Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Grass is Coming! The Grass is Coming!

Updated June 21, 2007

Queen's Final: 
Roddick def Mahut
4-6 7-6(7) 7-6(2)

Andy Roddick: King of Queens 2007!

“He bristles and bullies, but then he flashes a cheeky smile and all is forgiven.” — Andrew Castle, BBC announcer, on Andy Roddick's oncourt behavior.

Final review at the Artois website:
Andy Roddick saved a match point against Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in a dramatic final before going on to claim his fourth Artois Championships title in the past five years.

Roddick’s 4-6, 7-6(7), 7-6(2) victory in 2 hours, 17 minutes means he joins John McEnroe, Boris Becker and Lleyton Hewitt with four titles at The Queen’s Club – one more than his coach Jimmy Connors.

“It's nice winning at tournaments that you really enjoy playing at,” said Roddick. “I think this place is and will continue to have a special place in my heart just because I have so many great memories from here. I love the club. It's not often you get tennis at a tennis club nowadays. All those things just make it special. To have won four is great. I'll have a number of chances to get five.”

It had looked for long periods that the American was going to have wait another year to rank alongside McEnroe and co. After taking the first set with some breathtaking grass court tennis, Mahut had the first title of his career on his racquet as he led 7-6 in the second set tie-break. With Roddick stranded after two edgy volleys, Mahut’s forehand pass fell into the top of the net. Two points later, it was one set all and the match had turned in an instant.

One Fan's View of the Queen's Final

(right-click for larger image)

This clever comic strip interpretation of the Queen's final is courtesy of blosson from MTF. Want to make your own strip? Go here.

Also, this is a must-read for all Roddick fans and non-fans alike, Steve Tignor's excellent analysis of Roddick and the public's love/hate relationship with him, "Andy's Reappearing Act." A choice quote:
That’s why Roddick, everything taken together, is good for tennis. He can annoy, he can entertain, he can be a jerk to guys he doesn't respect, but in the end the feeling I get is that his reactions are natural and human, and he’s better at expressing them than most players. Perhaps it’s because he’s American, but I feel like I understand the guy; sometimes I like him and sometimes I don't (little of both again). The humor, the directness, the arrogance, the competitiveness, the entitlement, the will to intimidate—he’s a larger than life version of a lot of U.S. kids, and he gives tennis fans something to react to. [. . .] Roddick is only desire—half of his volleys appear to go in strictly because he wills them to, not because he's hit them cleanly—and that’s what makes so many of his matches, whether you like his game or not, worth watching.

DOWNLOAD HQ match highlights here (English commentary).

WATCH Andy's oncourt interview with Sue Barker at the BBC website here.


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Updated June 16, 10:45pm EST
SF: Roddick def Tursunov
6-4 7-5
QF: Roddick def Cilic
6-4 7-6(5)
R16: Roddick def Bogdanovic
4-6 7-6(5) 6-4

Roddick finally did today what he should have been doing all week long: he played aggressively on the baseline, flattened out his forehand, and dictated play instead of waiting for his opponent to make mistakes. He is such a better, more complete player, when he does this, I don't know why he doesn't do it more often. His tenative, passive playing was killing him (it was noticable especially during the Bogdanovic for which even the BBC commentators noticed how passive Roddick was playing and that his groundstrokes were so weak). Sure, Andy ended up winning all of these matches, as a real champion does, but why does he have to make it so difficult for himself? Instead of sleeping on these lower-ranked players, waiting for them to make mistakes, why can't he remember how the old Andy Roddick used to it: bully them from the get-go and never let up? To that end, I'm still not entirely confident that Andy can beat Mahut in tomorrow's final (although he should). Mahut has been playing lights-out all week, taking down some giants along the way, and he'll come out guns blazing for the final, with no pressure on him. The good news is that Roddick has experience on his side, is well aware of Mahut's game, what he plans to do, and now he just has to go in there firing his own guns. The bad news is that the pressure will be on Roddick, who has a grass reputation and three Queens titles to live up to, and needs to win his first title of 2007 after losing badly in two other finals this year. To lose in the final of Queens would not be a good way to start Wimbledon. If Andy plays aggressively and dictates play like he did today, then he'll win. Good luck, Andy!

