Sunday, December 18, 2005

Roddick and Dent Play For Laughs

Roddick def. Dent 6-4 6-4


photo courtesy of the Dallas Morning News

So Andy finally wins an exo match. *applause*

The Dallas Morning News reports on Andy's exo match with good friend Taylor Dent last night at the Dr Pepper StarCenter in Dallas, Texas:
Friends square off, get fans into the act

With no ranking points on the line and no Grand Slam titles to be won, all Andy Roddick and Taylor Dent worried about Saturday night was playing up to the crowd.

In that regard, both heartily served up winners.

Officially, Roddick won the inaugural FedEx Texas Tennis Shoootout, 6-4, 6-4, at the Dr Pepper StarCenter. But for a tennis community starved for tour players to come its way, the match took on the feel of a major final.

"In a relaxed atmosphere, it gives us a little more of a chance to let our personalities shine through to the crowd," Roddick said. "We like that interaction, and it gives us a chance to have a little fun, too."

It's been more than three years since two such highly ranked players came to the area for an exhibition. Roddick won that one, too, in three sets against Pete Sampras at SMU's Moody Coliseum.

It didn't take long for Roddick, ranked No. 3 in the world, to call out any would-be hecklers. After the first point, a patron wondered aloud why Roddick couldn't get to a shot. He immediately was summoned to the court, whereupon Roddick handed him a racket to try – unsuccessfully – to return one of Dent's mammoth serves.

Moments like that were abundant throughout the match. When Roddick spotted a fan on a cellphone early in the match, he called him out onto the court to do a round of pushups. And midway through the second set, Roddick pulled out some of his best impersonations of John McEnroe, Boris Becker and Andre Agassi.

That isn't to say the quality of tennis was lacking.

Both players displayed the type of shotmaking that has them put them among tennis' elite. Roddick was as flashy as ever from the baseline, firing groundstroke winners off both wings. And the 29th-ranked Dent, one of the game's few serve-and-volley tacticians, showed off his deft touch at the net with pinpoint accuracy and an array of drop volleys.

The players, good friends since their days in junior tennis, traded friendly barbs throughout the match. Dent even walked across the net at the end of one exchange to give Roddick a hug, which drew a round of applause from the crowd of about 4,500.

***
Peter does Andy

Peter Bodo talks about Charles Bricker's recent article about Roddick's plans for 2006 in his latest blog entry, "Andy and the Raiders of the Lost Art":
[. . .] Taking the analysis to the next level, the curious thing to me about Andy is that, as a raw-boned, rangy, power-player with a walloping serve, he’s right in the tradition of former American champs like Stan Smith, Arthur Ashe, Ellsworth Vines, Donald Budge, Bill Tilden (not to mention kissing cousin Aussies like John Newcombe, Lew Hoad, et al.)—which is to say, serve-and-volley practitioners of the highest order, who made getting to the net—or otherwise ending the point quickly—priority Number One.

Yet Andy is poised somewhere between baseliner and all-court player—he’s not nimble enough to be a true all-courter in the mold of Jimmy Connors, but he’s too erratic from the backcourt, and his backhand is insufficiently menacing, to enable him to bang balls all day from the back court à la Andre Agassi. Of course, this is something Andy knows, or instinctively feels, and it helps explain the frustration he's experienced while on Roger Federer's trail.

This poses some intriguing questions, the most significant of which, as far as American tennis goes, is this: Why isn’t Andy Roddick a serve-and-volley player?

Click on the link above and go read his entire blog entry on this subject. Bodo always has some interesting comments to make about Roddick and this latest one about why he isn't more of a serve-volley player is intriguing, to say the least. I don't think Andy could ever be a full-time s/v player like Tim Henman--he just doesn't have the instincts at the net like a pure volleyer--but in my opinion he really doesn't need to become one, either. Honestly, the one weapon he could really use in his arsenal to defeat players who always get the best of him: his return of serve. His points won on return of serve are at a dismal 21%. In contrast, he leads everyone in service games won with an astounding 93%! Can you imagine how much damage he could really do if he got his return of serve percentage up?

Here's how Roddick's 2005 numbers look:

Service Game Leaders
ACES
1. Roddick, Andy 912
2. Ljubicic, Ivan 897
3. Ancic, Mario 736
4. Karlovic, Ivo 730
5. Mirnyi, Max 666

SECOND SERVE POINTS WON
1. Federer, Roger 59
2. Nadal, Rafael 57
3. Roddick, Andy 56
4. Ljubicic, Ivan 55
5. Johansson, Thomas 55

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
1. Nadal, Rafael 69
2. Hanescu, Victor 69
3. Davydenko, Nikolay 67
4. Ferrero, Juan Carlos 67
5. Puerta, Mariano 67
6. Roddick, Andy 66

SERVICE GAMES WON
1. Roddick, Andy 93
2. Federer, Roger 89
3. Ljubicic, Ivan 88
4. Gonzalez, Fernando 86
5. Ancic, Mario 86

FIRST SERVE POINTS WON
1. Roddick, Andy 82
2. Ancic, Mario 79
3. Mirnyi, Max 79
4. Dent, Taylor 78
5. Gonzalez, Fernando 77

BREAK POINTS SAVED
1. Ljubicic, Ivan 72
2. Roddick, Andy 72
3. Agassi, Andre 70
4. Rusedski, Greg 70
5. Hanescu, Victor 69

Return of Service Leaders
POINTS WON RETURNING FIRST SERVE
Nos. 1-48. [. . .]
49. Ljubicic, Ivan 27
50. Roddick, Andy 27
51. Lopez, Feliciano 27
52. Rusedski, Greg 26

BREAK POINTS CONVERTED
Nos. 1-29 [. . .]
30. Hanescu, Victor 41
31. Ferrero, Juan Carlos 40
32. Johansson, Thomas 40
33. Roddick, Andy 40
34. Puerta, Mariano 40
Nos. 35-52 [. . .]

POINTS WON RETURNING SECOND SERVE
Nos. 1-24 [. . .]
25. Haas, Tommy 51
26. Mathieu, Paul-Henri 51
27. Garcia-Lopez, Guillermo 51
28. Gonzalez, Fernando 50
29. Roddick, Andy 50
Nos. 30-52 [. . .]

RETURN GAMES WON
Nos. 1-37 [. . .]
38. Gonzalez, Fernando 22
39. Johansson, Thomas 22
40. Beck, Karol 22
41. Kim, Kevin 22
42. Roddick, Andy 21
Nos. 43-52 [. . .]

***
Big Brother News

This is a month-old article I had only just recently come across. Titled "For the Love of Tennis", it's about Andy's big brother John Roddick and his running a six-week tennis program for the San Antonio Sports Foundation. John was the original tennis star in the family before a back injury cut short his tennis career. You can read a bit of his tennis bio here.

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SportsCenter clip

If you never saw the short commercial clip Roddick did for ESPN's "SportsCenter", I found this link where you can view it.


***
Vince "Who's Afraidya?" Spadea has the dirt on Andy "Ice Ice Baby" Roddick

That bad rappin', bad rhymin' fifth wheel of the US Davis Cup team, a.k.a. Vince Spadea, actually wrote a book. Entitled, "Break Point: The Secret Diary Of A Pro Tennis Player", it's supposed to be a behind-the-scenes look at life on the ATP Tour and it promises to spill the beans on some of his fellow Davis Cup teammates:
James Blake — Spadea, who has won seven of 10 meetings with Blake, recalls one clash with his rival in which Blake took time during a changeover to accuse Spadea of resorting to gamesmanship in trying to break his momentum by taking a bathroom break. Spadea, who has scored five straight wins over the Yonkers, N.Y. native, blasts Blake as a "bad sport" after the match. In another Blake-related anecdote that intensified the tension between the two, Spadea details the former Harvard all American stealing away a model Spadea brought to a players' party while Spadea visited the bathroom.

Andre Agassi — Spadea details how it feels to step on the court against the eight-time Grand Slam champion and recalls the wild weekend he spent with Agassi in Vegas when he was just an 18-year-old practice partner and Agassi was training for his comeback.

Andy Roddick — Spadea explains why he believes Roddick's game has declined a bit since the former No. 1 split with Brad Gilbert. Spadea also recounts the time he and Roddick squired two models to late-night clubs in Australia and how the models responded when Roddick offered to fly them back to South Florida.

"I give you my honest opinions. It's always interesting to be out there and wonder and now this book makes you wonder less and makes you feel like you've been on the tour for years," Spadea says. "[. . .] I guarantee you'll laugh out loud, you'll think a bit and you will definitely come away with some stories you will always remember."

