Saturday, March 25, 2006

Nasdaq-100 Open: Triple-Word Score on Roddick

updated April 1, 2006

"I feel like I'm on the verge of playing really good tennis again."

-- ANDY RODDICK. Which is why he gets another Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card from fans like myself.

QF: David Ferrer def. Andy Roddick 6-3 4-6 6-4

Photo gallery updated. Includes dozens of photos from the Verdasco and Ferrer matches, all tag-free!

Video of a shirtless Andy and covered James Blake practicing from the other day. 8MB .mov file.

Video of Roddick vs Greul R4 match highlights here.

Video of Roddick vs Verdasco R3 match highlights here.

Video of Roddick vs Martin R2 match highlights here.

Audio clip of Andy from a skit on "Saturday Night Live" has been added to my growing naughty audio collection.

News wire: Andy Roddick shanked a service return, sending the shot straight up, then took off his cap and used it to catch the ball. Give Roddick credit for trying to make the best of a bad day.

SCRABBLE THIS. Roddick's finally learning to stop the bleeding.

Andy may have lost but he did make the quarterfinals (picking up some much-needed points even though he will stay at No. 4 for a while), appears to be finding his confidence again, and his attitude has much improved. Congrats to him on a very good tournament and an excellent showing of improvement!

This match with the tricky David Ferrer had "upset" written all over it. But some in the media were curious about Roddick's inexplicably good mood after another "bad loss" but had they been watching him as closely as we have for the past year or so, they would know why this loss isn't as bad as it appears to them.

Yes, on paper he probably should not have lost to Ferrer (who some dismiss as being just a claycourter, but that is misleading because Ferrer is really a multi-surface player), but seeing as how Ferrer had him at matchpoint at the Paris Masters indoors last year, it isn't like Roddick should have steamrolled over him this time. Ferrer has an excellent return game which is an automatic headache for Roddick. Besides, Roddick could have very easily lost to the likes of the unkown qualifier Simon Greul in the previous round. The fact that he did not may actually prove to be the turning-point in his current slumping form. Let's put it this way: Roddick may have lost, but he's finally finding a way to stop the bleeding.

Nick Bolleteri commented about Andy's improving backhand:
Roddick is beginning to flex his muscles and feel like his old self again. His weapon, the big serve, paid handsome dividends in his last match. It was successful because he had the rhythm and timing required, rather than just trying to beat the tar out of the ball. Roddick’s two-handed backhand has height, depth and spin, but he must be very cautious of over-slicing.

Another reason why this could be considered a good loss is the second set, which he won on a DTL backhand winner (!). After losing the first set (his first serve % was an embarassing 35%, with 5 winners to 15 ue's!) he adjusted his game, getting his serve to finally work again (80% first serve, 13 winners to 15 ue's). The third set had both players on even keel except that Roddick still could not keep the ue's down (19 in the third set, compared to Ferrer's 8). In the end, his sloppiness is what cost him and Ferrer kept his head together and was solid throughout the entire match. No Roddick roller-coaster ride for him.
News wire: Roddick's biggest weapon -- the serve -- betrayed him against the 11th-seeded Ferrer. In the first set he made only 35 percent of his first serves. He was broken four times in the match and lost 20 of 30 points on his second serve.

But he hung in there and almost managed to overcome his 49 unforced errors.

"I like where my head was at as far as competing," Roddick said. "I played terrible the first set, but I was able to regroup and not lose it. That's a sign of confidence coming back."

Roddick's good humour throughout the match is also indicative that some weight has finally been lifted from his shoulders. Whether this is due to the James-Blake-effect, the Brother-as-Coach-effect, or what, I don't care. I am just so pleased to finally see the return of a happy, relaxed, and fun-loving Andy Roddick out on the court again and I hope he sticks around for a long time.

Roddick ousted by Ferrer
U.S. tennis player Andy Roddick dropped into a chair in the interview room and ran a hand through the fuzz on his nearly shaved head, his mind alive with introspection after yet another unsatisfying tournament finish, this one a quarterfinal loss, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, to Spaniard David Ferrer in the Nasdaq-100 Open.

But unlike two weeks ago at Indian Wells, when Roddick fell in the fourth round and unloaded weeks of frustration and disgust at a news conference that he described as "funeral-like," Roddick looked at Thursday's disappointment and, finally, saw something positive.

Finally, he said, he has stopped getting worse.

Once considered the next great male American tennis star, Roddick, 23, lately has been reduced to taking solace in bumping up against the semifinals of major tournaments, but he says he's on the brink of returning to the thrashing tennis that pushed him to the world's No. 1 ranking in 2003, when he soared to stardom with his U.S. Open victory.

"I feel a lot better leaving this tournament than I did a couple of days before this tournament.. I feel like I'm on the verge of playing really good tennis again," he said after the match that pushed the 11th-ranked Ferrer into a semifinal matchup Friday against top-ranked Roger Federer. "For the first time in probably two months, I feel like the process is one that's going up as opposed to trying to keep it here and not fall down. . . . Inside me, that feels good." [. . .]

Roddick, who along with Blake will join the U.S. team against Chile next week in the Davis Cup quarterfinals, hasn't won a Grand Slam since the 2003 U.S. Open. This season alone, he has lost five matches to players ranked below No. 25, results that led him to declare that he wasn't "captain of Team Fun" in Indian Wells. This week, he said, he began getting his confidence back, despite failing to take the third set after breaking Ferrer to move to 4-4.

"I feel like I played pretty well this week," Roddick said. "This was probably the best I actually struck the ball. . . . Parts of my game were really good at times through the whole tournament. It's just a matter of trying to take one from here, take one from here, and kind of put them together."

Roddick said he's trying to move forward by going backward. He joked -- albeit darkly -- two weeks ago that he used to crush forehand winners despite eating Cheetos all day. The more professional he became, the worse his tennis became. This week, he said, he tried to relax. If practice wasn't going well, he quit and went back to his hotel.

"I feel like I changed and I tinkered," he said. "I'm getting back to un-tinkering. . . . I just mellowed out a little bit."

He has, not surprisingly, another new coach, his fourth in three years. After climbing to superstar status under Brad Gilbert then firing him as Federer moved past him in 2004, Roddick has struggled -- first under Dean Goldfine and now under older brother John, whom Roddick hired in February. John Roddick operates a tennis academy in San Antonio.

A reporter asked: How are things going with your brother?

"Better than it was last week," he said to laughter. "No, it's fine. It's nice. It will all be okay."

For the record, Roddick challenged two calls in the QFs. He is now 1-2 on challenges.

And once again, Roddick is a star in his post-match interview. Only he could manage a way to work Scrabble into his interview. There's a reason why his interviews are always so long and why most others are rather short. LOL. You can read his entire post-match interview here.
Q. Do you feel your game is pretty much -- you don't need to change or tinker --

ANDY RODDICK: I feel like I changed and I tinkered and now I'm kind of getting back to maybe untinkering - wow, that's a great Scrabble word if it's in there.

Q. No shot.

ANDY RODDICK: No? Dude, you know what's in there? "No shot." You'd be surprised. I have a Scrabble dictionary, yes, I do. "Za," short for pizza.

Q. No.

ANDY RODDICK: Swear. I promise you. What do you want to bet? What do you want to bet? In the Scrabble dictionary -

Q. "Untinkering," eleven letters.

ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, but it's just a matter of getting a "K" on a big word score because it's worth five. "Za" is in the dictionary - not in "the" dictionary. In the Scrabble dictionary, official rules, it's in there. I promise.

I never realized how hardcore the Scrabble word fanatics can be though:

Roddick Tinkers With Scrabble
Former world number one tennis player, Andy Roddick caused a firestorm amongst recreational and championship level Scrabble players, setting off a fury of e-mails to John D. Williams Jr, Executive Director of the National Scrabble Association, Hasbro who distributes Scrabble ( and the National Scrabble Association website ( causing both sites to crash. The controversy began during Roddick's prolixic, post match interview, where he claimed that the word "za" was an actual word in his Scrabble Dictionary. "Za, it's short for pizza. I swear. I promise you. What do you want to bet? In the Scrabble dictionary," Roddick claimed.

As it turns out, "za" is a new word, "just added to the Official Scrabble Dictionary," explains John Williams Jr. "I'm truly impressed that one of our top American athletes like Andy shares the love of words that we at Scrabble do, and I'm confident that this little misunderstanding will expand the game of Scrabble and American vocabularies."

Mr. William's message did little to suppress the anger of some of the Scrabble players, like Mario Sandrini, who claimed, "I am very disappointed that I had to get my Scrabble dictionary update from some washed up tennis player. What's next, the news from NASCAR?"

"We were flooded with e-mails of outrage over the new word 'za'," says John Williams Jr.

One e-mail claimed that he may sue over a lost Scrabble game with his grandmother because he could have used "za" with the "z" on a triple letter space, going vertically and horizontally, resulting in a 62 point word.

"While we understand the players' frustration, it is not the responsibility of the NSA to ensure that everyone has the latest edition of the Official Scrabble Dictionary, which can be purchased for $20.00US at [url],"[/url] explained John Williams Jr.

One thing is for sure, Roddick may not be decimating the competition on court, but he is "k"illing them, "with K on a big word score," at Scrabble. -- AP reporter Robert Seleshfan

* * *
Topspin2 News

I love that Andy Roddick and Maria Sharapova are on the cover for the new TopSpin 2 game (click on the photo for game details). Very sharp-looking. Very ironic. Very good business money-making scheme. ;) reports Get Ready for Top Spin 2:
If you liked the original Top Spin computer game produced by 2K Games you are going to love Top Spin 2. The new and updated version of the hugely popular tennis game is set to have fans glued to their X-box, Nintendo and Gameboy Advance for hours upon end!

