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."

-- ANDY RODDICK. Yup.



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.

From TennisReporters.net:
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 SI.com 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 www.babolat.com 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.

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