***
Roddick Watch will be on Christmas vacation from Dec. 20 through Jan. 5. Happy holidays!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Roddick's Goals for 2006

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PHOTO GALLERY UPDATED. Now includes several great pics from the AR Foundation charity weekend. Enjoy.

Hi. I'm Andy. Give me your money.

***
Roddick, friends serve one up for kids charity

The Boca Raton News reports on their local boy's charity exploits (click on link for full article):

"I am really proud of how far we have come in the past few years," Andy's mother, Blanche Roddick, said. "We are very honored to be receiving this award as such a young foundation." Roddick, who claimed five ATP Tour titles in 2005, remains the No. 3 player in the world. Growing up in an affluent town like Boca Raton, Roddick often came in contact with people who were fortunate enough to provide for their families. As his tennis career began to take off and he won event after event, he decided to use his status for a good cause. And while Grand Slams and the Davis Cup are Roddick's biggest priorities on the court in 2006 for the grass court specialist, he does concede there are more important issues in life than sports.

"The idea is we are Helping Children Today for tomorrow, putting in the work now, reaching out early to improve their quality of life and opportunities in the future," Roddick said.

Sebastien Grosjean, ranked No. 26, trains in Boca Raton and has been supporting the foundation since its inception. "I was here at the first event four years ago and it is great for the players and kids," said Grosjean, a member of the French Davis Cup team. "Anyway to help children is great. I have two kids and I am really proud of what [Andy] is doing."

It's worth noting that the AR Foundation hit a milestone this year: 2005 is the first year Andy's weekend charity has raised more than $1 million dollars for needy, underprivileged, and at-risk children in South Florida. And it's popularity keeps growing every year. Congratulations to everyone involved!

***
Roddick's goals for 2006: less beer, more pizza

The Palm Beach Post has this new commentary about Roddick's goals for 2006 (you can read the entire article by clicking on the link):

Roddick made it clear where his attention will be in 2006.

"Basically, what you have to do is list your priorities," Roddick said. "The Slams and Davis Cup are my biggest passions."

That focus has ruled out, for example, a return to the Delray Beach tournament where he was a hometown headliner earlier in his career. The Millennium International Tennis Championships run Jan. 30 to Feb. 5 at the Delray Beach Tennis Center. Commitments include U.S. Open semifinalist Robby Ginepri, ranked No. 16, and No. 24 James Blake.

"Unfortunately, the scheduling of the Delray tournament is just a real tough week, to fly around the world and play Delray and play Davis Cup right afterwards in San Diego," Roddick said. "I want to be fully mentally and physically ready for Davis Cup ties. It's just a tough spot in the schedule."

U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe wants not only a rested team, but also one playing on advantageous surfaces -- in Roddick's case, grass. That has discouraged Delray Beach officials about their prospects for hosting the next round, later in the spring, if the U.S. wins in La Jolla, Calif.

There has been talk about paying appearance fees to help lure more top-20 players at the Delray Beach tour event.

Roddick did not say whether he had been offered such an enticement, but said it was moot in this case.

"It definitely was not a financial decision," Roddick said. "I'm not going to hold them for ransom. If I am planning on playing the tournament, I would just come and play. They gave me a lot of support early in my career. That didn't really factor into the equation."

In its fifth year, Roddick's foundation has raised a total of nearly $3 million for children's charities. Andre Agassi had to miss the event to heal injuries, but Roddick called former No. 1 Jim Courier to join Aaron Krickstein and No. 26 Sebastien Grosjean in a doubles exhibition Sunday before a full house.

"When Andre pulled out with his injury, I told my mom, it's not bad when you can replace one former No. 1 with another," Roddick said.

Even better for Roddick in 2006 would be placing another former No. 1 -- himself -- back at the top of the tennis marquee.

I do realize that this article is rather vague in terms of Roddick’s goals for 2006 other than the usual “slams and Davis Cup” song and dance he gives every year. Perhaps he should talk to some of his fans to get a clearer idea about his goals. Here’s just a small sampling of what Roddick fans around the world have in mind for Andy’s 2006:

- beat Federer
- get your confidence back!!!
- stay healthy
- win a Masters title
- get to the second week of each grand slam (Roland Garros is a slam, Andy)
- beat Hewitt/Nadal/Safin on a regular basis
- make it to the quarterfinal of each Grand Slam (i.e. second week?)
- beat Federer
- finish the year in the top 5
- kick Ljubicic’s ass
- start winning TBs consistently
- stop losing matches when you have MP
- stop losing matches you should win
- stop losing matches when you're up big
- stop choking
- get in touch with your inner asshole, take no prisoners, stop being the nice guy
- don't make me cry again during the USO cause your freakin ass dropped out first round
- win Wimby
- beat Federer
- kick lubajdkhbgjfdhgbfg ass {sorry I can't type his last name for my life}
- kick Mathieu's butt
- destroy Gilles Muller and everyone ranked outside the top 10
- beat players you are supposed to beat
- forget Houston clay and go to Europe to learn how to do better on clay
- stop hitting pussy forehands
- be more aggressive
- hit more BH DTL please
- use the body serve more often
- stand closer to the bloody baseline, s'il vous plait
- make your forehand return so it's as good as your backhand one
- then improve your backhand one
- get some decent clothes from Lacoste
- start dating Mandy Moore again
- have fun!!!
- get laid so you can focus better on court
- brush yo teeth skank
- revenge the losses of 2005
- play in Monte Carlo! (It´s a TMS Andy, in case you didn't notice it)
- play some doubles matches to improve your volley
- start bageling some players instead of just doing good enough
- get out of the first round
- go back to Reebok
- start wearing a ponytail and Nike headband
- beat players you are supposed to beat (which should be everyone besides Fed and a few other players in the top 10)
- beat Hewitt again
- then beat Federer
- Andy needs to go back to brute power
- win Wimbledon for the next five years!
- stop collapsing when he gets a tough draw
- stop collapsing when he gets an easy draw
- defend his titles or get a new one that's a TMS
- demolish a tough opponent or two. (someone he isn't "supposed" to beat)
- get a supportive steady girlfriend so he doesn't have to hit on Belgian girls with boyfriends
- bring back the visor in 06 and pinapple hair!!
- STOP SUCKING!!!!!

Your fans only say these things will love, Andy. Speaking of . . .

***
No more Mr. Nice Guy

Here's a great article by one of my favorite tennis writers, Charles Bricker in which Roddick outlines how he's going to make some changes for 2006. Some choice quotes (click on link to read the whole article):
No more wimpy returns on second serve, Andy Roddick promised Monday. No more going into a defensive shell when the balls are not in his hands.

It's time, said the No. 1 player in the United States, for a complete and consistent change of attitude when he's not serving.

"Constant aggression. That's going to be my mantra in 2006," Roddick said after completing the morning session on the first day of a USTA training camp at the Evert Tennis Academy.

"My biggest problem is when I get passive. When I have a mindset of constant aggression, I get better," he insisted.

His first-round loss at the U.S. Open to obscure Luxembourgian Gilles Muller is still on his mind. "I played way too passively. What bothers me most is not that I lost but that I didn't lose on my own terms."

For too much of this past season he did little more than block back first and second serves, allowing opponents to dictate the baseline rallies and diminish his edge as a power player.

But Roddick now wants a full year of super-aggressiveness on service returns, and it's not hard to understand why he's ready to take more risks.

He led the ATP Tour this year by winning 93 percent of his service games. But he won only 22 percent of his return games, well back of tour leader Rafael Nadal, who won 39 percent of his.

"I'm not going to nurse those balls back if I get the second serve I want. You hit a big return and you're in the guy's head a little more," said Roddick.

"It's all mindset," said Roddick. "If you're trying to scrape by, you kind of play safer. I have to get over that."

[. . .] Against most players, he'll be playing chancier tennis, perhaps even taking balls early by playing inside the baseline, as Andre Agassi does.

This new sense of aggressiveness is perhaps the most important thing Roddick has come to understand about his game. "I've got to play my personal style and the one thing I can do is hit the ball pretty big," he said. "But there are times when I didn't, and that's when I got into trouble."

Roddick did not have a bad year, winning 59 and losing 14 with five titles. But the first-round loss at the U.S. Open and the second-round loss at the French, when he was up two sets and a break on Jose Acasuso, were major setbacks.

Nevertheless, he finished at No. 3, down only one spot from 2004, and it's difficult to feel bad about dropping behind Roger Federer and No. 2 Rafael Nadal, who won a combined 23 titles.

"I know this. I'm a better player, a lot more solid in pretty much every area," said Roddick.

Now I'm all fired up. This is what I've been wanting to hear from Roddick for quite a while. Of course, saying it and doing it are two separate things, but I'm just happy to hear that he recognizes why he's lost the matches he lost and that he knows what he needs to do to avoid such scenarios in the future. Thanks to Mr. Bricker for this article.