You can read the Artois preview of the final here.

Highlights video from the BBC can be found here. Audio of BBC interview here.

Highlights from the Artois website are here.

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Updated June 13, 9:40pm EST

R32: Roddick def Stepanek
6-4 6-4

"Roddick rolls in straight sets" [Fox Sports]:
Andy Roddick lost only four points on his serve Tuesday, beating Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the third round of the Queen's Club grass-court championships.

The American has lost just one match in his past four appearances at the Wimbledon warm-up event, winning three straight titles before losing to James Blake in the 2006 semifinals.

"That felt really good out there today," Roddick said. "Looking at the draw, there's probably him and Ivo Karlovic as the two guys you don't want to see in the first round."

Roddick served 12 aces and converted his only break-point opportunity in the opening set to lead 4-3 after a backhand error by Stepanek.

In the second set, Roddick again set up break point at 3-3 with a forehand pass, but slipped when Stepanek wrong-footed him with a volley at the net. Roddick eventually broke at 4-4 when Stepanek made two straight backhand errors.

Stepanek twice wanted to challenge a point, but the electronic line-calling system being used on grass for the first time — Hawk-Eye — was unavailable because of a power problem.

Roddick had no sympathy for his opponent's frustration.

"It's a machine," he said. "Machines break, right? If it's working, you use it. If it's not, tough stuff."

Eyewitnesses at Queens report back that Andy is having some good practice sessions:
Andy Roddick looks like a man on a mission. He’s been here with Jimmy Connors and John Roddick, practicing away. They are certainly not leaving any stones unturned, and I wouldn’t bet against Andy winning a fourth title here. He did a guest spot on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross this week – that's a BBC television chat show watched by more people in the UK than any other. It’s the sort of opportunity that tennis needs to pursue on a regular basis - to help introduce new people to the sport and its personalities, people who might not otherwise realise how much tennis has to offer.

Then again, maybe not...
Henman is driving me to Wimbledon in his splendid black Jaguar to play Andy Roddick in a practice game. [. . .] THE MATCH with Roddick has been fixed for 11.30am on one of the Aorangi Park courts. [. . .] HE IS on the court now at Aorangi, locked in a titanic battle with Roddick. He likes the big-serving American and they eat out together regularly on the road, but this morning it’s strictly business. Roddick takes the first set comfortably, then loses the second to some inspiring play by Henman. And when Tim takes the match in a nine-point tie-break, the world No 3 almost explodes with rage. Henman is elated. “That was a great example of what I still love about the game,” he says. “I’m out in the sun, playing against a good guy at Wimbledon, I’m hitting the ball well and it’s my job!”

Up next for Andy is Alex Bogdanovic. They have never played before. (related news item: "Roddick praises Bogo"). They are scheduled third on Centre Court after Safin/Grosjean finish their rain-delayed match, and then the Ginepri/Gonzalez match. Matches begin at 1:00pm local time.

The BBC website has live feed of the Queen's matches all day. Go here to watch. The BBC also interviewed Andy after the Stepanek match. Also, Andy's MILF crush, Sue Barker, spoke with Jonathan Ross who was watching the Queens matches.

Eurosport has some videos available to view. Here is a short preview of Queens. Here is Roddick speaking after defeating Stepanek.

On YouTube, here's a short clip of Roddick vs Stepanek highlights. There are also daily match highlights available on the Artois website.

Upset of the Day

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga knocked out four-time Queens champion Lleyton Hewitt today, which saves Andy the trouble of having to deal with Hewitt in the quarterfinals. Andy last played Tsonga in the first round at the Australian Open this year where they had that crazy first set tiebreak and both players got on each other's nerves (at one point Andy had yelled "f--king prick" across the net). Looking forward to the grudge match.