Top Spin 2, set to be released on April 3, is hugely anticipated for its wide array of the world’s best tennis players, Player Creator, innovative game play, and breathtaking visuals. As well as taking on the computer, fans will be able to take on each other all over the world through X-box Live.’s favourite, Andy Roddick, will be one of the many players fans can control in the game and you will be able to try and take him all the way to the finals of the Top Spin 2 Championship! Other players featured on the game include Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer, Lindsay Davenport, Venus Williams, James Blake and Amelie Mauresmo.

As well as playing as your favourite player, you will be able to create yourself on the game by choosing name, skin colour, hair style, gender, outfit and country. After honing all your tennis skills to be the best possible you will be able to compete at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. See if you can recreate Andy Roddick’s terrific run to win the US Open in 2003!

Top Spin 2 is due to be released on April 3, stay tuned to as we bring you more exclusive details about what will surely be the hottest game on the market!

* * *
Davis Cup next

Happily, up next for Andy is the Davis Cup, where he'll join teammates James Blake and Mike and Bob Bryan April 7-9 on the grass courts at Rancho Mirage, California to play the Chileans in the quarterfinals.

Chile, which has never won the title and is in the quarterfinals for the first time since 1982, will be represented by 19th-ranked Fernando Gonzalez and No. 43 Nicolas Massu in singles, with Paul Capdeville and Adrian Garcia also on the team.

The US has a 3-0 lead over Chile in their head-to-head but they have not met since 1978.

Continuing from Andy's post-match interview:
Q. What's your plan in terms of the clay court season?

ANDY RODDICK: I'm not sure yet, to be honest. Obviously, Houston is a huge priority for reasons that extend beyond tennis.

But right now, to be honest, I haven't thought about it. My focus right away goes to let's get to the semifinals of Davis Cup, and I'll probably have a better idea of where my head's at after Houston.

Q. Speaking of Davis Cup, how much of an adjustment will it be for you to go on the grass next week, or it's just automatic?

ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I'm like jonesing at it, at the chance to get there, you know. Instead of two weeks a year on grass, I get three now, so that's great.

But normally I just go right into it. I mean, the first day at Queen's a lot of years I'll be playing sets already. So I guess where a lot of guys just feel, you know, you can take a lot of guys and just put them on a clay court and that's, you know, that's where home is, that's kind of the way I feel on grass a lot of times.

Q. Where will you be for the Blake match tonight?

ANDY RODDICK: I am going to stick around. I'm gonna stick around and check it out.

Like I said, my focus is on Davis Cup now. If James can get through, obviously, I think that can only help us for next week. You know, like I said, popcorn match.

Matthew Cronin over at seems to think that Patrick McEnroe needs to consider other players for the Davis Cup slot besides a slumping Roddick:

Please Say Something, ESPN
Let me say this to ESPN crew (web site included) in the nicest way possible: it's okay to have an opinion, that's what you are paid for. You won't get fired. "Wow!" is not an opinion. Letting Andy Roddick determine the course of a commentary is not analytical.

Using the "told reporters" line after a player speaks isn't very informative either. "Argued with a specific reporter on a specific topic" illuminates what's going on more. So when I was on a Davis Cup conference call with captain Patrick McEnroe this week, I let the captain know that before Andre Agassi got hurt, a number of folks batted around the idea of a US Davis Cup team that sported Agassi and James Blake as singles players, not Roddick - who is in a bad slump and is capable of beating most players as he is losing to them (hence, the David Ferrer loss). Even though Roddick's been McEnroe's main guy all along, his DC results in the team's past four matches have not been stellar:; he's posted 4-4 record. Oh sure, he's a great grass court player when he's confident, but he's almost just good on hard courts and lost to Andrei Pavel in La Jolla last month. And guess what? Fernando Gonzalez is just a big as a threat on grass as Pavel was on hard.

PMac was heated when asked whether Roddick's spot was at risk.

"Come on, Roddick is four in the world. He may be three by the time this is over. He's gone through a rough patch for a couple months. Let's be real here, Roddick has been a consistent Top-5 player or better in the last couple years. Has he had a tough stretch? Yes. Does he know that? Do I know that? Yes. Do I think he's right on the cusp of turning it around? Yes. Do I know his record from Wimbledon the last couple years? Yes. Are we playing this match on grass? Yes. That's a no-brainer. "

Not to me it wasn't had Agassi recovered and played well in Miami. But, at this point, it is, because only Blake has been playing well and Roddick is far better than any other American available - lack of confidence or not. But Roddick needed to beat Ferrer to regain some mental stability and also could have used a tight match with Federer. Now all he's going to Rancho Mirage with is the hope that he can turn things around, not a fundamental belief that he will.

"I have total confidence in him," McEnroe said. "I love his work ethic. I love his intensity. I believe that it will come around."

I can respect Cronin's opinion that a slumping Roddick should not be the automatic DC choice these days, but I also agree with PMac that it's a "no-brainer" to pick Roddick for a tie that's being played on grass. And if PMac is defensive about Roddick, I don't blame him. Nobody has had to withstand as much media criticism and bashing as Roddick, and Patrick MacEnroe as his captain and friend obviously feels the need to defend his top player. Who wouldn't?

Let's suppose that Roddick IS dropped from the DC team, then what? Who does Cronin suggest PMac pick for singles after Blake? Robby Ginepri? He's been in a worse slump this year than Andy has. Andre Agassi? His sciatic nerve problems keep getting worse and he has not played on grass in two years. Taylor Dent? Is Dent really the go-to guy for clutch play? Mardy Fish? Fish is returning from two wrist surgeries and is hardly match fit these days. Vince Spadea? The fifth wheel of the 2004 Davis Cup team? Sure, Team USA could always use a water boy, I guess.

So as you can see, Mr. Cronin, once you get past Roddick and Blake, the pickings are rather slim.

The only part I don't get in Cronin's Op-ed is the line "Letting Andy Roddick determine the course of a commentary is not analytical." Huh? Since when did Andy Roddick become an ESPN commentator?

* * *
Cute local news item that can't be categorized

Entertaining little news tidbit that means nothing but made me smile anyway:

Boulder City Courts Notoriety
The public tennis court at Hemenway Park in Boulder City will be one of five across America featured in a new U.S. Tennis Association national print and broadcast campaign.

The selection of the court in Southern Nevada is supposed to show that tennis is a recreational sport that can be played virtually anywhere.

Until the ad campaign, Hemenway Park simply was billed as "Just Another Court in Southern Nevada That Andy Roddick Has Never Set Foot On."

Fix that little publicity problem, Andy.


Nasdaq-100 Open: Roddick into the Quarterfinals

"There's a lot of tennis left in this season. It's impossible for it to be a wash after two months."

-- ANDY RODDICK. Don't write him off just yet.

R4: Andy Roddick def Simon Greul 6-3 3-6 6-2

R3: Andy Roddick def Fernando Verdasco 6-3 6-4

So The Player Formerly Known as Andy Roddick has made it to the quarterfinals of the NASDAQ-100 Open for the third time. Hurray! In doing so, he stopped the unexpected and impressive run enjoyed by the German qualifier Simon Greul in one hour 33 minutes, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.

This win is an important one for Roddick, who lost in the second round last year. This enables him to pick up important ranking points in an effort to get back to the number three ranking in the world, which is currently occupied by David Nalbandian.

Greul may be a qualifyer but he had dispatched Tim Henman in the previous match (who had finally beaten his nemsis Lleyton Hewitt, for the first time in their career meetings), and facing a new opponent with nothing to lose, Roddick could have very easily lost to Greul, in much the same way that he lost to Andreev, Benneteau, Muller, and too many others lately. For Roddick to recover from that second set loss and take the third set in such dominating fashion is encouraging.

It's wonderful to see his serve finally cracking again like it used to. His serve stats were absolutely "sick" (to use Patrick McEnroe's favorite word).

And still more encouraging is to see the growling "don't mess with me" Roddick back in action. Let his detractors whine and complain about Roddick's "antics". We've all seen much worse. His being aggressive and loud is what made him a champion to begin with. So keep it up, Andy! Loving it.

HOW YOU LIKE THEM APPLES? Huh! Show me the money! Hey, I'm talking to you, punk. YOUR MOMMA. Call Miss Cleo, your ass is grass. ... Roddick makes trash-talking fun again.

It's also very nice to see a smiling, happy Roddick when the match is completed. That's been an all too rare sight for the past year. Before, even after he convincingly won a match, he would rarely smile or look pleased; as if the weight of the world were still on his shoulders. But that seems to finally be dissipating and it's great to see a happy and relaxed Andy out there (to go hand-in-hand with the re-emerging growling bully oncourt ;) ).

Andy's quarterfinal opponent will be the Spaniard David Ferrer who was last seen giving Andy quite a scare in the quarterfinals of the Paris Masters Series last year. Andy knows the challenge that faces him on Thursday. Good luck!

For the record, Andy has made one line call challenge in three matches and was proven wrong. He's 0-1.

Audio from the match over here.

Post-match video interview here.

Video match highlights here.

Video match highlights from the Verdasco match here.

