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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 [. . .]

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 [. . .]

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!


Renee said...

I don't think serve and volley is Andy's kind of game either - and to develop it now is a bit too late, IMHO. It's just that natural instinct that's lacking - and his tendency to always rush things (why can't he slow down, anyways?!). Yes, he mixes it up a little every now and then, and that's probably as good as it'll get.

Another improvement I'd love to see is the BP conversation %, but I guess that comes with improving his return of serve. :)

Noelle De Guzman said...

Andy shouldn't try to use serve-and-volley as his main tactic, bcause as people have pointed out he doesn't have the instincts for it. However, it's great that over this past year he tried to develop the tactic.

Now he should definitely get back to enforcing his game on other players, instead of letting them force theirs on him. :)

Anonymous said...

well i love andy just how he is.. :)

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