Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Fall Out Boy

Addendum, Friday, January 27, 2006

The Delray Beach Fiasco


FALSE ALARM! Never mind, www.andyroddick.com is reporting that Roddick will not be playing at Delray Beach.

Well. That was fun.

UPDATE

This latest strange development over the Delray Beach tournament has more meat to it than previously thought. Somebody at the tournament goofed big time by opening his fat, greedy mouth about something that was not promised in the first place, making Roddick look like the bad guy.

Here is an update, as reported by the Sun-Sentinel today:
Coach: Roddick felt deceived by tourney director

By Harvey Fialkov
Posted January 29 2006

DELRAY BEACH · Andy Roddick's coach said that his player's change of heart regarding his last-minute request to play in the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships on Friday had little to do with him having to play in this weekend's qualifying rounds.

Because the three allotted wild cards had already been given to Mardy Fish, Andre Agassi and Sargis Sargsian -- Agassi's close friend and hitting partner -- Roddick, who decided Thursday night to enter the $380,000 event to help prepare for the upcoming Davis Cup tie against Romania, was prepared to earn his way into the 32-player draw, a rare route for top-ranked players.

"Why would Andy fly in from Texas at his own expense to play?'' asked Roddick's coach, Dean Goldfine. "Sure, it would've been easier to get a wild card, but it didn't have anything to do about playing qualifiers. Andy couldn't justify being out there playing their tournament when he felt deceived by [tournament director] Mark Baron.''

The only issue of contention that Goldfine would specifically address had to do with Roddick's agreement with the tournament not to publicize his participation in qualifying until he actually was playing.

Goldfine said the "deception" regarded an agreement with Baron that the tournament would not publicize Roddick's participation in the qualifying until he played his first match, but tournament officials had alerted the media by e-mail.

Baron called this a "misunderstanding.''

Baron said earlier in the week when he was aware of Roddick's intentions to play his tournament that he asked the ATP to expand the draw to 48, which would net a fourth wild card. He knew that wasn't a realistic request on such short notice.

"I called Fish's people to see if he was healthy. They said he was ready to play,'' Baron said of Fish, who has undergone two wrist surgeries and has been off the tour for the past five months. "There was nothing else I could do. Andy wanted a wild card, and I had none to offer.''

Fish, who like Roddick is represented by SFX, said he never felt pressure to give up his wild card to his friend, but he suggested that the 300th-ranked Sargsian, 32, who retired after the U.S. Open, should have.

"I think everybody knows the one who should get pressure a lot,'' Fish said. "I didn't get [a wild card] in San Jose, and Sargis got one there as well. It's kind of a bummer for both of us.''

Baron said he would never ask a healthy player to give back a wild card and didn't ask Sargsian.

Good to see you eating your own words, Harvey. This, a day after you painted Roddick as a screaming brat trying to pull rank with officials and whining about how no one would give him a free pass. Roddick Watchers, feel free to e-mail Harvey and tell him where to get off at: hfialkov@sun-sentinel.com.

MEN AT WORK. The unofficial logo of AndyRoddick.com

Unrelated rant: does anyone else get annoyed by the fact that ar.com's bulletin boards are always down whenever something interesting happens in the tennis world (i.e. Justin Henin-Hardenne's bizarre retirement in the women's final, and now this Delray Beach fallout)? For an official website, ar.com's server sure does suck.

***
BREAKING NEWS! Roddick enters the qualifying draw for Delray Beach!

From the Sun-Sentinel:
In a stunning development, Andy Roddick, the No. 3-ranked player in the world, has accepted a spot in this weekend's qualifying tournament in an attempt to earn one of four spots available for the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships.

The 32-player draw was out of wild cards, so Roddick, who grew up in nearby Boca Raton, will be forced to earn his way in. Roddick was knocked out of the Australian Open in the fourth round 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 by surprising finalist Marcos Baghdatis, the 20-year old from Cyprus.

Roddick has played in the Delray Beach tournament four times with one final appearance in 2002, an upset loss to Italy's Davide Sanguinetti.

Roddick was unable to receive a wild card because Andre Agassi, Mardy Fish and Sargis Sargsian had already been granted direct entry into the draw. Agassi, an eight-time Grand Slam champion, was forced to sit out the Australian Open with an ankle injury.

