Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Flying Under the Radar at Wimbledon

Wimbledon Day 4
R64: Tipsarevic def Roddick
6-7(5) 7-5 6-4 7-6(4)
Wimbledon Day 2
R128: Roddick def Schwank 7-5 6-4 7-6(0)

It's possible to be outplayed the entire match and still walk away with a straight set win, which is what Andy did vs Eduardo Schwank in his first round match at Wimbledon. Even though the scoreline was tight and Schwank showed some great shot-making abilities, I don't think anyone felt that Andy was in danger of losing the match. Andy's experience in big matches and playing the big points better is the only reason he won, not because he played better than Schwank (although Andy's serving was very good). Andy did what he usually does in early rounds vs low-ranked players: serve big and then wait around for his opponent's unforced errors and the inevitable choke. Unfortunately this tactic works most of the time, which only encourages Andy to continue to play so passively. Then when he meets a more determined or experienced player in a later round, he loses because his defensive game doesn't work anymore. This is why I hate so-called "easy" draws for Andy, it makes him play lazy. Needless to say, I'm not happy with Andy's tactics, and quite frankly if he plays the same way vs Janko Tisparevic tomorrow in the second round Andy can book his flight home. Even his former coach, Brad Gilbert, who is back commentating on ESPN2, was unimpressed and couldn't understand why Andy still plays so defensively and doesn't take more chances when he's holding serve so easily. Why didn't he try coming to the net more just to get in some practice? Andy says he won't take Tipsarevic lightly. He said the same thing about Philipp Kohlschreiber at the Australian Open this year and look how that turned out. Sorry for the rant but I'm annoyed at Andy's stubborness in refusing to change-up his tactics, or learn from past mistakes that he keeps making over and over again. I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Andy arrives with Martina Navratilova at the All England Club on June 23, 2008 in London, England. (WireImage) (right-click for larger image)

Then again, the bad play could have all just been nerves: "First round matches are always a little uncomfortable at any slam. It's just new surroundings, normally have the week before to get all hyped up and it's a battle with nerves," said Roddick. "It's a battle with kind of anxiety and wanting to get out there and start. So it's never really that comfortable."

One fan made a more optimistic observation: "Having watched the match while listening to Radio Wimbledon, I did not think that Andy played badly. I think he played what was necessary to dispatch Schwank in straight sets - no more no less. Andy always has these weird struggles against players he has never faced before -- Janko should be a different story since they have previously played at Wimbledon."

Just before Andy's first match the BBC reported this fun tidbit:
"Just been over to the practice courts to conduct what turned out to be a tortuous interview for all concerned with fourth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova. Flagging spirits and wounded egos were soothed by watching Andy Roddick show off some outrageous left-handed shots in a Kevin Pietersen-esque switch-hitting manner."

Andy and Tipsarevic are third up on Centre Court tomorrow after Venus Williams' and Andy Murray's matches. You can listen to the matches via Radio Wimbledon or several available live streams.

Related videos: "Rested Roddick could make a run" [MSNBC Sports]
Andy's ESPN studio interview with Chris Fowler and Patrick McEnroe [ESPN]

Related articles:
• "Injury forces Roddick to reign in serve" [ESPN]
• "Despite tantrum, Roddick ready for Wimbledon" [SignsOnSanDiego]

What Are Andy's Chances of Going Deep at Wimbledon?

Let's ask media-shy John McEnroe what he thinks:
While less than convinced by the players ranked four and five in the world, John McEnroe does believe his fellow American and world number six Andy Roddick could spring a surprise at the All England Club.

The big-hitting 25-year-old has pedigree on the grand slam stage, winning the 2003 US Open and twice finishing as runner-up to Federer at Wimbledon in recent years, and McEnroe insists that Roddick will be a dark horse for the title if all the pieces fall into place when play begins next Monday.

'[Roddick] is written off quite a bit, but at the same time he's still been ranked five, six for the past five years,' he said.

'When it comes to grass, he's got the hardest serve I've ever seen anyone hit. He's got a very loose arm; he's got that huge forehand. So he's got that puncher's chance to win another major - win a Wimbledon. Most guys can't say that. He's one of a handful of guys [who can win the title].'

