Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Memphis: Roddick's Slump Continues

February 24, 2006

Benneteau def Roddick
3-6, 6-4, 7-6(4)

"Apparently I served 71 percent, and I'm a chump."


STILL NO ANSWERS. No sense looking up to God, Andy, He doesn't have the answers to your problems, either.

Surprise! Another low-ranked (122) player reads Roddick's negative body language, pounces on his passive, tenative play and plays the match of his life to beat his first top ten player. That's right. Andy Roddick--so generous, and thoughtful--offers himself up as another springboard to start another underling's brilliant ATP career. You're too kind, Andy.

Did we just compare Andy to figure skater Sasha Cohen the other day? We apologize and retract our statement. When Sasha Cohen falls, she gets back up and skates the rest of her program beautifully. When Andy Roddick falls, it's a violent stumble headlong down an 83-step staircase, unable to stop himself, and ending up a broken, crumped heap at the bottom. Stunned and confused, Roddick then avoids 83-step staircases for the rest of his life.

I'm wondering how long it will be before the media stops referring to Andy's losses as "stunning"?

From CNN:
Benneteau stuns Roddick in Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (AP) -- French qualifier Julien Benneteau upset top seed Andy Roddick 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4) in the quarterfinals of the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships on Friday.

Benneteau, ranked 122nd in the world, had lost twice previously to Roddick, including in the Australian Open last month in straight sets.

But he kept the world's No. 3-ranked player from reaching the semifinals for a second consecutive week by serving more effectively.

Benneteau will play sixth-seeded Tommy Haas, a 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-4 winner over Dmitry Tursunov of Russia, on Saturday.

Roddick thought he played well against Benneteau.

"It's just a little frustrating right now. I felt like tonight I actually hit the ball better than I have over the last two weeks," Roddick said. "I came off the court not really thinking I did a whole lot wrong. The guy was pretty much ripping winners from all angles."

Benneteau, who turned pro in 2000, got the biggest victory of his career.

"It's a lot of joy. I'm very happy for sure," he said. "I'm very proud of me. I'm very happy for my coach, for all the effort we make together to try to be the best."

Benneteau showed early that he might be ready to beat Roddick for the first time when he took a 3-1 lead in the first set. But Roddick broke Benneteau twice and won the last five games of the set.

Benneteau broke Roddick to take the second set, and in the final set the American wasn't happy with several line calls, including one which prompted him to say, "Everyone but the person who's paid to do it" after pointing out two perceived misses.

Benneteau dominated the tiebreaker as Roddick double-faulted and hit several shots long. Benneteau had one of his 18 aces to go up 6-3. Roddick hit a forehand winner, then watched the Frenchman hit a backhand down the line for the win.

Benneteau converted 78 percent of his first serves.

"Apparently I served 71 percent, and I'm a chump," said Roddick, who won the Memphis tournament in 2002.

Roddick's loss easily overshadowed Haas' victory, which left Tommy Haas as the only seeded player left.

FYI, Tommy Haas destroyed Benneteau 3 and 1 in the Memphis semifinals today. Exactly the kind of match Andy should have played. Exactly the kind of match the old Andy Roddick used to have against such players.

Stats from the Roddick/Benneteau match:

Andy's 3/31 receiving points won in the third set were absolutely atrocious and were part of what killed him. Click here to see the stats from all three sets.

OK, now that I'm done cyberslapping Andy, I will state that I am still optimistic. He is obviously in a career slump right now, and it won't last forever. Slumps happen to most, if not all, players (remember Andre Agassi's famous slump when he dropped to 141 in the world?). And it's only February, so Roddick still has time to regroup, get his team organized, and figure out his goals for the rest of the year. I think one of the problems may be that too many people have his ear. Hearing so many different opinions and advice could be confusing him out on the court. Instead of playing on instinct, he may be thinking too much out there, and so he ends up confusing himself even more. Hence, the many bad plays and questionable strategies he has employed of late and why he can't seem to hit his shots with any authority anymore.

Andy has pulled out of the Las Vegas (Tennis Channel) tournament and will next appear at Indian Wells. Hopefully the time off will allow him to regroup and get his head in order. He needs to defend his semifinal IW points, else he's heading out the Top Ten door.

* * *
In Davis Cup news, it's official: the US will play Chile on grass in the quarterfinals.

The USTA announced that its Davis Cup team's quarterfinal against Chile will be played at Mission Hills Country Club, on grass, in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Andy Roddick is chugging along in Memphis winning tiebreak, but James Blake, Taylor Dent and Robby Ginepri are all in mini-slumps. Time to call Andre Agassi for the Davis Cup tie?

Coach Patrick McEnroe is a little worried, but if one of those guys picks up his game in the next five weeks, the US will be just fine. Both Andy Roddick and the Bryan brothers made a strong case for turf, as did the captain. Blake likes hard courts a little better, but is pretty comfortable on grass. A win should be a Slam-dunk, unless Nico Massu changes his style or young Paul Capdeville, who setting Memphis on fire, is surprisingly named to play singles. Massu is still alive in Brazil while Capdeville took down Croatian Ivo Karlovic 7-6(1), 3-6, 7-5 in Memphis

This will be the fourth meeting between the US and Chile, with the US leading the series, 3-0. The Americans last defeated Chile in the '78 Americas Inter-Zonal final in Santiago, Chile, 3-2 behind John McEnroe. Amazingly, you might think he could play the '06 tie, too, and do just fine.

Obviously, this article was published before Andy's latest crash-out but the second paragraph: "Andy Roddick is chugging along in Memphis winning tiebreak, but James Blake, Taylor Dent and Robby Ginepri are all in mini-slumps. Time to call Andre Agassi for the Davis Cup tie?" is curious, as Andre Agassi is still having some medical issues with his back and has not played a match yet this year. It is now also undeniable that Roddick is in a bit of a slump of his own, so his No. 1 spot on the DC could also be in jeopardy. But I think it would be unlikely, as DC means a lot to Roddick and he tends to play his best stuff during Davis Cup.

February 23, 2006

Memphis: Roddick Pulls Another Win Out of His Ass

Roddick def Arthurs
6-7(4), 7-6(9), 7-6(2)

"It was one of the best matches I've played all year."

-- WAYNE ARTHURS, yet another low-ranked player who has the annoying, uncanny ability of playing his best tennis when facing Andy Roddick. Note to players: please stop getting inspired when playing against Roddick. You're pissing me off, k? Thanks.

STOP PICKING ON ME. Too many B-list players are smelling blood and believing that they have a chance to beat Roddick these days. Roddick needs to work on his intimidation factor and get back to his bullying power game.

Like the Fish match, Andy was completely out-aced and out-played by his opponent until the eleventh-hour great escape that Roddick once again managed to pull off. Terrific fighting spirit from Roddick, which I am very happy to see.

From the Regions Morgan Keegan website:
Top seed Andy Roddick withstood one match point, 33 aces, two tie-breaks, and another third-set tie-break to defeat Wayne Arthurs in Memphis Wednesday night.

Roddick, who needed three sets to get past Mardy Fish in the opening round, said he knew he was in for a difficult week when he saw the draw.

"I didn't think anyone could serve better than Mardy, but he did," Roddick said of Arthurs. "I never felt I had a chance on his serve. I was lucky to get through."

Roddick broke Arthurs only once.

Roddick staved off one match point at 8-9 in the second-set tie-break after Arthurs served back-to-back aces after being down set point at 7-8.

Arthurs said the match would be his last for three months. He and partner Caroline are expecting their first baby in one month. The baby will be born in Melbourne.

There were no breaks of serve in the second and third sets. Roddick, who needed a third-set tie-break to defeat Mardy Fish in the first round, served 20 aces himself.

