Thursday, April 06, 2006

Davis Cup: How Andy Got His Groove Back

Updated April 10, 2006

"I don't care if I don't win another match all year as long as we win the Davis Cup." — Andy Roddick, selfish patriot.

1st Singles: Gonzalez  def. Blake 6-7(5) 0-6 7-6(2) 6-4 10-8
2nd Singles: Roddick def. Massu 6-3 7-6(5) 7-6(5)
Doubles: Bryan/Bryan def. Capdeville/Garcia 6-1 6-2 6-4
1st Reverse Singles: Roddick def. Gonzalez 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-2
2nd Reverse Singles: Capdeville def. Blake 6-3 6-4



The hardest part about updating this blog is knowing where to start. It's easier when Roddick's in a funk because then I can just pick up the rant where I last left off. But when he suddenly makes a wonderful turnaround in one match and then proceeds to blow away all doubts and questions in the next match, my mind is racing with so many thoughts that I spend a lot of time trying to get them organized before putting it up on the blog. I can offer up a visual as to what my face looked like throughout most the Davis Cup weekend:

I guess we'll start with the second rubber, Roddick vs Nicolas Massu. Although I don't have much to write about because Blake's five-hour choke-a-thon with Gonzalez ate up most of my VCR tape and I was not able to record Roddick's match. I got home in time to watch the last set though. I regret not taping it. I never realized there could be so much drama with only three games left in the match.

My first reaction was, "Wow, the grass-hating Massu took the No. 2 grass God Roddick to two tie-breaks." And then I remembered that Roddick was somewhere in the middle of a career slump, that Massu went into this match with a 2-0 record over Roddick, and that the Chileans are renowned for playing out of their minds when it comes to Davis Cup. It got quite hairy in the third set, as the sun began to recede and Roddick still could not break Massu after eight chances. But he did play a terrific tiebreak. Down 3-4, he zipped two service winners. After Massu hit a reflex half volley winner to 5-5, Roddick didn't shake and saw Massu miss an easy forehand. On match point, He then spun in a powder-puff 77mph second serve, which Massu flew wide. His own stunned reaction (did you read what his lips were saying?: "Holy shit!") afterwards told the story. He later laughed and said that he hasn't hit a serve that slow since he was 12. But that serve changeup at the end was brilliant. Nobody saw it coming, least of all Massu who obviously was expecting another 140mph bomb to come at him, as is Roddick's customary way of putting someone away. The melonball he threw at Massu came out of nowhere and Massu reached for it awkwardly and ended up overhitting it. Tee hee! During the oncourt interview, Roddick thanked somebody (I didn't catch his name) for the serve advice.

NICOLAS MASSU. No clever photo captions here, I just need to break up the paragraphs.

But before the 77mph powder-puff serve was that scary fall Andy took that made his legs splay all over the place in weird positions. I couldn't tell if that loud gasp I heard came from me or the crowd. And then there was a hushed silence as Roddick stayed down on the ground a bit longer than he normally does. Then the heartbeat reached my throat and I thought, Oh no, not an injury. Please not an injury. What rotten luck. By this time, DC captain Dean Goldfine had rushed to Andy's side. He eventually got up and waved Goldfine away from him. He looked a bit stiff and limped a bit as he walked around but he shook it off and seemed fine right afterwards. Big sigh of relief. A few minutes later, Massu had his own injury scare when it looked like he strained his knee on the dewy grass, but he also worked the kinks out and everything was okay.

I wish I had seen the match from the beginning. I knew there would be hell to pay when Blake choked in the first rubber. I could envision Andy stalking out on the court with that "Someone's going to die now" look on his face and then he would be chomping at the bit, just waiting to get a piece of Massu. Nothing personal against Massu, of course. But some wrongs need to be righted. It was Andy's turn to get Blake's back after Blake had done the same for him in their DC match with Romania several weeks' earlier when Andy dropped the first rubber. "I'm just glad I could do the same for him [Blake]. We really worked together as a team." Roddick had said. And that monster 150mph opening serve was a good indication that he was determined to put Massu in his place from the get-go.