Let's see what other tennis pundits think:

Tennis Forum: Wimbledon Preview Parts One and Three:
WERTHEIM: Does anyone see a player outside "The Triad" winning? Should Andy Roddick be in the conversation?
BOUIN: Why not?. He impressed me in Davis Cup against our French team and impressed me even in Rome on clay before he got hurt. But strangely enough, I think his game has improved in a direction that will not help him on grass.
BIERLEY: As Rafa demonstrated at Queens: keep the ball in play and Andy will bury it is the net sooner or later.
CLAREY: I think Roddick is in the conversation, but he's going to have to grab the microphone, hold onto it with both hands and hope that laryngitis strikes one or more of the top three. Personally, I think Roddick's best chance of winning a second Slam will come in New York at the U.S. Open, where the big three will be weary after Beijing.
TEBBUTT: I disagree. Roddick has the hammer for Wimby. He doesn't have to hit as many groundstrokes and can slip into the event after his loss to Rafa at Queen's.
BOUIN: Roddick has to be careful: Richard Gasquet is trying the same gambit: no Olympics in order to prepare for New York.
WERTHEIM: Gasquet? Name rings a bell.
BOUIN: A little bell, like the one around the cat's neck, or Big Ben?
CLAREY: I think Roddick will take the odds and Gasquet over a fully rested hardcourt field.
WERTHEIM: The US Open will be decided by jet-lag medication.
CLAREY: Absolutely Jon - the wonders of tennis scheduling.
WERTHEIM: I see that Brad Gilbert is returning to the ESPN booth. Hate to say it, but chart Murray's demise with the timing of Gilbert's exit from the Murray camp.
CLAREY: It certainly looks that way. Andy Roddick has yet to win another Slam since Brad left his employ. Coincidence? Perhaps. Gilbert's departure also happened to coincide with the real rise of Roger Federer in the men's game, which would have happened whether Gilbert was coaching Andy or not. What do you think of Murray's chances Steve?
WERTHEIM: What about Steve's other point? There does seem to be this dirty secret of contentment in the men's game. I wonder how many players are secretly okay with winning their $800k, reaching the odd semi and saying "too good" to the Big Three.
CLAREY: Roddick strikes me as somebody who's still hungry and still eager to challenge. He just has limited means when confronting an all-time great like Federer, although he has beaten that all-time great this season. But burning ambition is not so palpable among the rest of the chase pack. It will take fresh legs and unscarred psyches to challenge the hydra.

Jon Wertheim: Wimbledon Men's Seed Report
Andy Roddick: Top American has dropped out of the conversation a bit since Miami. The lingering effects of his shoulder injury are a cause for concern as was last week's loss to Nadal. But given Roddick's past success on grass, his fine play in 2008 and a favorable draw, there's a big opportunity here.

Matthew Cronin: 10 anxious men, Can anyone stop a Federer-Nadal three-peat?
Andy Roddick: With a huge serve and a love of fast courts, he’s the obvious No. 4 favorite, but a bum shoulder kept him out of Paris and who knows if it will hold? Scored his first win over Fed in nearly five years and can fire his way past Nadal and Djokovic on grass on a great day, but clearly is behind The Big 3 and can only prove he belongs by putting up a significant result.

Matthew Cronin,
Andy Roddick: The American sees himself as one of the top five picks, and rightfully so. He owns the biggest serve on tour, volleys better than he used to, and firmly believes that if not for Federer, he could have pocketed a couple Wimbledon crowns of his own. His return of serve is his greatest weakness, but if he can hold serve a ton and keeping moving forward on his own terms, the semifinals should be his. He might have to play fellow American James Blake in the fourth round, but his Davis Cup teammate has never won three rounds in England and is unsure of himself on the surface. Roddick's quarterfinal foe might be No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko, but the Russian is incompetent on grass and won't likely get there. All signs point a Roddick-Nadal semifinal, and by then the American should have enough matches under his belt to make a big push. But if Nadal is cutting loose on his forehand and getting enough returns into play, Roddick's best probably won't be good enough.

Bud Collins, MSNBC
Andy Roddick might catch fire but his right shoulder is questionable and if he makes the semifinals and it’s Nadal who’s across the net from him, does the American win that encounter? Nadal has won three of their five career clashes, including the only one they have waged on grass – that being at Queen’s Club this summer.

