An interview with: ANDY RODDICK on the Emirates Airline US Open Series
July 10, 2012TIM CURRY: Thanks, everyone for joining us for the first of a few conference calls we will be doing to promote the Emirates Airline US Open
We have Andy Roddick from Winston-Salem, N.C., where he'll be playing the Winston-Salem Open, which is the final men's event of the series this year. Also Andy is the only person to win the series multiple times. He's a two-time champion of the Emirates Airline US Open Series.
We'll ask Andy to give us a rundown of his schedule this summer.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, starting next week I'm starting a series event in Atlanta, heading to London, coming back and playing Toronto, Cincinnati, the event here in Winston-Salem in the lead-up to the US Open.
TIM CURRY: We'll now open it up to questions for Andy Roddick.
Q. I'm based in Atlanta. I know that you have been here in Atlanta for this tournament in the past. With the Olympics so close ahead, how will that affect how you prepare and how you go through the Atlanta tournament this year?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't think it changes anything. My mentality is you play what is in front of you, regardless of what else is going to happen. If I play great in Atlanta, that can only help me going into the Olympics. It doesn't change my mindset going into the Atlanta tournament at all. Like I always try to do, I'll be there a hundred percent.
Q. Any consideration at all to giving yourself a break before the Olympics?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, you consider all your options. At the end of the day, I felt like it was beneficial for me to come home after Wimbledon, to get into some of the heat in Atlanta, match conditions, to kind of have that preparation going in I thought was the best-case scenario for me.
Q. What did you think of Serena's comeback win at Wimbledon?
ANDY RODDICK: You know what, I don't know that I was surprised by it. She's proven herself to be a great champion. She's almost become a master of comebacks. I remember when, what, four or five years ago, she was below 100 in the world, people were wondering if that was it. She came back and dominated. After these injuries, I honestly thought she would win it in her first tournament back after the injury. So I always have the most confidence in Serena and was happy to see her back where she belongs: in the winner's circle there.
Q. What are your thoughts on Venus Williams battling through an autoimmune disease to win the doubles with her sister?
ANDY RODDICK: What she's been going through is not easy. I think probably the toughest part of it for her is not knowing on a day-to-day basis. If you have a sprained ankle you have a rough estimate of time as to how long it's going to take before you're okay. I don't think it's that simple with what she's dealing with. For her to have a highlight in the middle of this rough patch is real big for her. Whenever Venus decides to play, I think they're automatically the best team in the world.
Q. What have you observed about Venus' efforts to keep playing despite the diagnosis? Any changes she's made in training?
ANDY RODDICK: That would require firsthand knowledge as to what she's been doing as far as training, which I don't have. I haven't seen too much of it. The thing I know about Venus is she's going to give herself every opportunity to succeed, regardless of what's in the way.
Q. What is the status on who Serena might choose for mixed doubles at Wimbledon?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. You're asking the wrong person.
Q. You're not in the running?
ANDY RODDICK: I don't know.
Q. Have to ask Serena?
ANDY RODDICK: I think so.
Q. You're going to pair up with John Isner. Will you be practicing with him some?
ANDY RODDICK: I'm not sure. I think our best preparation for singles or doubles is to try to win some matches in Atlanta. I think that's our focus right now.
Q. How would you describe the state of U.S. men's tennis right now and what do you
think it's going to take for one of you to step up and challenge the big three?
ANDY RODDICK: I think it's healthy. We had two in the top 10 last year. Certainly was good with Brian Baker and Isner playing well earlier this year. The question is always a tough one for me to answer because we deal in the context of a worldwide talent pool, which isn't the case with a lot of sports that the U.S. focuses on. It's going to take some great tennis to crack those top three. They're three of the best we've ever seen, and they're certainly playing to it right now.
Q. Would a good showing in the Olympics by the U.S. do anything to improve the game?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, it depends what you mean by 'improve the game.' As far as viewership, USTA memberships, sales of products, tennis is very, very healthy. It's as healthy as it's been for a long time. But I think success at any pro tournament will obviously garner more attention. Obviously, the Olympics, you don't have to be a tennis fan to pick a side in the Olympics. I think we're all very motivated and it should be a lot of fun.
Q. Andy, you were real close to getting past David Ferrer at Wimbledon. I'm curious to
get your take on your play there. What percentage of your potential would you say you're playing at now? Did you take anything away from that Wimbledon performance?
ANDY RODDICK: I was a lot better. I won an ATP Tour event the week before, which I thought I was real far away from that going into that week. I wasn't playing well at all. I played well at Wimbledon. I lost the match to Ferrer. But he also had a look at beating Murray and getting up two sets there, potentially making a final. I'm not far off. I felt like I made a lot of strides in those two tournaments, Eastbourne before, and at Wimbledon. I'm optimistic about the summer.
Q. If there are strides you have to make, would you say they're for you at this point, feeling 100% fresh, healthy, invigorated?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I think my challenge for the last year and a half has been a lot physical. But I finally got continuous matches in. When you're battling injuries, not playing your best, sometimes you lose, you're getting one match a week. It's kind of tough to create a groove or a flow. I got those matches in. I'm playing a lot of tennis this summer. I'll certainly have every opportunity to get match play.
