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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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