I have to say that I am stunned by this news. Not in a bad way, per se, but am very curious to know what Team Roddick has in mind right now.

Props to Roddick for having the cojones to "lower himself" by entering a qualifying draw. Let the snickering begin, and who cares? Whatever the purpose of this stunt is, Team Roddick has to do what they feel is best for their man to get him back on track, so I'm all for it. Good luck, Andy!

***

Fall Out Boy


"I just thought maybe I was a little bit spacey out there. Maybe I just wasn't totally on top of things."

-- ANDY RODDICK, who needs a spacesuit.


***
Life's little absurdities

Something funny happened today. Just for the heck of it, I did a search on the word "Andy" over at tinypic.com and this image actually came up:

Coincidence? Heh.

***
Tough medicine to swallow

The fall out from Andy's disappointing match with Marcos Baghdatis continues to pour in. Some particularly harsh-but-needs-to-be-said comments came from Mats Wilander and Jim Courier as quoted in the New York Times (click on link to read the entire article; do it soon because NYT articles expire):
In the halls and courtside seats of Melbourne Park, the debate over the state of his game continued. There were essentially two schools of thought. The first, represented by the former star Jim Courier, is that there is no reason for Roddick to panic and that Roddick is still in the hit-or-miss process of trying to fashion himself into a more complete, attack-minded player.

"The alarm bells shouldn't start ringing, but I think this loss is a wake-up call for Andy to begin thinking about making some midmatch transition," Courier said. "I don't think he coached himself very well in this match. I think he's playing pretty well. He's serving pretty well, but he's not making the adjustments he needs to make. He kept going to the Baghdatis forehand and was burned on it just way too many times, and in the fourth set he tried to come forward too much."

The second school of thought, represented by the former Swedish champion Mats Wilander, is that Roddick is an increasingly lost soul with plummeting confidence and prospects who is gradually giving ground and computer points to the up-and-coming set while the smooth-moving Federer turns into a speck on the horizon.

"He's now gone from being a really great talent or whatever to, in my mind, not a great player anymore," Wilander said of Roddick. "Now it's becoming ordinary, totally ordinary."

Wilander expressed frustration with Roddick's tactics against Baghdatis, particularly his tendency to hit huge forehand returns from way behind the baseline that left too much of the court open for Baghdatis to hit backhand winners. He said he was also mystified by Roddick's decision to hit sliced backhands from positions of strength.

"When he's not in control of the point, he tries to hit a two-hander," Wilander said. "He's got the whole strategy turned around."

Wilander also said Roddick's increasingly frequent forays to the net were too predictable. "He's neutralized his own game and power; he's neutralized himself," Wilander said.

Wilander and Courier expressed the same frustration I had while watching Roddick dissolve in fourth round. Losing to Baghdatis is not what got me so upset but it was the way that he lost: passive, tenative, afraid, and meek. Very UNRoddick-like behavior. Every shot he made was a no-confidence shot. It was disturbing to watch. Roddick broke his promise -- to himself and to his fans -- to be more aggressive. He wasn't playing to win, he was playing not to lose, and that is a loser's mentality, not a Roddick mentality.

I know that a few of you are angry with me for being a tad harsh and critical of Roddick after his loss, but you are wrong when you say that I am not a real fan or that I'm abandoning Roddick. Believe me, I'm not abandoning this kid. I believe very strongly in him and his game, which is why whenever I see him underperform and blow away golden opportunities I tend to come down hard on him. I know -- as we all know -- that he is capable of doing much better; that he is capable of beating the top players and winning multiple slams and masters titles; that he should not be beating himself before his opponent has hit the first serve.

***
Deconstructing Roddick

As usually happens, concerned fans/non-fans write into Jon Wertheim's SI.com mailbag asking what's wrong with Roddick:
Please select the following true statement(s) regarding Andy Roddick:

1) The whole ATP locker room has figured out how to play him.

Absolutely. Roddick's game has never been particularly nuanced. But the scouting report is, unquestionably, out: Play the backhand, which he seldom drives down the line. Take advantage of his poor court positioning. Don't go for a spectacular pass because you can often pass him off his first volley. Stick around on his service games, and you give yourself a decent chance to win.

