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Annointed Future of American Men's Tennis Volleys Words With Reporters - 2003-08-10


Twenty year-old Andy Roddick has been anointed as the future of American men's tennis. But for the rising American tennis star, that is just one of the topics Roddick does not like to talk about.

With former world number one Pete Sampras contemplating retirement, and Andre Agassi playing well despite his advanced tennis age of 31, Roddick seems like the man most likely to assume the mantle as the United State's best men's player. But he's asked about it so often that the topic bores him.

"I thought I was going to make it through a press conference without having to answer that question, but the streak stays alive," he said. "I mean, this could be more impressive than Cal Ripken here, this is unbelievable. Ummm, yeah, it is just something that I've dealt with for a long time and you know it's there, I deal with it and that's about it."

Roddick said the high expectations are nothing new, and he does not let them bother him. "It has been there since I started. So to be honest, the only time I really think about it is when I'm being asked about it," he said. "I just try to do what I can, I do not worry about other people's expectations. I just worry about what I can do."

Late in his teens, Roddick experienced a rapid growth spurt that that changed him from a short 1.57-meters, to his current size of 1.82 meters and 86 kilograms. Roddick says his game was shaped by his small stature, as he tended to scurry for points rather than concentrate on his volleys.

He started his professional career on the ATP Tour in 2000, finishing the year as the youngest player, at 18 years and three months, to be ranked in top 200 in the world. Playing his first full season in 2001, the American teenager finished in the top-20 (16), again the youngest ever, at 19 years and four months.

In 2002, Roddick made it into the top-10 and captured two titles in four finals appearances. He also surpassed the $1 million mark in prize money for the first time ($1,060,878).

Now just shy of his 21st birthday, Roddick is known for his hard serve, strong forehand, speed and youthful power on the court. Earlier this year at the Indian Wells tournament, Roddick smacked the second fastest serve ever recorded, clocking in at almost 237-kilometers per hour. And he believes his backhand is getting better. "You know, I could not hit a backhand into the ocean last year, so it's definitely an improved shot for me, I feel a lot better about it," he said.

Andy Roddick is also working on gaining control over his emotions, which have sometimes overflowed and hurt him on the court. Perhaps one reason for his emerging maturity is his relationship with 19-year-old singer and actress, Mandy Moore, who has been his girlfriend since July of 2002. But Roddick turned the tables on a reporter when asked if he would talk about it. "Sure, how's your wife doing by the way? Is she OK? And you guys are still OK, there is nothing rocky going on? How did you guys meet? OK. We met at a tournament in Toronto last year. Her Mom is a pretty big tennis fan and I got the invitation to come meet her on the set of one of her movies, and it kind of just went from there," he said.

Roddick now owns his own home in a gated community in Boca Raton, Florida. His career earnings have swelled to over $2.8 million, with millions more in endorsements. But can he become the new face of American tennis? Only time will tell.