Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Kooyong: Learning To Fly

Updated January 15, 2007

Kooyong Final: Roddick def Federer 6-2 3-6 6-3

I'm learning to fly but I ain't got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing

Well some say life will beat you down
Break your heart, steal your crown
So I started out for God knows where
But I guess I'll know when I get there

I'm learning to fly around the clouds
But what goes up must come down.
Tom Petty

Andy Roddick: King Kooyong 2007!

Asked after the match if he'd prefer to trade the win for one at Melbourne Park, Roddick walked toward Federer holding out the trophy and asked: "Can we do that?"

So Roddick finally beats Roger Federer and it all means almost nothing: no points earned, no change in their head-to-head, not even a cookie. We do, however, get this fabulous photo of Roddick holding the champion's cup while Roger is relegated to the blurry background holding the ugly runners-up vase.

I say "almost nothing" because yes, even though it's just an exo, there is still too much baggage and emotional heat between them to just toss it off as a competely empty win. I would agree with the assertion that the win means more to Roddick than the loss does to Federer. But, in terms of preparation for AO, if you think about it, wouldn't it have been a more prudent move on Federer's part to slam Roddick's surging confidence back down to the ground again by beating him in this exo? For all the talk of Nadal and Ljubicic, we all know that it's Roddick who is going to be one of Federer's biggest complications at AO and what better way to nip that Roddick problem in the nub by denying him a win in an exhibition just before AO?

Let's ask Mardy Fish what he thinks:
Q. Do you think that was a big mental win for him over Federer the other day, or do you throw it out because it's an XO?

MARDY FISH: No, I don't think you throw it out. I watched it. It was a little windy. No, you definitely take that. Maybe if they play here, he gets up early, he can remember stuff that he did. They were both trying.

Roger, he doesn't want too lose, even if it's an exhibition. He definitely doesn't want to lose. Maybe he wasn't taking it completely as this week. But he doesn't want to lose, for sure.

I watched the tape and it appeared to me that both players were relaxed and having a bit of fun out there. Yet it was still a competitive match laced with mind games from both players, especially on Federer's part. Federer was playing unlike himself in that he served-volleyed and chip-and-charged practically every point, which he rarely does. Roddick was playing unlike he usually plays Federer: staying back instead of coming forward. It's safe to say that neither player was playing his best or even at 100% but even in shits-and-giggles matches, champions are hypercompetitive and stingy by nature. They don't want to lose. Ever. If Federer really didn't give two tosses about Kooyong then he could've just as easly lost in two sets to Roddick. But he didn't. Because, try as he might, it's just not in his nature to throw somebody a bone.

And let's face it, as Craig Hickman pointed out in his blog entry about the exo final, had Roddick lost to Federer again you can be damn sure that the Federer fans and other tennis illuminati would've crawled out from their dark places to crow like hyenas saying if "Roddick can't beat Federer in an exo, then he'll never beat him." Exo or not, we'll take the win. Not many can beat Roger when he's half-dead oncourt, let alone in exos when he's at least trying.

This is not to say that Roddick's got Federer all figured out now and that he'll turn their head-to-head around in Roddick's favor in no time. Not at all. I just don't think that the word "meaningless" really applies here.

About the only thing I'm really sure about is that neither Federer nor Roddick will play exactly the same way as they did at Kooyong should they face-off in the semifinals at AO.

You can read Roddick's Kooyong post-match conference here. The most telling quote:
Q. How important was that win today over Roger?

RODDICK: I don't know. Like I said yesterday, I'm not going to come in here -- I think it needs to be done on a big stage before you put too much emphasis on it. That being said, it's nice -- it's nice to get some good preparation and feel like you're playing well going into the Aussie Open. I'm going to kind of repeat myself from early this week, but that's the reason we came here.

Video highlights from The Age here.

Lots of highlights from the match can be found on YouTube, including this one.

Downloadable videos here. Thanks to Four:Love for the videos.
Part 1 and Part 2.

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Originally posted January 10, 2007

A New Year, A New Roddick?

"We mostly love him for his game but we can't deny that he is hot."

— fans Madeleine Armstrong and Amy Dellar who came out to cheer on Roddick at Kooyong, Australia.