My favorite part of this rubber (other than Andy's "Christmas came early!" reaction when he won) was reading Massu's post-match interview where he said that he was frustrated with Roddick's game because he "couldn't read his serve." Wow. The most predictable, one-dimensional player on tour is suddenly unreadable. Imagine that. /sarcasm off

Fourth Rubber: Roddick vs Gonzalez

Nobody wants to play Fernando Gonzalez.

"Gonzo" is one of those crazy, mercurial "dangerous floaters" that we keep hearing about and never quite understand what the words "dangerous floater" mean until we see him in action. You certainly don't want to play him when he's "on" because he'll just blast you off the court. And you don't want to catch him on an "off day" either because then you'll never know when he'll stop sucking and suddenly turn back "on" and then proceed to blast you off the court again. Then he'll call for a trainer to massage something. Then he'll go back to mishitting several balls out of the stadium and so you relax a bit but then the next thing you know you're down a break because he just blew you off the court again while you weren't looking. You won't be happy if you see him on your side of the draw. You won't be happy if you see him on the other side of the draw. There's no happy medium with this guy. No rhythm. No breaks. He's no fun to play.

Gonzalez started the match red hot, serving brilliantly past Roddick's forehand, whacking his forehand and never allowing the American into his service games. Roddick was having a terrible time getting returns back into the court, much less putting much on the ball.

The Chilean broke Roddick to 2-1 in the first set by rocketing back a 141-mph bullet by Roddick that the American couldn't handle. He never looked back, holding at love to win the set when Roddick framed a forehand into the grass about a foot in front of him

With the lively contingent of Chilean fans buzzing, Roddick struggled to stay in the second set, but began into serve much better and was quite secure around the net. His backhand slice was biting and he maintained his patience even though Gonzalez was untouchable with his serves down the tee.

In the final game of the set, the Chilean finally gave him a peek when he choked a backhand volley at 15-30. Roddick then missed an easy forehand return, but Roddick then charged the net and Gonzalez's forehand passing attempt clipped the top of the net and fell wide.

El Loco Gonzo

Gonzalez's meltdown included screaming at the chair umpire, getting the Chilean fans riled up, cursing at other fans, mocking the linespeople, an impromptu massage therapy session, fake-out serving, throwing several balls back at the ball kids and then asking for more balls, destroying a racket which earned him a warning for racket abuse, and finally pleading with, stalking, and intimidating a lineswoman who, in his mind, made an erroneous call against him. Not his finest Davis Cup moment.

Gonzalez' meltdown started at the beginning of the third set when Roddick broke him in the first game. This is where Andy finally came into his own and Gonzalez began to self-destruct. The beauty of the Gonzalez match was that we didn't get just flashes of the old Andy Roddick in action, but now he was in full-flight, an entire weekend's worth, much to brother John Roddick's delight, and to the distress of Chilean DC captain Hans Gildemeister who had openly expressed his hope that Roddick would still be in his slump by the time their quarterfinal rolled around.

When this rubber was about to start I was almost afraid that Roddick would collapse with stomach cramps and start vomiting again from the excitement and stress, as he had during the first round DC match with Romania in February. For Roddick to play his best, he needs to maintain a balance between controlled aggression (but not hyper and erratic) and being patient (but not passive); for him to recognize when and how he's getting beat, but to not panic, or mentally crap out. After he dropped the first set to Gonzalez, who came ready to win, Roddick did all of this. Normally when he loses the first set, I start to panic. Oh crap, he's going to pull a Sasha Cohen again and mentally check out now. But when I saw that he wasn't panicing, I relaxed. Gone was the negative body language and defeated deer-in-the-headlights look on his face. For the first time in a long while I could see the confidence in him and I knew that finally, he was starting to believe in himself and his game again.