Q. Could you help me understand why Nick Bollettieri is not going to be in the Hall of
Fame this week?
ANDY RODDICK: Oh, I don't know. I don't have a vote. It's a different thing because normally you look at a Davis Cup coach or a player. Nick, he's been a wonderful businessman. He's certainly created a little bit of a model that tennis has followed. He was one of the pioneers of kind of the academy movement. You know, I'm not sure. You'd have to ask someone with a vote.
Q. Speaking of the Hall of Fame this weekend, Jennifer Capriati is being inducted.
Can you give your thoughts on Jennifer and her career, particularly at the Olympics?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I remember that run she had in Barcelona. I like seeing Jennifer getting the attention she deserves for her tennis. You know, we lived through so many story lines with her throughout her career, I'm glad that tennis is finally getting the
credit it deserves. She was the No. 1 player, won multiple slams. She was a huge infusion for the game as far as garnering crossover attention. The everyday Joe knew Jennifer Capriati. She was the phenom, then the comeback. It's a great story, and something that I'm glad it's getting recognized.
Q. The average age at Wimbledon was close to 30. Do you think that's good for the game?
ANDY RODDICK: The thing about sports is there's no script. Bottom line, the reason I think it's the best entertainment is because if you can play, you have a job, regardless of age or anything else. I think the reason why we're seeing less young kids is because the game has slowed down, has become a lot more physical. When I came out
when I was 18, I was 25 pounds lighter and certainly not fully grown up yet, but I was still able to play. The physical nature of the game now I think makes it tougher for the younger kids.
Q. As you're nearing your 30th birthday, I'm wondering if you have made a change in how you train. There's a new philosophy. Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, seem to be practicing, spending more time in the gym, less time on the practice court.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I think that's pretty normal nowadays in tennis actually. I remember talking to Jimmy Connors when we were working together. He had never lifted a weight in his entire career. Again, it speaks to the physical nature of tennis, the way that's kind of going. You don't see guys that aren't quick playing well now. You have to be a good athlete as well. You used to be able to get away with being a good ball-striker, being able to hit shots. Now you have to be able to do that and get there. That's not surprising. I think something as you get older is probably normal.
Q. What are your own personal goals now in tennis? What's the next step for you?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I think it started in Eastbourne. I had a very simple goal going into Eastbourne after the French Open. I wanted to get to 600 wins, which was a nice milestone. I wanted to win the tournament. Was able to handle that there. And also I just wanted to feel good on the tennis court again. I wanted to feel like I was playing well. I did that. Now I'm excited about continuing that momentum into the summer and see if we can't make something happen.
Q. Andy, I wanted to ask you about your motivation for the smaller tournaments. How do you avoid overlooking these and not looking ahead? The fan base here is a little more favorable than some of the venues you've been at internationally, but it will be very hot
here in Atlanta. Is it more mental, particularly with the heat and conditions?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I enjoy playing tennis anytime I step on the court. Motivation hasn't been a problem of mine. As for the heat, I spent the majority of my life in Florida and Texas. I'm used to it. As far as heat goes, when I'm on court, I only have to be more comfortable than one person. I try to look at it that way.
Q. It's a very urban fan base with a city line backdrop and a highly commercial venue
here in Atlanta. Do these urban events make the game better?
ANDY RODDICK: You know, it's tough for me to speak to the venue because I haven't seen it or played it yet. I'm certainly excited about it. From what I've read, certainly not the norm for a tournament to be in the main city district. It's usually out a little ways. I'm excited to play it. I think it will bring an energy to the venue. I think it's something that's worth trying.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about your mentoring of younger players. You have quite
a reputation for having younger American juniors come in and hit with you and train in
Austin. I wonder how you feel about that group coming up and why you've chosen to do that.
ANDY RODDICK: I enjoy it. I feel like I have something to offer the young guys. Most of what they will see ahead of them I've seen. It's not so much to force my way into their tennis lives or anything else. You know, if they want to come and they want to do the work, they want to work hard, that's the only thing I need them to say. There's certainly an open-door policy. I feel like most of the young guys know that. Some have taken me up on it to different degrees. I enjoy it. I feel like being a part of U.S. tennis has given me so many opportunities, has given me a great life. I feel like I should pay it
Q. I had a question about the US Open and the crowds. What do you most enjoy about the atmosphere here?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, you know, NewYork, I feel like it's a great fan base. They're going to give you whatever you give them. They certainly appreciate hustle. They like a bit of a show. You give them some energy, they're going to give it right back to you. I feel like it's a pretty clear-cut understood relationship, at least from my perspective. It
doesn't get a whole lot better as far as atmosphere goes than a night session up there.
Q. Playing in Grand Slams, you play as an individual. Playing in the Olympics and
Davis Cup you're representing your country. How can you compare the two?
