Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Roddick, heat TKOs Djokovic, Federer up next


QF: Roddick def Djokovic
6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-2, 2-1 ret.

SARS, bird flu, anthrax, now we can add heat exhaustion to Novak's long list of ailments.

"Djokovic is one retirement away from the Retirement Slam." — Patrick McEnroe, pointing out that Novak has now retired in all slams except for one, the US Open.

FACT: Andy Roddick has made the AO semis in every off year: 2003, 2005, 2007, and now 2009.

FACT: Serena Williams has won the Australian Open in the same off years: 2003, 2005, 2007, and .... 2009?

Thanks to the 130F heat, I feel we got gypped a potentially great quarterfinal match. The first set was a good indicator of what was to come, both players were tuned in and serving beautifully. Novak was the more aggressive player, looking to come in to the net whereas Andy stayed back (mistake). This proved the difference when Novak won the tiebreak. Andy made the needed adjustments to his game (coming to net and flattening out the forehand a bit) in the beginning of the second set but it was around this time that Djokovic began to wilt in the oppressive heat. Credit to Andy, I was really impressed how he did not seem affected by the heat at all, he was bouncing around, running down every drop shot Novak played, and at one point he skipped back to his chair after breaking Novak's serve while Novak walked slowly and heavily back to his before calling for the trainer. By this point we were all thinking the same thing: Novak's gonna retire again.

I feel for Novak. After what happened at last year's USO you just know that Roddick was the last guy Novak wanted to retire against so he must have been really suffering to quit like that, and he even looked like he was debating with himself about it before finally walking over to shake Andy's hand. Novak tried to fight through it but then he began to cramp and finally tapped out in the third game of the fourth set right after Andy broke him. Credit again to Andy, he's not one to gloat and say "I told you so!" He had a very subdued reaction after Novak left the court, sitting down and putting his head in his hands to privately digest the fact that he has made a slam semifinal for the first time in two years. In his post match interview he didn't say one word criticizing Novak's decision to throw in the towel (that was Federer's job, see below). Andy Roddick, the guy who was basically dismissed as a real title contender the entire first week and was asked if it bothered him that he wasn't in the conversation along with the "Big Four", is now one of four remaining. To quote Dick Enberg, isn't that delicious?

Said Novak about Andy afterwards: "He's improved. I think his new coach has an impact on that. He's been playing really well throughout the whole tournament and absolutely deserves to be a winner."

Federer Bashes Djokovic Again


"I'm almost in favor of saying, you know what, if you're not fit enough, just get out of here. [. . .] If Novak were up two sets to love I don't think he would have retired 4-0 down in the fourth. Thanks to Andy that he retired in the end. Andy pushed him to the limits. Hats off to Andy." — Roger Federer, Daddy-O.

Ever notice how Roger never fails to upbraid the younger generation when given the chance? Rafa, Novak, Murray, they've all received a tongue-lashing and white glove slapping from The Mighty Fed, Djokovic more so than the others.

I get the distinct feeling that Roger doesn't respect Novak very much.



Here Come the Annoying Bandwagon Fans


From this week's SI.com mailbag, now that Andy's made the semis suddenly everybody thinks Roddick is a great guy and they want to root for him because he shows respect for players. Here's a newsflash, people: Andy has always shown respect for other players, even when he's lost. He's never made excuses for any of his losses, no matter how bad they were. He's never cheated or tried to steal a point that doesn't belong to him. He may get a bit intense and prickly oncourt and he's had some memorable meltdowns but it's only because he wants to win so badly. It's his job to win, he's a professional athlete. But his sportsmanship and character have never been in doubt. Buy a clue. *boots the fair-weather fans off the wagon*

I was extremely impressed with Andy Roddick's interview after the Djokovic match, not to mention his on court performance and behavior during the match. The genuine respect he showed for Federer and what he said to Novak when the match was over was really nice. I know people have been giving him grief over the things that he has said or how he behaved in the recent past... I'd like to give Andy props for his sportsmanship and attitude and I hope he goes very far this year! — Rise Gilliland, Rochester Hills, Mich.

JON WERTHEIM: Agree. Roddick has really distinguished himself with his play and his disposition. (Was it just a year ago that he humiliated a linesman?) No question he took the high road with Djokovic, who, let the record show, has now retired from a match deep in Grand Slam play three times in the last two years. Question about Roddick: did he lose weight? He looks a bit slimmer. Kidding. The chestnut about weight loss is encroaching on Ana Ivanovic-practiced-in-a-drained-pool territory.