The points Andy won on his second serve made the difference in the last two sets. Very encouraging to see Andy gut it out and his nerves hold up to win two tie-breaks in a row after losing the first set.

Bob Larson chose this great escape as his Men's Match of the Day:
Men's Match of the Day
Memphis - Second Round
Andy Roddick (1) def. Wayne Arthurs 6-7(4-7) 7-6(11-9) 7-6(7-2)

For most of the match, it seemed as if Wayne Arthurs was a little better. There were only two breaks, both in the first set, but Arthurs was winning more points -- and hitting a lot more aces. Then, at the end, he wasn't. A foot fault call, and he just never recovered.

Which is scary enough for Andy Roddick, given that he's now had two straight third set tiebreaks against players who shouldn't have been in his league. But the really bad news is for Arthurs. He was, after all, the defending Scottsdale champion -- and even with that on his record, he was ranked a mere #91. Now he'll watch roughly a third of his points come off. He'll be falling to the #150 range.

That's going to pose a truly interesting dilemma for him: He's still a top doubles player. But there are few singles events where he'll get in directly. Will he play Challengers? Qualifying? Concentrate on doubles? It's going to be a tough set of choices.

Strange that Larson would be panicing over Arthurs. He is an older player, and on paper this was a match that Roddick was supposed to win easily but did not. The fact that Arthurs thinks he played his best tennis in this match -- and still lost -- says more about Roddick's state of affairs than Arthurs, I think.

So Andy's quarterfinal opponent will be Julien Benneteau. That match will happen on Friday. Andy has completely owned Julien in their previous matches. Hopefully that won't change anytime soon.

Good luck, Andy!

* * *
The Bryan Brothers Talk About Andy

Bob and Mike Bryan took over Jon Wertheim's Mailbag duties this week and they answered several questions about Roddick:

Hi, Bob and Mike! It's awesome to see you guys finally winning lots of slams! You obviously know Andy Roddick well -- it seems like the past couple years he's lost a lot of confidence and isn't relaxed and having fun on court. How do you guys think he can get it back and go back to playing that great "Andy Roddick" power game that brought him so much success? -- Deb, Peabody, Mass.

Mike: I think his confidence might be a little low right now, but his best tennis is still ahead of him.

Bob: There's no way he's dropping out of the top 10 with that serve and his tenacity, so if he just does a few things better -- such as attack a little more, stay closer to the baseline -- I think he has a lot more Grand Slam in him.

Mike: He's working harder than he ever had. You should have seen him [during Davis Cup] doing sprints on the beach. Maybe right now it's not paying off as much, but it will.

How do you think the Bryans would fare against Roddick teamed up with either Agassi or Blake? -- R.S., Zurich, Switzerland

Mike: These are great tennis players, and they'll adapt and play good doubles. I mean, Federer would be No. 1 in both singles and doubles if he wanted to try it.

Bob: His skills translate. I think Andy and his huge serve would be good. Clay-court players like Coria I don't think would fare as well.

Mike: But it depends on how much they'd want to put into the skills of doubles. If they jumped right in, we'd take 'em. But if Agassi and Roddick practiced doubles for a few months and were really sharp, our hands would be full.

Bob: Come on, we've been playing for 25 years. I'm going to say we're still gonna win.

Mike: I'm going to say we'll win eight of 10. I mean, we played Agassi and Blake in an exhibition, and Agassi was playing great, and we hadn't hit a ball in a while. He clipped us. He comes in hot. Afterwards, he gives us crap: "It's great beating the Number 2 team in the world." Next time we play Agassi we're getting ready.

Another bus tour lined up?

Bob: We'd like to.

Mike: But it's up to the big man, Andy.

* * *
Well, here it is the middle of February and another issue of Roddick Monthly has arrived.

Of course, my little RM issues will never be in the league of true satire greatness like The Onion (here's just one example of their brand of hilarious absurdity.)

February 22, 2006

Memphis: Roddick Survives Scaly Fish

"Andy Roddick is the Sasha Cohen of tennis. You know he has all the tools that he needs to win matches, but you just hold your breath and occasionally cover your eyes until its all over because history has taught us to fear the worst."

-- FEE, a tennis fan, commenting on Roddick's match
with Fish last night.

Roddick def Fish 6-3 6-7(5) 7-6(2)

Throughout the entire match, Roddick was outplayed and outaced (his 12 to Mardy's 17) by his friend Mardy Fish but when it came crunch time in the third set tiebreak, Mardy faded away to 0-6. Andy could have very easily lost this match and in fact, is the only top seed who did not go crashing out in the first round, as Max Mirnyi, James Blake, and Robby Ginepri all did.

With this win, their head-to-head now stands at 4-1 Roddick, and marks the third first-round loss by Fish this year since returning from wrist surgery.

From the BBC:
Andy Roddick scraped through to the Memphis Championships second round on Wednesday as seeds continued to tumble.

Roddick took 2 hours and 15 minutes to see off determined fellow American Mardy Fish in three tight sets for a 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-2) win.

Roddick admitted he had been fortunate to edge past Fish in a match which contained only one break of serve.

Roddick, the 2002 champion, had 12 aces and Fish finished with 18.

"He played better than I did for the majority of the match," Roddick said. "I thought he served pretty well and I didn't have much of a chance to break.

"He probably had more chances than I did. He just made a couple of sloppy errors in the third-set tiebreaker."

Fish, a former top-20 player, is coming back from two wrist surgeries last year.

"It's nice to play a good match against, obviously, a good player like Andy and for my wrist to hold up like that against a serve that big," Fish said. "It's very encouraging."

You can listen to some of Andy's and Mardy's post-match interviews over here. Scroll to the bottom of the page.

Fish is also blogging for the ATP this week and wrote this after his match with Andy:

"I had another battle with Andy tonight and he came away with a win in a third-set tie-break. It was very encouraging to see my wrist hold up. I tape the wrist as a precaution and I had it re-taped during the match because it got a little tight, but that wasn't a big deal. If the wrist can hold up against Andy's serve you've got to think it will hold up against anyone.

Before the match Andy and I kept to our own areas in the locker room. Andy has his own little thing happening back there with a nicer shower. But I stole a shower while he was warming up. The first he'll know about that is when he reads this blog. I was also going to steal his racquets but decided not to."

Andy's next opponent is Wayne Arthurs whom he will play tonight at 7:30pm EST. Good luck, Andy. If you find yourself in another grind tonight, just ask yourself, "What would Brian Boitano do?"

I CAN SEE YOUR NIPPLES. Roddick excited to beat the Fish again.

* * *
Babolat Unveils Signature Roddick Line

Tennis Week reports that Babolat is launching their first signature line with Andy Roddick:
Though the serve remains his signature shot, Andy Roddick will make his mark off the court next month. Babolat announced the launch of two new tennis products designed and developed in collaboration with Roddick: the Pure Drive Roddick racquet and the Team All Court Roddick shoes.

It marks the first time Babolat has launched a signature line. Both products will be available in specialty stores starting in March.

The Pure Drive Roddick racquet is equipped with the Cortex System, the new and exclusive Babolat technology for tennis racquets. The Cortex System filters out the vibrations, which interfere with feel, in order to enhance the feel of the ball. The Pure Drive Roddick fills out Babolat’s Drive range of racquets. It is sold in standard, extra-long and junior sizes for younger competitors with a suggested retail price of $189.

The Team All Court Roddick shoes bear Roddick's signature on the left side of the shoe. Specifically created to optimize lateral movement, the Team All Court Roddick is a high-performance, all-court shoe equipped with all the technologies featured in the Team Babolat range:

* Exact - the Shoe Energizer, to boost lateral movement
* Extra-durable outsole developed exclusively with Michelin
* Vibrakill - shock-absorber in the heel for maximum comfort.