2) He needs to punt the revolving brain trust.
There might something here. When Roddick won the U.S. Open it was as though he was relying on muscle memory. You get the feeling that his intelligence is working against him a bit now. He is a rational, thoughtful guy and -- not unlike Todd Martin -- he might be prone to overthinking and overanalyzing his current swoon.

3) He's overcoached in an effort to beat Roger.
Maybe a year ago there was a sense that he was demoralized by his inability to beat Federer, that he wasn't living up to his end of the rivalry bargain. Now that's the least of his concerns.

4) If he'd just listen to P-Mac, he could win more.
In part because Roddick is the Great American Hope, but also because he's done right by a lot people, there's no shortage of advice. Pat Mac, Jim Courier, John McEnroe, Brad Gilbert, Mats Wilander, everyone has thoughts.

5) Everyone plays their best game against Andy.
False. Sure, Marco Baghdatis was playing well, as was Gilles Muller at the U.S. Open. But this goes beyond bad luck. When a speedy player looses a step, his games falls apart (see: Lleyton Hewitt or Michael Chang.) Likewise, when a power player loses 10 percent of his stick, things crumble. I'm not sure why it's the case, but Roddick doesn't seem to have quite the "stick" he once did. Baghdatis out-aced him for heaven's sake, just as Jose Acususo did at the French and Muller, I believe, did at the Open. Before we address court positioning and ill-timed slices, Roddick needs to figure out where that 10 percent in power went.

6) He's suffering physical and/or mental issues.
Possible. As an aside, I have a gripe with the none-of-our-business logic: If you're a public figure -- particularly one who makes money off the court, selling watches and fragrances and starring in a reality series -- by definition you surrendered some of your privacy. Those are just the rules of engagement. If a player's game is crumbling because of an off-court issue, they're not obliged to address it, but the media shouldn't be barred from inquiring.

7) He should go back to Brad and beg forgiveness.
That train's left the station.

8) The credit-card commercials have ceased to be funny.
Were they ever?

9) He'll be lucky to be in the top 10 at the end of the year.
False. Look at last year. Roddick underperformed at three of the four Slams. He didn't do much at the TMS events. By winning smaller events and making a run at Wimbledon, he finished third. Federer hoards so many points that it doesn't take all that much to be a top 10er.

10) The absence of a top American will kill broadcast coverage in the States.
True, true, a million times true.

AMERICAN EXPRESS. Waiting for another prayer to be answered.

I've already gone off on a rant about Roddick so I won't respond to Wertheim's comments except for the one about the credit card ads never being funny. Did somebody remove Jon's funnybone? The first one was cute, but the second Amex ad Roddick did (the one where the trophy fell on his head) was an international hit, and it even won a commercial award. It was also included in the "2005's Funniest Commercials" TV special that had aired on TBS a few weeks ago.

Andy's game may be sucking right now but for the most part the credit card commercials do not. So there.

***
It's better to be criticized than to be ignored

Every time Roddick drops the ball, the harsh criticism he receives from the media and bloggers like myself should be seen as a positive sign of a healthy career. A lot is expected of Roddick because we know that he can deliver the goods. When he doesn't take care of business like he should, we give him a swat on the behind and tell him to shape up.

Look at it this way: when Roddick lost to the unseeded Baghdatis it was a huge shock. Tennis boards lit up like Christmas; tennis pundits were back to handing out free advice to Roddick; sports pages were actually publishing news and photos about the match. In some ways, the big story was not about Baghdatis winning but about Roddick losing. Rather telling, don't you think?

In contrast, what sort of media frenzy happened when Baghdatis took down Ivan "Davis Cup God" Ljubicic (seeded 7) and David "Federer Killer" Nalbandian (seeded 4)?

That's right. Nothing. Not a peep. Can you hear the crickets chirping? **watches tumbleweeds blow by** Why is that? :-)

I remember the media firestorm that happened last year when Roddick lost to Hewitt in the Aussie Open semifinals. Roddick had his ten-minute meltdown in the bathroom before going on to lose 1-6 in the fourth set. After that, ESPN became the Bash Roddick Network. Even my local news stations were talking about it. The barrage of criticism went on for so long that Roddick had claimed he was completely "sick of it all" and didn't want to hear it anymore. He then went on to win the SAP Open playing some of his best tennis in a while.

