Saturday, January 14, 2006

King Kooyong

Roddick def. Haas 6-3 7-6 (6), wins Kooyong exhibition tournament.

I can't think of a more perfect way to start off the new year. Congrats to Andy! Now take your newfound confidence and power game and go forth to conquer the Australian Open.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comKING KOOYONG. Drawing courtesy of blosson.

The BBC reports:

Andy Roddick completed his Australian Open preparations with a morale-boosting victory over Tommy Haas in the Kooyong Classic final.

The American, seeded second at the first Grand Slam of the year, prevailed 6-3 7-6 (8-6) at the exhibition event.

"I'm happy with the way I'm hitting the ball," said Roddick.

"I feel the most prepared that I have been for the Open. I had a legitimate off-season, where I was able to train. I feel fit and I'm really excited."

Haas upset world number one Roger Federer earlier in the tournament and the German came close to taking the final against Roddick into a deciding third set.

However, he squandered a 4-1 lead and four set points in the second set and the big-serving American triumphed in the tiebreak.

In the absence of injured duo Marat Safin and Andre Agassi, Roddick will be expected to be one of Federer's main challengers at the Australian Open, which starts on Monday.

But the American said: "I can promise you right now - I'm thinking about (first-round opponent) Michael Lammer and not Roger Federer."

Image hosted by Photobucket.comFINGERS CROSSED. Let's hope this win is a good omen for the rest of the year.

And from Australia's The Age:

In an ominous forecast for his Australian Open rivals, second seed Andy Roddick has warned he has never been better prepared to tackle the often gruelling conditions of Melbourne Park over the coming fortnight.

Roddick completed his final preparations for the Open by defeating Tommy Haas in straight sets 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) yesterday to win his first AAMI Kooyong Classic title, the traditional warm-up event for many of the game's leading men.

After an extended off-season break because of a back injury which kept him out of the Masters series final in Shanghai last November, Roddick has had time to prepare for a tilt at his first Australian Open title.

"I definitely feel the most prepared that I have been," he said. "I had a legitimate off-season and I was able to train. I feel fit and I'm really excited. Who knows how the next two weeks is going to play out but right now, I feel as ready as I (ever) have been."

In front of more than 8000 fans at Kooyong — the largest crowd to grace Australian tennis' traditional home since Stefan Edberg defeated Pat Cash in the 1987 men's final of the Australian Open — Roddick gave a glimpse of what many will expect from the big serving American over the coming fortnight.

"We were walking through the tunnel and we saw a sea of faces," said Roddick. "I've never seen so many at Kooyong before.

"This place is humbling for a tennis player as you walk around the club and see all the famous faces on the wall. This is an experience that never wears off."

Although he had travelled through the four-day event with little trouble, the world No. 3 had not been entirely happy with his trademark serve, but yesterday even he had to admit it had "clicked".

Roddick served up 13 aces in the two sets, which took 102 minutes. The American was forced to fight back from four set points in the second set to seal his victory.

Over the past 12 years, nine players who have prepared at the Classic have gone on to win the Australian Open. Roddick hopes the tradition will continue for him but believes the connection is more of a testament to the quality fields Kooyong has attracted.

"If you have the best players in the world at this event, then more often than not you're going to have someone from this event going on and winning in Melbourne but those numbers don't put the tennis ball on the court, unfortunately, so I don't pay too much attention to them," he said.

The American will face Swiss qualifier Michael Lammer in his opening match of the Open. Lammer might be ranked 221st in the world, but Roddick is familiar with his game after both competed on the junior circuit at the same time.

While others look towards an encounter between the 23-year-old and another, more recognisable Swiss player, Roddick said it was Lammer and not Roger Federer who would be in his thoughts today. "I can't worry about Roger until I play Roger and I promise you right now I'm thinking about Michael Lammer and not Roger Federer."

Photos and Videos

33 watermark-free photos from the Kooyong final are now up in my gallery. Enjoy!

More videos. Eurosport has a few videos of Andy available on their website, "Hot Rod Down Under."

Up Next: The Australian Open

Jon Wertheim breaks down the men's seed report.

Andy begins with a night match on Monday and he plays qualifier Michael Lammer. They have never met but Roddick says that he has seen Lammer play before so he will at least go into his first match knowing what his opponent is about.