The Team All Court Roddick will retail for $109.

Founded in Lyon, France, in 1875, Babolat is the first company to have specialized in racquet sports and the world leader in the production of natural gut strings. Easily recognized by its trademark "double-line" (two stripes on the racquet frame and black on the stringing bed), Babolat is still family-owned. Today, with U.S. operations in Boulder, Colorado, the company also manufactures synthetic strings, shoes, a full range of accessories for all racquet sports as well as a best-selling line of racquets used by some of the most renowned names in tennis. To find out where Babolat products are sold, log on to or call (877) 316-9435.

Naturally, the smart-ass Roddick fans over at MTF immediately chimed in with their own version of the line: Pure Slump racquet, Null Court shoes; Useless, Hard Hitting Racket labelled as "Soft Touch, Comfortable Grip" and Avoid Clay Shoes labelled as "Easy-Fit, No Injury Shoes". Thanks for making me laugh, guys. LOL.

I'm praying that Lacoste will soon follow suit because just a week after Andy unveiled that lovely red-orange tomato shirt, I am now bored with it and demand that a new color be worn.

COLOR BLIND. This picture of Roddick wearing a lovely green is a figment of everyone's imagination.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

SAP Open: Will the Real Andy Roddick Please Stand Up?

February 19, 2006

"Beating Roddick in his home country is like a dream come true. I have so much respect for somebody like Roddick. He's achieved so much. It was great for me to be on the same court as somebody like him. To actually win against him is amazing."

-- ANDY MURRAY, on defeating his first top ten player Andy Roddick.

Is anybody else getting sick of all these young-guns always getting their "first big win" over Andy Roddick? Why can't somebody else be the career springboard for once?

Murray def Roddick 7-5 7-5

Ho hum. Another day, another loss to an unranked player. So stunned was I by this latest joyful news that I just couldn't wait to make a beeline to this blog to update it. I don't know what's more depressing: the fact that Roddick isn't making good on his promise to "get back to the meat and potatoes" of his game and "be more aggressive" or the fact that I'm no longer shocked by these kinds of results.

But Andy Murray is no fluke, and the fact that he took out former 2002 SAP Open champion Lleyton Hewitt in the final in three sets is proof that Murray is on his way towards great things in his career. Murray's counterpunching style of play is exactly the kind of game that troubles Roddick. Regardless, it still doesn't take the sting out of Roddick's loss because once again, Andy did not play HIS game (the one where he intimidates opponents with his aggression and makes wicked inside out forehand winners) and he beat himself long before his opponent did.

I sure do miss the old Andy Roddick.

WHO'S GOT THE ANSWERS? If Team Roddick doesn't find any answers soon, his Top Ten ranking could be in jeopardy.

Andy Murray has come of age a bunch of times in the past eight months, but, on Saturday, he took a major step toward becoming an elite player when he tripped up Andy Roddick 7-5, 7-5 in the SAP Open semifinals.

That not-so-stunning win earned him a final-round clash against a fellow brilliant counter puncher, two-time Slam champ Lleyton Hewitt, who downed American veteran Vince Spadea 6-3, 6-4.

It was a virtuoso performance from Murray, who served with authority and precision, picked off Roddick's big first serve time and time again, kept him at bay with his backhand and passed beautifully.

The 18-year-old Scot has terrific anticipation, a good sense of what's right and what's wrong on court and whole lot off guts. He outplayed Roddick through and through, a contention that is buttressed by the fact that he nailed 25 winners to only 14 from the American.

Roddick was impressed, as was every one of the 11,247 fans in attendance

"There are a lot of guys that move well but when they get there they force it," Roddick said. "Andy is really good at playing within himself when he's on the run. He's not afraid to find something to do with the ball. There were a lot of times when I felt I'd hit the ball fine in the corner, hit three in a row with good pace and I'd be back at neutral," Roddick said. "I could get the ball to go through the court like I would have liked. It was frustrating.*Maybe I forced it too much."

Possibly, but Roddick is stuck being playing attempting to play super aggressive again and going to a more defensive posture once he gets stuck in rally. When he's not dominating with his forehand, he may need to be patient until he can sneak into net or coax an error out of his foe.

Murray said, "It's very important against guys like Andy to play consistently and not give away too many free points. I did change the pace quite well.* I mixed it up quite well."

But just try getting Murray to over hit or play dumb won't work because it doesn't happen often.

"He plays with his head. I'd be surprised if he's not in the Top 20 very soon," John McEnroe said.

The 18-year-old Scot could have gone away quietly after Roddick charged out of the gates, but that's not his nature. He has an innate sense as to how to dig into matches and once he found away to block back Roddick's serves a la Roger Federer and Hewitt, he became the frontrunner.

Murray has a very fine first serve (his second still needs to be improved) and consistently had Roddick guessing. Roddick says that Murray's serve reminds him of Todd Martin's – a high toss and the same motion every time that's very tough to read. "He can hit it all four ways on both sides," Roddick said. "He served real well and that got him out of trouble a lot and he returned well. I hit a bomb at my spot and he'd block it back and I'd be back to neutral again."

After Murray broke Roddick to 6-5 in the first set when the American missed an inside-out forehand, it was clear that the kid was in the driver's seat.

He won the set with a beautiful forehand crosscourt winner and continued yanking Roddick around in the second set. He broke Roddick to 3-2 in the second when he scalded a ball in between Roddick's feet. But Roddick finally clawed back, breaking to 3-3 when Murray missed a forehand. However, Murray was deep into Roddick's service games and even though Roddick managed to fight off three break points and hold to 5-4, he couldn't get a mental edge.

At 5-5, the Scot blasted running backhand crosscourt pass and then watched Roddick miss on a forehand to grab the break. "He stayed tough. That pass was pretty impressive," Roddick said. Murray was up 30-0 in the final game, but Roddick hit a return that clipped the net cord and gingerly fell over onto Murray's side off the court. It was then that his nerves shook the Scot.

"It made me think is this going to be my day or is the luck going to go his way?" Murray said. "I served my first two double faults in the last game." Murray doubled faulted on his first match point at 6-5, but then fought off a break point by charging the cords.

"But when I was break point down I came into the net. I was a little nervous, but I have a little experience against the best players now that I know when they start to come back on me that the worst way to play is defensively," Murray said. "Today I played more aggressively and it paid off."

On Murray's second match point, Roddick let a forehand go long. "I was almost a little sick because of nerves but in the end I came though," Murray said. "That was definitely my biggest win. Beating Roddick in his home country is like a dream come true."

Murray's story is pretty familiar now: his breakthrough win at Wimby over Radek Stepanak; his heroic five-set victory over Andrei Pavel at the US Open; his run to the Bangkok final where he eventually fell to Roger Federer; and then his upset of Tim Henman at Basel. But, his win over two-time defending champ Roddick indoors is quite special given that it was the fist time that he downed a Top-10 player.

"At this time last year I was losing in the qualifying of Challengers and now to be in the final off an ATP tournament less than year later is pretty hard to believe," Murray said. "I always believed I could get here, but maybe I wasn't expecting it quite so soon."

So now it's on to another former No. 1, Hewitt, who hasn't won a title in 13 months but who looked quite strong against Spadea. That may pose a bigger challenge than Roddick, who still isn't 100 percent.