The E! Entertainment channel re-aired an edited version of Andy's 2003 appearance on "Saturday Night Live" the other night. I have only recently discovered the joys of making obscene .wav files featuring Andy so here's one from SNL that you can listen to over and over again on your iPod. ;)

Roddick Reaches Miami Quarterfinals:
Andy Roddick may be out of the NCAA pool, but he's still shooting for a place in the Nasdaq-100 Open final four. The fourth-seeded Roddick won 16 of the final 19 points played on his serve to quash qualifier Simon Greul, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 and advance to the Nasdaq-100 Open quarterfinals at Key Biscayne's Crandon Park today.

Delivering nine aces and denying Greul on one of the two break points he faced in the match, Roddick's imposing serve propelled him through the decisive set after he played periods of passive tennis in the second set.

"I can still play better," Roddick said. "I'm kind of finding my way through matches. I played terrible at the beginning of the second set. I didn't put returns in the court and kind of took my foot off the gas, which is a mistake, and he got back into it."

It wasn't Roddick's best tennis, but he competed with composure against Greul, who mixed it up enough to create a nuisance in the second set. In some of his recent losses, Roddick's frustration has put him at an emotional break point on court, but today he channeled his temper into positive intensity on pivotal points. Rather than choking the handle of his blue Babolat as if arm wrestling his racquet, a relaxed Roddick regained some of that seismic snap on his serve with the looser grip.

"I think I'm playing a lot calmer now," Roddick said. "I'm competing a little better. I'm not worried trying to win every point or win the match in every point. I'm kind of staying a little bit even-keel and I'm serving 10 times better than I have this year, which is a big, cause I feel more comfortable with those peaks and valleys, knowing that my serve is going to keep me in it, still going to be a dominant shot."

The 130th-ranked Greul played well just to reach the fourth round. Greul saved two match points against Ricardo Mello in qualifying before dispatching 38th-ranked Paradorn Srichaphan, 17th-seeded Dominik Hrbaty and 2005 quarterfinalist Tim Henman in succession. Playing tight tennis at the outset of today's match, Gruel dropped serve in his opening game and quickly fell behind 3-0. Roddick ripped a forehand pass crosscourt to reach set point and when Greul bashed a backhand beyond the baseline, Roddick walked to his court-side seat with the first set in hand after 29 minutes of play.

Swinging more freely in the second set, Greul disrupted Roddick's rhythm by occasionally playing off pace backhands before abruptly stepping around his backhand to blast a forehand punctuated with a grueling grunt. It was a pattern that proved unsettling for Roddick in the second set as Greul hit a return winner to break for 4-2. Consolidating at love with a forehand winner marked by another scream that appeared to annoy Roddick, Greul served out the set two games later and Roddick prepared for some schizophrenic tennis in the final set.

"It's a little awkward. Like he plays some points where he just crushes every ball and then does the big grunt thing," Roddick said. "Then some points he kind of stays back and doesn't really hit the ball. You know know what part of him is going to come out in a point really. I let him into the second set a little bit and then he started playing great towards the end of it. It's definitely a little big of an awkward match up."

Greul took a bathroom break at the end of the second set; Roddick took charge at the start of the third set. Roddick reeled off eight straight points to open the third set before smacking an ace down the middle to stretch his lead to 3-0.

"I think at the beginning of the third set, he pushed himself a lot and was very aggressive," Greul said.

Before losing the match, Greul won consecutive challenges, a streak that roused the crowd. Chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani overruled against the German's ace, but Greul challenged and replay showed the shot touched the line, restoring the game-ending ace. Greul won a second challenge on a Roddick serve, initially ruled in, that replay showed out.

"I can't be angry about that because the right call was made," Roddick said. "I'm sure there are going to be times when it's going to be the situation reversed. I think you're okay with it as long as you know it's the correct call being made."

The successful challenges were winners with the crowd, but Greul would need more than video victories to pull off another upset.

"(It's) great for the fans," Roddick said. "When he challenged those two and were right, they were going nuts. So it just adds another element. I don't think there are a lot of negatives to it."

Though the tour shifts surfaces to clay next month, Roddick believes his best tennis is still on the horizon with the upcoming grass-court and hard-court summer seasons.

"The way I see it, my two favorite times of the year are still ahead of me so there's a lot of time left," Roddick said. "I've always said that when I finish two in the world, when I finish three in the world, those are very, very good years. I always said I'd rather finish seven or eight and win a Slam. That's a great year as opposed to those other ones being very good years. There's a lot of tennis left in this season. It's impossible for it to be a wash after two months."

Roddick back to 'barking and growling'

Andy Roddick, who has yet to reach a final this year, got a scrappy win over qualifier Simon Greul to make it to the quarters.

The Tennis Player Formerly Known as Andy Roddick, the self-assured one who spits out 135-mph serves like a Pez dispenser, showed up Tuesday on Stadium Court. Well, glimpses of him anyway, and that was enough to shake off pesky German qualifier Simon Greul and earn a spot in the NASDAQ-100 Open quarterfinals.

Normally, a three-set victory over the world's 130th-ranked player would not be reason for Roddick to be chipper, but Roddick has yet to make a final this year, had lost five matches to players ranked below No. 25, and admittedly had his confidence shaken. Gutting out a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 win is exactly what he needed.

When Greul, who had knocked out three top-60 players, got back-to-back line calls reversed electronically in his favor, Roddick didn't throw a fit. He didn't roll his eyes and get down on himself. He won four straight points and two consecutive games to seal the victory.

"He had to grub it out, do that whole Alpha-dog thing, do some barking and growling," TV analyst Mary Carillo said. "You want to see a little foam at the mouth. That's why he's so happy with this win. He's been losing those kind of matches. He needs a good run, and he could get one here. Nadal's gone, Agassi's gone, Safin's gone. He's putting in the work and he needs to catch a break."

And that might come in his next opponent, David Ferrer of Spain, who could be weary after a marathon three-hour, 17-minute victory over Olivier Rochus that Ferrer called "the tightest match I've played in my life."


For his part, Roddick is keeping things in perspective. But he was in a good mood after his match, joked about his NCAA Tournament bracket and said his matches on Key Biscayne have been encouraging.

"I can still play better," Roddick said. "I'm finding my way through these matches. I think I'm playing calmer now. I'm competing a little bit better, and I'm serving 10 times better than I have been this year, which is a big, big plus for me because I feel more comfortable with those peaks and valleys knowing that my serve is going to keep me in it, still going to be a dominant shot."

He said he has simplified his workouts, stopped "obsessing" and has allowed himself to relax, particularly on his serve.

"I was trying to force a little bit," he said. "I remembered that I've always been able to hit a big serve and I haven't always been gripping my racket this tight, trying to break the grip. I've relaxed a little bit more, and as a result of that, I've gotten a lot of the action back in it."

Despite all the questions about his slump, and newspaper articles chronicling his troubles, Roddick insisted he isn't worried.

"I'm never going to get too excited over a bad two-month stretch," he said. "I'm going to be mad, but the way I see it, my two favorite times of year [grass and hard courts] are still ahead of me, so there's a lot of time left. It's impossible for it to be a wash after two months."


Standing firmly in Roddick's corner is U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe, who named Roddick and Blake and doubles twins Mike and Bob Bryan to the team for the upcoming quarterfinal against Chile.

"Let's be real here -- Andy Roddick has been a consistent top-five player or better in the last couple years," McEnroe said "Has he had a tough stretch? Yes. Does he know that? Do I know that? Yes. Do I think he's right on the cusp of turning it around? Yes. It could happen this week.

* * *
Davis Cup News

It's fair to say that the Americans learned their lesson about taking any Davis Cup team lightly after they were gobsmacked by the Croats in last year's first round match. If the Chileans somehow think that the Americans are going to take the Dynamic Duo known as Massu and Gonzalez lightly come their Davis Cup quarterfinal match, they've got another thing coming. As reported by The Miami Herald:
Andy Roddick and James Blake are ranked higher than Nicolas Massu and Fernando Gonzalez, and the Americans play better on grass than the Chileans, which is why they chose the surface for the upcoming Davis Cup quarterfinal. But the U.S. team is not taking next week's match lightly because Chileans have a history of playing over their heads when representing their country.

Massu won the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics, Gonzalez won the bronze, and they teamed up to win gold in doubles.

"They play very well for their country, and I know they're not going to concede anything," Roddick said. "They're two very tough players who have had success against me and the Bryan brothers."

U.S. captain Patrick McEnroe, who had an easy time selecting the team after Andre Agassi announced he is taking an indefinite layoff to heal his back, said: "Playing Chile represents the next step in our ultimate goal of bringing the Davis Cup back to the U.S., and I have full confidence in this team."

The winner of next week's match will play France or Russia in the semifinals in September.


Nasdaq-100 Open News and Preview

R2: Andy Roddick def Alberto Martin
6-3 6-1

DOUBLES: Roddick/Ginepri def Coria/Manrique 6-2 7-5

Click on the picture to view Andy's oncourt interview after defeating Alberto Martin (.mov file, 13MB).

Click here for the Nasdaq-100 ESPN2 TV schedule.

''The handsome ones with good legs, like Andy Roddick and Roger Federer.''

-- A YOUNG TENNIS FAN, when asked what she liked most about attending Nasdaq-100. Poor Andy Roddick not only has competition from Federer on court but also in the legs department.


Burning questions for Nasdaq-100
As the tennis world descends upon Miami, here are the most pressing questions.