What did we see? We saw vintage Roddick: the rocket serve on display, his powerful forehand back in action (and working this time), painting the lines, hitting crazy angles, coming into the net and hitting volleys that didn't sink into the net, athletic dives for stab volleys a la Boris Becker that kept him in points, all of which contributed to Gonzalez's growing frustration and eventual meltdown towards the end of the match. Even better: for once, Roddick was the calm eye of the storm while chaos erupted all around him, both from the Chilean fans who hurled verbal abuse at him and from the Chilean captain who wouldn't stop jumping up and down and giving the chair ump an earful and distracting Roddick while he served. Besides exchanging a few choice words with some unruly fans and with the Chilean captain (at one point, Roddick mocked his constant complaining to the chair ump), Andy for the most part maintained his cool and stayed inside his bubble. When Gonzalez again asked for the trainer and got another leg massage during a change-over, Roddick didn't get pissy and impatient like he usually does. He just sat there and kept his head down, holding his concentration. He was in the zone. And when he's in the zone, he's unstoppable. We haven't seen him like this in ages.

"Andy didn't have a good year," Chilean DC captain Hans Gildemeister said. "I did hope that Andy didn't get a comeback in these two days. I think he's coming back. I know he's going to come back sometime in the year, but not this week. Unfortunately for us, he came back on Friday and Sunday. He played his best tennis I think today for a long time. I think he played a very good match. I think Fernando made Roddick play his best tennis of the year."

"I was very impressed by Andy, the way he corralled his energy. . . It was a big boost for himself as far as the rest of the year, and he answered a lot of questions about his game." — Patrick McEnroe, proud papa.

Match Statistics

On the match, Roddick was five of six on break point conversions, won an impressive 75% of his second serves to just 35% from Gonzalez, and totaled 36 winners from the net. He also hit 50 winners with 17 unforced errors, and had 14 aces and no double faults. He won 77 percent of points on his first serve and 74 percent of points on his second serve.

By the time Roddick's match with Gonzalez ended and he was doing his own version of Slip 'n Slide on the grass in celebration, I was doing my own celebration dance in the living room which may have looked something like this:

If you want to send a note of congratulations to the USA Davis Cup team, you can e-mail them here

Waiting for Team USA in the DC semifinals: Russia. On their home turf. On clay. Yeah. Good luck to us.

Whatup, James?

In contrast to Andy's inspired play this weekend, James Blake flunked out in both of his matches (one of them a dead rubber), and looked nothing like the Top Ten player he had become of late. In the first rubber against Fernando Gonzalez, he cruised through two and half sets and was serving for the match at 5-4 in the third. But at 30-15, the matched turned thanks to an overruled line call in the Chilean's favor. The next thing I know, Fernando's being carried away by his teammates like the hero who slayed Goliath. It was a horrendous choke from Blake. And an impressive performance for Gonzalez, who was playing away from home, battling cramps and trying to fend off one of the hottest players on the ATP Tour.

"Fernando is dangerous no matter what," Blake said. "He started playing like the Fernando I've come to know, the one that can hurt you in an instant He was going after his shots and they were going in."

"Roddick saves Blake in second DC match" []
James Blake may be the hottest US player this year, but he still can't manage to win a five-setter.

In a seesaw match that highlighted the greatness of Davis Cup clashes, Chile's Fernando Gonzalez pulled out an incredible comeback and stunned Blake 6-7(5), 0-6, 7-6(2), 6-4, 10-8 to give Chile a 1-0 lead in their Davis Cup quarterfinal on Friday.

Blake looked like he was going to win the contest walking away when he held a 5-3 lead in the third set, but he received a tough call when trying to serve out the match at 5-4, 30-15 and lost his edge. Gonzo then ratcheted up his forehand, served brilliantly and played very solid from his weaker backhand side.

Blake played way too passively during key moments, didn't volley particularly well and served miserably at key moments. While he fought very hard and pulled off some amazing shots, the fifth set seemed to be all uphill for the 26-year-old, even though he held a 4-1 lead and played a terrific game to break back to 6-6 when Gonzo tried to serve it out.

Blake on Chile's gamesmanship: 'bush league'

But, in the end, it was greater intensity of Gonzalez and captain Hans Gildemeister that rule the day, as they argued numerous calls in the deciding set and managed to take two medical timeouts for the same injury during the set even when only one is allowed.

Even though he saluted Gonzalez for the victory, Blake accused them of gamesmanship.