Nick Bollettieri's picks
If it isn't Federer or Nadal, the obvious next choice for the favorite is Novak Djokovic. He had Nadal on the ropes in the first set in the finals at Queen's Club but couldn't close it out. If he wants to win this title, he cannot let those kind of opportunities slip away from him. After Djokovic, you have guys like David Ferrer, Nikolay Davydenko, Andy Roddick, David Nalbandian, James Blake, Richard Gasquet and Andy Murray. Out of those men, Roddick, if healthy, has the best chance of being a serious threat.If the seeds hold, Nadal will face Andy Roddick in the semifinals. These two just met at Queen’s Club with Nadal winning in straight sets. Roddick’s bum shoulder kept him out of Roland Garros, and he is going to need it to be healthy to get this far. If they play, I know I will be watching this one!

Peter Bodo: Plenty to win, and lose, at Wimbledon
Andy Roddick: Starting in 2003, he lost in the semifinal and two finals (to Federer), then crashed out in the third round and in last year's quarterfinals. Neither of those was the evil "bad loss," but still. Earlier this year, Roddick's results suggested that he's still a contender for Grand Slam titles on any surface but clay, but if he squanders this opportunity on a surface that likes his serve-based game, the doubts will arise anew.

Steve Tignor: Forecasting the Fortnight
Third Quarter: Not getting bumped up in the seedings worked out pretty well for Andy Roddick. He ended up across from Nikolay Davydenko, and in a soft-looking section of that quarter to boot—Roddick's fourth-round opponent might be James Blake. The question is: Who’s coming out of the other side? I refuse to bet on Davydenko, but that leaves, who? Mathieu? Ljubicic? I'm glad I don’t have to pick that one, because I think Roddick will beat whomever it is. Semifinalist: Andy Roddick

ESPN Wimbledon chat with Bonnie Ford and Greg Garber
Q: People keep weighing in on another Nadal/Federer final, but who that you see could trip either one up along the way?
FORD: Djokovic has to be in the discussion, along with Roddick.
Q: Do you think that there were players who got an unfavorable seed?
FORD: Personally, I'm not clear on how Davydenko could be seeded above Roddick when Roddick is a two-time finalist here and Davydenko has never been past the fourth round... the committee here has the option to factor in grass court performance but didn't. They're in the same quarter, as you probably saw, so it may be moot in the end.
Q: What was the LTA/All England club thinking seeding Davydenko 4th? I know the 5th ranked player in the world (Ferrer) is another clay-courter, and that people seem to love to hate Roddick, but if gambling were legal...I'm pretty sure my money would be on Roddick 10/10 times against Davydenko on grass, so why not move him up?
FORD: Totally agree with you.
Q: Which USA tennis player is coming into Wimbledon riding the most momentum?
GARBER: The answer is Roddick (semifinals at Queen's) and Blake (semis at Halle). Coincidentally, they both are up about now. Roddick is up 3-2 on serve against Schwank, Blake follows Lindsay Davenport, who just won her first set against Voracova.
Q: Andy Roddick has no chance, he is the most over rated tennis player in the world!
GARBER: This is a sentiment we hear quite often. The kid WON the US Open and played Federer decently in two finals here. He's seeded No. 6 here, which is about right. How is that overrated?
Q: Who comes out of the lower half of the quarter to challenge Roddick (as many suspect)?
FORD: Not sure who suspects what there, Andrew, but I think IF Ljubicic can keep it together -- and that's a big IF -- that would be an entertaining match. It's unfortunate for US fans that Blake is in the same 1/8.
Q: Will Roddick ever win another major? Can he win the US, it seems to be his best surface? The competition my be right for him to make a run.
FORD: It's one of the more interesting questions in tennis. I think he will, although the window is shrinking and he knows it.
Q: Does Roddick have a chance this year?
FORD: Getting this question a lot -- it will probably boil down to him and Nadal in the semis. Interestingly, they have played the last four finals here.
Q: I just don't understand why american men have such troubles in these tournys...r they that weak with their games or is it the surface or what????
GARBER: Roddick HAS been to four Grand Slam finals, two of them here. Blake,considering his terrific talent, probably has underachieved, but with three great players who have distanced themselves from the field, it's tough to break through.

MSNBC: Andy is One of the Best Players Never to Have Won Wimbledon

How reassuring. Here's hoping one day Andy can become one of those miserable two-slam wonders instead. is Just Dandy with the Broddick photos

Click here to see more photos of their coffee run!