What's happening to Andy Roddick?
The 23-year-old American seems to be suffering from a bout of self doubt. He's still ranked No. 4 in the world, but he hasn't reached the final of any tournaments this year and has -- at least in his case -- a lackluster record of 11-5. The technical flaws in his game have been well chronicled -- a shaky volley and a tendency to stand too far behind the baseline. But he had these same flaws when he won the U.S. Open in 2003 and held the No. 1 ranking. The six straight losses he has suffered to Federer seem to have gotten inside Roddick's head, and he may have been too quick to dump Brad Gilbert as his coach in 2004.

Can James Blake do some damage in Miami?
Yes, but it's hard to envision him winning the tournament. The 26-year-old American is off to a great start this year, with a record of 19-5 and two titles. After his runner-up finish in Indian Wells on Sunday, Blake's ranking rose to a career best ninth in the world.

He has added patience and resolve to his physical weaponry, which no one ever challenged. So now he's a threat to beat anyone in the world, as he has proven in taking out Nadal in their last two matches. But Blake choked when presented with an opportunity early against Federer last weekend, and it remains unclear whether he's mentally ready to win a big event.

Men to Watch
Andy Roddick: Though he admittedly is frustrated and in a slump, Roddick still has the power and athleticism to make a deep run. All he needs is a good win to boost his confidence, and he could take off from there. ''I am not the captain of Team Fun right now,'' he said. Roddick has advanced to just one semifinal this year and has lost to four players ranked below 50.

James Blake: Arguably the top American player right now with a 19-5 record and two titles this year. Blake beat Nadal in the Indian Wells (Calif.) semifinals and broke into the top 10 (No. 9) for the first time in his career. He also happens to be among the nicest and most scholarly players on tour.

The story surrounding Andy Roddick these days is no longer when he'll beat Roger Federer or regain the No. 1 ranking, but whether he'll find his mojo again and break out of this funk. Anybody who thinks Roddick hasn't been in a befuddled slump is blind/stupid/kidding themselves. Everybody has taken notice of Roddick's troubles lately and everyone feels the need to offer some armchair analysis, un/helpful advice, and proffer a shoulder for him to cry on.

"I'm going to be fine whether or not I win tennis matches. I'm just mad. I'd love to perform at my best. That's the frustrating part. I'm not."

-- ANDY RODDICK. Don't cry for him.

Roddick eager to rebound from funk
A few dozen diehard fans -- and the newly installed instant-replay screens -- stared down onto center court on a sunny Monday afternoon as Andy Roddick, determined to get out of a funk, whacked balls with his hitting partner in preparation for this week's NASDAQ-100 Open in Key Biscayne.

Roddick, drenched in sweat, politely declined to be interviewed afterward, saying only that he was ''eager'' to get back on the court after losing in the fourth round in Indian Wells, Calif., last week.

At a booth nearby, NASDAQ-100 Open officials unveiled the men's and women's main draws line by line, eliciting a loud murmur when Marat Safin was paired with Tim Henman in the first round, the winner facing Lleyton Hewitt in the second round.

* * *
The Anti-Cheetos Man: James Blake

It's hard to focus on a slumping, seemingly depressed Roddick when his good friend James Blake has been busy tearing up the courts, winning over millions of new fans, and making his first MS final last week after blowing through the likes of Tommy Haas (who unfortunately got hit with a bout of food poisioning), Roddick-killa Igor Andreev (destroying him 1 and 4. See Andy? That's how it's done.) Rafael Nadal (again), only to fall to Roger Federer in the end (take heart, James, everybody falls to Roger. LOL). If you haven't been inspired by Blake's heart-breaking story and his subsequent run to the Top Ten this year, you are cruel, heartless, and Vince Spadea will see you in hell for it.

It is also hard to ignore Blake because some in the media seem a bit too eager to start the funeral procession for Roddick and proclaim Blake his successor to American tennis -- as if there were no room at the top for two American players. Give me a break.

Speaking of rankings, thanks to Blake, there are now three Americans in the Top Ten (Roddick - 4, Blake - 9, Andre Agassi - 10); the first time since 2000. Hurray! I'll enjoy it while I can because if Agassi's recent withdrawal from the Nasdaq-100 due to his continuing back spasms problem is any indication, Andre will be out of the Top Ten in short order soon.

James Blake's story tends to go hand-in-hand with Roddick's, so don't be surprised if you see me discussing Blake often in this blog (as well as other American players). Why? Because they are friends, they have a history, and it's inevitable that with each of the young Americans' successes, the media will compare him to the current Top Dog, Andy Roddick. Not to mention that their healthy, competitive natures and comraderie are a joy to watch, especially during Davis Cup. When I say "they" I am not only referring to Blake, but to Mardy Fish, Robby Ginepri, and Taylor Dent, all of whom seem primed to do some damage this year and finally make good on their own promising talent.

James Blake's response to the media shoving Andy out of his way (from his post-match interview this afternoon):
Q. Real quickly, are you comfortable being called America's No. 1?

JAMES BLAKE: Not yet. That's for sure. Andy has dealt with this for years now. He's proven himself. He's won a Grand Slam. He's won Masters Series titles. He's dealt with so many things. The pressure that he's felt on his shoulders and done such a good job of really maturing and growing up under the public eye, and that's something that I'm very impressed with. I'm really proud of him.

So he's still No. 4 in the world and is, in my mind, America's No. 1. I'm happy and proud of him. Right now I'm playing great tennis, but it's ‑‑ as much as being in the top 10 means I played good tennis for a while, being No. 4 and at one time being No. 1, finishing the year No. 1, means you've been playing really good tennis for a long time. He deserves the credit. Even if I were to ever pass him in the rankings, until it's something that I've done day in, day out, month in, month out, and possibly for a year, then I don't feel like I deserve that title quite yet.

I'm happy to leave the pressure on him. He does a good job of handling it.

It's not too late to jump on the Blake bandwagon.

Blake, Roddick host bash in Miami
James Blake knows he's in town for business, but first, the former Harvard star took care of some pleasure.

Blake and Andy Roddick hosted a Nasdaq-100 Open players party at the Delano Hotel on Wednesday night.

In a city crawling with spring breakers, aspiring models and an always present night life, Blake said he's trying to stay focused on his tennis game.

"Miami is great," Blake said. "I'm trying to do my best to avoid distractions and get ready for tomorrow."

He mingled poolside with guests, posed for photographs with admiring female fans and lounged in a cabana with friends.

Roddick, who went to high school in nearby Boca Raton, used the event to catch up with family and friends.

"It's always nice coming back here," he said. "First and foremost, it's about playing tennis, but it shouldn't be too hard to have a good time tonight."

Dressed in tiny shorts and high heels, six-foot tall Maria Sharapova also posed for photos before joining the party that had music ranging from Michael Jackson to Snoop Dogg.

* * *
It's Official: Roddick and Sharapova Still Not Dating

Tennis star Andy Roddick plays love game
It was a love match in the making at the Don't Tell My Booker kickoff party at Mansion, thrown by Las Vegas clubs Jet and Light Wednesday night. Tennis golden boy Andy Roddick lived it up in the VIP section with fellow pro James Blake, but made a special trip back to Mansion's crowded entrance to pull in a special someone -- 8th and Ocean's ''breakout'' star, Sabrina. Once inside, the two were the epitome of a new crush, circling each other, whispering to their friends, and then eventually flirting. The ritual went on until Sabrina's booker-chaperon looked at her watch and escorted the starry-eyed model home. Roddick was seen flirting with models at the official NASDAQ-100 kickoff earlier that night. According to a spy, "Maria Sharapova came but was very much on the DL -- if she is seeing Andy, you couldn't tell.''

* * *
RIP: Bernard Lacoste

Although I'm still missing the signature Roddick-Reebok look, Lacoste signing on Andy to represent their clothes in America was probably one of their better business decisions.

From Lacoste's American Ambassador
"Andy is the total-look ambassador for Lacoste," mentioned Alex Fauvet, the Vice President of International Marketing who worked with Andy to create his new line of clothing. "This is a true partnership, not just a business transaction, and we are truly proud of that."

Andy's new gear was first worn by him in Indian Wells, but this look is crafted and designed to be worn to look stylish and comfortable both on and off the court. It all began the week before Andy signed with Lacoste that he was really intrigued by the whole designing process and wanted to be immediately and actively involved. From the color of the polo to the style of all his gear, Andy's acing another aspect of his career quite successfully.

"His line is flying off the shelves," noted the President of Lacoste-USA. Andy's line is most seen while he is in action, showing off the new striping down the sleeves and around the color in assorted colors. This shirt is made for versatility with the technical, dry-fit material for competing in as well as designed with the casual look to wear with a pair of jeans. Lacoste and Andy worked together to design shirts, a whole tennis outfit, and a track suit. The suit was giving a vintage look to be worn as a matching set for warming up on court, comfortably getting things done off-court, and especially worn as separates.

"This is the 'in' style between sport and sportswear casual," commented Alex. "The polo shirt and track jacket go well with jeans in casual, urban places." You can see this casual sportswear being worn by the ambassador himself during press conferences, interviews, and many other off-court appearances.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Pacific Life Open: Raging Roddick

R16: Andreev def Roddick 6-4, 6-7, 6-1

"I could have reached Gandhi-like peace of mind and it wouldn't have mattered."

-- ANDY RODDICK, the quote machine, and lovable loser.

I'm sure there were a number of you who were probably dreading coming to this blog, certain that it's hostess would go off on another one of her "Andy sucks! Get with the program!" rants while your, dear reader, would make a quick detour to the photo gallery. Surprisingly, you would be wrong. But 37 new photos from the Andreev match are up in the gallery anyway if you prefer to go there first.