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Updated June 9, 4:45pm EST

VIDEO: Andy Roddick on the Jonathan Ross Show

DOWNLOAD .avi file here.

On YouTube:
Part One and Part Two.

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Updated June 9, 1:00pm EST

Challenger Grass=1 Roddick=0

Surbiton doubles R1:
Guccione/Healey def Roddick/Ginepri
7-5 6-1

"Roddick responds to Surbiton news reports" []:
For the record…I had NO idea I was meant to do press at a doubles challenger…I have played 12 challengers in my career and never once did press…it was reported that I left the site in a "huff"…apparently a huff means signing autographs and taking pictures…and it’s news to me that I have a chauffeured limo? I mean, I’m fine to do press after loosing a Grand Slam final but losing first round doubles in Surbiton gets to me? No chance…it’s hard to know you have class to attend if no one gives you your schedule…a little disappointing too because my first round check doesn’t cover the fine but playing with Robby was fun.

News media=0 Roddick=1. :)

For the record, I owe Andy Roddick an apology. When I first heard the stories, I totally believed that he would blow off an interview (although I didn't really buy the part that he was angry about losing a doubles match in a Challenger). Either way, I sold him short and I should have known better. I'm a bad fan.

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"Roddick fined for quick getaway" [Express UK]:
[Roddick] left in such a hurry that he was fined by the ATP, the players’ union. Roddick, 24, who made £1million last year and has career earnings of seven times that much, did not bother to stay for a media conference. ATP official Tom Kinloch said: “He will be fined the maximum amount allowed at this tournament, which is 500 euros [£338]. Roddick also forfeited his first-round loser’s money of £105 and the rest will be taken from whatever he wins at the Artois Championships in London next week.

"Australians put Roddick in foul mood" [ninemsn]:
Roddick was spewing. The world No.3 promptly walked off the court and off the site without speaking to the media, brushing the mandatory post-match press conference and immediately jumping into a chauffeured limo. [. . .] Coach Jimmy Connors pretended to be unaware of his charge's actions and was later seen entering the same limo, having told all concerned he did not know the 24-year-old's whereabouts.

"Roddick starts with a whimper on grass" [BBC]:
Although [Roddick's] serve was as fearsome as ever, he was hopelessly out of touch at the net and his groundstrokes were wayward. After he missed yet another volley in the second set, his partner, Ginepri, looked toward the crowd and said: "I need a new partner. Is there anybody?"

Other than the shy Robby Ginepri showing a sense of humor, the best part of this story was when Connors pretended to not know where Andy was and then jumped into the same taxi as Andy before leaving. LOL. But I think the media is exaggerating the story a bit (don't they usually?). Judging by the photos of the match and seeing Andy's and Robby's jokey manner displayed throughout the match, I really doubt Andy was "spewing", ran from the court, and sped off in his limo. According to eyewitnesses who were at the match, Andy merely walked to his car after the match (it was not a limo), talked with some fans who waited for him (but not the media), then left. Why Roddick iced the media is anybody's guess but it's hardly newsworthy or even shocking. The £338 fine from the ATP ultimately means nothing, and I'm sure Andy didn't want to waste his time answering ridiculous questions from the media over a challenger doubles match.

As for him and Robby losing in doubles to a team that plays doubles often, no biggie. If Roddick loses in the first singles round at Queens, then I'll start to worry.

Random Stuff

Found on AOL Red's "Sexy, Single, Rich, Bachelor Athletes." (right click for larger image)

From mailbag this week: (right click for larger image)

Um, I don't see it. At all.

As for Andy's amazing point that Jonathan mentioned in the same SI mailbag, here it is:

Andy, Andy, everywhere. He makes yet another magazine cover appearance, this time on the June issue of Austin Monthly.

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