***
Where the &^%$ is my Tennis Channel?

Debstah over at MTF has The Tennis Channel and was lucky enough to see the broadcast of "Smash Hits 2005", the Billie Jean King/Elton John AIDS charity exo that Andy attended. For many of us who do not have The Tennis Channel, Debstah was kind enough to give us a summary of what happened that evening (many thanks to her for the fun details!):
OK here are random things I'm jotting down all through the exhibition:

~When they announced Andy, they announced him as having won 19 titles, and he got this huffy look on his face and turned around like "hey man, i've got 20!"

~When Andy was hitting warmup serves for the first celebirty match, the people in the first row were ducking

~Elton hit a DF and Andy argued about it saying he wasn't ready at the net and stuff.... so he got the ump to give Elton a let, and Andy goes "if only that worked in real tennis"

~at one point, Anna was taking FOREVER to serve and Andy was like SERVE!!!!!!!! So finally he sits down on his racquet

~James: "seriously, would you two just kiss and get it over with"

~Andy hit a nice BH topspin lob during the mixed doubles

~during the womens singles, Andy looked horrifically bored out of his mind

~Men's doubles: Andy missed a volley and said "Aw Dangit" (in fact, he missed a LOT of volleys, esp. on the forehand ) - later on, the female announcer said after he dumped a volley into the net "Oh man the day he learns how to hit a volley he'll go back to the top" Then Luke Jensen said he needs to play more doubles and how admirable it is that he's never satisfied and always willing to make changes whether it's his coach, game, etc.

~Andy hits a DF but Thomas Blake was running around his 2nd serve. And Andy goes "you were NOT gonna try to run around my second serve! Don't try that again!"

~He was just ripping his forehand sometimes for shits and giggles, and usually it went in - now please do this in matches thanks

~Andy gives his racquet to a ballgirl and he takes her position then Thomas blake gives his to a ballboy. The girl andy picked won the point and he thrw up his arms and picked up the girl and swung her around, she looked so happy and is cheesing smiling saying "oh my god!" aw

~When talking about his fave Elton song he said he grew up listening to Candle in the Wind b/c his dad liked it and he also thought his dad had a crush on Marilyn Monroe , he also likes Tiny Dancer, Rocketman, and "I've been into Daniel lately"

~men's singles: it was a sudden death point and James picked the side to receive from, and Andy hits this HUGE ACE down the T and James screams, he thought the serve was gonna go wide

~then later, Andy had a sudden death and he was jokingly leaning with his backhand on the return, so JAMES hits the huge ace right on the T line LOL

~Andy hit this AMAZING dropvolley and James tried running after it but mid-step he was like "NO WAY" And the female announcer was like "Was that just from ANDY RODDICK????"

~At the end, Andy had a sudden-death "match point" And left the wide serve open and James hit an ace there.... that looked fixed so it would make sure their set went to a tiebreak. At the change of ends in the tiebreak, Andy shoved James out of the way hehehe

~In fact, the whole end looked fixed. Andy's team was up by a lot, so if James won their match in a TB, it'd go to sudden death, and that's what happened. So they keep playing until the team in the lead wins one game, unless the losing team wins enough games in a row to catch up (confusing, yes.). So Andy just had to win one game. And he does that, then they pat each other on the bum

~omg lol they just showed him signing autographs and he starts looking through the kid's autograph book

***
2005 By the Numbers

The ATP site has released their stats report of 2005: By the Numbers. My personal favorite stat: Roddick is the ONLY player this year to have won titles on four different surfaces (clay, grass, hard, carpet). Not bad for a one-dimensional no-talent hack, eh?

News:

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Andy and "The Real World"

Short and sweet blog entry today...

The latest A-Rod gossip to hit the tennis boards was that Andy was discussed during last night's broadcast of "The Real World." What's the big deal, you ask? Well, according to my best friend's girlfriend's brother's cousin's who met this guy who's dating this lady from my alma mater said that Andy hooked up with Mel in Costa Rica, who's on-again-off-again relationship with Danny was off again during that month they dated. Mel saw Andy in a bar and wanted to talk with him (and Andy naturally wanted to hook up with her) but he wouldn't sign the release papers to allow MTV to tape their mating dance, so they opted instead to e-mail each other twice. But that's it.

Boy, just being mentioned on a TV show is enough to get everyone buzzing. But it's the tennis off-season and people are dying for any kind of news, so the reaction is understandable.

For the record, Andy was never in Costa Rica. This meeting between him and Mel happened at a bar in Austin. As to whether they actually hooked up or not: Mel was engaged to Danny when this meeting took place (sometime between Jan-April) and she denies the hook-up.

***
Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim actually included the AnthemLIVE! video of Andy singing as being the "Moment of Zen for 2005" for his yearly Baggie Awards.

***
Searching for Andy Roddick

Andy is a popular fixture on various web search engines and I often like to check out Yahoo's Buzz Index or Google's Zeitgeist to see if anybody's been searching for tennis-related stuff.

One of the more curious things of internet tennis searching that I've noticed is that for the past few years that Roger Federer has been dominating Wimbledon and the US Open, searches on him have been minimal. In fact, I can't remember ever seeing him or Andre Agassi or any other popular top player being listed as one of the more popular searches for any of the web search engines; made even more bizarre by the fact that engines like Google represent world searches and not just the U.S..

In fact, the only tennis player not named Anna Kournikova, Maria Sharapova, or Andy Roddick that I've seen crack the top ten searches recently is James Blake, and this was during his storied run at the US Open back in September.

Sometimes these sudden surges in Roddick searches seem inexplicable to me. For instance, Andy is No. 4 on Yahoo's Movers and Shakers list this week. Other than this being the dead season for anything tennis related, I'm curious as to why suddenly everybody is interested to know what Andy has been up to. Or maybe the media in various parts of the world have been reporting on Roddick's upcoming annual charity weekend, thereby nudging some interest in him by the casual web surfer?

***
Andy and James Blake on "ESPN Hollywood"

Here's what you really came for: the 3-minute video of Andy's appearance on "ESPN Hollwyood" last night. Enjoy.

Click here for video.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Wow, What a Jerk

I finally got an e-mail address. Click on my profile to send any comments/questions/links/news or gossip items/fan mail/hate mail.

***
Ow. My ears.

James Blake Tennis was kind (evil?) enough to provide fans with a video feed of the worst serenade I have ever heard. It's bad. Really bad. I'm talking "My Best Friend's Wedding"-kind of bad. Don't let the government get a hold of this video or they will use it to torture prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. I'm serious. You have been warned.

Andy murders "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling".

After your ears bleed out from listening to Andy sing, surf around and check out the photos they took from AnthemLIVE! Very nice.

***
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NEW PICS ADDED TO PHOTO GALLERY. I finally scanned in Roddick's ACE Tennis magazine cover story and I also included some screencaps taken of him while being interviewed on "60 Minutes." Enjoy.


JOCK TALK. Roddick puts his best Dumb Jock face forward on "60 Minutes".



***
Andy vs PONG!

Roddick's official site is reporting that he just finished filming a new advertisement for American Express in which his opponent is PONG:
Andy has faced difficult opponents in his career including The Federer Express, The Spanish Bull, and Andre the Great. But little could prepare Andy for his latest adversary: PONG!

This past Tuesday, Andy filmed a new American Express advertisement featuring the pioneer of video games, Pong. Ken Meyerson, Andy's Agent, describes the ad as "simple and fun," reminiscent of the hilarious Amex commercial in which Andy struggled with various trophies and over-sized checks in an airplane.

The new ad will debut at the Australian Open, run during all the Grand Slams and some of the Master Series events through the summer. No stranger to the camera, Andy has been featured in several Amex commercials, ESPN Sportscenter promotions and hosted Saturday Night Live.

I am very pleased to hear that this new television advertisement will be a short and clever ad reminiscient of the trophy ad, and not something too detailed and drawn-out like the mojo ad. Upon hindsight, I think the whole "Andy's Mojo" campaign was too much for everyone to chew on--it was overproduced and overambitious and very not Andy-like. It entailed telling a story over several commercial segments which is always in danger of confusing viewers. Upon the first viewing of the ad it was fun and cheesy. But it wasn't the kind of ad you wanted to see over and over again during slams. Not only that, but there wasn't enough of Andy onscreen and way too much of that weird-looking, annoying guy who played Andy's mojo. To Amex: put the camera on him and just let Andy be Andy and the commercial will take care of itself.

For those of you who were not blessed with playing PONG when the first home-video games hit homes in the 70s and 80s, you can go here to play a bit of it and be as awed as we were when we first played it on our Atari systems.

edit, January 23, 2006
Watch Roddick's "Pong" American Express TV advertisement here. After the page loads click on "Watch TVC". Great ad!