DO YOU KNOW THE CHEETOS CHUMP? "I used to like hit for a half hour and then go eat Cheetos the rest of the day, come out and drill forehands. Now I'm really trying to make it happen, being professional, really going for it, and I miss my Cheetos." The sacrifices Andy Roddick makes for tennis. Photoshopped image courtesy of Nat the surfpinky.

Let's get to the good stuff first: Andy's meltdown. Andreev broke Andy right off in the first game and it was a long downhill crash right after that. I can't possibly be the only one who thought it hilariously entertaining to hear Roddick scream out "FUCK YOU!" on live television and get a warning for it. This came right after Roddick had banged on the chair umpire's microphone demanding to know where "that noise" [the sound of the mic 'popping'] came from during the last game. Getting nowhere with the ump, Roddick stalks back to the baseline. Audience is into it, booing and clapping. But the boos weren't for Andy. Even as Roddick was slowly losing his mind throughout the match, the crowd was still firmly behind him.

My mouth dropped open a few times, not just from the loud profanities emanating from Roddick's mouth but also from that sublime drop-shot he hit from the baseline and won the second set tiebreak with. No. Effing. Way. Our Andy showing some brilliant touch? Get outta here. Here's my Oh face.

After winning the TB in such wonderful fashion, Roddick was pumped up and he looked primed to take the third set. But sadly, it was back to Suckville for our Cheetos Chump. Andreev managed to dig out of a 0-40 hole to hold in the opening game of the third set, broke Roddick in the second game and then pulled away. Several frustrating games later, Roddick smashes a racket to pieces and earns a point penalty. The third set was a lost cause anyway, what's another point lost, right? More boos and clapping from the audience. So bad was Andy's game in that third set (Andreev was in full-flight at this point) even ESPN cracked on how bad Roddick's been playing lately. True headline from their website: At least Andy Roddick is consistent. Consistently bad, that is. Bwahaha!

A good wrap-up of the match from Matthew Cronin:
Andreev Upsets Raging Roddick

Andy was about as angry as he's ever been, and this time, the world was tuned into see it.

Playing the noon TV match on Wednesday, Roddick completely imploded in a 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-1 loss to Russia's Igor Andreev in the fourth round.

The 23-year-old American can’t understand where his "A" game went, why he can’t take care of critical opportunities or break anyone’s serve. He was so frustrated with his confused and erratic play that in the in the sixth game of the final set, he swore and received a warning and then busted his racket and was issued a point penalty.

His frustration was palpable, emanating from the fact that he’s yet to win a title this year and has reached only one semifinal.

"It's coming from playing like shit," Roddick said. "It's pretty simple. It's not coming from joy or from being thrilled with what I was doing out there. It's just frustration. We've all been there, except I have people watching when I break something."

What's particularly frustrating about watching Roddick play now is that he doesn’t even realize when he’s in control of a match. He played decent tiebreaker and saw Andreev gag a little. The Russian was no paragon of mental strength then, by neither was Roddick, later.

"Judging from by the way he went and attacked the net in the middle of the tiebreaker, went Sideshow Bob [a Simpson’s character] on it, I feel like I had him against the grain a little bit," Roddick said.

But then Roddick began to look a little like Homer Simpson himself at the beginnng of the third set, failing to come up with winners when he had the match in his hands and moving clumsily about the court.

He let go of three break points in the first game of the third set, and his mind melted.

"Basically, it came down to I had a forehand pass there and nursed it," Roddick said. " He hit a volley. If I get up a break, it's a different momentum. I don't know what the hell I did. I went on walkabout and gave up the next game. It was just like a blur."

Just like the rest of his season, which has gone as follows: three wins at the AO and a painful loss to Marcos Baghdatis; one puking loss to Andrei Pavel in Davis Cup and then a win over the mediocre Razvan Sabau; three wins in a San Jose and then a shaky loss to a more inventive Andy Murray; two wins in Memphis and a stunning loss to Julien Benneteau; a week of training and watching videotape with his brother and coach, John (skipping Vegas in the process); two decent wins in the desert and then ZERO winners in the third set against Sideshow Igor.

"Why would I feel confident right now?" Roddick asked. "If that was the case, I don't think we'd be sitting here having this funeral-like press conference. It's just weird because, I used to like hit for a half hour and then go eat Cheetos the rest of the day, come out and drill forehands. Now I'm really trying to make it happen, being professional, really going for it, and I miss my Cheetos."

Roddick had his humorous moments during his press conference, but was he was the funeral director and the pallbearer of what he considered to be his own casket.He’s a deep funk mentally and technically, because as has been written in this space so many times, he’s not bringing enough weaponry on court. Yes, his serve is still a big weapon as is his forehand when he’s feeling right, but his backhand and return continue to haunt him. He’s hardly breaking serve at all, isn’t dominating points from inside the baseline and is frequently losing long points he’s forced to run a lot.

Plus, he’s pressing so hard on the big points that he’s squeezing the life out of his racket. When he’s caught in a long rally, he doesn’t look any more forceful than a top-50 journeyman.

"I'm just pissed right now. I'm not going to sit here and put on my fun face," Roddick said. "I'm not happy. I'm mad with the way I played. It's just frustration. We've all been there, except I have people watching when I break something."

Here’s what’s also a little disturbing: he's gone away from maintaining his composure and even though it took until ate in the third set for him to smash his racket, he was a bundle of nerves most of the third set. All the talk about being calmer on court after throwing up against Pavel was just that, chatter.

"For the most part I was fine today until I went mental at the end. That's 5-1, so it's not really going to matter. I could have reached Gandhi-like peace of mind and it wouldn't have mattered then, 5-1 down. I competed well. That wasn't the problem. I think it's just sticking there, staying the course. I'm just mad because I let it get away from me. You're out there for two hours, and I let it get away from me in five minutes. That's just unacceptable."

So Roddick goes down (loudly) in three sets to Igor Andreev in the fourth round. His world ranking will now go down to No. 4. Once again, he can't seem to step up his game, beat these lesser players, and get to at least the quarterfinals.

So why am I not cyber-slapping him this time around?

I think I would've been far more upset if his behavior had been as passive and disinterested as when he lost to Baghdatis at AO. I don't like that version of Andy at all; wimpy, passive, self-defeated -- I hate it. I hate the guy who gives up and slumps around and is uncharacteristically quiet, too ready to accept defeat, and then mumbles through his interviews talking crap and saying "too good" to his opponent, blah blah blah. What about the part where you walked oncourt like a loser and lost the match before it even started, Andy? But now, now, it seems like he's finally starting to get it.

I've said all along, I don't care if he loses, what I care about most is HOW he loses. Did he go down fighting? Or did he give up without so much as a wimper? Did he beat himself before his opponent did? Because, in sports, that is unforgivable.

Q. So where does all the frustration come from at the end of the match?
ANDY RODDICK: It's coming from playing like shit.

Finally, after months of disappointing and frustrating losses where Andy played the part of the gracious loser just a bit too well, Andy is finally getting pissed off and showing the world that he cares. He may still be slouching and getting down on himself, but he's also getting angry and still swinging hard.

Personally, I found this latest meltdown of his to be cathartic. I was starting to wonder how much longer it would take -- how many more humiliating losses can he take? -- before he finally blew his stack? Finally, with last night's eruption his emotions were beginning to mirror my own frustrations with him, and it was a relief. He's getting loud and pissy again, much like he used to circa 2000-03. That's one aspect of Roddick's personality that I have been begging to see return. I can't fault him for getting angry with himself for playing badly. I can't fault him for his passion and fire. He swears and busts his racket? Good! I wish he had done that at USO and AO instead of just shuffling around the court and meekly accepting defeat. I am glad to see this aspect of the old Andy Roddick finally return: the one that curses and busts rackets and doesn't give a damn what anybody says or thinks about it. The one who cares about winning and playing his best tennis, and doesn't want to lose on anybody else's terms.

"They'll forgive you for losing but they'll never forgive you for being boring."

-- JIMMY CONNORS, the original tennis asshole. Damn right, Jimmy.

Now that's more like it.

And even though that last set was a lost cause and Igor was playing great, Andy was still playing aggressively. Unless I missed it, I didn't see any part where Andy completely gave up (like at AO). And he shook hands with Andreev and the chair ump and he also apologized to the chair ump for getting hot under the collar. Now, that's the Andy Roddick I remember watching years ago.


Here's an interesting article that came from, of all places, the LA Times:
Roddick Has Become a Most Lovable Loser

Andy Roddick is the teenage son who wrecks your car and, as you place your hands on his neck in the strangle position, tells you he was on his way to buy flowers for his mom. He's the golden retriever who chews a hole in your easy chair and then follows you to the garage, licking your ankle as you get the belt.

He is a tennis player by trade, the third best in the world among male players, according to the mathematicians who calculate such things. He has won more than $10 million doing this, and he is only 23 years old. He even won a major title, the 2003 U.S. Open, and reached the final of the last two Wimbledons.

He is also the great American hope, now that Pete Sampras has gone golfing and isn't coming back and Andre Agassi is close to doing the same. He is the cornerstone of the U.S. Davis Cup team, the darling of every promoter in this country who holds a tournament and expects to sell lots of tickets to people who want to root for "our Andy."

Then, our Andy shows up and, more often than not lately, blows a gasket early and leaves the American tennis fan no choice but to figure out who Janko Tipsarevik is.

That's pretty much what happened Wednesday in the fourth round of the Pacific Life Open at Indian Wells, where, in a three-set loss, Roddick managed to make Russian Igor Andreev look like Rod Laver.