ANDY RODDICK: You know what, it's a good question. It is a lot different. It took me
probably three or four years of playing Davis Cup before I felt completely comfortable. It's a totally different dynamic. Normally when we're out there, like you said, it's a pretty selfish existence, all about us. It's about my ranking, my team, my tournament. That's kind of the mentality of a tennis player most weeks. Then you kind of flip a switch, at Davis Cup is about the team, at the Olympics it's about the country. It is a little bit different. I don't know there's a perfected way to go about it. I think you have to try to make the subtle little adjustments.
Q. Andy, I was wondering if you could talk about going from the grass courts to the
hard courts then back to the grass courts, which is unusual.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, it is. But the schedule and everything is always a little weird
during an Olympic year. But if you're in London, I think you have to play at the best venue in tennis, and that has to be on grass at Wimbledon. Selfishly it's not stressing me out too much because I played a lot of grass court tennis and I enjoy it. Same for hard courts. Doesn't take me a lot of time to switch between the two. I'm looking forward to it.
Q. Can you talk about what you drew from the 2004 Athens games?
ANDY RODDICK: My memories are more of the Olympics as an event. It was so much fun. Mardy and I stayed in the dorms, took the buses to the courts, had the full-on Olympic experiences. My best memories are of him having a great tournament there. As far as the tennis goes, it's the Olympics, but I think you kind of go about it the same as a tournament. You know the players, you know the venue, you know the format. You're
playing for something different. You're playing for your country. But as far as preparation goes, I think it's pretty normal.
Q. Are you going to stay in the village or your own accommodations?
ANDY RODDICK: I think our team is staying closer to the courts just based on a
logistical and traffic issue. They estimated with traffic it could be an hour and a half or two hours out to the court. Three to four hours round trip is not what you need on game day.
Q. Are you okay with that?
ANDY RODDICK: Even though I'm not going to stay there, I hope to get over there and
walk around and try to meet some of the other athletes, get a feel for it. If we have an off day or some time beforehand, I'd love to get over there and check it all out.
Q. Any sports you want to check out while you're over there?
ANDY RODDICK: I would go to any Olympic event. As I've said before, you don't need a vested interest or a complete knowledge of a sport to kind of get into it. It's a very simple thing. You see the stars and stripes and you want to cheer for that. Yeah,
hopefully I'll be able to get out and see some of it.
Q. Question regarding Larry Stefanki. As a veteran player, how do you keep improving your game and learning new techniques to stay at the top level of the game?
ANDY RODDICK: You know what, we've new challenges. The thing about our sport is
there's always something else in front of you. As far as keeping it fresh, I think the game
itself does that. And we're in a good spot now. We feel like we made a lot of good strides those last couple of weeks out there, certainly the best of the year so far. It's just a matter of remembering what the last couple of events were and trying to build on it for the summer. I feel pretty confident about the way I finished up there.
Q. It was brought up at Wimbledon that Serena does not play practice sets or really
even practice points. I was curious what role that plays in your training.
ANDY RODDICK: I play a lot of practice sets and points. I think Serena and Venus have always been pretty outside the box. They didn'tplay much junior tennis either. That works for them. I credit them for going with what they feel comfortable with. Regardless of what anyone else might think of it, it's certainly worked for them.
Q. Tennis has been very good to you as far as how much you've earned over the course
of your career. What do you think about the new move by the ATP Players Council to get the tournaments to pay more out to the players?
ANDY RODDICK: It's just a matter of comparing it to other sports. The NBA players
were upset because they had to come down from a 57% revenue share. I think the research at the US Open, we were down at 13% of revenue went back to the players. It just seems skewed in comparison to some of the other sports. We certainly realize how
lucky we are, but I think we also realize that we're the product.
Q. I was interested in hearing what you thought about your experience in Atlanta, in
Georgia in the past. What's the difference between playing a tournament in the U.S. as
opposed to playing tournaments abroad?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, it's a comfort thing. Obviously my connection to Red and Black goes through my brother who was there and loved his time, certainly holds Athens in a very special place in his heart. As far as playing in the States, everything from being able to turn on the shows you watch normally, to the food, being able to drive a car
because it's not on the wrong side of the road. All those little things play into it. I think it's more of a comfortable level for us.
Q. I don't know the experience you have with the University of Georgia from having had your brother go there. Does Isner ever talk to you about that? Did they have a relationship at all?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I saw it during NCAAs. When I was 18, 19, my brother was still the assistant coach there. I certainly have experienced it. I have some other really good friends from there. I'm certainly familiar with the vibe up there.
Q. Any expectations out of the tournament this year? Mardy Fish and Isner are going to be back.
ANDY RODDICK: Well, it's a good field. I think they've been in the last two finals. I'm one of the guys who is trying to make sure it's not three in
a row for those guys.
Q. How will it be difficult to participate in the Rogers Cup straight after the Olympics
and how important is this tournament in your summer?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, it's difficult. Anytime you add a huge event like the Olympics to an already crowded schedule, it creates something. All the players are in the same boat. It's not like I'm the only person who is going to have to go from the Olympics to Toronto. It will be a little bit of a toughness test, which I think is fine. I've enjoyed playing in Toronto. Gosh, played a bunch of finals there. I'm real excited to get back there.
TIM CURRY: Thank you very much for calling in, everyone. Thanks, Andy.
ANDY RODDICK: Thank you.
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