Helpful Australian Open Links
Official 2006 Australian Open website
Live Scores
World Clock

Australian Open TV Schedules
TSN Canada
The Tennis Channel
BBC Sport
Sky Sports
Seven Sport

January 13, 2006

Injuries Win Again

Roddick def. Kiefer 0-1 ret.

Winning a match by walkover is no way to prepare for the Aussie Open. The injury curse at Kooyong continues as Nicolas Kiefer was forced to retire with a rolled ankle after only the first game. Andy entertained the crowd by goofing off with some fans and playing with the ballboys. Hopefully Nicolas will recover in time for the Australian Open.

Walkovers can actually put a player at a disadvantage if they are still trying to shake off rustiness. Andy's opponent in tomorrow's final, Tommy Haas, has been on fire all week long (he took out Federer in the first round robin) and has always given Andy problems in the past so if Andy's looking for a really good workout before hitting the Rebound Ace, then this match with Tommy will be exactly that. Good luck to Andy!

Kooyong Final - Roddick vs. Haas - Saturday Jan. 14, 3:00 pm Melbourne time. The World Clock is your friend.

HIT ME BABY ONE MORE TIME. Well, maybe not.

His short and sweet post-match press conference:

Q: Not the ideal match you would have liked today, is it, Andy?

A: No, of course not, especially on a week like this, selfishly you want to play that match just to get some form, but the good news is I have another one tomorrow so I'm going to go over and try and get some practice in Melbourne Park now and just try to make the best of it.

Q: Did you think he was in trouble straightaway?

A: Well, the thing about an event like this is obviously your priority is next week and I guess kind of the way it goes if you wouldn't practice on it then you probably wouldn't play out there. I can't speak for him but from what I was told he should be able to go on Monday but obviously you don't want to play on a weak ankle, especially after they iced it to keep the swelling down, it was numb so you can't really feel it, so not the smartest thing to go out and try to push it.

Q: Will you have a long session at Melbourne Park now to try and make up for game time?

A: Whatever they will give me as far as court time.

Q: Just looking ahead to your draw, a qualifier.

A: Let's just keep it at qualifier, let's not work past that, please. That's always different because you don't have a face to put there but all it means is that the person is going to be playing well and will already have won three matches, but that's all right.

Q: Can I ask you if you're pleased that Lleyton is in Roger's half of the draw as opposed to yours?

A: I didn't know that but the thing is, I don't know if I can think that far ahead, you kind of have to take them as they come. I think it would be a little bit arrogant of me to think ahead to the last four already; right know I'm just focused on my first round.

Q: We see a lot of foot and ankle injuries. Does the rebound ace get a bit sticky when it's hot and humid?

A: It's not hot and humid today but it's a rubber surface, it gives a little bit more so maybe your feet go down into it a little bit more; that's just kind of the nature of the surface.

Q: Have you ever slipped over or had your foot stick?

A: I had to pull out of the Australian Open mid match in 2002.

Q: What happened there?

A: It was an ankle. I sprained it in the first round and then I tried to play the second round and I sprained the same ankle again in the second round and had to retire from the match.

Q: Did you roll it or did it stick or was it just

A: Probably both. It stuck and therefore it rolled.

Q: You've got Tommy Haas. You know he has been in good form, is that a good hitout two days before the Open?

A: Absolutely, you want to play against guys who are playing well going into the Open and obviously Tommy has played great this week. Win or lose is fine, I want to get out there and compete and hit some shots in a match type atmosphere, which is good. I feel like I'm in pretty good shape and it would be nice to get out there and just play a couple of sets tomorrow.

Lots of new photos from the American Express Aces program and yesterday's match with Nicolas Kiefer are up in my gallery. No tags, either. Go check it out!

Videos, videos, videos!

Here's a short video that was shown on Eurosport about Andy, Maria Sharapova, and Venus Williams (thanks to Danielafrenchfan for the link!)

Eurosport had also televised something about Andy called "On the Rod" the other night. You can view it here (thanks to Danielafrenchfan for the link!) or you can download the English versions here (part 1), here (part 2), and here (part 3) (thanks to Deb for these links!) [the Megaupload site can be a bit confusing. When you first arrive, you'll see on the top right-hand side that you must wait 45 seconds for a time-out. Then click on "click here to download".]