Not only did Roddick lose, but he went out in a blaze of un-glory, getting himself to within one point of match disqualification with two warnings from the umpire's chair. First, he offered an obscenity as an analysis of his own performance, and did so within earshot of the chair. Then, he reacted to another stupid shot by testing the springiness of the court surface with his racket. The court won. The racket looked like spaghetti.

So, as chronicler of such things, you go to hear what he has to say after all this, and you go with a degree of indignation. The questions all come down to one: What's the matter with you? With all this talent comes a responsibility to use it, to maximize it, to keep your head and not act, nor play, like a punk.

News conferences in such situations can be confrontational, even ugly. The guy who bought a ticket and sat in the stands, or the guy at home watching on TV and being bombarded by deodorant commercials deserves to know, and you are his pipeline.

And then Roddick disarms you. He makes no alibis, no excuses. He played like a jerk and says so. Most of the time you go listen to some guy who has a degree in boredom yammer on about not winning because of the (a) wind, (b) rain, (c) sun, (d) unfair draw, or (e) lousy lines calls. Not Roddick. You go to his news conference, you get Jon Stewart.

He called it his "funeral press conference." He said it was the pits because when we break something in anger, only "the wife and kids" see it. When he does it, "there are people watching."

He said that, at a crucial time in third set, he just "went on walkabout." He said he "went mental" at the end when he smashed his racket, but it wasn't significant because, "You know, I could have reached Gandhi-like peace of mind and it wouldn't have mattered at 5-1."

He was asked a question that implied his opponent had kept his poise better, to which Roddick replied that Andreev had slammed his racket on the net at one point.

"Judging from the way he went and attacked the net in the middle of the tiebreaker, went Sideshow Bob on it, I don't know," Roddick said.

"Sideshow Bob," you find out, is a character in "The Simpsons" whose nature is to go ballistic at all times.

Roddick was angry with himself, both sincere and clever about how he expressed it, and introspective about what might get him going again. Soon, you realize that you, the media, are not the enemy, but his therapists.

So you leave unsure of lots of things, but certainly not as angry as you had been. You theorize that Andy Roddick might be a better celebrity now than he is a tennis player. You wonder if he is overrated or an under-achiever. You hate his game, but you love how he deals with you hating his game.

You decide he isn't even a top 10 player now, but you are certain that he is the world's No. 1 at holding a disarming news conference.

Another reason why I'm smiling is that Roddick's post-match interview helped make up for the fact that he crashed out again. Rageful, candid, emotional, honest, thoughful, funny, and brilliant all at the same time, it deserves to be quoted in its entirety:
An interview with: ANDY RODDICK

I. ANDREEV /A. Roddick

6-4, 6-7, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Andy.

Q. People coming in said nobody wants to ask the first question. Talk about what you're feeling, what you're thinking.

ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. A lot of thoughts. Not feeling too good. Feel a little bit empty right now. I don't know what the hell happened. I don't know. Probably everything you're thinking.

Q. You tough out the tiebreaker, seem to be in good position. Can you take yourself to the beginning of the third, sort of take us from there.

ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, that would be easy. It would only last another 15 minutes.

I mean, basically, I mean, it came down to I had a forehand pass there, nursed hit. He hit a volley. If I get up a break, it's a different -- I think it's different moment-wise. I don't know what the hell I did. I went on walkabout and gave up the next game.

I don't know. I mean, it's only -- you know, I'm the only one to blame. I don't know what the hell I did. It was just like a blur.

Q. Has this particular tournament been a struggle for you throughout the years?


Q. Have you ever played before where a microphone goes off in the middle of a match and the umpire didn't hear it?

ANDY RODDICK: He admittedly heard it, but he said it's no different than a fan yelling. I said, "Yes, it is, it's a microphone." It's probably not the same thing, right, unless I'm missing something.

Whatever, that's a footnote in this match.

Q. So where does all the frustration come from at the end of the match?

ANDY RODDICK: Where does it come from?

Q. What is it coming from? It's all pouring out.

ANDY RODDICK: It's coming from playing like shit. I don't know what else you want?

Q. I get it.

ANDY RODDICK: I mean, it's pretty simple. It's not coming from joy or from being thrilled with what I was doing out there. You know, it's just frustration. We've all been there, except I have people watching when I break something. When you break something against the wall.

Q. It's only my wife and kids.

ANDY RODDICK: There you go. Only your wife and kids. Maybe the kids have to duck out of the way. That's not something I have to worry about now. Maybe ballkids.

Q. How much was the frustration because he was playing well from the baseline?

ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I mean, it's frustrating. But like I said at the beginning of the week, and I'm going to stick to it, I don't think it's coincidental that guys are coming out playing good matches, are lighting up stat sheets, are doing whatever.

Obviously something's different. And I don't know. I mean, it's frustrating. His style of play was very effective here. His ball was really jumping up. I thought he served pretty well. You know, there's only so many times you can say a guy played really well, too good, before you start questioning what it is you're doing.

Q. What are you going to do with those tapes?

ANDY RODDICK: That's a stupid question. Looking for something. I don't know. Like I said, it was just something that we went to. It's going to become overblown, become like a monster thing. I don't know.

Q. So what are you questioning now?

ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I mean, like I said, we need to go back and talk and kind of start from square one. I wish I had a better answer for you right now.

Q. Did you think after you won the second set, you had a couple opportunities at the start of the third, maybe Andreev would start to go away a little bit?

ANDY RODDICK: Well, he was starting. I mean, he was starting. In the breaker, he missed a couple forehands. The first game of the third set, he missed a couple balls. Like I said, I had a great look at a pass that, you know, I hit -- I mean, I made it, but it was pretty terrible. I could have hit it with authority pretty much anywhere and won the point, and I didn't. You only get so many chances. Those are the chances that you have to take. Those are the chances that I'm not taking.

It's just annoying. I mean, I was Love-40 on another service game late in the second set and missed two just stupid balls. Those are the mistakes that you can't make if you want to go deep in professional tennis tournaments.

Q. Playing three sets as opposed to best of five makes it a different event, makes it a little more challenging?

ANDY RODDICK: Playing three instead of five? How is playing three more challenging than playing five?

Q. You have a chance to come back if you're down.

ANDY RODDICK: No. I don't think playing -- I don't think playing three sets is more difficult than playing five. I mean, five is tougher physically, mentally. See, if I was playing five, I would have just been beginning my frustration out there, so that wouldn't have been good.

Q. Do you sense there's a target on your back?

ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. You know what, if there is, there is. But it's been there for two years. So it's not all of a sudden some new thing. I mean, first I was the punk kid that nobody wanted to lose to. It goes on, so on and so forth. I don't think that's some new thing or valid reason why I'm not going deep in tennis tournaments.

Q. Do you think he was dictating the pace? A lot of the points you were about 15 feet behind the baseline. In the second set, when you had the three breaks, you were two or three feet, when you were dictating?

ANDY RODDICK: Go check yourself. Go look. I think that's wrong. I was forcing early. I was missing from up close. Then when I got into it, just check it out. I was back making him play a little bit.

Q. No loss is ever something to accept. You seem to have taken this one a little bit harder than some of the other ones. If that is the case, how long will it take you to get over something like this?

ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I'm not Miss Cleo. I don't know. I'm just pissed right now. I'm just leveling with you guys. I'm not happy. I'm not going to sit here and put on my fun face. I don't know. I'm not happy. I'm mad with the way I played out there. I was competing well, then just let it get away for no apparent reason. I mean, that's baffling to me. I can only be mad at myself.

Q. Courier famously said the ability to go for a big shot at crunch time is a great skill and ability. Is that something that you think you can work on? How would you approach that? Something that can be worked on in practice? Is it mental?

ANDY RODDICK: What did he say about it?

Q. He said the ability to go for a winner, a big shot.

ANDY RODDICK: Anybody can go for a winner. Going for it and making it is two entirely different things.

Q. I misspoke.

ANDY RODDICK: We all have the ability. You have the ability to go for a winner; doesn't mean it's going to do much.

Q. To execute is what he said.

ANDY RODDICK: Well, yeah. That's pretty obvious. That just seems like a painfully obvious statement to me. I mean, the ability to go for a winner and make it at crunch time...

I think it has to do with confidence more than anything. I think that comes through at big moments. When someone is a confident player, you see it at 5-All when they're executing it.

I think the majority of the players out here have it, but it's just a matter if they're confident and using it at the time. You know, it's there. We've all done it before on big points, we've all played well. It's just a matter of repetition. When you're playing well, it feels like secondhand, it's not a big deal, it's like riding a bike.

Q. Are you confident right now? Are you feeling confident right now?

ANDY RODDICK: Why would I feel confident right now? If that was the case, I don't think we'd be sitting here having this funeral-like press conference. It's just weird because, you know, I don't know, I used to like hit for a half hour and then go eat Cheetos the rest of the day, come out and drill forehands. Now I'm really trying to make it happen, being professional, really going for it, and I miss my Cheetos.

Q. Is it possibly that you're overthinking?

ANDY RODDICK: Of course, there's such a thing as overthinking. You guys have writers block sometimes? No? Well, maybe if you wrote like novels or something and you had to create something, you couldn't just write on what happened.

I'm sure there is.

Q. The last few weeks, you've been discussing consistently maintaining your normal intensity on court versus being a little more calm. That seems to be a work in progress.

ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, for the most part I was fine today until I just, you know, went mental at the end. That's 5-1, so it's not really going to matter. I mean, I could have, you know, reached Gandhi-like peace of mind and it wouldn't have mattered then, 5-1 down.

