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.

5 comments:

Noelle De Guzman said...

Thanks for championing Andy's cause. 2005 was such a bad year but he certainly didn't deserve all the year-end bashing that emerged.

And Kermit? LOL. Definitely Andy's kinda fella.

Noelle De Guzman said...

What?!?! Only one comment (and it's mine) on such an excellent long post? This is not my happy face. :(

tangerine said...

LOL. I think people may still think I'm on holiday. Because everybody knows that I LIVE for comments. ;D

DolceVita said...

Yet another great post, Tangy! Thanks a bunch. I love how it's Andy who everyone is talking about. He sure is a failure, eh?

Renee said...

What a mixture of year-end review for our A-Rod: the good, the bad, and the ugly... Rather fitting to his 2005, I suppose?!

Great wrap-up :)


p.s. Tried to leave you a comment as soon as I read it yesterday but it just won't go through :S

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