"I thought in the past maybe I've had girlfriends that complained a lot, but he took that to a whole new level complaining when they get called," Blake said of Gildemeister. "When you take one injury timeout and get your leg rubbed, then five or six games later get the same leg rubbed and say now it's cramping, and before it wasn't, I mean, you tell me what that is," Blake said. "You think that belongs in the Major Leagues or in the bush leagues? That's Davis Cup. That's what they have to live with. That's not me. I do my best to play fairly and go about my business out there, worry about my side of the court. I couldn't worry about that during the match. If they can explain that any better, be my guest. It doesn't seem like the way Dwight Davis wrote it up."

Nonetheless, Blake still could have won the match, but the Chilean was much more secure in his service games and closed the contest out by kissing the corners with his heater four straight times.

The normally congenial Blake wasn't thrilled when he told of his lousy 0-7 five-set record.

"You want to kick my dog, too, while you're here?" he said. "It's not a whole lot of fun to lose those. I'm doing my best. I haven't won them. I was two points from beating Andre [Agassi at the US Open]. He hit two unbelievable winners. I was two points away from it today. He got a miss-hit winner and then played a couple great points. I wish I could come in here and say there's some reason, that it's nerves or something I could fix really quickly, my body gave out, anything. You know what, it's guys playing well. Sometimes, especially when you're down, a guy like Fernando and a guy like Andre, when they start swinging from the hips, swinging for the fences, they're so good, so talented, it's going to go in a lot of times. They went in."

Up next for James is singles duty (seeded No. 2) and doubles duty with Mardy Fish at the US Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston, Texas.

Whatup, Matt Cronin?

Nice to see's Matthew Cronin eating a little bit of crow this morning. I am referring to Cronin's buried-paragraph a few days earlier about how he got into a fight with Patrick McEnroe over McEnroe's unshakable belief in a struggling Andy Roddick. Cronin called Andy "the so-called leader of the team." After Roddick's inspired performance this weekend (and Blake's washout) it looks like he's changed his tune. Andy is now 7-0 in closing out ties for Team USA. If that's not a leader, what is?

"The Closer is back: Roddick leads US to win over Chile" []
The Davis Cup closer came through again and maybe these two huge victories over Chile will give Andy Roddick the confidence he needs to regain his elite status.

In a steely, inspiring performance against a fired-up Fernando Gonzalez, Roddick defeated the Chilean 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 to give the United States an unassailable 3-1 victory over the South American nation in their Davis Cup quarterfinal on Sunday.

"I said I wanted to [close] and I know I have the ability to," Roddick said. "I feel like that's just coincidence because I always play the first on the second day, and more often than not we have a lead going into that day. It feels good. I hope can I keep it going I'm glad. I'm just glad I could get it to 7-0 and not 6-1." [. . .]

Even though he has struggled at times during his six year Davis Cup career, Roddick is amazing 7-0 when given the opportunity to close out ties. He's beaten some patsies before to accomplish the feat. But that was not the case on Sunday, as Gonzalez was riding a huge wave of confidence after upsetting James Blake on Friday and Chilean captain Hans Gildemeister had predicted a Chilean victory. [. . .]

His sordid season prior to this tie that included only one visit to an ATP semi has now been saved in some ways, as he stood up and beat two fine players Nicolas Massu and Gonzalez back to back.  He's still the leader of the US team, even if Blake (who fell to Gonzalez on Friday) is having a better year overall.

"This has definitely been the best weekend for me so far [this year]," he said. "I've kind of been looking for something good. You know, maybe this was it. I came up pretty big this weekend, especially today. Fernando playing lights-out the first couple sets, just kind of stuck around and really found a way. … Even if it's just one weekend, I'm not going to get too overexcited over two good matches under intense situations. I felt good about the way I performed, and especially under pressure this week."

"This has definitely been the best weekend for me so far. I’ve been looking for something good. Maybe this was it." — Andy Roddick. It was a good weekend for his fans, too.

Roddick clay avatar created by tangerine.

Up Next: Andy's Favorite Surface, Clay

Or, America's Kryptonite, if you prefer.

Andy will join his buddies Blake and Fish at the US Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston, Texas (seeded No. 1) where he is defending champion. After that he is scheduled for Rome (May 8) Hamburg (May 15) and finally Roland Garros (May 29). Ironically, his first round opponent in Houston will be Paul Capdeville, whom Blake had just lost to in the DC fifth dead rubber match this past weekend. Avenge James, Andy!

