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Champion Roddick sets sights high

September 09, 2003 15:13 IST

Andy Roddick set his sights on becoming the world's best player as he spent a whirlwind first day as the new U.S. Open champion on Monday.

Roddick's victory over Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero in Sunday's final at Flushing Meadows lifted him to number two in the world - just 85 points and one place behind new number one Ferrero.

After enjoying his first proper break from the game since the hardcourt season began in July, the American will attempt to carry his form into the last part of the year in a bid to finish 2003 at the top of the rankings.

"I'm not far behind in points, but I didn't have a good end to last season, so I want to change that now," he told reporters on Monday.

"I know people say it's one thing to get to the top and another to stay there - but I'm not at the top yet.

"Of course I want to do what I can (to get there). I am still hungry and determined to work hard to improve as much as I can."

He admitted his Grand Slam breakthrough had lifted a weight of expectation, but was adamant it would not weaken his focus.

"It was definitely a monkey off my back," he said.

"For right or wrong, there has been hype around me for a few years now.

"But only in the last few weeks did I say myself that it was deserved - that I thought I was in a position to win a Grand Slam.

"So it's a burden I don't have to think about it anymore. But I still want to win as much as possible. I'm not going to sit back."

After a night of celebration on Sunday, Roddick said he managed four-and-a-half hours sleep before embarking on a "crazy" day of publicity.

The 21-year-old gave television and radio interviews in the morning and paraded the U.S. Open trophy around Times Square in New York at lunchtime.

Then he was whisked away for an appearance on CNN and MTV in the afternoon, before recording Monday's "The Late Show" with celebrity host David Letterman.

"It is madness at the moment," Roddick said. "In fact, it's unreal. Walking round Times Square with the trophy was just a bit embarrassing.

"But I don't think I will be able to take it all in until I get away from (New York) and reflect on what's happened."

While coach Brad Gilbert has taken most of the praise for turning Roddick into a Grand Slam champion, Frenchman Tarik Benhabiles, Roddick's coach for four years, was not forgotten.

"As soon as I got back to my hotel on Sunday night, I called Tarik," said Roddick.

"I thought about him when I won. He was the first person to actually tell me to my face that I could be a serious player."

While the U.S. Open began with a ceremony to honour the retiring Pete Sampras, it ended with America's current best player lifting the trophy in a neat piece of symmetry.

Sampras's first Grand Slam title also came at Flushing Meadows, in 1990.

"It is one tall task to live up to Pete," Roddick said. "He is just about the greatest player to play the game.

"But before all this, people were asking me what it took to be a Grand Slam champion, and I told them I didn't know - because it hadn't happened.

"Now it has happened so I know what it requires. That can only help me."

Stephen Wood
Source: source
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