Thursday, April 13, 2006

Back Home on the Houston Clay

Posted April 16, 2006

"It's always nice to beat Andy, especially here where he's won so many times."

-- TOMMY HAAS. Clay god.

QF: Tommy Haas def. Andy Roddick 6-7 (1) 6-4 6-4

Oh, all right. I guess I'll update this blog. As you know, Andy lost to Tommy in three sets. Some people may be upset that Roddick has once again lost before reaching a semifinal but I say that he didn't do too badly. For him to manage to steal a set off of Tommy on clay (which he'd never done before) is impressive enough for me. Even more impressive is that he could manage to do so while being unable to hold his own serve or convert the 3456788 chances he had to break Tommy. D'oh! Just a bad day at the office for him. Oh, well. Next.

Roddick eliminated by Haas
HOUSTON -- Fifth-seeded Tommy Haas dominated Andy Roddick on clay again, beating the No. 1 seed a fourth straight time in a quarterfinal match Friday night at the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship.

Haas rallied from one set down to win 6-7 (1), 6-4, 6-4 in a matchup that Roddick said could have been the final. Two years ago, it was.

Roddick had two chances to break Haas in the final game, but he was unable to return Haas' serve and got aced on the second opportunity. Haas ended the match two points later. He hit a forehand winner that cleaned the line and a forehand by Roddick hit the tape, but the ball bounced back on his side.

"In some ways you wish it was a final," Haas said. "When you play in front a full crowd that's what you work for. That's why it's fun."

Haas, from Germany, beat Roddick twice on clay in 2002 in Monte Carlo and Rome, and again in 2004 in the final here.

Roddick failed to reach the finals for the first time in six years. The big points of the match were won, not lost, he said.

"This is the first time I've left Houston on Friday," he said, adding that he'd be on his boat on Lake Austin Saturday. "I'm mad but I'm not upset, if that makes sense. There are minimal questions I asked myself after that match."

Roddick led 4-3 in the second set and had two chances on Haas' serve in the eighth game -- the longest of the match -- to set up himself to serve for the match. But Haas stiffened to win the game, then won eight straight points to close out the set, 6-4.

Haas needed just five points to break Roddick in his second service game of the third set to go up 2-1. But Roddick broke right back to level it.

In the seventh game, Haas needed just one break chance to go up 4-3, and he did it in flashy fashion. Haas barely returned the serve to his backhand and Roddick volleyed the ball wide to the other side. The German sprinted the width of the court and hit a down the line winner on the run to go up 4-3.

Haas' passing shots weren't plentiful but they were timely.

"I managed to get there and sneak a few by him which didn't give him confidence to continue serving and volleying," he said. "It's always nice to beat Andy, especially here where he's won so many times."

Roddick watched helplessly as Haas' accurate groundies went past.

"I don't know how many passing shots he hit from 8 feet behind the baseline," he said. "All I can do is put myself in the best position and if he comes up with the goods, he wins."

ESPN had a panic-y headline after Roddick's loss titled, "The Scent of Descent?" which is great for sensationalism reporting but in reality it means nothing. Roddick is right when he said he didn't feel the need to question himself after the Haas match. Why should he? Maybe if he lost to Haas on hardcourt then I would understand a few questions being asked but in all honesty, after what Roddick pulled off at Davis Cup a week ago, I don't see how him losing in three sets to a player who has his number on clay is cause for panic again. He's entitled to an off-day. Not every player can play their best tennis day-in and day-out a la Federer. The only thing I'm sad about is that Andy would not make a record sixth appearance in the Houston final.

Unfortunately, Tommy Haas had to retire from his semifinal match with Mardy Fish the following evening due to an injury to his hand that he had sustained during the Roddick match (my unspoken thought: why couldn't Haas have retired right then instead?). Haas has been having some weird luck this year; playing some great tennis but then falling in later rounds due to sickness or injury. Get well soon, Tommy!

Next on Andy's clay agenda is TMS Rome which doesn't start until May 8, so he has a few weeks to put the rackets away, hang out on his boat, work on his tan, get bored, get fat, and then show up and lose in the first round again. Go Andy! ;)

* * *
Fish Watch

In bigger news, Andy's good friend Mardy Fish actually won the Houston Clay Court Championship title(!) This is his second career ATP title (the first was in Stockholm, 2003) and his second title within a week of winning the Tallahassee Challenger! Huge win for Mardy. He was out for months after wrist surgery and when he returned he couldn't string together two wins in a row for months. In fact, throughout 2005 and 2006 he crashed out in the first or second round of every single tournament until he decided to go the challenger route just a month ago. He ended up winning the Tallahassee Challenger last week, defeating Zack Fleishman in the final, and today he beat Jurgen Melzer in the Houston final. An incredible turnaround for Fish. Understandably, he was speechless upon accepting his trophy. Congratulations to him and welcome back, Mardy!