"I'm looking forward to playing Hewitt," Murray said. "Now that I've won against a top-ranked player it gives me that extra bit of confidence that I can do it. I had chances against Top-10 players before and didn't take them. This time, I did. … I'm going to have to serve very well, play very consistent. You have to take your opportunities against him because he hardly makes any mistakes. He has a great attitude and goes for every ball. When I have a chance to attack, I'm going to have to go for it. I don't want to have to get involved in too many rallies against him because he can last pretty much everyone on tour."

Murray then went on to beat Hewitt in the final 2-6 6-1 7-6(3) to win his first ATP title.

To Andy's credit, he did not go into his post-match interview and claim that he played well and that "the other guy was just too good" yadda yadda yadda, the usual crap he spews. For once, he was actually aware of his bad playing.

"It just seemed like I couldn't get the ball to go through the court like I would have liked," Roddick said. "It was difficult. I wasn't getting much bite on my service action. It was frustrating."

Andy Murray said his service returns were key. "He [Roddick] obviously didn't serve as well as he can. I don't know if that was because I was returning very well or if he just wasn't feeling as confident as he normally was," Murray said.

Also impressive was the fact that Roddick stopped to sign autographs for his young fans, even though he was obviously upset by his loss and wanted to leave the court as soon as possible.

"It's always tough [losing]. But you know the good thing about tennis is that there's always next week."

-- deep thoughts, by ANDY RODDICK.

* * *
Up Next: The Regions Morgan Keegan Championships (Memphis, Tennessee)

Next on Andy's schedule is the Memphis tournament, which he had won back in 2002. Andy is seeded No. 1 and will begin play on Tuesday with his first round opponent (and good friend) Mardy Fish, who is coming back after a long absence due to having wrist surgery. I was going to say "poor Mardy Fish!" but with the way Andy's been playing lately, a first round loss to a player he owns wouldn't be out of the question these days.

February 18, 2006

SAP Open: Roddick to Battle the other Barfing Andy

Roddick def Phau 6-3 6-2

There we go! There's the routine win I've been wanting to see. Well done, Andy.

Andy advances to the SAP Open semifinals to meet for the first time, one Mr. Andy Murray, Britain's new great white tennis hope. Andy Murray also has the distinction of vomiting during a match with Andrei Pavel (as Roddick did a week ago) so it will be a Battle of the Barfing Andys!

I'm not quite in agreement that Murray is a "longshot" against Roddick. In case nobody has noticed, Andy Roddick hasn't really played like Andy Roddick in about two years. LOL.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Murray Knows He's a Longshot Against Roddick

A teenager made it into the weekend of the SAP Open. So did the two-time defending champion, and 18-year-old Andy Murray will be the clear underdog in tonight's semifinal match against top seed Andy Roddick.

Nobody knows better than Murray himself.

"I'm not going to have much of a chance of winning," he said.

The Roddick-Murray match will start at 7 p.m., following a 1 p.m. semifinal between third seed Lleyton Hewitt and Vincent Spadea. With Andre Agassi withdrawing one day before the tournament, a Roddick-Hewitt final is the anticipated scenario. [. . .]

Meantime, a nation is turning its lonely eye to Murray, the youngest player to reach this tournament's semifinal round since Michael Chang in 1988 and youngest player in the top 100. He made an extraordinary jump in the rankings last year, from No. 514 to No. 65. He's currently No. 60 and increasingly becoming the best hope for the future of British tennis.

The last time a Brit won a Wimbledon title was 1936, and Murray is constantly reminded. Countrymen Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski are higher ranked, but Murray beat Henman in the quarterfinals in Basel, Switzerland, the first time Henman lost to a British player since falling to Rusedski in 1998.

Before Roddick overpowered Bjorn Phau 6-3, 6-2 in Friday's feature match, Murray overcame a first-set loss to beat Sweden's Robin Soderling 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. Murray trailed 3-1 in the second set when he made a magnificent forehand cross shot to mystify Soderling and win the game, reversing the momentum of the match.

"Once I did that, he played a pretty sloppy game," Murray said.

Early, Murray seemed to battle himself, making mistakes and expressing frustration. One time, he was assessed a code violation for an "audible obscenity." Another time, after watching a Soderling ace whiz by, he seemed to lose it completely -- he used a tennis ball to engage in a one-man exhibition of hacky sack, ending the routine by catching the ball on the back of his neck, to the delight of fans. [. . .]

Murray has made it to the semifinals just one other time, at Bangkok, where he beat Soderling before falling to Roger Federer in the finals, and Soderling predicted Murray won't be a pushover for Roddick today.

"It's going to be a tough match," Soderling said. "Roddick is serving well. At the same time, Murray is returning extremely well."

Roddick, the world's third-ranked player, will play his fourth straight San Jose semifinal and has won 13 straight matches in the tournament. Against Phau, he was accurate on 72 percent of his first serves, many topping 130 mph. He had eight aces.

Asked about facing Murray, Roddick said, "He's going to come with a lot of energy. It should be exciting. ... It's easier for you when you're younger. The first time I played Pete (Sampras), I played out of my head. I was so excited. You have zero to lose, and that makes it pretty easy."

TV Alert! Don't forget that both of the SAP Open semifinals and the final are being televised by some Fox stations across the nation so check here to see if it will be available near you.

International viewers, the semifinals and final will be broadcast on Eurosport2, Sky Mexico, and FOX Sports Australia and Middle East. Click here for the TV schedules.

February 17, 2006

SAP Open: Roddick Advances to Quarterfinals

Roddick def Carlsen
6-3 1-6 6-3

Boy, do I miss the days of easy, routine wins from Andy in the early rounds. The first set was routine and I know he eventually won this match but all my eyes see is that crazy 1-6 second set loss. Andy rarely loses a set 1-6. And now he's done so to Carlsen. OK, I guess if he can lose a first-round slam match to Gilles Muller then he can lose serve twice to *cough* Kenneth Carlsen. But please refrain from further brain farts, please, Andy.

And I guess I will take it as a good sign that he at least managed to recover, saw what he needed to do, and then did it to take control of the third set. Carlsen never got a whiff of Andy's serve after that. Relief! Hopefully Andy will continue to build on this because if he's going to meet Lleyton Hewitt in the finals (if I dare dream that far) he's got to play a lot better and with more belief in himself. Think to yourself, Andy: Cincinnati....Cincinnati....Cincinnati....

From The Mercury News:
Pushed more than expected Thursday night at HP Pavilion, Andy Roddick delivered quite a finish. The SAP Open's top seed won a marathon rally on a crucial break point and fired a 133 mph ace down the middle on match point.

Roddick advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 victory over tour veteran Kenneth Carlsen before an announced crowd of 5,315. Roddick will play Bjorn Phau in the featured match tonight. John McEnroe's doubles match will follow.

"I'll take some good things from this one,'' Roddick said after extending his winning streak in San Jose to 12.

The victory Thursday turned when Roddick, at 30-40 on Carlsen's serve, won a breathtaking rally two games into the final set. It took about 20 exchanges before Roddick's crosscourt forehand put his opponent in a defenseless position. When Carlsen's backhand sailed into the net, Roddick exhaled and then grabbed a seat behind the baseline to rest.

The break of serve made it 2-0 and was all Roddick needed.

From there, the two-time defending SAP champion called on his big serve. Four of Roddick's nine aces came in the final set.

“I had a really bad stretch in the second set,” Roddick said. “I was dumping balls at one point. He had momentum on his side, and sometimes the best time to set the tone is at the beginning of a set."

Two days after playing what he called "average'' in a first-round victory over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Roddick was more encouraged.

"This is better, with the exception of a really bad three-game stretch in the second,'' Roddick said. "It was a pretty good first set, and I competed well in the third.''

The difference in the opening set was one service break, and it was a gift from the 69th-ranked Carlsen. He double-faulted on break point to go down 2-4.

