the hard stuff.
GREG SHARKO: We'll open it up for questions for Andy.
Q. There are a lot of Americans in the field this year. I was wondering, can you talk a little bit about the state of American tennis and the development of some of the young players like Sam Querrey and Donald Young?
ANDY RODDICK: I think maybe for the first time since maybe our group of Robbie and Mardy and myself, there are some guys you can look towards the future with as far as Donald and Sam playing well, even Isner, a little bit older, but he's kind of new on the scene as far as tennis years go. I think it is exciting.
That being said, I think they have a lot of work to do. At least it's something we can all talk about and be hopeful about.
Q. You think they're a few years away from some of the breakthroughs of some of the players we saw at the Australian Open this year?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I mean, I don't know if that comes overnight. You have to remember the progress they have made already. Donald this time last year I think was likes 600 or 700 in the world. To get into the top hundred is already a huge leap. You have to take that into consideration.
Sam Querrey has been an after-school tennis player from when he was 14 to when he was 18, and then just became a prospect recently. They might take a little bit more time, but they have good upsides.
Q. What advice would you give them in their development here?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I mean, I think there's no substitute for hard work. I think, to be honest with you, that's one of the things that lacks when you see the young American players. It puts a different dynamic on things when you're playing tennis to find a way out of the country as opposed to playing for fun.
I think maybe that's what we're seeing on the worldwide stage right now. But they just have to develop good work ethic early on and they should be all right.
Q. Coming off the Australian Open, two short weeks away you're in San Jose, how does a player of your stature, how much of that is mental in terms of preparing for a place like San Jose versus some of the majors?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, Australia is different than anyplace else. You basically have a month where you have nothing to do beforehand, so you can kind of focus your training a little bit more. Once you get into the season, it's more along the lines of trying to maintain your fitness. You kind of have to learn whether to pull back, play more, depending on how well you're doing in tournaments.
I like the way my schedule is coming together. I'll play the Davis Cup, then I'll have a week off before San Jose. San Jose, like I said, is going to be an important event for me this year.
It is every year, but even more so this year because of not getting the amount of matches I would have wanted at the Australian Open.
Q. Is that almost like a kickoff for you, after San Jose, in terms of where you are physically?
ANDY RODDICK: Physically it's fine. Fitness shape, I'm fine. It's just a matter of you want to get matches under your belt. The only way to replicate a match scenario is by being in it. You have to give yourself an opportunity to play your way into match toughness. That's something I still need to establish this year.
Q. Your feeling about Andy Murray not involved this year after winning two in a row, including a couple matches against you.
ANDY RODDICK: Well, there's mixed emotions there. As a tennis fan, I think you're a little disappointed. To be honest, I'm a little bit surprised. Anyplace that I've had success in the past, I feel comfortable, I'm happy to play there, I would probably make it a point to go back to.
But I think a lot of it has to do with, you know, he was with Gilbert, who lives up the road, the last couple years, and now he's not. So I'm sure that plays into it.
Q. How does playing Davis Cup help you in terms of your game when you get back on tour? Do you see any benefit to it?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm not sure, to be honest. Davis Cup is rough because you're going to be in Austria one week playing on clay, and then you're indoors on the West Coast playing. Davis Cup, it's not the most convenient thing in the world, but it's something that I'm passionate about.
As far as how it translates to the regular tour, I'm not sure if it does or not. It's just a totally different scenario. There aren't too many parallels.
Q. Is having the extra week off this year before San Jose going to be beneficial to you?
ANDY RODDICK: I think so. Last year I came and it was a little tough playing clay and then literally three days -- I was playing clay in the Czech Republic, and three days later, through a little bit of a haze, jetlag, different surface changes, and then playing in San Jose.
It probably wasn't ideal preparation for San Jose, so I'm happy to have the week off this year. I should be able to get out there and work with my coach before the tournament. The schedule shapes up a little bit better this year.
Q. You obviously are very proud of always having made yourself available for Davis Cup. I wondered if there was any hesitation at all this time because of the quick turnaround from the championships? Did you discuss it with the other guys, or everyone assumes everyone is going to show up and there's no need for discussion?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I think it was just assumed. Me not agreeing with the short turnaround, making myself available, I feel are two different things. I'd be the first to tell you that I think the two teams in the final from the year before should get a bye into the second round. It's just not long enough in between.
But that being said, you play the hand you're dealt. Davis Cup is a priority. We've won it, but that doesn't mean we're in the clear. It's going to be with us forever.
But you just can't abandon what you're passionate about just because there's been a little bit of success.
Q. Having gotten back from Australia, I know my sleep pattern is still screwed up. How on earth do you cope with physically flying from Australia to Texas to Europe and back to California?
What are some of your long-distance travel strategies?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, you know, maybe some sleeping assistance pills. But, no, in all seriousness, it's just a matter of -- with me it's just a matter of making sure I get meals. I think that's the biggest thing from a physical standpoint. You figure if your body needs to sleep, it's going to shut itself down. The biggest thing for me is just maintaining good meals and whatnot.