He's pretty good at recovering. With this in mind, I fully expect Roddick to wipe out this latest AO nightmare and win the SAP Open title again for a record third year in a row. Good luck to Andy!



READY TO MOVE ON. The San Jose, Calif. SAP Open begins Feb 13–19.


***
More crap on Roddickpova

You asked for it! More gossip, this time from The Double Agent:
Maria Sharapova and Andy Roddick

It looks like Maria Sharapova may have found herself a new man. It has recently been reported that she and fellow tennis player, Andy Roddick, have coupled up after they fell for each other at the Australian Open.

The Sexy Russian tennis star and Roddick have been spotted taking a breather together between games. The couple sparked rumors of a budding romance when Roddick showed up unannounced at the launch of Sharapova's new perfume line in New York. However, at the time, the duo insisted they were nothing more than friends.

Just last year Sharapova was linked romantically to Adam Levine, Maroon 5's frontman. Roddick's last public romance was with singer/actress Mandy Moore.

Best Celebrity Couples in Tennis:
The rumors are flying Down Under that Andy Roddick and Maria Sharapova have been spending a lot of time together away from the tennis court. Wow, first singer Mandy Moore, now Sharapova? Not bad, Andy. We'd be lying if we said we weren't a little jealous. Here are the top five all-time tennis couplings:

5 Andy Roddick and Maria Sharapova. They would be higher on the list if it weren't just rumors. One report during ESPN2's coverage of the Australian Open had Maria giving Andy a back rub while he played in a high-stakes poker game.

4 Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf. The most popular question about this husband-and-wife team is how many Grand Slam titles their children will win.

3 Andre Agassi and Brooke Shields. And you thought Roddick's love life was impressive. Agassi makes his second appearance thanks to his former marriage to the Hollywood actress. Shields was there when Andre finally conquered New York to win his first U.S. Open title in 1994.

2 John McEnroe and Tatum O'Neal. Temper, temper. Johnny Mac found his equal in the hot-headed actress who got her big break opposite Walter Matthau in "The Bad News Bears."

1 Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert. Roddick and Sharapova will be fortunate if their success on the court equals that of Jimmy and Chris during their courtship at Wimbledon in the 1970s. Alas, Chris America's flirtation with Jimbo was short-lived.

from http://www.bradenton.com/

***
Life in the Fast Lane

If you missed the link I had posted in the previous blog entry, I'm going to post it again, it's that good. Andy's former coach Brad Gilbert writes about Andy for Australia's The Age. Here is just a few interesting paragraphs. I highly recommend clicking on the link to read the entire article.
Vibrant, brash and super-competitive – Andy Roddick likes poker, video games and jumping out of planes. His former coach Brad Gilbert gives the inside story on the A-Rod.

I started coaching him in 2003 at Queen’s, and other than that little Davis Cup experience, I didn’t know him very well. He was 20, he was turning into an adult. It’s different when you start coaching somebody right in the thick of things. It wasn’t like we had three months to get to know each other – I flew over and we had two weeks before Wimbledon – two weeks, then the biggest tournament in the world.

When we started out he told me, "I don’t win any matches on grass, I’m terrible." I said, "You’re going to go 12 and 0. You’re going to win five here at Queen’s and seven at Wimbledon." He went 5 and 0 to win Queen’s, then he lost to Federer in the semis at Wimbledon, so that was 10 and 1 for the three weeks.

I think the loss to Federer opened his eyes. He missed a forehand at set point – 6-5 in the breaker, and he missed a forehand approach, and then all of a sudden the match turned. He was annoyed about that, but he said, "Dude, we’re going to have a great summer." He took an unbelievably positive attitude, and he went out and did it.

He went 27 and 1 that summer – he won Montreal, won Cincinnati, won the US Open. The only match he lost was to Tim Henman in the semis of Washington. He had a couple of match points, and was so upset that he lost it. Sometimes he handles defeat well, sometimes he just wants to bust some racquets and get it out of the system. As a coach in that situation, you just give them the space and say, "I’ll catch you later." Sometimes he’ll be perturbed, sometimes he’ll just say, "The guy played too good."