Carlsen answered in the second set, breaking Roddick's serve twice to stretch the third-ranked player to a winner-take-all set.

Roddick was ready.

"The third set I was able to step up and hit the ball a little harder and a littler deeper,'' he said. "That was key for me."

Andy's quarterfinal opponent will be Bjorn Phau, starting tonight at 7:00pm San Jose time. If Andy gets past Phau, his semifinal opponent could be Andy Murray. Looking forward to that one. Bring the barf bags.

February 15, 2006

SAP OPEN: Valentine's Win for Roddick

"I'm not really questioning it [the line call]. I'm telling you you're wrong."

-- ANDY RODDICK, doing what he does best: yelling at chair umpires.

"Valentine's is only invented to get men into trouble.”

-- ANDY RODDICK, typical male.

Roddick def Garcia-Lopez
6-3 6-4

Stop the presses! The big news isn’t that Andy won his opening match or that his good friend James Blake lost his match, but that Andy has REDISCOVERED COLOR. Yes, folks. After weeks of our having to endure the drab, boring, uninspiring all-white outfits, Andy finally opened the Lacoste drawer and realized that the polo shirts come in a rainbow of great colors. For yesterday’s match he busted out the burnt orange color. How very imperfect for Valentine’s Day, wouldn’t you say? But it’s a vibrant color so I’ll take it. I think I was more excited to see him wearing color again than to see him win his opening match.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Roddick's 'average' is pretty good

One day after Andre Agassi caused a stir by not showing up, defending champion Andy Roddick made more predictable news Tuesday night by grinding out a 6-3, 6-4 first-round victory over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

Roddick's presence attracted a crowd of 7,610 to HP Pavilion, including Hall of Fame baseball player Reggie Jackson and many females holding signs expressing their fondness for Roddick. He responded with a performance he called "average," balancing his dominant serve with occasionally careless mistakes.

At one point, Roddick unleashed a 136-mph ace and followed that with a 141-mph ace. At other times, he strangely seemed unable to handle Garcia-Lopez's serve.

"I didn't have my best stuff tonight, but I got through it," Roddick said.

Garcia-Lopez, a 22-year-old Spaniard ranked No. 89 in the world, came into the match with a notable victory on his resume -- he beat Agassi in the quarterfinals at Delray Beach two weeks ago. That outcome made sense at times Tuesday night, as Garcia-Lopez exchanged booming serves and fierce groundstrokes with Roddick.

Then again, Garcia-Lopez made plenty of costly errors, such as the open-court forehand he sent wide late in the first set, allowing Roddick to break serve.

The second set stayed on serve until 4-4, when Roddick blasted a backhand winner down the line to break Garcia-Lopez. Roddick responded by flinging both arms skyward in a gesture equal parts excitement and relief.

"I knew the match was on my racquet at that point," he said. "That shot definitely felt good."

The match came less than a week after Roddick hired his brother, John, as his latest coach. Roddick parted ways with Brad Gilbert little more than a year ago, then did the same with Dean Goldfine last week.

"Everybody brings something different to the table," Roddick said. "With John, it's nice having a comfort zone there. I've known him so long and I know he's not afraid to give me his opinion."

* * *
Another addition to Team Roddick?

Tennis Week floated the idea out that Andy is lobbying to get Paul Annacone to coach him on a part-time basis. Annacone is the former coach of Pete Sampras and current part-time coach of Tim Henman (what do these two have in common? Brilliant volleying skills. Hmm…)
Annacone, an aggressive serve-and-volleyer who would attack net off opponents' first and second serves, would be a valuable addition to Roddick's team prior to the start of the grass court season. While the laid-back Annacone is not the fiery personality some feel Roddick requires to pump him up, Annacone could help Roddick both technically — with Roddick's volley and particularly his backhand slice approach — and tactically in helping Roddick improve his point construction. Annacone, who briefly served as a coaching consultant for Jennifer Capriati, is adept at teaching grass-court tactics.

An excellent addition he would make, if it's true.

* * *
Dear John, Please Kick Andy's Ass. K. Thanks.

Jon Wertheim thinks Andy may finally have found the right coach for his skills in brother John. From this week's SI mailbag:
With Andy Roddick's new coaching change (brother John), dare we say that Andy is at a crossroads? I know Dean Goldfine, and if Roddick cannot "get" it with Dean on board, he may never. -- Mike, McAllen, Texas

Lots of questions about Roddick this week. Usually when you hear that a close family member is coaching a player, you roll your eyes. Too often it has the ring of a parent or older sibling unwilling to give control and money to someone else. And the players rationalize it: I'm choosing comfort and familiarity over expertise. But often they know they can run roughshod over family in the way they couldn't over someone unrelated. If I were 20 and Harold Solomon had told me to do extra laps, I'd be off and running. If I were 20 and my dad/coach had told me to run extra laps, I'd be a lot less inclined to listen.

Anyway, I think this could be the exception. John Roddick was probably a better junior player than his younger brother. He was an all-America at Georgia and may well have been a pro had he not come down with a back injury. He's been running an academy in Texas. Clearly there's tennis know-how here. There's familiarity with Andy's game. And because he is significantly older perhaps -- in that Michael/Carl Chang kind of way -- they'll have some semblance of a professional relationship.

Goldfine is a popular and well-respected, but Roddick's results had tailed off on his watch. Doesn't mean the guy is to blame. Doesn't mean the guy wasn't good at his job. But it must have been getting increasingly hard to justify keeping the guy on the payroll. Several of you, incidentally, inquired about swallowing pride and rehiring Brad Gilbert. Nick and Jessica will get back together before that happens.

What's John Roddick objective? Getting Roddick to improve his court positioning should be high on the list. If you have a 100-mph fastball but you're pitching from second base and not the pitchers mound, you're a lot less effective. But a lot of the problem is identity. The free-swinging Roddick, who ruled the roost in the summer of 2003, had a swagger that didn't desert him. He whipped lasers. He fired his serve. He took chances. He dictated points and didn't mess around with backhands. Sometimes it seems that Roddick is so intent on proving that he's a well-rounded player, that he forsakes his weapons. It might be helpful if he said simply, "My game is what it is, I need to play it."

Also, I don't have time to discuss it here but please click on the news article below titled "Roddick Finding Tough Love Now." Good read.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Davis Cup: USA into the Quarters

February 12, 2006

"He is the leader. He's been around long enough that he's earned that right. I love his effort and I love his intensity." — Patrick McEnroe, on Andy's role as Davis Cup leader.

1st Singles: Pavel def Roddick 6-7 2-6 7-6 6-2 6-4
2nd Singles: Blake def Hanescu 6-4 7-6 6-2
Doubles: Bryan/Bryan def Hanescu/Tecau 6-2 0-0 ret.
1st Reverse Singles: Roddick def Sabau 6-3 6-3 6-2
2nd Reverse Singles: Blake def Tecau 6-1 7-5

USA 4 - Romania 1

Although Andy went into the fourth rubber looking better but still not nearly as confident and loud as in his earlier match against Pavel, he still managed to win comfortably over the defenseless Sabau in straight sets. CONGRATULATIONS TEAM USA!!!

After Andy had clinched the tie with Romania, a confident James Blake then steamrolled over Tecau in the dead rubber match 6-1 7-5.

USA will next play Chile in the quarters, to be held April 7–9 on US home turf (still to be decided). It is almost certain that the court choice will be grass.

Click here to hear Andy's post-match interview. Click here to read it.

SAP Open next

Andy is seeded No. 1 at the SAP Open again this year and his first-round opponent will be Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who last beat Andre Agassi at Delray Beach a week ago. Andy's match will begin on Tuesday, February 14 at 7:00pm local time.