But I don't think there's a secret. You're just going to have to battle and deal with it. It's not easy. I think that's one of the things about tennis that is tough. In a lot of other sports you travel every night, but you're traveling an hour or two and then you're playing the next night here. You're traveling eight, nine, ten sometimes 20 hours, the sleeping pattern is off.
It's definitely an adjustment, but it's just something you have to deal with. I don't think there's any secret to it.
Q. Are there things that you're sort of allowed to take by your trainer? Seems it would be kind of an odd thing to take sleeping pills, then try to compete or train the next day.
ANDY RODDICK: No, I was being a little bit facetious. No, not really. I mean, you can't really do it. I think you just have to -- like I said, there's no real secret. You kind of just have to deal with it.
Q. Are you surprised to see a guy like Tsonga break through in Australia, or are you at the point where you think the depth is just there in men's tennis that this could happen?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, it has happened. You know, you have Baghdatis a couple years ago there. You have Tsonga, you have Verkerk a couple years ago at the French Open. This being treated as a new phenomenon is a little odd for me.
But certainly he has the talent, he's athletic enough and he got hot at the right time. Surprised? Yes. Shocked? No.
Q. Switching back to Davis Cup. After such a high in Portland, how do you get yourself kind of amped up to go to Europe and start it all over again?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I mean, like I said, I don't agree with the short turnaround period. And I think it could be difficult. I think you've seen a lot of teams go from winning it to struggling in the first round before.
But it is what it is. I'm sure once we get there, it's amazing what playing in front of a hostile crowd can do for your competitive juices. It will get them flowing and stuff.
It's just a matter of trying to get in good practices and then hope adrenaline takes over, which it always does in Davis Cup.
Q. Could you talk a little more about how difficult it is to work every round of the Davis Cup, physically or mental, and why you've been so loyal to it?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I'm loyal to it just because I believe in the competition and I'm passionate about it. I said in the lead-up to Davis Cup a lot in interviews that 90% of the time when we're out there playing regular tournaments it's for pretty selfish motives: it's our ranking, it's our prize money, it's our schedule. It kind of all revolves around us. I really kind of embrace the team aspect. Representing your country is an honor.
Q. Aside from the short turnaround, do you like the format or do you think it should change?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I mean, that's a big part of it. I understand that a lot more goes into it than just putting out opinions.
The one thing that is rough, I mean, the Grand Slams each run themselves, the ITF runs Davis Cup, the ATP runs their tournaments. So trying to get something -- kind of coming up with a theory on how to change things and actually getting it done are entirely different things.
There could be some adjustments, but I'm not going to sit here and pretend to have the knowledge of inner workings to get it done.
Q. Would you favor a one-week event or playing it every other year?
ANDY RODDICK: I would not favor a one-week event. I think you got to -- I think the home crowds, the different atmospheres, the different surfaces and stuff kind of add to the intricacies of Davis Cup.
I think, like I said, I just feel like given the two teams that were in the final, byes would be a huge step in the right direction.
Q. Pete Sampras is playing an exhibition in this tournament. Have you seen him play recently? How do you think he'll do?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, in order for me to know how he'll do, I'd have to know who he was playing. You hear a lot of talk. Obviously the matches with Roger and stuff, I think it's beneficial for both of them, for those to be interesting and intriguing matches.
You hear a lot, but also it's rough, you see a lot of stuff about how he'd step in and be top five right away, all that stuff. He wasn't top five when he left the game. And you know, and it's tough to imagine someone kind of sitting on the pine for three years or four years and coming back and being better. If anybody could pull it off, it's probably Pete.
Q. Do you think there's a chance he could come back and play on the tour, maybe try Wimbledon again?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, I'll take Pete at face value and say no. From anything that I've read, he's said he's not interested in it. So I'm guessing he would know better than I would.
Q. On the Bryan brothers, what makes them so special with what they do?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I mean, are we talking about tennis or...
Q. Tennis. They're dominant doubles players. What makes them so good at what they do?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I mean, they've been playing together forever. Kind of the thing that we -- we call it the twin thing, you know, where they don't really have to even talk to each other. You know, they kind of know where the other one is going to be. They plug in the holes pretty well.
That and just, you know, kind of deciding they were going to specialize in doubles from early on I think is a big thing. So they're just dominating.
A lot of times you'll see a lot of the doubles guys choose to specialize a little bit later on in their career, so I think that was a smart move by them. On top of that, they're just good. They're just better than everybody at doubles.
Q. What are they like as guys on the Davis Cup team?
ANDY RODDICK: They're good. You know, Mike's always good for constant entertainment. You know, Bob is good to have around. I can tell you, we wouldn't want another doubles team, that's for sure. The amount that they do for tennis as far as kids clinics, they're always involved in that sort of stuff with their dad, really promoting the game of doubles. Their passion for tennis is up there with anybody.