***
Just another do-gooder jerk

December is Andy Shills for Charity Month. Our humanitarian jerk will be making the rounds to several charity exos this month so I'll try to keep you abreast on his goings-on and post the necessary pictures of him in the photo gallery.

(PS - for those of you wondering about the jerk comments, it's in reference to Roddick's detractors who often accuse him of being a jerk. Look, if you're going to hate the guy hate him for his faux hawk hairdo or for wearing all-white after Wimbledon, but I don't know too many "jerks" who do more for charity in one month than most people do in their entire lives.)

We'll start with the Anthem LIVE! exo from last night where Andy joined good friend James Blake in a light-hearted match. You can view a video of them here from the local news.
They swooned for wide-eyed, tousled-haired Andy Roddick. They swooned for the innocent boy-next-door John Mayer.

It's not unusual for two of the hottest stars in tennis and music to hear a throng of young women greet them with shrill screams and appreciative catcalls.

What was unique about Thursday night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center was that Roddick and Mayer along with tennis player James Blake and singer Gavin DeGraw all shared the same bill. The event was part of an evening organized by Blake and sponsored by Anthem Live to raise money for cancer research.

"We love you, Andy!" shrieked a group of 14-year-olds carrying pastel signs of A-N-D-Y letters in the building's south end zone.

"We love you more," the opposite end zone screeched back.

DeGraw's 30-minute set opened the show followed by a lighthearted exhibition match pitting Roddick, ranked third in the world, against Blake, a quarterfinalist at this year's U.S. Open. For the record, the two split sets and, in lieu of a third, played a tie-breaker won by Blake, 7-5.

The highlight of the match came afterward when Roddick serenaded 17-year-old Airen Adamonis of Newport News with a warbling rendition of "You've Lost that Lovin’ Feeling."

Image hosted by Photobucket.comWHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN. Every girls' dream is to be serenaded by a tone-deaf Andy Roddick.

***
ABC Sports in Australia is reporting that Andy may take a wildcard into Adelaide next month. Rumors like this one are often started by the tournament officials themselves in an effort to "plant the seed" in the players' heads, so to speak. Think maybe the Adelaide tournament directors are a tad desperate to get Roddick over there? Heh.
Roddick a wildcard chance for Adelaide

The organisers of next month's Adelaide International say there is a chance big-serving American Andy Roddick could take one of two remaining wild card entries for the event.

Tournament co-director, Peter Johnston, says with Lleyton Hewitt and Mark Phillippousis already in the draw, the wild cards could make the competition even more interesting.

"There's always the chance of an eleventh-hour request from a marquee player like say an Andy Roddick or someone," he said.

"We're not too hopeful, but we haven't closed the door on those things... but some guys who made their Davis Cup debut last year would be potential chances - [Chris] Guccione and [Peter] Luczak."

***
Image hosted by Photobucket.comWhat a surprise: Roddick committs to Las Vegas tournament

Surely Andy will arrive a week ahead of time to get acclimated to the hot, dry conditions (i.e. brush up on his Texas Hold 'Em skills).
The Tennis Channel Open – the ATP tournament owned and operated by The Tennis Channel – announced today that tennis star Andy Roddick has committed to play in the tournament in Las Vegas Feb. 27-March 5. The 2006 Tennis Channel Open takes place at The Amanda & Stacy Darling Memorial Tennis Center in Las Vegas, which opened this fall. Tennis Channel Open tickets are now on sale. Individual tickets and ticket packages can be purchased by phone at 888-TCO-TIXS (888-826-8497) or online at www.tennischannelopen.com.

"It's apparent that the move to Vegas has generated interest from some of the most uniquely talented and gifted athletes in the world, and some of the greatest personalities in tennis," said Steve Bellamy, president and founder, The Tennis Channel. "A ticket to any session is going to get you a seat at a great match, whether you see Andy Roddick, James Blake, Robby Ginepri or anyone else; it's an exciting group all the way through."

"I'm looking forward to playing the inaugural Tennis Channel Open in Las Vegas," said Roddick. "The excitement of the city should be a tremendous draw for guys on the tour, and The Tennis Channel's plan to build a tennis-festival atmosphere is a great idea that's going to be a lot of fun to visit each year."

For the record, the Tennis Channel Open replaces the Scottsdale, AZ tournament. Roddick did not play Scottsdale this year. Actually, nobody did. It was like TMC Shanghai, only eight months earlier.

The Las Vegas Sun seems excited:
ANDY'S IN, ANDRE'S OUT

Last month, when plans to move the Tennis Channel Open from Scottsdale, Ariz., to Las Vegas were announced, I was told it wouldn't be possible for hometown hero Andre Agassi to pull out of a commitment to play in the United Arab Emirates that same weekend at such short notice.

Then last week, at even shorter notice, Andy Roddick said he was pulling out of the Middle East to play tennis in a desert closer to home.

Roddick's presence, provided he can avoid an early upset and center court at the new Darling Tennis Center doesn't fall apart, should make the event a success right out of the box. But not as big a success were he and Agassi to trade ground strokes in the final.

***
Learning How to Say "No"

Matt Cronin at TennisReporters agrees with some Roddick fans who think one of Roddick's problems is overextending himself and not knowing how or when to say "No":
Roddick – who is scheduled to play Davis Cup, San Jose, Memphis, Indian Wells and Miami – was going to take the week off, but a decent amount of guarantee money and a personal plea by the TTC's Steve Bellamy changed his mind. Counting the Aussie Open, the US's No. 1 player is now scheduled to compete 10 out of 11 weeks without a break – a huge risk even for the most well-conditioned athlete and an even bigger one for a man who is dealing with back problems.

***
More Advice for Roddick

Check out Joel Drucker's commentary about Andy's road to the SAP Open 2006, "Roddick at the Crossroads."


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***
Still More Helpful Advice for Roddick

Dear Andy: I would advise you to never put a picture like this of yourself on your official website. Ever. Again.

No. Really. Just no.

***
How to rip the LA Times a new one

The LA Times is, in my opinion, one of the worst U.S. newspapers to go to for any kind of reliable or informative tennis news. Like Fox News, you can always count on them for biased and unfair "reporting" of tennis. Sadly, they are not a unique case here in the states, where tennis takes a back-seat to the kindergarten poker championship and national spelling bees. They are people who think tennis is all about the US Open and nothing else, and they'd rather write the Today's Birthdays section than report on any player who's name isn't Andre Agassi.

The reason for my rant is that they had the unmitigated gall to put forth their own rankings of the top ten players for 2005 and I'm sorry but when the LA Times publishes something this dense, it must not go unpunished.

The LA Times' Rankings

1. Roger Federer — First thought: Now vulnerable after Shanghai loss. Second thought: He was out for six weeks.

My first thought: this is only his fourth loss of the year, it's not a nail in anybody's coffin. My second thought: earlier this year Federer was also out for six weeks only to come back and win the cursed Cincinatti title that had eluded him. My third thought: the LA Times needs to retire.

2. David Nalbandian — Moves ahead of Roddick, Hewitt in Federer rivalry sweepstakes.

Beating an injured Federer doesn't automatically send you to the head of the class. Not when other players have beaten him healthy. And although Nalbandian used to beat up on Federer in juniors all the time and his head-to-head with Federer now stands at 6-4, he'll need to be a far more consistent player at the majors in order to earn the esteemed title of Roger's Rival. (their quaterfinal match at USO this year was dreadfully one-sided and typical of a Federer smack-down). His TMC final win may or may not be a turning point in Nalbandian's career, but 2006 should show us the consequences of that match.

And as for Hewitt and Roddick, these guys have never claimed to be Federer's rival. In fact Roddick himself has often said that he needs to starting winning some matches before it could be called a rivalry. And where is Nadal on the rivalry list? Last I saw, he was sweeping Federer off the dirt at the French Open and almost beat him in straight sets at the Miami masters. And he's only 19. What was Federer--or any of the other top players for that matter--winning at the age of 19?

3. Rafael Nadal — Word(s) of advice. Quit playing every week during clay-court season.

So Nadal wins an incredible 11 titles this year, half of them being majors, and this is their helpful advice to him? Come on.

4. Andre Agassi — Hurt himself playing racquetball. One question: Racquetball?

What kind of comment is this? And I love Agassi as much as the next fan but what the heck is he doing way up here at No. 4? He won one title this year and had a brilliant run at USO but that's it. He was not consistent enough throughout the year to warrant being No. 4 on the list.