And why do I get the feeling that we'll be seeing a lot of that pesky Fernando Verdasco on Andy's side of the draw this clay season? Deja vu.

News Items:
• "Roddick's post-match interview after defeating Gonzalez and clinching the Davis Cup tie" [ASAPSports]
• "That which destroys you" [Steve Tignor]
• "US rides Roddick to victory" [The Desert Sun]
• "Roddick, US, avoid a pothole" [LA Times]
• "Momentum building for Roddick?" [The Desert Sun]
• "James Blake is primed to finally beat Andy Roddick" [The Houston Chronicle]
• "Is Roddick ready to bust out of rut?" [Fox Sports]
• "Roddick wins on favorite surface" [ESPN]
• "US Davis Cup team riding wave of confidence" [Fox Sports]
• "Roddick propels Americans into Davis Cup semifinals" [NY Sun]

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Originally posted April 6, 2006

Davis Cup: USA vs Chile Quarterfinal this Weekend

"No one likes Andy." — James Blake, joking to the media about his Davis Cup teammate.

Blake to lead the USA into battle

James Blake will be first up for USA in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas quarterfinal against Chile in Mission Hills on Friday. He will face Chilean No. 1 Fernando Gonzalez in the first rubber, before Andy Roddick takes to the court for the hosts against Nicolas Massu.

Davis Cup draw
R1 - James Blake (USA) v Fernando Gonzalez (CHI)
R2 - Andy Roddick (USA) v Nicolas Massu (CHI)
R3 - Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan (USA) v Fernando Gonzalez/Nicolas Massu(CHI)
R4 - Andy Roddick (USA) v Fernando Gonzalez (CHI)
R5 - James Blake (USA) v Nicolas Massu (CHI)

Davis Cup TV schedule

U.S. viewers: If you are one of the lucky few who have The Tennis Channel, click here for their Davis Cup coverage which begins Friday, April 7.

The Outside Life Network (OLN) will broadcast the USA-Chile quarterfinals this weekend as well. Click here to view their program schedule.

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

Click here for the Official Davis Cup website.


"An interview with the USA Davis Cup Team" [USTA]
TIM CURRY: Thanks, everyone, for joining us for the pre-draw press conference with the US team. We'll open the floor for questions.

Q. Dean, can you talk about running the team this week and what Patrick's status is going to be for the week.

DEAN GOLDFINE: Right now, obviously, it doesn't look like Patrick is going to make it. Still waiting to kind of find out what happens, obviously, with the baby.

But in terms of running the team, I mean, it's pretty much the same as it always is. I've been, obviously, to quite a few ties with these guys and see how Patrick runs the show. So it's pretty much, you know, status quo.

Q. Can you guys talk about being with Dean so far up to this point? I know there's not been much time, but...

ANDY RODDICK: Why is everybody looking at me?

JAMES BLAKE: You know you're going to get all the questions anyway, we're just going to get you started. What do you think?


JAMES BLAKE: I mean, he's doing a great job. Obviously, like he said, he's seen Patrick a ton of times. He also gets along with all of us very well, except I don't know about Andy. It's tough to get along with Andy. None of us really get along with him (laughing).

ANDY RODDICK: You know they're going to write that.

JAMES BLAKE: Of course they are. It will be in like People magazine next week.


JAMES BLAKE: Or, yeah, US Weekly, "No one likes Andy."

But Dean is doing a great job. He's extremely laid-back and an extremely knowledgeable coach, which I think fits great with our team. He's there to help if we need it. He also knows not to probably go overboard; we all have our own coaches, we all know kind of what we're working on in our games, and he just is there to help keep our focus there this week and keep our spirits high, I guess.

Q. Andy?

JAMES BLAKE: They were asking you.

ANDY RODDICK: I wanted you to start, though.

I guess, in all fairness, Patrick came to us and said, you know, "My wife's due right around the second-round tie." I think this was after the first-round tie. He said, "I really don't know if I'm going to make it."

He asked all of us individually who we thought would be a good stand-in to kind of run the week and be on the court with us. We all said Dean. So, you know, it was kind of what we wanted.

