Yesterday, at the Cincinnati ATP Tennis Master Series event, fans were thrilled to see an All American Semifinals matchup between childhood buddies Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish. This was a big time match that featured three sets of solid tennis, high tension and emotions, and two rain delays. The man who sports the last name of “Fish” swam his way into a finals date with Roger Federer that occurred earlier this afternoon. Federer came out victorious in an exciting three set rumble, but Mardy had a great tournament and looks very solid heading into the US Open.
Yesterday’s match was quite disappointing on many fronts though for not only Andy Roddick, but for American tennis in general. Sure many were shocked to see the struggling American men’s game put two players into the Semifinals. But the “it” guy in American men’s tennis for the past 8 years has been none other than Andy Roddick. Roddick fell out of the top ten a couple of weeks ago and could have really used a finals appearance or possibly even a title in Cincinnati heading into the final Grand Slam of the year.
Roddick, as I have said many times before, has thoroughly impressed me for years now. He has truly worked his tail off to develop a backhand and a more patient game. He used to just blast big first serves and rely on his very strong forehand. For years now, he has demonstrated an all around game. And though he hit number 1 in the summer of 2003, his game was not nearly at the level in which it is at now. Many of you are probably asking how that could be possible. I mean he was ranked number 1 then and is not even in the top 10 now. Well it comes from watching the guy play.
ARod still demonstrates a very strong forehand and first serve. But he has really cut down on his unforced errors and now has a somewhat effective backhand. Plus he has developed a reliable net game and his fitness level is light-years better than it ever was. Lastly, he typically has demonstrates a cool, workmanlike demeanor on the court. Andy’s amazing work ethic shows in his abilities to play all around tennis these days.
All of this went out the door though against his good buddy Mardy Fish. The match was all knotted up late in the first before a rain delay. Roddick took advantage of the delay though and immediately closed out the first set in the first game following the delay. Then in the 2nd, he seemed to be cruising until a second rain delay hit. This time, Fish took advantage coming back from a 5 to 2 deficit, and captured the 2nd set in a tiebreaker. Fish cruised to finishing things off in the 3rd.
The end of the 2nd and the entire 3rd set reminded me of the “old” Roddick days. Andy appeared out of shape and looked to close out points as quickly as possible. His patience went out the window and it showed with the amount of unnecessary unforced errors he committed. Plus his backhand was lapsing. Lastly, his temper came out. Roddick has generally been good at keeping his emotions in check for years now. Yesterday was a major exception though.
In the end, the Roddick of “old” came out and cost him a finals showdown with his old rival Roger Federer. Roger captured a much-needed title today though and looks very sharp heading into the US Open.
Roddick still had a great week and knocked off 2 top five players in Djokovic and Soderling. But his recent bout with mononucleosis seemed to hurt his stamina yesterday. Lets hope that this does not hurt him in Flushing as he is probably the only American hope to bring home the title.
Which Roddick will show up in Flushing Meadows? The new and improved Andy, or the “old” Andy?
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.