Photo caption: Andy Roddick and his fiancée Brooklyn Decker pop into a coffee shop in Wimbledon town center on Tuesday. (right-click for larger image)

Andy's Outside Magazine Scans

Related video: "Andy Roddick: Behind the Scenes" [Outside Online]

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Grass Recovery

Updated June 15, 2008

Andy's Studio Interview with Sue Barker and Greg Rusedski

I wrote a short review of the matches in Halle and Queens over here on Craig's blog.

Happy Father's Day to those celebrating it.

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Posted June 10, 2008

I can't believe the Halle and Queen's grass tournaments are already starting, I've barely recovered from the Roland Garros drama. Forget the players, tennis fans deserve a break from tennis, especially after such an emotionally draining grand slam. I'm still gobsmacked by the Nadal-Federer final. In a word: wow.

But, yippee! Andy Roddick will be back in action tomorrow! He's first up on Centre Court with good friend Robby Ginepri. The matches start at 12:30PM local time (7:30AM EST here in the U.S.). You can watch a livestream of all the day's matches on the BBC's website here.

The Stella Artois Championships now also have their own YouTube account so if you can't view the videos on their website (as I can't, because I'm on a Mac, and that's a sin), Stella Artois is now uploading them onto YouTube. Yay!

So How's the Shoulder?

The word on Andy's shoulder sounds encouraging but nobody really knows for sure until he plays. Robby has been on a bit of a hot streak lately (he was the last American man standing at Roland Garros, finally breaking the clay jinx and making it into the fourth round. He's our clay hero!) but the good news is that Andy usually comes out playing strong when he hasn't picked up a racket in a while; all that pent-up energy is just waiting to burst out onto the court. So even though Robby can play Andy tough, I think Andy will prevail in his first match since retiring from the Rome semifinals a few weeks ago. Looking a bit further down the draw, there's a potential tantalizing quarterfinal match with Andy Murray.

Related article: "Queens champ Roddick gathers himself for record fifth title – and the Wimbledon dream." [Scotsman]

Related video: "Relaxed Roddick happy to be back at Queen's" [BBC] reports:
Andy Roddick is hitting with Richard Gasquet, sans cap but with new coach Guillaume Peyre, who's had plenty of experience teaming with another highly talented though seemingly mentally fragile artisan, Marcos Baghdatis. They play a few games and finish things off with a tiebreak. Peyre let's out a "magnifique" when a forehand winner gets things going. The joy is short lived and Roddick, popping his serve, prevails 7-2.

Afterward, John Roddick is free to chat; the Roddick team arrived in England a few days ago. A combination of shoulder and back injuries kept brother Andy out of Roland Garros and Hamburg.

"Andy's just been practising, working hard, rehabbing his shoulder a little bit," John Roddick says. "Schedule wise it's just been a lot of training, so nothing really fancy. I mean, you saw him, he was serving really well. The only worry is if it creeps back a little bit or regresses, but it is what it is."

The shoulder still gets tired, although the soreness is gone.

"Well, I think he's there, but it's just a matter of going out now and seeing," he continues when asked if the shoulder is 100 percent. "Today was really good in that he was able to serve as good as he did. And actually I think it's helped him with his location because he slowed it down and didn't serve big for a while. Now all of a sudden his location is really good."

A serious foodie, Ginepri joined Roddick and Fish at the noted Mr. Chow's restaurant in west London.

Who else was surprised to hear that Andy was practicing with Mr. "I don't want to play Andy in Davis Cup" Gasquet?

And Charles Bricker says:
Andy Roddick arrived in London, fully fit after his back problem in Rome, and ready to begin his Wimbledon quest at the Queens Club warmup tournament this week. After beating Federer at Key Biscayne and (presumably) watching Nadal take him down in Paris, there is no reason why Roddick shouldn't arrive at the All England Club thinking a Grand Slam title is within his grasp.

Andy and Brooklyn Caught Red-Handed Walking Out on the Streets of London! strikes Broddick gold again with these new paparazzi photos of Andy and Brooklyn leaving Nobu restaurant in London. Andy's jeans have no holes in them, he's wearing a very nice maroon shirt, and his hairline is starting to recede. Brooklyn is wearing a really cute outfit while carrying a really cool handbag. I give them an A+ for their cutesy coupledom. Aww. (right-click for larger photo)

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Remember around this time last year when Andy made a hilarious guest turn on Jonathan Ross' show? If you missed it, here it is again. Watch Andy Murray's recent appearance on the same show and tell me who you think Mr. Ross would invite back in a heartbeat?

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