* * *
Andy Roddick's Mural

Here's an interesting link I stumbled across when I was looking for some artwork. These people designed a mural for Andy who "wanted something to inspire him when he worked out" at his home gym. Very cool.

Originally posted April 13, 2006

"If I'd have dropped that one, I would have been a total dork."

-- ANDY RODDICK. Showing off his football prowess to Vince Young.

R1: Andy Roddick def. Paul Capdeville 6-3 6-2
R2: Andy Roddick def. Oliver Marach 6-3 6-4

I'm still celebrating Andy's Davis Cup performance and now we have to focus on a clay tournament? Gah. Anyway, two days in to the Houston Men's Clay Court Championships and Andy has successfully made the (very quick) transition from grass to clay, which is rather difficult to do. He beat his first and second round opponents in routine fashion, straight sets. In the first match, it was reported that Andy won some key points using drop shots. That's right, drop shots. I'm impressed.

R1: Roddick vs Capdeville
Defending champion Andy Roddick raised his game in the second set and took an easy 6-3, 6-2 victory over Paul Capdeville of Chile Tuesday night in the first round of the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship.

Roddick took charge in the fifth game of the second set. After a forehand error by Roddick put the score at deuce, Roddick hit consecutive drop shot winners to break Capdeville for a 3-2 lead. Capdeville won only four more points in the final three games.

Roddick won it at the first match point when Capdeville could not return a serve, boosting his record on clay in Houston to 24-2 over the past six years.

"You come in, you know the setup, it feels like home," Roddick said. "You get into your routine and it definitely helps."

Roddick started the match by losing his serve but quickly recovered. With the score at 30-30, Roddick hit a net chord that bounced out of bounds and then sent a backhand wide to lose the opening game.

"I felt pretty good all the way around, except for that first game," Roddick said.

Roddick broke back in the second game on Capdeville's forehand error and Roddick broke again in the fourth game, allowing Capdeville only one point in the game for a 2-1 lead.

Roddick is looking for his first ATP tournament victory this year, although he won singles matches over Nicolas Massu and Fernando Gonzalez of Chile last week to advance the United States to the Davis Cup semifinals against Russia. The Davis Cup matches were played on grass.

"I felt pretty good coming off of last weekend," Roddick said. "The transition coming off grass last week to clay was pretty evident in this match but I thought if I could get through this one I'd be all right."

Roddick has reached the clay court tournament finals five straight years with three titles, including last year's 6-2, 6-2 victory over Sebastien Grosjean of France.

After the Capdeville match, Andy threw a football around with the Texas Longhorns' Quarterback Vince Young:
Vince Young shows off arm

Though his mother was a fine tennis player, Texas Longhorns hero Vince Young says he never tried to play the game except casually on occasion as a kid. Nonetheless, as Jim McIngvale's invited guest, Young made a predictably big splash at Westside on Tuesday night, throwing a few passes between the Andy Roddick and James Blake matches.

Young, expected to be a first-round pick in the NFL draft later this month, made an appearance at the tournament and played toss with Roddick.

Young threw one of them perfectly to Roddick, who ran a length-of-the-court pattern.

"It was easy, I could put my hands there and it fell in," Roddick said. "It felt soft. I was afraid I’d drop it. If I had I'd have been a total dork but he put it right on the money. I'm just glad I could come up with it."

He, in turn, blasted a serve past Young, just to show him his stuff. Having become an Austin resident when he's not globe-trotting on the ATP Tour, Roddick is gradually being transformed into a Longhorns fan after rooting for Nebraska (where he was born) since childhood.

Roddick's grab, by the way, meant $10,000 to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Texas ex McIngvale, who owns the tennis club and Gallery Furniture, convinced Young to fling the football around for a good cause. For every "completion," Mattress Mack told Young he'd donate 10 grand to the cancer center. McIngvale ended up being on the hook for $40,000.

Triple Olympic medalist Chad Hedrick of Spring also made a Gallery Furniture Stadium appearance.

I found some videos of Andy with Vince Young over at YouTube. Go check them out!

R2: Roddick vs Marach
Roddick escaped one break point in the sixth game of the second set but finally held on Maranch's backhand error. Roddick ended the match with an ace. Roddick hit 70 per cent of his first serves.

"I was a little low on energy all day," Roddick said. "I wasn't expecting back to backs but I understand why. I'm glad to have a day off before I play Tommy (Haas) on Friday."

Roddick lost to Haas in the finals of the 2004 clay court event. Roddick says he's ready for a good performance.

"I'm looking forward to it," Roddick said. "Tommy's been playing great. I feel like I'm playing well, I've turned the corner and this will be a great test. He's in form and on a surface he likes. I want to play well against an elite player."