Day 4: Roddick def Federer 6-2 3-6 6-3
Day 3: Roddick def Murray 6-4 6-4
Day 1: Roddick def Haas 6-2 6-3

Starting off the new year with a bang! Exhibition or not, Roddick likes to come out fast and strong, and that he did in his first match of the year vs Tommy Haas.

Because Kooyong is an exo, nobody has been able to find any listed match stats. Fans who were lucky enough to watch the match claimed that Roddick served 48% (winning 96% of those points. Egads.) and had only 8 aces. If this is true, then the cruise-control scoreline of 2 and 3 is very impressive. It shows that even if Roddick's serve wasn't clicking, the rest of his game was solid.

Andy plays Andy Murray next, who had defeated Ivan Ljubicic. I am expecting Roddick to pull out the win. And if he doesn't, well, there's always the "It's just an exo, it's doesn't mean anything" excuse to fall back on.

MANWICH. Marat Safin doesn't look happy that Roddick and Federer always manage to sit next to one another.

You can watch videos of the press conference here and here.

You can also read the entire transcript of the Kooyong Media Conference here.

Death of a Doyenne. RIP Gloria Connors.

Some sad news to report: Jimmy Connor's mother, Gloria, died peacefully at her home Jan. 8. She was 82. In professional sport during the 60s and 70s, where fathers were the ones who coached and pushed their sons and daughters toward athletic success, it was Mrs. Connors who was responsible for turning her son Jimmy into a Grand Slam winning legend.

"She had an unwavering passion for tennis," Jimmy Connors said in a statement released by the International Tennis Hall of Fame on behalf of its 1998 inductee. "All my life, she taught me — made me a world champion — she always got me to do things without my even realising. She instilled passion, excitement and enthusiasm into me that was contagious to everyone around me. And yet separately, she was my mother and my friend."

Roddick paid tribute to Mrs. Connors, saying: "She made Jimmy into what he was, so basically the knowledge that Jimmy has shared with me is pretty much just an extension of her. . . . I know she enjoyed when we started working together and watching the matches and she would pass on her opinions to Jimmy, from all accounts. I've enjoyed her stories and her second hand opinions about what I should be doing out there."

DEAL ME IN. Roddick plays some cards with Mark Philippoussis and actress Shannon Elizabeth. Photo courtesy of The Herald Sun.

  • As soon as his match with Tommy Haas finished, Andy was off to the Aussie Millions Celebrity Poker Tournament to gamble away his appearance fee.

  • Andy Roddick, Roger Federer, and Marat Safin have found love. "A blokey kind of love. Man to man. Legend to legend." Read all about it!

  • Roddick plans to play more aggressively this year, says Matthew Cronin. With the fire-breathing Jimmy Connors at his side, it will be impossible for Roddick to be anything but confrontational.

  • Roddick's media conference promoting the SAP Open can be found over here. Roddick has recently signed a three-year global sponsorship deal with SAP. “We are excited to have Andy as an SAP ambassador,” said Marty Homlish, global chief marketing officer and corporate officer of the SAP group. “He is one of the most talented and popular players on the ATP circuit, and he personifies the same winning attributes – such as determination, passion and resourcefulness – that make SAP the leading provider of business software.”

  • Roddick hopes he learned from Federer. Such as how not to choke on MP just as he's about to put his opponent away? Still feeling the Shanghai pain on that one.

  • While tennis aficionados were having snitfits over Roger Federer’s snub by Sports Illustrated for their Sportsman of the Year cover, Roddick managed to sneak into this issue by virtue of a little supplement called “The Honor Roll”. It’s a booklet insert that salutes those athletes who have shown acts of character both on and off the court. Andy was one of five honored.

  • Americans look for signs to end grand slam drought. Don't forget our Davis Cup drought, too, while you're pouring salt in the wound, k, thanks.

Laughable Headline of the Day

Good old Yahoo! Sports never fails to disappoint. Ljubicic fans may want to frame this one.


Craig Hickman said...

Love the caption about the three in love.

tangerine said...

LOL craig. With a MANWICH full of Roddick, Federer, and Safin ingredients, you get a meal. ;)

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