This one is a video of the players Kooyong press conference and shows Andy practicing shirtless. Click on "Video: Federer talks it up, and more"

This is an old video but if you've never seen it before, check it out. It's a video of that famous point Andy made at the 2002 US Open during his match with Chela where he high-fives the crowd afterward. It had won the Heineken Star Award for Best Point at the US Open. Good, nostalgic stuff of a young and playful Andy.

AO Draw is Out

The other big news today is that the Australian Open draw came out. Andy is seeded No. 2 which puts him on the other side of Roger Federer, so he won't see him until the final. Lleyton Hewitt is seeded No. 3 and has been drawn into Federer's side, so that's one dangerous player out of Andy's way (unless by some miracle Hewitt manages to defeat Federer in the semis, then Roddick could possibly meet Hewitt in the final. Drool.).

In the bottom half of Andy's draw there are many potential landmines that could show up in the form of Taylor Dent, Thomas Johansson, Robby Ginepri, Tomas Berdych, and Ivan Ljubicic. Possible dangerous floaters in the top half of the draw that Roddick could do battle with in the semifinals are Rainer Schuettler, Mario Ancic, James Blake, David Ferrer, David Nalbandian, Tim Henman, and Vincent Spadea.

Redemption Does Not Hit the Zzzzz

Roddick is the sports' page cover story on the USA Today site. A great article titled "Roddick Ready to Redeem Himself." Among lots of interesting tidbits, Roddick says that he's entering the 2006 season with a chip on his shoulder and has a lot to prove since crashing out at the US Open last year. "It gave me something to prove . . . Maybe it was a blessing in disguise", he says. go here to read it.

Speaking of great articles, this one may have gotten lost in my last blog entry, but I highly recommend you read Tom A. McFerson' "Who Misses the Old Andy Roddick?" over here at I don't agree with some points he makes but I do understand and appreciate the general gist of the direction he feels Roddick is heading in and should head towards.

More Fan Mail

More questions and comments about Roddick poured into Jon Wertheim's Mailbag this week:
As thrilling as Roger Federer has been over the past two years, does anyone else feel cheated out of the Federer-Roddick-Ferrero rivalry that seemed inevitable in 2003? Each won a Slam that year and each had a shot at No. 1 at the year-end championships. I know Juan Carlos was brought down by chicken pox, but what really happened to this three-way rivalry? -- Steve, St. Louis

Roddick's flaws and missing dimensions were exposed. Ferrero suffered a prodigious stretch of bad luck and is barely on the radar screen (consider: He lost last week to little-known Chris Guccione). Marat Safin has been, characteristically, crazily erratic. Lleyton Hewitt lacks the weapons to inflict much damage. But ultimately, the "culprit" is Federer. He is so above the rest of the field that he has a nosebleed.

Here's an excerpt from a news article:

"Hopefully next time I will take a set or the match," Frenchman [Monfils] said [of Federer], although he remained stoically non-committal when asked if he saw any weaknesses in Federer's game.

"Don't say anything," Federer shot back.

"No, speak up," replied Roddick to loud laughter.

Makes you wish Andy has a better year in 2006. What's your opinion?
-- Nestor Cotiyam, Quezon City, Philippines

Absolutely. I think some of Roddick's wit, irony and comic timing sometimes gets lost in translation and, filtered through another language, his remarks are misinterpreted as arrogant and disrespectful.

It's Official: ESPN Sucks.

Bad news for American Davis Cup fans: ESPN has decided to drop Davis Cup. The first-round tie will be televised by The Tennis Channel. Booo, ESPN! Boo!

I get the feeling that ESPN would be begging to get the Davis Cup rights back should Andre Agassi decide to give DC another shot.

Spadea Ain't Afraida the Top Ten

A new website dedicated to Vince Spadea has just come to fruition and if you enjoy a good laugh, go check it out.


Danielle said...

hahahaa I love the king kooyong drawing

Noelle De Guzman said...

I do love your un-watermarked pics gallery, Tangy. :)

loreley said...

The drawing is so true ;)

Cool blog you have.

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