5. Ivan Ljubicic — Davis Cup bumper sticker we'd like to see: Slovakia or Bust.

As far as ATP rankings and career money goes, being the Davis Cup hero just doesn't count. Ljubicic's record at the majors this year was abysmal (crashing out by first, second, or third round at all four slams). This is not champion material. But his successful run during the European indoor season could point towards a more promising 2006 for the Croatian. Still, for the purpose of lists such as this, we rate players for what they have accomplished this year, not for what they might accomplish next year.

6. Lleyton Hewitt — Good guess that his newborn daughter won't be named Kim.

Pure comedy genius. Call the Daily Show.

7. Andy Roddick — Not quite annis horribilis in '05 but you sort of get the idea.

Poor No. 3 in the world Andy Roddick and his crummy five titles lands at number seven after Hewitt, Ljubicic, and Agassi. Granted, he didn't win any majors this year but he did win several titles (on five different surfaces, mind you) and is a viable competitor at three of the four slams. The LA Times should have ranked him higher than this.

8. Nikolay Davydenko — Thirty tournaments in '05 brought home one title.

Yet unlike half the South American replacement picks at TMC, Davydenko actually earned his Shanghai spot. Go figure.

9. Gaston Gaudio — At least it was Federer beating him, 6-0, 6-0, in Shanghai.

I don't care if God himself was serving the bad medicine, losing love and love at the year end championships where the best players in the world are pitted against each other is just downright embarassing and wrong. Gaudio's track record on fast courts is not so bad that he should've been obliterated like that, not even by Federer. An injured Federer, no less.

10. Shanghai — Withdrawal bug hits hard. The WTA feels the ATP's pain.

Gah. I sure hope somebody comes up with a cure for this nasty bug, the LA Times Bird Flu, before it spreads to other continents.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Post-Thanksgiving Thoughts

Greetings Roddick watchers, I am back from stuffing myself silly over the Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends. I hope my fellow Americans had just as pleasant a holiday as I did. Lots of little tidbits about the ARod came through while I was out so let's play catch-up, shall we?

Readers over at Sports Illustrated "Caption This: Reader Responses" wrote in their funny captions of Andy and a ballgirl grabbing his man boobs. Ok, maybe some of the captions aren't all that funny but the picture still cracks me up.

***
How high, Andy?

Inside Tennis has an article about how tennis stars deal with doubt and uncertainty, adding this blurb by Andy:
ANDY RODDICK RESETTING THE BAR

"When you set the bar high, anything less than that is going to be criticized. I understand that. It's the same in every other sport. If the San Antonio Spurs lose next year in the NBA Conference Finals, people are going to be down on them. That's the way it works. It doesn't bother me because I know I'm putting in the work and it's nothing that I've done wrong. I'm in the mix. I'm plenty motivated. A lot of people don't realize how tough it is to stay close to the top for three or four years. They don't see the work we put in. I've been in the process this year of trying to become a better player even if that meant taking a couple steps back to take some steps forward. I'm making progress."

That last line about taking a step back to take a step forward gives me a lot of hope for 2006. 2004 and 2005 were full of growing pains for Andy. He is working on improving his game and of course that is not going to happen overnight. It took Pete Sampras three years to win his second slam after winning the first and I'm sure that after this period of adjustment 2006 will show some great results for Roddick.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comREDEMPTION DOES NOT HIT THE SNOOZE BUTTON. The results of all the hard work Team Roddick has been doing should finally materialize in 2006.

***
My So-Called Crummy Year

Speaking of Andy's so-called crummy year, has anyone else noticed that many of the year-end tennis magazines have nothing to do with Roger Federer's fantastic run or Rafael Nadal's breakout year but everything to do with Andy missing his mojo? Heh. Don't tell me that Andy Roddick doesn't sell magazines.

***
He's not dead yet

Working the same "2005: Maximum Suckage"-wavelength (what can I say? It's the end of the season), ESPN had a great article denouncing this belief by the man himself (you can read the entire article below in the News section):
A bad year? Roddick says that's 'a stretch'

It's not easy being Andy Roddick.

No, really, it's not.

One would figure that a player blessed with abundant talent and charisma, who went 59-14 in 2005 and won multiple titles while maintaining a No. 3 world ranking would be toasted as a success from Shanghai to Savannah.

But when you're 23 and carrying the flag on the men's tennis circuit, which is starving for its once-dominant tennis power to win his first Grand Slam victory since his precocious U.S. Open win in 2003, the expectations for success are different.

"It's weird, you know?" Roddick told ESPN.com at the recent BNP Paribas Masters. "Because when I'm 10, 11, 12 years old, I'm basically hoping I'm going to get a college scholarship one day. If someone would have told me then, 'You're [third] in the world, you've won five titles on every surface on the planet and it's a down year,' I would have been like, 'Well, geez, I'll sign up for that right now.'"

Roddick, who retreats to his lakefront home in Austin, Texas, in the rare moments he's not on the road, said it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what's behind the talk that 2005 has been a subpar year for him.

"To classify it as a bad year, I mean, I think that's a bit of a stretch. I would have loved to have done better in certain matches, and at times, I was maybe a little inconsistent, but, you know, if being No. 3 in the world and winning five titles is a bad year, I really look forward to a good one.

"I think the thing that made it a bad year was losing in first round at the U.S. Open [in three straight tiebreakers to Luxembourg lefty Gilles Muller]. That's it pretty much. But I don't base my year on one unfortunate night where I don't feel like I played well."

He followed up that disappointment with a clutch five-set win in a Davis Cup relegation-round match in late September against Belgium's pesky Olivier Rochus that ensured the Americans a spot in the 16-country World Group for 2006.

"That was huge for him because of the disappointing results at the Open," said coach Dean Goldfine, who Roddick hired after his split with former coach Brad Gilbert last December. "To win it the way he won it, a four-and-a-half-hour match, on clay, showed a lot about him and his character. It was a big confidence-booster for him." [. . .]

Goldfine, for one, expects great things in the coming year, and beyond.

"My goal with Andy is to get him to be the best player he can possibly be," Goldfine said. "With the type of athlete that he is, the sky's the limit for him if he really continues to work on all phases of his game.

"He's volleying much better and understanding the net game more, but sometimes he drifts a little too far beyond the baseline, and he needs to make an effort to hit the ball early and take time way from guys, especially the top players. That's what Federer does so well."

A veteran of the men's tour and linchpin of the American Davis Cup effort despite his relative youth, Roddick said he'll use the knowledge from a challenging 2005 season to his advantage as he moves forward.

"You know, this year's made me hungrier," Roddick said. "I think more than anything, I've had to learn how to play for myself. It's a little tough at times. But it's just taught me a lot more about myself, and it's given me a bigger sense of perspective."


Image hosted by Photobucket.comIT'S NOT EASY BEING GREEN. Or Andy Roddick. Or a tree frog that drives Lexus cars.

Not that anybody asked, but what does Matt Cronin over at TennisReporters.com think of Andy's year?
How many times is Roddick going to attempt to snow someone and say he had a good year because he won five mid-sized titles and reached the Wimbledon final. Yes, that's a great year for Robby Ginepri, Mardy Fish or Taylor Dent, but not for America's main man. Roddick went backwards in results and confidence, but we will give him and coach Dean Goldfine this: His game does look more well rounded now.

As Roddick himself says, Sometimes you've got to take a step back to move forward. I believe that everything will fall into place soon and that his and our patience will soon be rewarded.

***
Are we done walking down the 2005 nightmare lane yet?

No, we're not done. You're going to sit there and read all the year-end "reviews" until you barf like Andy Murray.

There's another year-end review by Steve Tignor over here on Tennis.com's site. You can read the full article by clicking on the link here or below in the News section. This is his favorite Roddick-related memory of 2005:
Andy Roddick match, Centre Court, Wimbledon. One group of girls: "We love you Andy!" Another group, on the opposite side of the stadium: "We love you, too!" First group: "We said it first, Andy!"

Isn't it great to hear about fans like this? He's such an unpopular fella, really.

The ATP site is also posting comments from readers about their most memorable tennis moment from 2005. Somebody wrote in with this:
A surely remarkable moment was at the TMS Rome when Andy Roddick corrected the referee’s decision at his own match ball to his own disadvantage. After that, he lost the match. This is surely not an everyday action. -- Livio Marelli, Switzerland

Yes, that moment was so memorable I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Indeed, I remember the accolades Roddick received when the sports world got word of Andy's magnaminous gesture. It even made my local news, woot! This small but significant act of sportsmanship is also making its way onto several 'best moments in sports' lists across the country. Here's more where Roddick is celebrated:
From the International Herald Tribune's "Athletes Who Should be Celebrated":

But helping the officials get it right does not always reward the do-gooder. In May, in the Round of 16 of a tennis tournament in Rome, Andy Roddick had match point against Fernando Verdasco of Spain. Verdasco made what appeared to be a double fault, and the chair umpire, Fergus Murphy, began announcing Roddick's victory, but as the two competitor s headed toward the net for the obligatory handshake, Roddick glanced at the ball mark on the clay and realized that Verdasco's second serve had actually been in, not out.