No. 2 seed Andre Agassi has just withdrawn from SAP with a strained back. Get well, Andre!

News Items:
• Coming up aces []
• USA focus on last eight []
• Roddick glad to just help out [New York Times]
• Tied up in knots []
• Roddick and US win by a healthy margin [LA Times]
• He's well enough alone [San Diego Union-Tribune]
• Grass greener for US side against Chile [San Diego Union-Tribune]
• Roddick now has competition for top spot []
• Questions waiting for Roddick at SAP Open [Stockton Record]
• Andy's Coaching Carousel []
• What's wrong with Roddick? [SF Chronicle]

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Updated February 11, 2006

"If I puked every time I was nervous, then we'd have a lot of dirty courts." — Andy Roddick, denying that nerves played a part in his sickness during yesterday's match.

1st Singles: Pavel def Roddick 6-7 2-6 7-6 6-2 6-4
2nd Singles: Blake def Hanescu 6-4 7-6 6-2
Doubles: Bryan/Bryan def Hanescu/Tecau 6-2 0-0 ret.

USA 2 - Romania 1

The websteam of Andy's match with Pavel is now up on OLN's site!

After taking an IV drip for two hours, Andy finally sat down to talk to reporters after his loss to Pavel. You can read his interview over here. He says he'll be good to go in the reverse singles match scheduled for tomorrow. Click on the news article "A Tale of Two Roddick's" for a great rundown on what exactly happened yesterday.

Terrific job by James Blake and Bob and Mike Bryan for getting the US up on Romania! You can view their matches over at OLN's site along with Roddick's.

SAP Open Draw is Released

Andy is seeded No. 1 at the SAP Open again this year and his first-round opponent will be Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who last beat Andre Agassi at Delray Beach a week ago. Andy's match will begin on Tuesday, February 14 at 7:00pm local time.

News Items:
• Now we have a refreshing Cup of drama [San Diego Union-Tribune]
• Roddick's stomach problems puzzling [San Diego Union-Tribune]
• Roddick guts, no glory [San Diego Union-Tribune]
• U.S. wary of an ambush [LA Times]
• A tale of two Roddicks []
• SAP Open may invigorate Roddick [Mercury News]

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Updated February 10, 2006

1st Singles:
Pavel def Roddick 6-7 2-6 7-6 6-2 6-4
2nd Singles:
Blake def Hanescu 6-4 7-6 6-2

USA 1 - Romania 1

Andy became sick in the middle of the match and began throwing up and almost fainted in the fourth. His terrific fighting spirit was on display though, even if it wasn't enough to salvage the match. Great job anyway, Andy! We know how much DC means to you.

From the Davis Cup website:
Andrei Pavel took advantage of a sick Andy Roddick to rebound from two sets down for a 67 (2) 26 76 (8) 62 64 win to give Romania a 1-0 lead in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas first-round tie.

The match provided all the drama that fans could possibly expect in a Davis Cup battle, and in the end, fans had to be satisfied with the guts Roddick showed in seeing the match through, and applauding Pavel’s victory.

“It’s not about beating the No. 3 player in the world, it’s all about making the first point against USA, the biggest nation in tennis,” said the 82nd-ranked Pavel. “But winning from 2-0 down is going to go in my record, for sure, and my good memories.”

Roddick on intravenous drip

After the match it was unclear as to what exactly was Roddick’s illness, although it was revealed he was undergoing an intravenous drip and would be delayed coming to the interview room.

Roddick was on his way to victory in the third-set tiebreaker, holding his one match point at 6-7 and serving. But Roddick could only watch as Pavel sent a forehand lob over his head to even the score at 7-all.

From 4-4 in that third set tiebreaker, there were eight consecutive mini-breaks to leave the players even at 8-8. Two points later, however, Pavel took advantage of his fifth set point in the set – three came in the tiebreaker and two came on Roddick’s serve in the tenth game – to start his road to victory.

“I was saying that if Andy can keep playing like he did in the first two sets, I give it to him,” said Pavel after the match. “But he got tired a little bit after the long rallies after the third set. I think, maybe, he ate something wrong.”

“That tiebreaker was the key to the match.”

Drama abound as the US No. 1 vomits on court

Roddick was barely a factor in the fourth set, calling for a medical time-out after losing his serve in the opening game. The American vomited after the opening game of the fourth set and the opening game of the fifth set, but willed himself to come close to being a factor in the final set.

By the fifth set, Roddick was struggling through points – often bending over in-between rallies, but was still trying to win games with Pavel leading 5-1.

After holding his serve in the seventh game, Roddick broke serve when Pavel was serving for the match for the first time in the eighth game of the final set.

In the end, Roddick was unable to work his magic to break serve again in the tenth game despite staving off two match points. On the third match point, Roddick put a backhand into the net, and while Pavel celebrated his win, Roddick walked off the court with Captain Patrick McEnroe’s arms around his shoulders.

With the victory, Pavel left the 41st-ranked Victor Hanescu with the responsibility of trying to beat the 20th-ranked James Blake in the next match to end the opening day with a 2-0 lead.

From the outset, it was apparent that the match was going to be a battle as the two stayed neck-and-neck through to the first set tiebreaker.

Roddick now has an 8-7 win-loss record in career five-set matches – the last time he squandered a two-set lead in a match was when he lost to Jose Acasuso of Argentina in the second round of the 2005 French Open.

The 82nd-ranked Pavel is 8-8 in career five-set matches, but has now won all three five-set matches he’s played in Davis Cup competition.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Updated February 9, 2006

Davis Cup draw

Davis Cup TV schedule

U.S. viewers: don't forget to check OLN's schedule for the singles and doubles matches. According to their website, OLN is going to broadcast the first singles match TONIGHT (Friday, Feb. 10) at 9:00pm EST.

International viewers, click here to see if your local stations are carrying any of the matches.

Click here to see an interview with Andy Roddick.

Click here for the Official Davis Cup website.


News Items:
• Roddick turns to home for support [Palm Beach Post]
• The Davis Cup is the prize, but the persona is Roddick [New York Times]

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Breaking News: Roddick Dumps Goldfine, Brother John will Coach

After heartfelt deliberations last Thursday with Dean Goldfine, Andy has decided to bring his older brother, John Roddick, on the road as his traveling coach. Dean, who has traveled with Andy since December of 2004, will remain an integral member of Team Roddick, contributing to Andy’s growth in a consultant position. Dean currently resides in South Florida with his wife and two young children, not far from the Roddick’s home in Boca Raton. The specific responsibilities of Dean’s new advisory role in Team Roddick are to be determined but Andy is very enthusiastic and appreciative for Dean’s continued guidance. Starting this weekend at the Davis Cup match in La Jolla, California, John Roddick will accompany Andy as his official coach.

I am pleased to hear that Andy will keep Goldfine on as a consultant. Goldfine is an excellent coach but he is, in my opinion, just a bit too laid back, and I think what Andy needs most right now is someone who can help re-light the fire that's been missing of late. I noticed that brother John Roddick did exactly that at Wimbledon last year.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

US Davis Cup Team Announced...and Martina Hingis

Davis Cup on TV
Oh happy, happy, joy, joy! Just when I thought we'd be out of luck watching Davis Cup on ESPN (who are no longer broadcasting the matches), OLN (Outside Life Network) steps in to take over tennis duties.

OLN will broadcast the singles and doubles matches on Saturday, Feb. 11 starting at 4:00pm EST and on Sunday, Feb. 12 starting at 2:00pm EST. Click here for their schedule.

