Friday, June 24, 2005
Roddick tangles with reporter
By Wayne Drehs
WIMBLEDON, England Andy Roddick didn't stutter, didn't flinch. He didn't need the slightest of seconds to carefully choose his next words.
The reporter was merely doing his job. Trying to stir up some controversy, dig up some dirt and hold Roddick accountable for the way he behaved in his five-set second-round victory over Italy's Daniele Bracciali. But the broad shouldered 22-year-old with the Texas-sized chip on his shoulder wouldn't have it.
So when an Italian journalist asked what happened Thursday night, explaining that Bracciali thought the match was stopped prematurely for darkness and that he wasn't pleased with the way Roddick hurried off the court, the American responded as only he could.
"I have a question for you," Roddick said after winning the postponed match Friday. "Would you try reading in the dark? Would you read a book in the dark?"
Reporter: "Well, the thing was that he said it was 10 to 9."
Roddick: "Would you read a book in the dark?"
Reporter: "If I can read, yes."
Roddick: "You would read a book in the dark?"
Reporter: "When I can see it, yes."
Roddick: "How can you read a book in the dark?"
Reporter: "Come on. I'm telling you what he said."
Roddick: "I'm asking you a question. I'm going to get to my answer in a second, if you give me an answer that is honest."
Reporter: "You're saying it was dark. He's saying it wasn't dark. Don't ask me to read a book in the dark. I don't care. I don't read a book not even in the light sometimes."
Roddick: "You should try it sometimes. It's good."
From there, longtime Boston Globe tennis writer and TV personality Bud Collins spoke up from the back of the room. "Depends on the title," Collins quipped to a roomful of laughter.
"You can't see the title, Bud," Roddick said. "That's the point."
As hard as Roddick fires indiscernible yellow pellets with his racquet on the court, he was firing laser beams off it. Bracciali started the controversy, saying through a translator that the umpires stopped the match Thursday night before he wanted and he thought that affected the outcome Friday.
Wednesday night, the match between Greg Rusedski and Thomas Johnasson was stopped at 9:30 p.m. The Roddick-Bracciali match was stopped at 8:50 p.m.
"I was a bit angry because, you know, when they stopped the match, it was 10 to 9 last night and I was asking why because it was earlier than the other days," Bracciali said. "And Andy said something, you know, with the 'F' word, so I was angry with that basically."
Roddick followed Bracciali on the post-match podium. After the exchange about reading a book in the dark, the Italian journalist pressed on, pointing out that the previous matches were stopped earlier and accusing Roddick of packing up before the umpire said the match was suspended.
"No," Roddick said, raising his voice. "The umpire said, 'Play is suspended.' You think I make the decision if we walk off or not?"
"I'm just asking you," the reporter replied.
"No. You're not," Roddick said. "You made a statement."
The journalist then went further, attacking Roddick's alleged use of foul language. "Did you say a bad word to Bracciali," he asked.
"I said a bad word," Roddick said. "I don't know if it was to Bracciali. I was walking off and he was throwing a fit. Maybe ask him what he said first. I'm not one to just go at people. That's not my style, OK? If he's upset about it, he can come talk to me.
"And he doesn't need to use an interpreter."
He wasn't finished.
"All I know is you wouldn't do many things in the dark," Roddick said. "Try returning a 135-mile-an-hour serve when you can kind of see the ball. It's not the easiest thing. I don't think there's a bad thing about walking off a dark tennis court because you can't see and you can't play. That seems like a pretty logical decision to me."
Wayne Drehs is a staff writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Wayne.Drehs@espn3.com.