Like I said, I competed well. That wasn't the problem. I think it's just sticking there, staying the course. I'm just mad because I let it get away from me. You're out there for two hours, and I let it get away from me in five minutes. It's just frustrating. There wasn't really a reason for it because I felt like I was finally -- when I went away, I finally felt like I was starting to get the best of him. That's just unacceptable.

Q. Are you out of practice?

ANDY RODDICK: Out of what?

Q. Out of practice at that kind of thing, having to close it out.

ANDY RODDICK: No. When I lose third round every week, I have a ton of time to practice.

I don't think so. I mean, every question that I'm hearing right now, when you ask something like that, I think back to a time where it wasn't a problem and I'd go in after not playing for three weeks and win a tournament.

For every question you're asking, it's a scenario where, okay, today it was terrible and I didn't do it, and possibly, but it's been done before, and not too long ago. It's tough for me to go hardcore either way.

Q. Is it too early to panic?

ANDY RODDICK: Panic? No, it's not really a panic. I'm going to be fine whether or not I win tennis matches. I'm just mad. I'd love to perform at my best. That's the frustrating part. I'm not -- I have no reason to really panic in the grand scheme of things.

It's just frustrating. I'm irked. I'm really upset about it. You know, it's not fun going into that locker room afterwards, you know, again and feeling that way. It's not something I'm accustomed to. It's not something I want to become accustomed to.

I'm glad that it really kind of hurts me this deep. It sucks short-term. You know, if I was okay with it, I think we'd have more of a problem.

Q. How long will it take before you put it behind you?

ANDY RODDICK: I think that's the same question I answered before when I threw out my Miss Cleo line. I'm going to start predicting things and get a 1-800 number (smiling).

I don't know. I don't know how I'm going to feel when I wake up tomorrow. I promise you, I'm not going to be fun to be around the rest of the day, though. I'm not the captain of Team Fun right now.

Q. Are you at the point where you tear up the game, start serving and volleying, try some different tactics, slice more? Are you at that point at all, change things radically?

ANDY RODDICK: No. Because I said, the thing was, I was finally getting the best of him. I felt like I had kind of found my range, and I was doing well. I think it was more between the ears than something physical. I did come in a lot more. I got exactly the ball I want, and I put it in the net.

I don't know if it's physical at this point. I don't know why I just checked out, you know, in the middle of the damn third set when I feel like I'm finally getting the best of him. I don't know if I'd just go Kamikaze. That's sort of a sign of giving up for me. Bonds is not going to begin laying down sack bunts. By no means am I comparing myself to him, but I don't think you can go totally against the grain of who you are and what you do.

Q. I know you're trying to put it all on yourself that you lost this match, but it's Andreev's biggest win of his career, so there's a story there.

ANDY RODDICK: I'm taking responsibility for my actions. By no means am I taking away from the way Igor played. Like I said, I thought his ball was jumping off the court. I was extremely impressed with the way he served.
He won the match. Let's not mix emotions. They're asking questions about how I feel about myself right now. I'm answering candidly. He's an impressive player. He just beat me. There's no doubt about that.

Q. Is he making a splash right now? Is he somebody to watch out for?

ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, yeah. I mean, yeah, how old is he? 22? One year younger. I mean, he's been around for a couple of years, so it's not like all of a sudden at the beginning of last year we didn't know who he was or we didn't know that he could hit a forehand really hard.

But he's someone who is starting to do it on a consistent basis. You know, it's not a surprising result to see him in the semis. It's like, okay, he's in the semis. There's something to be said for consistency, and he's definitely starting to develop that.

Q. Is his head one of his weapons? His forehand and his head?


Q. Does he have a good head?

ANDY RODDICK: What, does he like throw it at people?

Q. Was he better than you mentally today and is that a weapon, as far as you know?

ANDY RODDICK: I don't know. I don't know if I've seen him play enough. Judging from by the way he went and attacked the net in the middle of the tiebreaker, went Sideshow Bob on it, I don't know. I feel like I had him against the grain a little bit, but I don't know if I can answer that in the affirmative or the negative there. Sorry.

Q. If you don't mind another question.

ANDY RODDICK: I can't wait (smiling).

Q. Is it good to have Marat Safin back? Is it fun?

ANDY RODDICK: Most of the time it's not fun for his opponents. I've always said he's good for the game. He's got personality. He's intriguing. You never know what you're going to get from him. That makes him even more intriguing.

He's a superstar in this game. The more people we have kind of in the same tournaments, the more draws, I don't see how that's ever a bad thing.

Q. Obviously you haven't had time to think about it, but do you think you'll go to Rancho Mirage and check out the courts there before Florida?


Q. Next few days.

ANDY RODDICK: No. Sorry, no. I mean, I don't know.

Q. Maybe utilize the time in between.

ANDY RODDICK: No. I mean, I pretty much don't know how that would go. I'd go look, it would be grass, I'd walk on it, go to Miami. No. Sorry.

"I'm not the captain of Team Fun right now."

-- ANDY RODDICK, captain of sound bites.

It's easy to see why the media enjoys Roddick so much and why his interviews are standing-room only. This latest interview of his was so outstanding that more people were talking about that than the actual match itself.

Other than the LA Times commentary, I think Peter Bodo sums up most of the media's feelings about Roddick quite well in his latest blog entry, "Dead Man Walking":
I don’t know about you, but anyone who can absorb a crushing loss and work references to Gandhi, Sideshow Bob (of The Simpsons fame) and the psychic Miss Clio into his press conference is okay by me. That’s exactly what Andy Roddick did yesterday, after he went missing for the third set of his round-of-16 match with Russia’s Igor Andreev and ended up getting blown out, 6-1 in the third.

[. . .] But it wasn’t like Roddick didn’t have chances [to break Andreev]. He pinned Andreev down, 0-40, in the first game of the third set, after taking the second-set tiebreaker – and the momentum. He let Andreev off the hook and was broken himself in the next game – at love. That’s a meltdown, and Roddick was baffled at how meekly and carelessly he let it slip away. Oh, and petulantly, too. Who wants to be the one to tell Boy Andy that telegraphing his frustration to an opponent only makes the task at hand more difficult?

As he said in his presser: "I don’t know, I mean, it’s only – you know, I’m the only one to blame. I don’t know what the hell I did. It was just like a blur."

We’ve had a good go-round on Andy and his present problems in recent posts, so I think I’ll just add that guy guy's got a huge target on his back, and when you listen to him you’re not sure if he wants to go back to who he was when he won the U.S. Open in 2003, or who that 2003 champ might have become after a ripening and rounding-out. One thing he no longer wants to be is the man haunted by Roger Federer. That got old, fast.

Andy’s media session was guaranteed Top 10 presser for the year.

I’m always amazed at how much gets lost in translation between the live presser and the printed transcript, but I’m pretty sure you’ll find this amusing. Roddick was edgy, self-flagellating, confrontational and unable to resist gallows humor.

Here's what Roger Federer and Marat Safin had to say about Roddick's struggles:
Q. Can you relate at all to the problems that Andy is having?

ROGER FEDERER: I don't think he's in a hole like you might think he is. He's had enough success to know what he needs to do to bounce back. Obviously, I think for him it's disappointing, you know, not to win tournaments, especially in the States. People maybe jump on him a little bit. I don't think he's too concerned. I think he needs to get his game right. That's maybe not been the case too much lately. I think he'll finish the year strong. Sort of hope he keeps his ranking so I'm not going to face off too early with him in the draw.
Q. Well, top 5 level and competing for Grand Slams. You're not going to come back and be a top 30 or top 40 player?

MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, be consistent, no ups and downs. Like this I can manage to get a little bit higher and maybe challenge the big players, which I think is Roddick, he's still there. Nalbandian is improving. He improved his game by winning the Masters Cup last year. Federer, Nadal. Yeah, that's the guys.

I don't know about some of you but personally, I'm very happy to see some semblance of the old Andy Roddick finally return. Hopefully better results are waiting for him in Miami.

Madame Monkey
has some words of encouragement for Andy. link courtesy of Monsieur Q, captain of Team MTF Fun.

Originally posted March 12, 2006

Pacific Life Open: Roddick Settles Some Scores

"I was watching naughty tapes with my brother last week. Made me feel a lot better about my game (smiling)."

on watching some G-rated Disney movie,
or maybe a Mardy Fish match.

R32: Roddick def. Verdasco 6-3 6-4

R64: Roddick def. Acasuso 7-6(5), 6-0

I'm trying real hard not to get my hopes up again but it's impossible not to be just a little bit giddy over these scorelines. I'm giddy watching Andy serve up his first bagel of the year to a very deserving Jose Acasuso (the first bagel Andy's served up since his match with Cyril Saulnier at the SAP Open final last year); giddy over the clean, straight-set wins; giddy over his decent return game, and even more giddy over the fact that Roddick is finally showing flashes of his former glorious self: the confident power hitter who blasts unapologetic forehand winners past his helpless opponents. Even Patrick McEnroe mentioned on last night's telecast that he thinks Roddick may finally be turning a corner. But like the rest of us watching, he is still cautious, taking a "Let's wait and see what happens next" approach.