SAP Open on TV too
Another cable channel I have and never realized it (amazing how many channels there are that I never watch or knew I had. LOL) is FSN NY, of which they will be broadcasting the SAP Open on Feb. 18 and 19. Click here for the US TV schedule and click here for the international TV schedule.

Hark! A Rumor That's Actually Worse than Roddickpova!

Someone posted this on a tennis board but when I tried to search for the actual article on Tennis Life magazine's website, I came up empty. Take it at it's entertainment value only:

From (allegedly) Tennis Life magazine:
Now that she has got the day job sorted for the forseeable future, Martina HIngis is working on her hobbies-and that means boys. In her pomp, La Hingis was seen on the arm of many a young hopeful chap but, alas, every player she dated was never heard of again.

From the up-and-comers such as Ivo Heuberger and Julian Alonso to the established champions like Magnus Norman (who was pushing for the World No. 1 ranking in the summer of 2000 as he followed Hingis around like a puppy), Hingis has had her wicked way with them and left them on the scrap heap. Anyone heard of Messrs Heuberger, Alonso or Norman of late? No, thought not.

Now the Swiss Miss has her eyes on Andy Roddick. The two were spotted gazing longingly, if secretively, at each other during Elton John's Smash Hits Aids fundraiser in Hershey, Pennsylvania, back in November. The gig raised $850,000 for the cause, even if Hingis could not get a win on the board, She was beaten by Samantha Stosur.

Still, Roddick's newfound love interest could explain his current lack of form. And if he doesn't get anywehere with Hingis, he could always ask her friend out for a date. Hingis teamed up with her old sparring partner, Anna Kournikova, for the doubles, only to lose to Stosur and Lisa Raymond.

TRUE LOVE AT LAST. Look into his eyes, Martina! You cannot deny your love for the A-Rod. The only thing that's separating you two from consummating your secret love affair are the two middle-age gay people standing between you!

OK, when you're done giggling over the image of Martina and Andy looking lovey-dovey at each other, hop over to Ace Tennis magazine's site and go vote for Andy (and Martina if you'd like) for Ace's new 2006 Hot List.

No room at the Davis Cup table for Ginepri

Davis Cup is just around the corner (February 10–12). Yay!

Patrick McEnroe announced his choices for the Davis Cup team for when we face Romania in the first round and has decided to go with James Blake over Robby Ginepri for the much-coveted No. 2 singles spot after Andy Roddick.

The news couldn't have come at a worse time for Robby, who was still smarting from a second round loss at the Australian Open, and who desperately wants to play for his country for Davis Cup.

"It was a tough decision," said U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe on Tuesday on a conference call, officially announcing the team.

"Basically, the fact that James went 7-1 or 7-2, because he won the first event in Sydney, lost in Adelaide, but he had some solid wins. Robby, I quite honestly thought was going to play a lot better down there. That didn't happen. But those guys are very close. We may need all of them at some point in the year."

Holding back tears and trying to figure out the slump that cost him a spot on the U.S. Davis Cup team, Robby Ginepri didn't mince words about his upset loss at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships Tuesday night.

"It's pretty devastating," said Ginepri, head bowed, hat hiding his face as he was barely able to keep his composure. "It was a bad way to go out in Australia and then this, it doesn't seem like much, but I've been in putting in a lot of work."

UNDER WRAPS. Robby Ginepri is bumped from the Davis Cup team.

He is also upset at being overlooked for the U.S. Davis Cup team to play Romania next week in California.

Ginepri said he believed that as the third-highest ranked American player, he deserved the backup spot to Andy Roddick, but Davis Cup Captain Patrick McEnroe selected James Blake to replace Andre Agassi on the team.

"I was (upset) I didn't get chosen," said Ginepri, who went 2-0 in his only Davis Cup appearance against Austria in 2004. "They should give me a chance to play."

Patrick McEnroe had announced James Blake to the No. 2 position on the Davis Cup team right before Ginepri's match was scheduled to play and that factored in to Robby's premature loss.

Lee, 30, who has one ATP title (Sydney, 2003) in a nondescript 11-year career, said he sensed that Ginepri was not focused after his Davis Cup snub.

"I had a preconceived notion that he wasn't happy about Davis Cup,'' said Lee, now 2-2 against Ginepri. "I felt on the other side [of the net] that he wasn't confident. ... I tried to be aggressive on his second serve and put pressure on Robby.''

"Yeah, I'm pretty pissed I didn't get chosen for Davis Cup, but as long as we get the [victory] and move on. I just want a chance to play,'' said Ginepri, who is 2-0 in Davis Cup, last playing in a first-round sweep over Austria in 2004. "I've got to get my game in shape.''

Wishing James, Bob and Mike, and Andy
good luck at Davis Cup this year!

Happy Chinese New Year!

January 29 kicked off the Year of the Dog. It is worth noting that Roddick was born under this sign (1982) as are Ginepri (1982) and Andre Agassi (1970). Perhaps this is a sign of good fortune for our Davis Cup team this year!

*** Update

Some of the forums are finally back up and running. claims they had a "security problem" and had to shut it down for a week while they sorted it out.

I'll bet the site went down because Andy had opened that Anna Kournikova e-mail virus.

Australian Open Ratings Are In

The ratings came in for the Oz Open on ESPN2 and there's some good news to go with a bit of bad. The good news is that they didn't lose any viewers this year and their live coverage of matches was very successful; the bad is that the average non-tennis sports fan in the US is still not watching tennis unless an American named Roddick, Agassi, or Williams is in the final:
Oz Open Numbers Remain Even For ESPN2

The chanting, cheering Cypriot fans who turned out in full force for Marcos Baghdatis during the Australian Open weren't the only popular presence during the Melbourne major. ESPN2 reports its Australian Open 3:30 a.m. telecasts nearly doubled its audience for that time period, though overall the network's Australian Open numbers remained stagnant when compared to last year.

Comparing its 2006 telecasts to the equivalent telecasts from 2005 (excluding the new overnight windows that were added in abundance for this year's tournament after selective use last year), ESPN2 reached approximately 460,000 homes on average during the Melbourne major, which produced the same 0.5 rating as the network's 2005 tournament telecast.

One reason for the lack of ratings rise was the fact that Andy Roddick was the only American man to reach the fourth round this year, whereas four-time champion Andre Agassi was a quarterfinalist and Roddick reached the final four a year ago. [. . .]

Amelie Mauresmo's victory over Justine Henin-Hardenne in Friday night's women's final did a 0.9 rating compared to a 1.5 rating for the 2005 Williams-Davenport final, which reached 1.35 million homes. Mauresmo's abbreviated 6-1, 2-0 triumph over Henin-Hardenne, who retired with an upset stomach, was viewed in only 839,000 homes (that total is for the women's final alone — it does not include the awards ceremony or the doubles final featuring the Bryan brothers), a dramatic drop of 61 percent, further supporting ESPN2's assertion that American viewers will tune into tennis in great numbers when American players, particularly the Williams sisters, Agassi and Roddick, are playing.

On the plus side, ESPN2's 3:30 a.m. telecasts nearly doubled the network's audience for that time period, reaching 182,000 homes compared to the 96,000 homes it typically reaches. Roger Federer's four-set triumph over Baghdatis in the men's final generated a 0.4 rating, up from 0.3 for the Marat Safin-Lleyton Hewitt 2005 final with the total number of households tuning in up 20 percent to 319,000 from 265,000 for the 2005 final. The re-air of the Federer-Baghdatis final at noon Eastern on Sunday earned the same rating as the 2005 men's final re-air (0.9) with about 830,000 households tuning in to both matches.