Andy was becoming a star when we started out. From that Wimbledon and the amazing two months that followed, his star just rocketed. It was different for Andre – he came on the scene when he was 15. By the time he was 18 he was No.3 in the world. His stardom was long. He had the jean shorts, the hair, he had the game. He really became a star right away. Andy was projected to become a star, but he wasn’t that star yet. All of a sudden he won big, and it blew up.

Andre and Andy are completely different guys. Great tennis players both, but different guys. The thing about Andre, people have this perception that when he was young he was this wild and crazy guy. He wasn’t that guy. I played Davis Cup with him when he was 19 and I remember telling my wife, "I can’t believe this guy’s 19. He smart, he’s engaging, he speaks so well, he’s thoughtful, unbelievably well mannered."

Andy’s a little more vibrant and brash. He wants to go to the basketball court and dominate, do engaging sports, play poker, video games; he’s much more a product of the MTV generation. He likes to jump out of planes. When Andre relaxes, jumping out of a plane or crazy stuff like that, it doesn’t enter his mind. Andy went to a really good, private boys’ academy, and he’s a bright guy, no question about it.

Andre’s incredibly smart without going to college, they’re both bright people. Everything Andy does is fast. When he eats, he sits down and eats in five minutes; he’s got no patience to sit down and eat a two-hour meal. He eats huge, but he wants it quick, quick, quick. He likes poker because it’s mentally challenging and there’s different ways to win. What’s really important about poker is how you read somebody, and he likes to think he can do that. He plays aggressively, but unpredictably.

He lives on the lake in Austin, Texas, and if he gets downtime he likes going out in his boat, skiing, whatever. He doesn’t like sitting in front of the TV relaxing. He has a side that he can put away from tennis, and he has a lot of fun, at a fast pace. He’s that generation who are doing stuff all the time.

He used to play a lot of X-Box games, and when he plays someone in that he just wants to crush you. He and I played a lot of ping pong, and I’m pretty darn good. He plays unbelievably right-handed, and he’d play me leftie and beat me. Then he’d taunt me. The guy was tough.

The thing that shocked me more than anything about him is he’s got ridiculous moves. When he was 14 or 15 and he wasn’t sure he was going to be a great tennis player, he went and got all the Michael Jackson moves down. He could dance with the stars.

He’s got sweet moves, but he’s not like, "I’m going to go out there and clear the dance floor." Everything about him is the right time. He’s calculating.

8 comments:

Noelle De Guzman said...

Nice wrap-up. It's painful but it's the truth! Well, except for the Maria + Andy rumors. >:o

Anonymous said...

nice read...i have the exact same feel on andy as u.love him but feel i need to be critical coz he is just wasting away.

ps i think he will struggle with being a top 5 player....yes he managed it in 2005 with crap results but if top players are back from injuires that ranking wont be so easy...interesting what brad had to say

la_la said...

ps! we know andy is a bad dancer....!! what is brad on?????

tangerine said...

Looks like the Baghman is on a mission. I'm actually starting to fear for Roger. *eek*

In some ways, the fact that Ljubicic and Nalbandian fell under the Baghdatis spell does take some of the sting away from Roddick's loss. But not much. It still doesn't excuse the fact that Roddick looked completely lost out there and didn't play HIS game. Instead of losing on his own terms, he lost on Baggy's.

Hopefully Team Roddick will right themselves and be ready for Davis Cup and the SAP Open.

Ugh, I just remembered: ESPN is no longer showing Davis Cup matches. aaargh. boo! hiss!

La_La said...

omfg....im stunnned ..its interesting that he feels he needs a match soo bad that he is willing to go thru a qualifying round???? i cant help thinking that "team roddick" didnt have a plan b if an upset was to occur in the aus open.....andy shud most definatley go thru the qualifying rounds and eventually win the thing.

Robina said...

how desperate is this.....didnt realise things were this bad!!!!!

i hope andy can make more "inspired" decisions when most of the top claycourt players are playing in europe and he is in houston.

Noelle De Guzman said...

Oh. My. Marat. :p Isn't this the weirdest piece of tennis news ever?

Noelle De Guzman said...

Heh. Never mind; no wonder the name "Andy" brings out that image on Tinypic. I feel like banging my head on a desk right now.

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