After all, Roddick did the exact same thing at the Australian Open a few weeks ago: talked a big game, promised he was going to play more aggressively from now on, and after blasting through some easy first round opponents he then suddenly, inexplicably fell to pieces in the face of Marcos Baghdatis. Baghdatis was Andy's first real test at the Aussie Open and he failed with flying colors. A miserable, embarassing effort. I am crossing my fingers that there will be no repeat meltdown at Indian Wells. Roddick's first real test of IW will come in the quarterfinals where he will face either a red-hot confident James Blake, who is eager to get his first win over Andy, or the Agassi-Federer killer/part time hottie, Tommy Haas, whom Andy has never beaten comfortably. From my point of view: as long as Roddick shows up ready to win or lose on his own terms, I will be satisfied with his progress.

OPERATION RESUSCITATION. Is the confident, cocky, power-hitter really back for good this time?

One of the things Andy did during the break with his new coach, brother John Roddick, was review old matches of Andy on tape. Clearly, viewing these tapes had a positive effect on Andy. He claimed that it was easier to grasp what everyone was telling him now that he had a visual to work with. I'm actually surprised to hear that this is something new to Roddick. I had assumed that he reguarly reviewed his own matches for critique. Oh, well. Better late than never, I suppose. From his post-match interview after defeating Acasuso:
Q. What is the best thing that John has brought to your situation?
ANDY RODDICK: You know, instead of always kind of -- it was refreshing last week, like I said, to instead of always looking for "In the now," and "What are you doing," and, "What did you do today wrong," he kind of said, "Okay, let's look back to what you've really done well over the course of your career. Kind of go back to that and maybe find the comfort zone again instead of trying to force something that maybe you're not so comfortable with." It was weird because that seems like something obvious, but something that no one had really been talking about.

Q. And the best thing you learned from going to the tapes?
ANDY RODDICK: Like I said, I don't know if it was a thing that you learned. I think it's just something you look at and you go, "Okay, I get it now." Like I said, there's a big difference between being told something and actually seeing it take place in front of you. For some reason, I felt like that clicked a lot more. I had a terrible day at practice. We went and watched some tapes. Before I'd even gone out to the court the next day, I felt better. Why, I don't know. It just gave me a little bit of peace of mind. It's the not the "be all, end all." It just made me feel a little bit better, to see myself up on a screen doing something well.

Q. Tapes of what?
ANDY RODDICK: I was watching naughty tapes with my brother lastweek. Made me feel a lot better about my game (smiling).

Q.Which one?
ANDY RODDICK:Yellow Fuzzy Ball (laughing). "Which one?" Perverts. You tell me.

THE COACH, BIG BROTHER "FAT" JOHN RODDICK, the one guy who isn't afraid of getting in Andy's face and telling him like it is. Maybe he'll also scare his little brother away from eating the large-sized pizza.

* * *
Roddick in City & Shore Magazine

The lifestyle magazine that nobody can find anywhere finally debuts with Roddick on the cover. Thanks to for the scans.

Roddick's fourth round match with Igor Andreev is the second match scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday). Click on the TV icon to access international TV coverage of the Pacific Life Open. North American viewers, Roddick's match will be LIVE on ESPN2 starting at 11:00am local time (2:00pm EST).

There are free video highlights of the men's and women's matches (Andy's included) at the Pacific Life Open website, too. Check it out!

Originally posted March 9, 2006

Pacific Life Open Preview

After three corrections were made to seedings, the final main draw for Indian Wells is now up. Roddick's draw isn't great but could be a lot worse. He's in the bottom half of the draw (along with most of the other Americans) which means he wouldn't meet with Roger Federer until the final. Provided he gets that far. If he does, I'll be thrilled.

Unfortunately, Taylor Dent withdrew from IW with back problems, so American Bobby Reynolds will take his place. That's one potential trouble player out of Andy's way.

In Andy's quarter are Andre Agassi (seeded 8), James Blake (12), Fernando Gonzalez (13), Tommy Robredo (17), Igor Andreev (24), Tommy Haas (26), and Fernando Verdasco (32). Dangerous floaters come in the form of the giant-serving Ivo Karlovic, Arnaud Clement and Dimitry Tursunov. Two fluke Roddick-killers are also in his quarter: Gilles Muller and Jose Acasuso.

Even though James Blake had just won his second title of the year at the Tennis Channel Open (big congrats to him!), the one player whom everybody likely has their eye on is Tommy Haas. With a new haircut and a renewed confidence in his game, Haas has been blasting his way through matches like he used to do circa 2002 before his injuries. He is 17-3 this year. Haas could meet Blake in the round of 16 and then that winner could meet Andy in the quarterfinal.

Considering Roddick's current slumping form, not many Roddick fans I know are giving Andy much of a chance to even get to the quarterfinals. On paper, Roddick should get to the QFs but that depends on which Roddick shows up: the confident power player or the passive player with the wimpy forehand who second-guesses every one of his shots.

Andy gets a Bye in the first round, and then he needs to settle a score with Jose Acasuso in his second match. Acasuso knocked Roddick out of the French Open last year after Roddick squandered a two-set lead. Pray Roddick doesn't play to Acasuso's backhand anymore.

If he gets past Acasuso, next up for him would be either Fernando Verdasco, who beat Andy twice last year (at Miami, where Roddick had to retire due to a strained hand, and in Rome on clay, where Andy famously called his own ball out, Verdasco said "thank you" and proceeded to beat him in the TB and then go on to win the match) or more likely the 6'10" Croatian giant Ivo Karlovic who has been gaining in confidence of late and is winning most of his TBs (unlike Roddick).

If Roddick can kill the giant, Fernando Gonzalez will be waiting for him next. Crazy meathead Gonzo has no touch to his game, doesn't think about anything, and when he goes for his shots (which is always) he is either completely on or completely off. Roddick's gameplan should be simple: do not stand around and wait for Gonzo to self-destruct. If Andy comes out firing, and puts pressure on Gonzo immediately, then he should win. If he goes the wait-and-see-what-Gonzo-does approach, he will lose. Simple as that.

After that, it will likely be Haas in the quarterfinals. I am not looking further than that right now.

Click here for TV coverage of the matches on ESPN2.
Click here for The Tennis Channel coverage.
Click here for Sky Sports coverage.
Click here for Eurosport coverage.

* * *
Instant Replay to be Used at the US Open

The ATP website reports:
The USTA, the ATP and the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour today announced that electronic line calling technology, along with a player challenge system, will become part of professional tennis in North America. This breakthrough for the sport has been developed to improve officiating for players, while increasing the interest and excitement for in-stadium fans and television viewers.

The 2006 US Open will be the first Grand Slam to introduce instant replay technology and player challenges. The NASDAQ-100 Open will be the first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and ATP event to utilize the technology and on-court challenges. The NASDAQ-100 Open begins on March 22.

The on-court player challenge system for review of line calls will be as follows:
  • Each player will receive two challenges per set to review line calls.
  • If the player is correct with a challenge, then the player retains the same number of challenges.
  • If the player is incorrect with a challenge, then one of the challenges is lost.
  • During a tie-break game in any set, each player will receive one additional challenge.
  • Challenges may not be carried over from one set to another.

Once a player challenges, the official replay will be provided to the chair umpire. In addition, the official replay will be provided simultaneously to the television broadcast and in-stadium video boards, allowing on-site fans and television viewers the opportunity to see the live results of a player challenge.

Hawk-Eye Officiating has been approved for use in professional tennis, and will be implemented at the NASDAQ-100 Open. In addition, tennis’ governing bodies are continuing to explore other line calling technologies. The specific technology to be used at the 2006 US Open and US Open Series will be announced at a later date.

"With the speed and power of today’s game, the time has come for tennis to benefit from new technology - - while adding to the fan experience,” said Arlen Kantarian, Chief Executive, Professional Tennis, USTA. "This new breakthrough - - perhaps the most significant change to the game since the tie-breaker - - will improve line calls for players, while adding excitement and intrigue for fans and TV viewers. This new protocol was developed in partnership with our friends at the ATP and the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, and we look forward to a consistent system that will benefit the entire sport."

"Introducing this technology will make our sport more TV and fan friendly,” said Sony Ericsson WTA Tour CEO Larry Scott. "Given the stakes in professional tennis, the ability to have more accurate line calls that can change a match is great news for players."

Players/Former Players on Instant Replay Technology Coming to Tennis …

Andre Agassi
"In my 20 years in professional tennis, this is one of the most exciting things to happen for players, fans and television viewers. This new technology will add a whole new dimension to the game."

James Blake
"The ball's moving so fast these days that sometimes it's impossible for anyone to see, even a trained official. With instant replay we can take advantage of technology and eliminate human error. Having just a few challenges will make it both fun and dramatic for fans at the same time."

Jim Courier
"Yet another terrific step forward for tennis, something that will benefit players and spectators and bring more intrigue into the game. Based on my experience in the booth with this technology, we'll all be surprised at how good the linesmen's eyes are compared to the players."

Cliff Drysdale
"This would add another dimension for the viewer and the spectator at a tournament. Tennis is singular in the number of close calls you have in a match. Every time the ball hits the ground there is a question, with so many balls landing close to the lines."

John McEnroe
"If anyone's been listening to my commentary the past year then they know I'm in favor of using replay. I think it will make tennis more interesting."

Andy Roddick
"On top of just getting the calls right time after time, which will be nice, it'll add another aspect for TV viewers. If a player has two challenges per set, it will add drama and excitement. This will add to tennis and take out a lot of human error."

Interestingly, both Roger Federer and Marat Safin have come out against using the technology. Safin thinks it will slow the game down. Federer is more of a purist and likes things the way they are now. Personally, I didn't think instant replay could get here fast enough. Hopefully it will cut down on Roddick's habit of needlessly battling with the chair umpire between changeovers. He'll have to find something else to piss him off now.

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