It is something that we're all comfortable with.

Q. The same question for the brothers.

BOB BRYAN: I mean, for us, Dean's perfect because he's been at three or four ties, he's helped us on the doubles court, and he knows doubles. He's coached Connell and Galbraith, a good American team, and I think a Canadian player. He's worked with MacPhie and Knowles and a lot of great doubles players.

MIKE BRYAN: Todd Martin.

BOB BRYAN: Todd Martin, too. So he can help us a lot on the doubles court. He knows what he's doing.

MIKE BRYAN: He also put in a lot of work last week. He watched all of our matches, watched all the Chilean matches. He's put his work in. He's helped us a lot on the court so far. He's really positive and, you know, he's good.

Q. James, how pumped up you are after your performances since Indian Wells for this match?

JAMES BLAKE: I'm feeling good. Definitely excited to be back in the same area where I did well a couple weeks ago. Obviously, it's a different surface. I still feel extremely confident given the success I've had in the last few weeks, playing well in Vegas, Palm Springs and Miami. I'm riding a wave of confidence, and hopefully it will continue here.

These guys are here to help me, and I'm here to help them, so I think we've got a pretty confident team overall. Looking forward to the week.

Q. You guys have been together for three ties. How much does the continuity help now that you have a different captain for this tie?

ANDY RODDICK: I mean, we say "different captain," but Dean was the assistant the whole year in 2004 when we went to the final. You know, we're still able to talk to Patrick on the phone a lot.

So, to me, I mean, it feels like business as usual. You know, I think we're still running the same practice schedules and all that. I've had a little bit of interaction with Patrick as well in the last couple of days.

But I think it's good that it's just, including Dean, we're all familiar with each other and the Davis Cup situation and how the leadup week is supposed to go. So I think that helps a little bit.

Q. I know your thoughts are on Chile, but I am from Croatia. I would like to ask Andy, the Croatian team, what do you think about their chances? Do they look more steady or stable this year?

ANDY RODDICK: They're certainly one of the favorites, you know, that's for sure. They showed they're capable of pulling it off last year. You know, they've only gotten better since last year.

That being said, I think, you know, as evidenced by us last year, I mean, we had a great team on paper, you know. So anything's possible in Davis Cup, and a lot of it depends on home ties and away ties.

But they're certainly on the short list of favorites, that's for sure.

Q. Andy, sorry for this question, it's about your career, not Davis Cup. Horacio de la Pena, did you consider him at some time a possibility for you?


Q. Yes, as a coach.


Q. Never?

ANDY RODDICK: No. I like Horacio as a person, but it was never really of any consideration. First and foremost, he was with a player, you know. So, no, I never really thought about that.

Q. James and Andy, is the court as fast as you wanted it? I ask because the Chilean players are feeling not so uncomfortable on this surface.

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, I mean, it feels great to me. I think any time getting on a grass court is going to be pretty fast, especially a lot faster than the hard courts we've been hitting on. Feels good. It's just going to be a matter of time getting used to it. I feel comfortable on it. I think that's good. It's not a huge adjustment from the hard courts. It's still quicker. You have to change your game a little more, the movement's different.

I'm happy for them that they're comfortable, and I think we're pretty comfortable as well on the grass. Especially, Andy, he's always very comfortable when he's playing on grass.

ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I feel fine.

Q. Andy, in your opinion, what is the key to this tie?

ANDY RODDICK: Getting the three matches. Getting three wins, any which way. Doesn't matter who wins, you know. Doesn't matter if it's 3-2, doesn't matter if it's 3-0. Doesn't matter. You know, any tie, it's the same goal: You have to win three matches.

I feel, you know, obviously, we want to put ourselves in a good position early because Bob and Mike have been great for us in Davis Cup, so I think it's a huge, huge thing for us to have them on board.

But we just want to win three matches. This is the one time of the year where a lot of us can be completely selfless. The team goal is get the three. Doesn't matter who wins, we just want to get there.

Q. It looks like Chile will just go with Massu and Gonzalez. Do you have a certain strategy preparing for a two-man team in terms of taking advantage of your depth?

JAMES BLAKE: Is that a captain question, or...?