He corrected the call himself, returned to the baseline and ended up losing the match in three sets. "Maybe I should have stood on the mark," Roddick joked afterward.

How much better, from this Thanksgiving Day perspective, that he stood on principle.

Whew. I needed a way to finally end this blog entry and what better way to do it than on a positive note like this.

Monday, November 21, 2005

David Slays Goliath (and gives thanks to Andy)

TV ALERT! James Blake's interview with "60 Minutes" is airing this Sunday, Nov. 27th. According to Tennis Week Andy was interviewed as well:

"Wallace interviewed Blake and teammate Andy Roddick in Belgium during the United States' Davis Cup World Group Playoff tie against host Belgium."


***
Not much news to report on the Roddick front. People are still talking about the Shanghai Masters final where David Nalbandian--Andy's replacement after he pulled out with a bad back--finally put an end to Roger Federer's brilliant 24-final run on Sunday, knocking the Swiss down and out in a thrilling five-setter 6-7 (4-7), 6-7 (11-13), 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3) in four hours, 33 minutes.

From Bloomberg News:
David Nalbandian rallied from two sets down, then beat Roger Federer in a fifth-set tiebreak to win the Masters Cup on Sunday and snap the two-time defending champion's 24-match victory streak in finals.

Nalbandian, playing in the tournament because Andy Roddick pulled out, won 6-7 (4-7), 6-7 (11-13), 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3) in four hours, 33 minutes. He blew a 4-0 lead in the final set before breaking Federer at 5-6 to force the tiebreak. Nalbandian won $1.4 million.

The Argentine stopped Federer's 35-match win streak and prevented the Swiss from tying John McEnroe's record for the best winning percentage in a single season in the open era. Federer, slowed by an ankle injury, ended 2005 at 81-4; McEnroe was 82-3 in 1984.

Nalbandian was getting ready for a fishing trip before being called in to take Roddick's place. I don't think he minded terribly that his vacation was put on hold. You can't catch a bigger fish than Roger Federer these days. David also remembered to thank Andy Roddick, whose back injury allowed him to enter the elite eight-man tournament in Shanghai.

"I need to thank him," said the Argentine, "because if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here."

Image hosted by Photobucket.comSWEET DREAMS. Thank you, Shanghai! Thank you, Mom! Thank you, injured-but-can-still-play-in-exos Andy!

Now I know some of you are probably thinking, "Damn! Damn! DAMN! If only..." right about now, perhaps bemoaning yet another missed golden opportunity for Andy. But that would be unfair because I don't think that you can replace one player for another and expect the exact same linear end results. Opponents would be dealing with a different player, a different personality, a different atmosphere, along with a myriad other yin-yang intangibles that can make or break each match. Yes, if only Andy hadn't injured himself at the Paris Masters then he might've won Paris, maybe even Shanghai as well. But even if Andy weren't injured, none of these scenarios would've been a definitive outcome. Fate and luck have their place in sports, and it simply was not Andy's time, just as it was not Federer's time to break a couple dozen more records this past Sunday evening.

However, I do think that Andy's quota of bad-luck combined with lousy timing has been sufficiently fulfilled for 2005 so here's hoping that Lady Luck will cut him some slack next year and let the pendulum swing his way for once.

***
It Pays To Be Photogenic

If you haven't already picked it up, Tennis magazine has a special Year in Pictures issue out on stands now and there are several nice ones of Andy in it. I didn't count, but I think he has more pictures in the yearbook than anybody else. Tee hee! Figures.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comDORKS R US. It's safe to say that this won't be one of the yearbook photos.

***
I Swear, If I Ever Hear the Word Mojo Again...

There was a little blurb about Andy and his endorsement deals in last month's ACE magazine, which chronicled tennis stars and their advertisements/sponsors. Andy is second on the list of celebrity ad whores, after the King of Endorsements himself, Andre Agassi. Wouldn't it be great if one day Andy could transcended tennis the way Andre Agassi does? I give it another ten years before the whole mojo-thing finally wears off...

***
Vote for Andy, Because He Fell on His Ass and It Was Funny

Vote for Andy's face-splattering volley as "Play of the Year" over at the ATP site and win yourself something cool (whatever that cool thing may be; so long as Andy comes in first, that's all that really matters, right? ;) ).

***
And for my final parting shot before I leave for the Thanksgiving holiday, I uploaded a four-minute video here of highlights from Andy's Paris Masters matches with David Ferrer and Ivan Ljubicic. If you didn't see any of his matches in Paris, then perhaps the vision of Andy getting bear-hugged on the floor by the trainer will hold you over until I decide to make another video at some point.

Have a great holiday week everyone!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Rabbit Season

For those of you who may be fretting over the fact that Roger Federer made this year's Sexiest Man Alive list in People magazine but not Andy: Andy already made the list back in 2003 and you can view his photo profile here.

***
A sports gossip website called Dead Spin has this hilarious tidbit on Andy's irrational fear of cute fuzzy creatures that go hop in the night. If this story is true, then I think everybody should show up at his matches dressed as the Easter Bunny. Then again, if this rabbit looked anything like the one in Donnie Darko then who could blame him for being less than enthused by a close encounter with a giant rabbit?

Athlete Run-Ins: Roddick's Rabbit Phobia

After a pretty darned controversial and debated story about Tim Duncan yesterday, we’ve got a nice amusing, safe one today, about tennis star Andy Roddick and his unusual, somewhat inexplicable fear. This one comes from Steve in Houston:

Andy Roddick, in Houston for the Davis Cup in 2002, then at least 18 or 19, was forced to attend an Easter morning brunch at the St. Regis Hotel, where the players were sequestered. Seems that the hotel had hired a bunch of mascots in training to wear various costumes of loveable Easter icons to wander around the brunch, giving gifts to the kiddies (no recollection of a Jesus type character working the room, but that would have been perfect).

Seems Andy (who was fresh off of his allegedly celibate fling with THE Jessica Simpson and had moved on to another, hotter woman named Jessica Simpson, whom no doubt put out) is petrified of the Easter Bunny. Not just the munchkin in the costume, apparently. He’s Easter Bunny-phobic, in general. He got all sorts of agitated when he saw the bunny frolicking about. To the point of asking us to make sure we kept the bunny far, far away from him. And acting all freaky about it. This show of manliness no doubt concerned Jessica v.2, but she then remembered that Andy was 19, stupid and loaded, and all was well, once again.

The mental image of Roddick cowering from the Easter Bunny is going to stick with us, we think. By the way, much to our surprise, there doesn’t appear to be an official name for the fear of rabbits. (We checked.)

(Update: There is a word for the fear of rabbits. We knew it! It’s “Leporiphobia;” supposedly it was once considered unlucky to have rabbits aboard ships. Which makes sense, we guess.)

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BUNNY PHOBIA.
The only rabbit Roddick
might fear most is one
named Roger.





***
Curious about the Jessica Simpson link? Here's what Andy had to say about it when he was asked at the 2001 US Open:
2001 US OPEN

Q. Forget the match, we want to hear about Jessica Simpson.

ANDY RODDICK: Thanks, I'll squash this right now. Maybe Bob [Bryan] was joking or something.I wish. You know, I feel bad because she probably gets this all the time and I never do. (Laughter). No, I would just like to squash this right now. I've never talked to her. I never met her. You know, I don't know what else to say.

Q. Bob thinks you're stalking her?

ANDY RODDICK: I guess. I mean, maybe this was Bob's idea of a joke, you know. I don't know.

Q. Would you like to?

ANDY RODDICK: (Laughing). Sure. I mean, no, I like -- you know, you guys are laughing at me. No, I mean it would be great to meet her. I don't know, it's been a serious distraction. I would just love to squash it right now because it's -- there's no dice, I don't think.

Something else Andy should work on for 2006: Learn how to lie more convincingly.

The Dallas Morning News reports on yet another charity exo Roddick will be attending:
Roddick to play at Texas Tennis Shootout
2003 U.S. Open champ coming to Frisco for exhibition match


Andy Roddick and Taylor Dent are coming to the area to spread a little Christmas tennis cheer.

Roddick and Dent's exhibition match will headline the Texas Tennis Shootout, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17 at the Dr Pepper StarCenter in Frisco. Also included are three shootout tiebreakers: one pitting area tennis professionals against each other, another spotlighting wheelchair athletes, and a third featuring players from Texas and Texas A&M.

A percentage of all ticket sales for the Shootout will be distributed to area clubs to help promote tennis locally.