Related bandwagon article: "Can Roddick at last live up to his potential?" [The Guardian]

Related News Items:


• "Roddick fresh as a daisy in extreme heat" [ESPN]
• "Michael Stich: Djokovic disrespected Roddick" [Eurosport]
• "Roddick just fine with Djokovic retirement" [Douglas Robson, Tennis.com]
• "Old World Order still in rule" [James Martin, Tennis.com]
• "The resurgence of Andy Roddick" [Bleacher Report]
• "Roddick ready to rejoin the conversation at Slams" [USA Today]
• "Second serves: Roddick's win leaves us hanging" [FOXSports.com]
• "Roddick handles the heat and Djokovic" [The Daily Fix: WSJ blog]
• "Revitalised Roddick evokes memories of … when was it again?" [Sydney Morning Herald]
• "Andy Roddick, all grown up" [LA Times]
• "Fitness is the answer for Andy Roddick" [Times Online]

Previews of Roddick-Federer Semifinal Tonight


"The Federer-Roddick rivalry has more often appeared like a rivalry between a hammer and a nail." — ESPN

ESPN's preview of the Fed-Rod semis.



Andy Roddick: "I think it helps that I stopped a big streak against him in Miami. It's certainly not going to hurt at all."

"He has nothing to prove. He's created quite an animal for himself, where if someone wins a set they're questioning his form. He deserves a lot more respect than that. You're dealing with a guy who's probably the greatest ever."

Roger Federer: "It's always a pleasure to play against Andy with his serve and his character. And it's nice to see Andy doing so well, he's hung in for so many years. People don't give him enough credit."

Related News Items:
• "Breaking down the Aussie Open semifinals" [Fox Sports]
• "A-Rod's ready for Roger … and hopefully a different result" [Sydney Morning Herald]
• "Roddick facing mammoth Federer task" [The Guardian]
• "Roddick has a real chance against Federer" [LA Times]
• "The Fantastic Four: Nadal, Federer, Roddick, and Verdasco" [Tennis Talk]
• "Australian Open: 5 Reasons Roddick Will Beat Federer…Or Maybe Not" [Tennis-X]
• "Federer/Roddick: An Insomniac's Delight" [Bleacher Report]
• "Roddick fit and reaady for Federer" [ESPN]
• "Andy's sharp but Fed looks better" [Yahoo Sports Blog]

Good luck to Andy tonight (3:30AM EST live on ESPN2. Live streaming video can be found on channelsurfing.net, Justin.tv, and www.ATDHE.net). Fingers crossed for a dream final....featuring Andy Roddick vs Fernando Verdasco!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Roddick-Djokovic Fireworks Tonight

R16: Roddick def Robredo 
7-5, 6-1, 6-3
R32: Roddick def Santoro
6-3, 6-4, 6-2
R64: Roddick def Malisse
4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (1), 6-23


Here's the quarterfinal match we've all been waiting for. Admit it: we're tuning in to watch the Djokovic-Roddick quarterfinals to see some fireworks. Everybody remembers what happened at the USO last year. We are thinking: is this payback time? Will Andy have another mental meltdown on the court and flip out on the chair umpire? Will Novak lash out at the crowd for not supporting him enough? Is somebody going to break down and cry, or call for the medic? Tune in tonight to find out! They are scheduled third on Rod Laver Arena tonight, "not before 15:00 GMT" says the AO website which is around 11:00PM EST in the U.S. Check out the world clock here for times in your area.

Here's a short preview of match: "No love lost as Djokovic meets Roddick" [Tennis Talk]

Bragging Rights: Once Upon A Time, Serena Beat Andy



...way back when they were like, ten. Serena doesn't think a rematch is necessary. She said she won by 6-1. He said 6-4. Who do you believe?

Related articles:
• "Serena Williams still savouring Andy Roddick 'win' 16 years on" [Times Online].
• "Roddick winces under weight of Serena boasts" [Reuters].
• "No rematch with 'sweet kid' Roddick, says Serena" [AFP].

Schadenfreude: What Big Four?



Fernando Verdasco defeated the undisputed favorite to win the Australian Open, Andy Murray 6-2, 1-6, 6-1, 3-6, 4-6 in the fourth round.

Sorry, Andy (UK). There's no "Big Four" or "Fantastic Four". There's only the big two (Nadal, Federer) plus one (Djokovic).

The British press gobbles down a massive piece of humble pie. Eat up!