Q. Maybe your theory on having your coach on-site with you at matches? He wasn't there in San Jose. Some guys bring their coaches maybe more often. Just curious about that relationship, how that's been going?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, Jimmy and I, I think it's going to be more preparation based this year. I knew when we started working together that Jimmy is not going to come out of retirement and travel 35 weeks a year. That's just not something that he's going to do.
But at the same time, I want someone who I know, you know, when we're talking about how to progress to a semi or final of a Grand Slam know what they're talking about and have been there before.
It's something that has to be thought about as far as what weeks we're going to work together and how they're going to be beneficial. You know, but I'd probably say it's gonna be more preparation based and more based on practice weeks this year.
Q. I imagine you talk a lot on the phone. I think you mentioned that in San Jose last year.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, we do.
Q. Will he be in San Jose this year or not?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't think so. I think I'm going to be with him probably the five days leading up to the tournament and then I'll probably come with my regular crew there.
But, you know, he has the Tennis Channel on his TV. When I'm on TV, he watches it and we talk on the phone, kind of analyze matches as we would as if he was there.
Q. I'm assuming you might have caught a little bit of the Federer/Djokovic match.
ANDY RODDICK: I actually didn't watch a point of it. I saw the highlights on ESPN.
Q. We in the media tend to always talk about you guys "chasing Roger." There's almost this speculation that one of you would be happy if somebody else knocked him off. Is that far from the truth, or do you actually sort of think, maybe there's a bit more vulnerability for him this season?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, sure. I don't think we sit there -- I don't think you cheer against Roger as a person. But if anything can bend his confidence a little bit, I don't think we're against that.
It would be the same -- I feel like it would be the same in any generation in any sport. I'm sure the Giants or anybody else wouldn't be too sad if the Patriots took one on the chin.
Yeah, I don't know if we cheer against Roger personally. But if you can kind of make him vulnerable and give the other people a look, I think we're okay with that.
Q. Last time I saw you was after your match with Kohlschreiber. It's not a great time to do instant analysis. Any further thoughts about that? Do you feel you ran into a guy who was really hot? Could you reassess how you thought you did in the tournament overall.
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I did run into a guy that was very hot. But I think there are some things I could have done a little bit differently.
I made a point of being in very good shape coming into the Australian Open this year, and I was.
That being said, I think I might have relied too much upon, you know, trying to rely a little too much on movement.
Long story short, I should have let my forehand ride a little bit more.
Kind of watching the tape, I realize that.
I needed to kind of establish that shot in rallies a little bit more, maybe not let guys take control of it and take pot shots, make them a little bit more uncomfortable.
Besides that, I thought he played well. Even leading into the Australian, that's about as prepared as I've been. I just took one on the chin a little earlier than I would have wanted to.
Q. Obviously a tough loss against Kohlschreiber. You get a good sense for how you take that loss, but how does Jimmy take those losses from a coaching standpoint? How does he react?
ANDY RODDICK: He takes them rough also. I think it all hit us badly because we thought I was playing well enough to make a run there.
The way the draw was, we liked the way it was going to shake out. I think we're all pretty upset with it.
That being said, I think his biggest thing as far as coaching was, Don't let this discourage you. You put in a lot of hard work. You were very prepared here. Don't let this kind of get in your head and let this -- don't stop working. He was calling me every day after Australia
and really trying to push that point home.
But it's also tough for me to get a sense of how upset he is because he's not going to -- his job is to kind of try to bring me up after something like that. You know, you see it a little bit, but I think we all care about it a lot.
Q. You played Tommy Haas quite a few times. Could you discuss his game and his mental toughness?
ANDY RODDICK: Tommy is talented. He's been around for 10 years now. When healthy, he's established himself as one of the top players. I don't think that's questioned.
As far as his mental toughness goes, I think he's fine also. I think his biggest challenge in his career so far has been injuries. Seems like he's dealing with it a little bit this year already. But when he's healthy, there's no question he's one of the top players.
Q. How would you evaluate your progress over the last couple years? Obviously a loss like Australia is frustrating. Do you feel like you're becoming a better player, a smarter player every time out?
ANDY RODDICK: I think so. Sometimes you miss the youthful ignorance a little bit. I used to not really recognize situations too much or realize that they were actually important. Sometimes that worked to my benefit (laughter).
You know, I'm definitely a more complete player, but at the same time, you know, I used to cover up my backhand and my volleys and stuff because I couldn't do them that well.
Now that I can, sometimes I haven't fired my forehand as much as I should (HALLEHFUCKINGLUJAH)
. I think it's just a matter of finding the balance between the two.
GREG SHARKO: Andy, we appreciate your time this afternoon.
ANDY RODDICK: Thank you.
GREG SHARKO: Good luck in Vienna.
ANDY RODDICK: Thanks.