Tickets for the event, produced by PROLINK Sports and Entertainment, go on sale at noon Tuesday and can be purchased by calling 214-467-8277. Beginning 9 a.m. Nov. 25, tickets will be available online at tickets.com.

Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion, last played in the area three years ago against Pete Sampras in a sold-out exhibition at Moody Coliseum. Dent has played in the USTA Challenger at T Bar M Racquet Club.

Let's avoid the strip tennis shenanigans, boys. It's Christmas.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

King of Hearts

More about Andy's sunglasses deal with Lacoste from the Austin Business Journal:
The future's so bright: Roddick signs sunglass deal

Tennis star Andy Roddick of Austin will endorse Lacoste sunglasses for the next four years in a deal worth $750,000 to $1 million.

Lacoste signed Roddick to a five-year, $25 million apparel deal in April after he bolted from Reebok International Ltd. (NYSE: RBK), based in Canton, Mass.

Lacoste also makes sunglasses. When the company heard Roddick was talking to rivals about an eyewear deal, Lacoste quickly secured his endorsement of its line.

Roddick won't wear Lacoste sunglasses during competition. Instead, he will make at least one appearance for the French company, which plans a marketing campaign around his endorsement.

"Andy represents in global sports a kind of America blue chip, apple pie meets Chevrolet type," says his agent, Ken Meyerson of SFX Sports Group Inc. "International brands want to align themselves with that."

Roddick has become something of a walking billboard. Lacoste outfits his eyewear and apparel, and French company Babolat supplies his rackets and tennis shoes. Roddick also endorses Lexus, a division of Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM), and American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP).

I like the part that says that Andy has become a walking billboard. It's a whole lot better than becoming a walking "Kick Me" sign, if you ask me.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comSPACE FOR RENT. Ads are good. Slams are better.

***
Andy Roddick: King of Hearts

Perusing last month's ACE magazine (yes, I'm behind on my reading), I found this complimentary letter about Roddick in the letters section that must be shared here:
As an American subscriber, I thoroughly enjoyed your special Wimbledon coverage in the August issue. The daily breakdown, review, and recap was terrific, and the sidebar snippets of everyday quotes and happenings were insightful. Your photos are always great. Keep up the good work!

I was especially pleased to see so many memorable and funny quotes being attributed to Andy Roddick. This young man just oozes charisma and charm and his personality shines through in some of the best post-match conferences given. Sometimes his dark side emerges in the heat of the moment during matches but that's what makes him such an interesting character -- a bit of Jekyll and Hyde. He livens up Wimbledon every year he plays.

He's had some bad luck in the past few years but I will always be cheering for him. He is the everyman underdog. Roger Federer may be the King of Wimbledon for now, but Andy Roddick is the King of Hearts.

Oh my, "King of Hearts"! Finally. A decent replacement for Princess Diana. And I shall name my firstborn: Charlemagne! (which was the letter writer's unusual name)

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DEAL ME IN. Roger Federer may
be the King of Wimbledon but
Andy Roddick is the King of Hearts.






***
Will Strip for Tennis

Cleaning out the old rag mag table some more, I found this little tidbit hidden in an old issue of People magazine:

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I'm guessing Andy won't be playing strip tennis against Roger Federer any time soon, otherwise he'd be stripped down to his skivvies in no time. And let's just pray that he doesn't get the idea to try this game out against the likes of Taylor Dent anytime soon, either.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Roger Federer and The Seven Dwarfs

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HEADS UP, UK FANS. Andy Roddick will be the December 2005 cover boy for Britain's ACE magazine.

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Welcome to the No Masters Cup. With Rafael Nadal's and Andre Agassi's eleventh-hour withdrawals from Shanghai this week, the TMC has sadly managed to out-circus itself. Roger Federer is now the only remaining true Master whom the fans (and Shanghai promoters) will be pinning all their hopes on. He is aware of the burden that he carries and has stated that the promoters' anger towards the players, in particular Andre Agassi, is understandable.

The media pounced on this latest blow to TMC Shanghai and they haven't let go in the days since. Here's a good article from the Times Online with some choice Roddick-related quotes:
A wager was struck between two writers yesterday, in which the one who has travelled the circuit for 40 years invested in his belief that, at the present degenerative rate, Rafael Nadal and Andy Roddick will not be competing at the top of the game in five years. If his forecast bears fruit, then the sport really will have torn itself apart from the inside. [. . .]

It is only four years ago that Pat Rafter, of Australia, whose game was based on flowing athleticism, gave up the unequal struggle at the age of 28 and settled for more golf and time with his young family.

We can but hope that such a situation is distant for Nadal and Roddick, though I recall walking through Heathrow customs on the way home from the Great Britain Davis Cup tie in Switzerland in September, straight into Roddick, who was stopping over having played for more than four hours in a final rubber against Olivier Rochus, of Belgium, a match that drew hardly a note anywhere else in the world. He said he had never felt so mentally and physically exhausted and who really cared?

Roddick responded to my request for a few words last week on having to withdraw from the Masters Cup by saying that he was "too down to speak". One hoped it didn't mean the injury was worse than feared and that he will be fit for a full schedule--perish the prospect--in 2006. He has to look after what is best for him, for few else will.

We are attending a Masters Cup with very few masters and what more alarming wake-up call does tennis want than that?

Here is Roddick Watch's one-size-fits-all solution: Andre Agassi for Comissioner. The end.

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Tennis-X is reporting that Roddick has signed a deal to represent Lacoste sunglasses. Thank goodness somebody finally had the guts to tell him straight-up that he needs to stop dressing like a dweeb and get some stylish new shades.
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LACOSTE TO THE RESCUE. Andy's dork days will finally be behind him.

Speaking of Lacoste, thanks to athena_wu over at MTF for this picture of an in-store poster of Andy from the Lacoste store. I'm liking the blue striped shirt (why doesn't he wear colorful stuff like this for matches?) and the uncharacteristic one-handed backhand pose. No wonder he looks a bit stupified. "Did I really hit a one-handed backhand?" Yes, Andy, you did! woo! woo! woo!

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In Davis Cup news, the USTA has selected La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club in California as the site for the 2006 Davis Cup World Group First Round Tie, USA vs Romania.
Andy Roddick and Bryan Brothers Expected to Lead U.S. Team Against Romania

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., November 14, 2005 -- The USTA today announced the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club in La Jolla, Calif., as the site for the 2006 Davis Cup first round match between the United States and Romania, February 10-12. The match will mark the first time since 1996 that Davis Cup will be played in the San Diego area. Andy Roddick and the No. 1 doubles team in the world, Bob and Mike Bryan, are expected to represent the United States. Other potential U.S. players include Robby Ginepri, James Blake and Taylor Dent.

Tickets for the three-day, best-of-five match series will go on sale to the general public December 5 and can be purchased by calling (888) 484-USTA. Tickets will be sold as a three-day series with prices ranging from $90 to $375, with VIP packages available. Visitors attending the three-day event can book advance guest room reservations at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club or the Sea Lodge Hotel by calling (800) 656-4980. For more information, visit online at www.ljbtc.com or www.sealodge.com.

Hopefully, some tennis fans will be on-hand to loudly cheer on Team USA this time around, unlike what happened in Carson, Calif. earlier this year where all we heard was noise pollution from way too many Croatian fans in the stands.

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Roddick's official site is reporting that The Andy Roddick Foundation will be honored by receiving the Outstanding Foundation Award presented by the Association of Fundraising Professionals at the National Philanthropy Day Luncheon held at the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Congrats to Andy!

News:
• China crisis [BBC]
• Tennis year ends with wimpers [NY Times]
• Tennis stars run off their feet [Hindu.com]
• Chinese dismayed as stars drop out [CNN]
• Injured Agassi concerned about player burnout [The Star]

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Bring Me the Head of Ben Affleck

With tennis season almost officially over, I'm not sure yet if I'll continue to update this blog every day, or maybe every other day, or less. I've made a list of tantalizing subjects to talk about during the long one-month off-season so that'll keep things humming along for a bit. Then, just as I'm about to run out of things to talk about I'll be counting on Roddick to do something that will piss me off again which will result in a five week tirade guaranteed to hog up this blogspace for quite a while.

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Added some screencaps taken from the Paris Masters to my photo gallery. Enjoy.