Related articles:
• "Flying under the radar" [Australian Open website]
• "Roddick ready to crash Djoker's party" [ESPN]
• "Butterfly Feet" [Tennis.com blog]
• "Roddick ready to rejoin the conversation at slams" [USA Today]
• "Forgotten Andy Roddick firing" [Herald Sun]
• "Confident Roddick is keen to regain lost ground" [The Peninsula]
• "Rebuilding Roddick all about taking him out of comfort zone, says new coach" [Sydney Morning Herald]

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

AO 2009: Roddick Opens With Win


R128: Roddick def Rehnquist
6-0 6-2 6-2

Good win but it's hard to read how Andy's game really is when he faced one of the worst players I'd ever seen. Up next is Andy's pigeon, Xavier Malisse. Hard to believe they haven't played a match since 2003 (!). Unfortunately, their match is scheduled last on Hisense Arena so U.S. residents probably won't see it until around 1:00 in the morning.

The only point worth watching in that atrocious match was this one (number two on the list):



Video here of Andy speaking with Chris Fowler in the ESPN studio after his first round match. You can clearly see how much weight he's lost, his face is much thinner now. He almost looks like a teenager again.


Quote of the Day
"Andy Roddick is a practicing pagan who drinks the blood of newborn babies." Jon Wertheim, SI.com

Roddick Still a Fan Favorite But No Longer a Favorite to Win


Q. We've seen in the last 18 months a bracket of younger players emerging to challenge Roger. People talk about the big four, and you're not in that. Do you feel you still belong in that top group?

ANDY RODDICK: Not until I earn my spot back. They absolutely deserve to be the four that get talked about right now. My results last year, especially in slams, don't warrant me being talked about.

The thing about sports is no one really remembers yesterday, and that's fair. You have to go out and prove yourself on a daily basis. I have no problem with that.

For the first time I can ever remember, Andy Roddick is no longer being talked about as one of the favorites, a contender, or even as a "dangerous floater", for a grand slam that's on one of his better surfaces. Surprisingly, Andy Murray, who hasn't won a slam yet, is considered the favorite, even moreso than Federer (Roger had a few choice words to say about that, lol), then there's the Federer/Nadal dynamic duo, and even defending champion Novak Djokovic isn't being a labeled a favorite, either. Guys like Gilles Simon and Juan Martin Del Potro are being named ahead of Roddick. Will this get Andy's dander up? Intellectually, he gives a good answer and you can't argue with it because his slam results this past year have been terrible. But emotionally, I'm hoping a bit of his pride is wounded enough to get the claws sharpened and engine roaring. He has made the AO semis in every off-year for the past few years now (2003, 2005, 2007). I'd like to see that continue in 2009.

Related News Items:
• "Can Roddick Slam Again?" [Yahoo Sports]
• "Roddick Loses Weight of Expectations" [Herald Sun]
• "Slimmer Roddick Weighs His Chances" [Australian Open.com]
• "Regimented Roddick Ready for Change" [ESPN]
• "Roddick Soars, Eagles Have Landed" [Tennis.com blog]
• "A-Rod Aces Aussie Rules" [Australian Open.com]

Watching athletes try their hand at other sporting pursuits is always an entertaining prospect, and such was the case this morning when Andy Roddick played kick-to-kick with several AFL footballers on Court 4.

The world No. 8 from the United States met with the Richmond Football Club’s Nathan Brown, Jack Riewoldt and Adam Thomson, and took a brief lesson from the trio on how to kick and handball. Roddick certainly did not disgrace himself, handling the Sherrin well before sprinting down one end of the court to take a running mark – narrowly missing the courtside fence in the process.

The four then took part in a friendly hit followed by a tie-break, during which the boys from Tigerland revealed that they were all surprisingly handy tennis players. Brown was especially impressive, managing to rifle back a bullet serve by Roddick with a textbook double-handed backhand.

Roddick admitted the footballers were better at tennis than he was at Aussie Rules, and said he was impressed by their standard.

“I asked them [if they’d played before], I was expecting to be teaching guys who had never played before, and they came out and he [Brown] serves at about 120 mph on the first one. I was like, ‘Alright, we’re going to have to play here’,” he said.

Brown claimed that while he used to play in his younger days, he had not hit for 10 years. “I think I got lucky with the [serve] I got back, it certainly came down quick,” he said.

“It was fantastic [to hit with Roddick], he’s obviously one of the best players in the world and very recognisable. We taught him a few things, but I think he [preferred] the NFL-style ball. It was a great thrill for us and something we’ll remember.”

Riewoldt relished the opportunity to team up with the American during the tie-break.

“Are there any wildcards left in the tournament?” he joked.

“I reckon in the doubles tournament we might be a chance. Maybe we’ll have to get onto Tennis Australia about that and see if we can get a gig in the doubles tournament.”

Roddick said it was a great experience to learn about a different sport.

“I’ve never been shown how to really do it much [play Aussie Rules], so it was cool to learn,” he said.

“I might have to get out there again and practice with my coach and stuff, but this was a good time, it was a fun little event.”

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