So Andy will next face his friend Tommy Haas in the quarterfinals. Boo! Why couldn't this be the final? Haas had beaten Andy in the Houston final in 2004 so he's perfectly capable of doing so again here. In fact, Haas has a 4-3 lead over Roddick and of the four times he's beat him, three were on clay. Andy has his work cut out for him but it will be an excellent test of his newfound confidence. If Andy managed to beat Tommy on clay, it would be huge. Haas would also be the highest-ranked player (27) Roddick has beaten this year. Should be a good match either way. Good luck, Andy!

Showing just how tough it is to make the transition to clay, his DC teammate James Blake crapped out again and lost in the first round to Antony Dupois 7-6 (7-2), 3-6, 6-1. For Blake to hit the skids now is a concern because the clay and grass seasons are starting now and these are his worst surfaces. I would hate to see him lose so many early round matches which would affect his confidence and eventually his newfound top ten ranking. He wouldn't be able to pick up any significant points until the US Open Series started.

Roddick continues Mastery in Houston
Roddick dominated Paul Capdeville of Chile on his way to a rather easy 6-3, 6-2 win. The American was shaky at the start, losing serve and trailing 0-1, but Roddick broke back in the second game and managed another break in game four. From there, the defending champ coasted towards the finish line.

Things didn't work out nearly as well for Blake. The Yonkers, NY native dropped his first set to Frenchman Antony Dupuis and managed to fight back in the second frame. But, Blake had nothing left for the third set and fell 7-6 (7-2), 3-6, 6-1.

"The courts were great, the balls were great, and the fans were great," Blake said. "No excuses. (Roddick) had to make the same adjustment. Antony served very well. These guys are all so good you have to be on top of your game every night."

"It's tough to do from Davis Cup the highs and lows and come to a different surface,'' Blake said. "It's part of the job but I think I'm getting better at it. He served great. That took me out of my rhythm.''

In another upset, unseeded American Mardy Fish jettisoned eighth-seeded Argentine Juan Monaco 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (7-5).

Huge win for Mardy Fish, to defeat a seeded clay-courter on Mardy's worst surface! Very impressive. Mardy's decision to play the Tallahassee Challenger a week earlier is paying dividends for him. He won the challenger which not only boosted his ranking by 49 spots but also his confidence. Mardy was ranked as high at 17 before his world fell apart.

Robby Ginepri has been struggling something awful all year long and now he too has crashed out in the first round at Houston, losing 6-4 6-4 to Spanaird Alberto Monanes.

* * *
Video and audio files
Because I was on a Davis Cup high this weekend, I made a .mov file of the fifth set of Andy's match with Olivier Rochus at the 2005 DC in Belgium from last November. It was a great five-set match but the last set was a doozy because Team Belgium got hooked on a bad line call.

The new Lacoste ad that previewed on their website a few days ago is now appearing in full during the WTA's Family Circle Cup matches on ESPN2.

I made a .wav file from one of Andy's SNL skits ("The Governess") and put it up in my .wav file gallery.

Audio interview with Andy after he clinched the Davis Cup tie vs Fernando Gonzalez is over here on the Davis Cup website.

The new USTA website is looking great and they have audio and video files from Davis Cup as well.

Lots of photos and videos from Davis Cup are also available on the website.

Speaking of Davis Cup, if you need a laugh check this news article out. Actually, I don't think it would even qualify as being a "news article", the website itself doesn't look very reputable. Anyway, I can't believe writing as bad as this is actually published; it has to be one of the worst pieces of writing/news/opinion/commentary that I've ever read. I'm actually embarassed for the guy who wrote it. It reflects badly not only on him but on the website he writes for and worst of all, on Chile itself. Chile needs to accept the fact that they lost Davis Cup fair and square and they should look forward to next year. Wow. And people complain about how biased the US media is? Mm hmm.


Anonymous said...

I agree I read the above article this morning talk about bad losers! I am going to see the Roddick/Haas match oh boy am nervous and excited at the same time as u said why couldn't this be the final, anyway should be a good match either way.

Anonymous said...

so andy is skippin monte carlo

how does he expect to do well in europe against good clay court players when he skips tourneys and by the time he comes most of the top players have that extra week of tennis played...

he always misses this MS but does houston( where the field is weak)....its not like he has played a lot of tennis this year?

ellen said...

" he has a few weeks to put the rackets away, hang out on his boat, work on his tan, get bored, get fat, and then show up and lose in the first round again."

Oh my god that's so hilarious....

tangerine said...

anonymous #1, I hope you enjoyed the Haas-Roddick QF even though Andy lost. Seeing these guys play live is all worth it. :)

anonymous #2, Andy has been skipping Monte Carlo for years so it's nothing new. He's scheduled to play Rome and Hamburg.

Ellen, LOL. But it's true!

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