Tennis-X Guzzles the Haterade (a.k.a. Delray Beach Postscript)

I've been disappointed by the Australian Open finals (on both the men's and women's sides, but especially the women's) and suffering from slam-withdrawal syndrome, plus with the weird Delray Beach is-he-or-isn't-he-playing? fiasco, and then that somber-looking photo of Andy attending a basketball game showing up, well, I've been in a rather cranky mood lately.

So to cheer myself up, I decided to head over to and promptly rip them a new one.

Tennis-X has been having a field day with the Delray Beach story, "reporting" on it three days in a row now (not really reporting, but just regurgitating crap that had already been proven false) and trying to squeeze as much juice out of it as possible, even going so far as to claim that Roddick has "lost international respect" because of this little hometown non-story. Wow! And why does tennis-x say such things? Well, I'm not sure but I'd guess it's because they get more hits and posts to their site whenever they mention Roddick. What can I say? People are obsessed with talking about him.

So I peed on their party by posting a few facts about the Delray Beach story that I'd managed to dig up on my own. Predictably enough, there has been no response from tennis-x and the haterparty was shut down near immediately. Damn, I'm such a wet blanket.

It was all just a little too easy. Like taking candy from a baby. I mean, where's the challenge in that? Now I need to find a new target to sharpen my claws on. Meow.

As an addendum to all of this, Deb over at MTF posted part of Patrick McEnroe's Davis Cup press conference that discussed the Delray Beach incident. Further proof that the Sun-Sentinel was way off-mark with what what had previously been reported by them.

The Sun-Sentinel has already printed a tail-between-the-legs mea culpa after the truth came out. It'll be interesting to see if tennis-x does the same.
Q. Maybe you could respond to what I would classify as a Super Bowl rumor. This story deals with tennis. The story is that after his defeat in Melbourne, Andy was anxious to get in another tournament, and he contacted the directors of the event in Delray Beach, asked them if they might have a wildcard. They didn't, at which point he volunteered to play in the qualifying with a proviso that he wouldn't show up unless they did not seek advance publicity. They sought the advance publicity and he didn't show up. Is that story accurate?

PATRICK McENROE: As far as I know, and I did speak to Andy when he was getting ready to go to Delray Beach, and his attitude at that point was, "I'm going to go and play the qualifying." I spoke to him probably two days before he was getting ready to go. I haven't spoken to him since. But based on what I read and heard, I don't think Andy was particularly pleased that it came out in advance. I also think his understanding initially was that he was going to have to play just one match per day, meaning two matches total. I guess because so many players -- they don't know how many players are going to show up for qualifying until the day before, and I guess it turned out that enough players were showing up that he would have to play two matches in one day. Andy Roddick is one of the fittest players in tennis, but I don't think he wanted to put himself through playing two matches in one day. Maybe not the smartest thing for him to do in the long run. So I think when he heard that, combined with the fact that they released this information maybe a little earlier than he had hoped, I think that was a determining factor.

Q. The fact he was willing to go to Florida and do that, do you think that speaks well for his eagerness to play?

PATRICK McENROE: Oh, definitely. He takes Davis Cup very seriously, thankfully for all of us Davis Cup tennis fans. There's one of our top guys who is always committed and always played. I think sometimes people take that for granted. I know I don't. I think it was a good sign. Look, he didn't play that much in the end of last year. He had the injury to his back. He trained his butt off. He went to Australia, played in the warm-up event, which is a couple of practice matches, then played the Australian Open and lost earlier than expected. He got home. He was home a full week before he expected to be. He thought, "Well, I might go, and I'm ready to play. I've done all my training, I've done the off-court work, now I need to play." I think that's why he wanted to do it. I think Davis Cup is part of that to get himself ready. It's too bad it didn't happen. At the same time it's certainly not the end of the world

Q. About the rule why Andy couldn't play in Delray, that you had to either get one of threes wildcards or apply six weeks in advance, should there be some sort of exemption for top 10 players? It seems like it would have been a win-win for Andy and for the tournament if he had played here.

PATRICK McENROE: You know, I have trouble saying that. Maybe there's some way to do that if I guess a couple people pulled out, right, at the last minute?

Q. James Blake pulled out, for one.

PATRICK McENROE: It's sort of tricky because it does hurt the guys that are waiting to get in. That sort of goes against what the ATP has been about for many years. I'm a little torn by that. At the same time I would have loved to have seen Andy been able to play. It seems like something could have been worked out. The tournament director has the prerogative and has the wildcards at his disposal. It was a tough situation. I mean, I think it's worth looking into. I'm not going to go out and say I think they should change it because, quite honestly, I haven't given it that much thought.

Q. Not that common of a situation.

PATRICK McENROE: It doesn't happen that often, so I hadn't really thought about it. I guess if there's a situation where a couple of players pull out, maybe that's not a bad idea to think about. But I'm not going to go out there and say it's a huge problem. It just doesn't happen that much.

Also from the Sun-Sentinel:
Sargis Sargsian inadvertently found himself in the middle of a pre-tournament controversy as hometown star and No. 3-ranked Andy Roddick was unable to receive last-minute entry into the tournament because there were no more wild cards to be had.

Some thought, including wild card Mardy Fish and USTA coach Ricardo Acuna, that the 392nd-ranked Sargsian, who had retired after the U.S. Open and was basically along for the ride with Agassi, his close friend, should've surrendered his wild card.

"It's one of the craziest things around the tour,'' Sargsian said. "[Roddick's] so good for tennis and he lives around here, so I kind of felt bad having it.

"I found out about it Friday, and then I thought he was going to play [qualifiers]. I think if somebody would approach me to give it up I would have sure considered it. At the same time, I've been working so hard.''

I know exactly what some of you are thinking: who the hell is Sargis Sargsian? Well, he's a formerly retired tennis player and Andre Agassi's best friend, which is why he got a wild card in the first place. I wonder if Delray Beach tournament director, Mark Baron, can give us a breakdown as to the number of tickets sold based on Sarge's fame alone?

Kudos to who actually reported on the facts of the story instead of making up falsehoods about Roddick (like the rumor about Andy demanding that someone hand over their wildcard to him) a la the National Enquirer of tennis news, tennis-x:
Roddick unqualifies after media exposure

When it comes to controversy, the big story in Delray Beach surrounded Andy Roddick playing qualifying. Yes, Roddick was actually contemplating taking his game down to the qualifying level to earn a spot in this tournament's draw.

When Roddick lost early in Australia, he called ITC Tournament Director Mark Baron for a wildcard. Baron told Roddick that unfortunately he couldn't help out since he'd already awarded his wildcards to Agassi, Sargis Sargsian and Mardy Fish.

Roddick then indicated he might show up to play the qualifying. When Baron saw that Roddick had flown in from Austin, Tex, on Friday, he wrongly "assumed" that Roddick was going to play the qualifying and released the information to the media. Following a practice session at the Delray Beach Tennis Center on Friday afternoon, Roddick told Baron he decided not to try to qualify for the tournament.

Baron said there were no hard feelings and he understood Roddick's decision. He also said that he felt it would be wrong to approach either Fish, who he checked in with to make sure he was healthy, or Sargsian, who was awarded the wildcard on his good friend Agassi's coattails, to give back the wildcard invitation he already extended.

Roddick was mum but Harvey Fialkov of the Sun-Sentinel spoke with Roddick's coach, Dean Goldfine, who offered this explanation as to why he decided to skip the qualifying. "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."

And the direct quote from Goldfine in the Sun-Sentinel read - "Why would Andy fly in from Texas at his own expense to play? Sure, it would've been easier to get a wildcard, 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."

News Item:
• Blake Joins Roddick, Bryan Brothers On U.S. Davis Cup Team [Tennis Week]

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