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There was a headline on Yahoo news about a week ago that cracked me up. It said, "Report: A-Rod cautioned on playing poker." It took me a few seconds to realize that it wasn't talking about our A-Rod but baseball's Alex Rodriguez instead. It was an honest mistake. We all know that our A-Rod is just as addicted to poker as every other sports figure these days, even the pristine Roger Federer was weakly connected to a poker scandal recently. I even heard a rumor (that I actually don't doubt) that Roddick had joined the web gambling site, PartyPoker. In fact, after the game sold out last Christmas, I don't know any male who doesn't have a Texas Hold 'Em party every week and I put the blame squarely on Ben Affleck's shoulders. No, I'm not kidding. Because it was his brilliant idea to start the Celebrity Poker shows and then it caught on with every fatass beer-swilling lump of cheetos-nourished flesh on the planet, and now poker is just one more flippin' NON-sport that tennis has to compete with on ESPN. Thank you for your worthy contribution to sports, Ben Asslick.
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YOU GOTTA KNOW WHEN TO FOLD THEM. Somebody get this guy off my ESPN.

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An update on Andy's injury from the Sun-Sentinel:
Roddick's Injury Not Serious

Andy Roddick, who dropped out of this week's $4 million Masters Cup tournament because of a bad back, is not seriously injured and expects to be ready in two weeks to begin training for the 2006 season.

The problem is muscular, not disk related, and one of the major factors in Roddick's decision not to go to Shanghai was sitting for 15 hours on an airplane with this lumbar strain.

Plus, he probably wouldn't be able to practice when he got to the Far East. So he has gone home to Austin, Texas, and his coach, Dean Goldfine, is back in Aventura getting reacquainted with his family.

It's a shame that Andy had to miss Shanghai but I am happy to hear that the injury is not disk-related (a far more serious injury that could've sidelined him for months). The 15-hour flight likely would've made his back worse. Take care of that back, Andy. We want you strong and healthy and ready to rule the Australian Open when your holiday break is over.

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Peter Bodo over at TennisWorld has some nice words to say about the way Andy handled his withdrawal from Shanghai:
Of course, unless you've been hiding under a rock for the past two days, you also know that Andy Roddick has pulled out of the Shanghai Tennis Masters Cup [. . .]

[. . .] the men have tried to put the best face on their hardships. Here's the money quote from the announcement that Roddick pulled out of Shanghai with a bad lower back:

"Though I have continued to practice, train and play, the lower back spasms continue. . . . After being evaluated by medical staff upon my return to the United States, it is now clear that I am not able to resume tennis activities for 10-14 days. I apologize to the loyal fans and sponsors that have expected my participation in Tennis Masters Cup. It is an honor for me to have qualified for this event for the third straight year. I realize the tremendous amount of time and effort the ATP and the Chinese government have spent on the event, and know it will be a huge success. I look forward to getting healthy, starting my off-season workouts for the 2006 season, and working towards qualifying for Shanghai next year."

Oh, sure, you can say it's all spin and diplomatic make-nice language. But there's nothing wrong with treating fans and sponsors with deference, unless it's disingenuous. I don't think that's the case for Roddick. It was pretty clear in the Paris Masters Series event that he was hurt. His statement of withdrawal is, simply, classy.

If Federer can play anywhere near his best, the tournament will be saved, despite losing Roddick and the expectant dad, Hewitt (why should he have gone to Shanghai anyway--just to waxed by the Mighty Fed for the 5,009th time?). Of course, it would have been nice of Hewitt to show a little more regret for missing the Masters Cup, as well as a nod of appreciation a la Roddick, but he's a callow guy.

Jeez, doesn't anybody in the media have one positive thing to say about Lleyton Hewitt?

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The Poster Boy for Ghetto Magazines

Andy is scheduled to do a photo shoot with City and Shore magazine this month, so that's just one more fancy rag mag that we'll never get our hands on to read. City and Shore? Would it kill Roddick's handlers to set up an appointment with a national magazine for once? I work in New York City where you can usually find any kind of garbage publication around but not even this magazine would be carried by the Indian newsstands. I mean. what's next on his publicity schedule? Buggies and Wagons magazine?

Photo by leuvenbelgium at LiveJournal

Y-M-C-A! Wait, this isn't a gay bar?

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Gossip! Gossip! We've got gossip!

Well, we don't got the gossip, but we found it. Some shameless slut over at LiveJournal had the chance to party with the US Davis Cup team in Belgium. So what does she think of Marat Safin's best buddy? "He's an alright guy. A little too cocky for me but nice enough." Here's her scintillating account of the whole sordid affair including photos.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

When East Meets West

Marat Safin recently sat down for an interview with Sport Express (translation courtesy of Annie from The Guy From Russia) where he made an intriguing comment about Andy Roddick:
Q: Is there anyone from the top players you haven't managed to build a relationship with?

Safin: Roddick and I don't talk to each other. We fell out during the Olympic Games in Athens.

Q: What hapenned?

Safin: I am not going to tell, it's stupid. But the man has changed and not for the best. I've known him, Federer and Hewitt practically since childhood, we're of the same age, we've been playing each other forever. I have an excellent relationship with the other two. Federer became more disciplined, serious, a real Swiss. He is a very good person. Once I had to present someone I knew with a racquet and I didn't have one on me. I asked Roger for one and he gave it to me without hesitation. I have wonderful memories about Sampras--he treated me really well and I respected him deeply. Just as I respect Agassi.

As is the case with many rumors, the tennis illuminati around the web immediately put this down as proof that Safin and Roddick hated each other's guts. Other than jumping to conclusions about their unknown relationship, I have to ask: why would Roddick and Safin be friends? And if they're not friends, why would this be a big deal? I can't think of two more different people. Andy's always in Texas. Marat's always in Monte Carlo. Andy is very American and who has adopted Texas (yes, Bush Country) as his home. Marat is a worldly Russian who loves Europe. What on earth could they possibly have in common besides tennis?
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HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU, KID. Safin and Roddick may never be friends but there is mutual professional respect between them.

Whether Safin and Roddick actually like each other or not isn't a big concern of mine. The part that concerns me the most is the quote: ". . .the man has changed and not for the best." Sadly, this may be true. Many of us Roddick-watchers have noticed a change in Roddick, and even his Davis Cup captain, Patrick McEnroe, has publicly commented on it during his matches. Almost gone is the bundle of fun energy who looked like he was having a grand old time playing tennis out there. In his place is an older kid who has now tasted success, lost it, and is desperate to get it back again. He also sloshes through too many of his matches and has a more negative energy to him. Did you notice that even when he wins a match, he won't allow himself to smile and enjoy it? Even his clothes are drab. Andy has learned a hard lesson: getting to the top was the easy part; staying there is a whole different ballgame, and the pressure seems getting to him. This is subject I could discuss for a bit, so I'll save it for another blog entry. And as to whether Safin is talking about the same "change" as I am, well, that is up for grabs until he elaborates on it.

Getting back to the more interesting topic at hand: I think when you partner a fiery European with a fiery American, it pretty much guarantees a combustible mix. I can't remember the last time I watched a Roddick-Safin match and found myself getting bored. And now thanks to this spicy little tidbit, the next time Roddick and Safin meet on court (probably at the Australian Open) we'll all be watching them just a little more closely looking for any hint of discord. Hopefully some daring journalist will remind Safin of his comments and ask him if he's changed his mind about Roddick. Andy and Marat better keep themselves in check because with every fistpump and staredown and bathroom break, we of the tennis illuminati society will be ready to POUNCE.

On a personal note, is anyone else getting bored by all the constant "Roger is wonderful and perfect" leg-humping compliments by his peers? Oh, I don't doubt that Federer isn't "all that" but it sure does get boring hearing the same breathless adulation all the time. If anyone ever needed a sex scandal, it's Roger.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Cat's Out of the Bag

I don't know how I managed to stumble across this but I did. Andy Roddick's official site has been hinting at some big changes coming up soon and uh, well, I guess this is part of their big change plan: a new userface. Check out the test site here and the main page here.

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American Express still wants Andy (and his missing Mojo)

After the disastrous USO "Andy's Mojo" marketing campaign, in case there were still any lingering doubts about whether American Express will continue their relationship with Roddick or not, Roddick is scheduled to film a new American Express commercial later this month. Hopefully it will be something simple but humorous, like the popular trophy-fell-on-my-head advertisement that was a hit both in the states and overseas, and had even won an award for best sports commercial.

And more importantly: one that won't come back and bite them in the ass.

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Most fashionable players in tennis

That closet fashionista, Robby Ginepri, called the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to give his list of the five most fashionable folks in tennis:
1. James Blake. Gotta start with one of my boys. He's always trying to look good. Always has new stuff to wear.
2. Andy Roddick. The Lacoste gear is pretty original. Not too many players are wearing it. It's kind of old school.
3. The Williams sisters. They usually have new attire for the U.S. Open.
4. Carlos Moya. The sleeveless look with the little tattoo around the biceps.
5. Anna Kournikova. She's always looking good.

Get to Lacoste now before the stampede.

By the way, is "old school" the new code for "boring blah and lame"? It's time for Andy and Lacoste to rediscover the joys of color.

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