Q. Captain question, yes.

JAMES BLAKE: There you go.

DEAN GOLDFINE: Captain (laughing).

No, I don't think you look at it any differently. I mean, obviously, it's going to be a lot tougher on them from the standpoint that those guys have to go out there and play singles on Friday, then come back and play the doubles Saturday, and then go back out there and play another match on Sunday. So, obviously, you know, it's a bit of a challenge from them.

But as we saw from the Olympics a couple years ago, these guys, especially Massu, is capable of superhuman feats, I mean, in terms of being able to be out on the court a ridiculous amount of time and coming back the next day and playing great tennis. I don't think that's going to affect our preparation whatsoever.

Q. James, you have all the tools to do well, but you're not as accomplished on grass as on hard courts. What do you think you need to do on grass to have a little more success?

JAMES BLAKE: Well, I think I actually have -- I just haven't played on it a lot to have the results.

But also I think when I was starting out in my career, there were a lot of things -- I mean, I didn't have success on any surface to begin with. With grass, I was kind of figuring out my game on grass. I was trying to change it too much.

I think a lot of guys - at least for me, watching it growing up - you see guys coming in all the time, serving and volleying, chipping and charging, we were watching Pete too much because he was good at that, obviously. I just felt like I always needed to be attacking, always getting in to net, really changing my game. I used to change string on grass, just completely changed tactics. I think that actually was detrimental to me, instead of playing my game with minor adjustments.

Last year I felt like I did that. Playing one bad match at Wimbledon; otherwise, I felt like I played well at Queen's. Newport, the grass is completely different, so that was just kind of a bit of a Craps shoot there.

But I feel like I've gotten a lot more confidence from having a little bit of success at Queen's last year, and just the way I'm hitting the ball now is totally different. The confidence I have on the court, for grass courts, it makes a big difference. I don't think I need to adjust as much as I used to, and I think that's going to be the biggest goal here.

Q. Andy, you and James are top 10 players. You have another top 10 in Andre Agassi. Do you think the chance to win the title is as big as the previous year?

ANDY RODDICK: Well, we were in the same position last year, to be honest, with Andre, myself and the boys. There was no difference. We were all top 10. Like I said earlier, I mean, anything's possible in Davis Cup, and especially with the history of Fernando and Nicolas playing for their country, whether it be the World Team Cup in Germany, which they've had a lot of success at. Obviously, I was sitting in the first row at the Olympics watching, and that was amazing.

I think you take to a certain extent what happens on the ATP Tour and kind of put it to the side a little bit when it comes to Davis Cup, because it's a totally different animal.


Debra said...

Finally I found the right place to comment. This is my favorite entry of yours. Beautifully written!! I can feel your excitement jumping off the page. i hope he can keep it up :)

Anonymous said...

"I don't care if I don't win !another match all year as long as we win the Davis Cup." andy roddick

exactly why andy wont be winning any worthy tournaments and slams this year. winning the davis cup isnt prestigious as it used to be!then again i guess it will keep his profile high in the states and keep the money rolling.

andys record in europe( or anywhere apart from america) minus london is appalling!!! how does he expect to win the davis cup knowing there is a chance the final could be away from home?

Anonymous said...

I love you Miss Tangerine, great entry!

Sarah said...

Just like the Emperor, Andy got his groove back! Your blog is some of the best tennis writing i read. Thanks for the edumacation, Tangy. When i gradumacate, I'll be sure to put you on the thankyou list :p

tangerine said...

Thanks for the compliments, guys! I'm glad you're enjoying the blog. :D

anonymous, winning DC may not be "as prestigious" as it used to be in the US, but it's a high priority for Roddick and his teammates and if we are lucky enough to win it this year, then I think it would become prestigious again by virtue of their sheer enthusiasm for the sport. The US media loves winners and they would be sure to give team USA a load of publicity if they pulled off a victory.

Blosson said...

Nice updates. You always put your own spin and make articles and comments sound funnier than they actually are. I like the smilies representing your state of mind. :)

Noelle De Guzman said...

"Stella! STELLA!"

Oh sorry, too much intertextual reference there. :) As always, very enjoyable read. I feel as if I'd watched the match too--even though I didn't. >:(

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