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.


Renee said...

"which means he wouldn't meet with Roger Federer until the semifinal."

With Federer place at the top half of the draw, they wouldn't meet till the finals - if Andy gets that far, of course...

tangerine said...

Thanks for the correction, renee. :)

Yes, if Andy gets to the final, I'll be thrilled.

If Roger crashes out before the final, I'll be ecstatic. ;) j/k

Noelle De Guzman said...

Hey. I hope Andy makes the next round, because my cable channel isn't showing any second round action at all today.

faxmodem said...

"I was watching naughty tapes with my brother last week."-Andy Roddick on his latest off-court activities.

alice said...

i read your blog pretty often but since andy's currently in a slump, i was sure I would hear u rant about his uphill battle back to his 2003 self. but i was pleasantly surprised when i read this. even tho i was disappointed with the lost, reading this added humor, sarcasim and a sense of reality.
it was really long, good, accurate, and informative. u always do a really nice job!!

Renee said...

You know I'm on the same page as you :-)
What did it for me is that, I just don't feel much of an idiot anymore, now that I know he cares about what I care, if that make any sense - lol!

And yes, Keep the Faith

p.s. The City&Shore pics you have up are directly from the City&Shore site, actually

hasina said...

actually i was wondering what took u soo late in making a blog after his defeat(hurt too much? pissed?!)

u were spot on with what u said, at least he is showing he cares, that the best we can ask for now!

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