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Eager Andy 11/14/2007 - 11:36 AM

Two nights after he ran over Roger Federer, Fernando Gonzalez succeeded Wednesday in toppling a lineswoman. That was the extent of the damage Gonzo (Gonezo?) caused against Andy Roddick. The American polished of the 6-1, 6-4 victory in five minutes more than an hour. Roddickbow

Not so easy to interpret Roddick's form from this match. It went too fast and Gonzalez did exactly what he can't afford to do against a big server: fall behind early (he dropped the first five games). Roddick served great (no break points against) and gave Gonzalez, he of the long, time-consuming forehand swing, little time to hit balls. Considering the level of tennis we've seen in three matches so far, this match (and the night in general) was a downer. Friday--Federer v. Roddick, Act 16--ought to make up for it.

Roddick's mental state was much easier to read. The man looks refreshed (winning will do that to you). His recent niggling injuries don't seem to be bothering him, either. When I asked him if his emphasis on Davis Cup had relieved him of some pressure at this tournament, he said that if anything, he perhaps felt a little more pressure, but also something else. "Maybe I came here eager because of it," he said.

So I ask you all, how long has it been since Roddick and Federer played a match where there was more on the line for Federer than Roddick? That's what we have waiting for us on Friday. Roddick is the first man through to the semifinals. He could knock Federer out of the tournament, but if he doesn't, there's no harm, other than perhaps having to play Federer again in the final (if there's one danger here, in terms of Roddick's confidence, it would be losing to Federer twice in three days, but it's not worth thinking much about that at this juncture). My guess is that a lot of the frustration for Roddick against Federer has to do with the fact that he's usually playing really well by the time he meets the world No. 1, which makes a tournament-ending loss all the worse. The U.S. Open quarterfinal this year was particularly painful. Hard to imagine Roddick playing much better than that, and still, nothing. This tournament isn't going to end for Roddick on Friday; that changes things a lot.

Federer and Roddick's head-to-head stat sheet is gruesome (Federer has won their last 10 meetings and 14 out of 15). Those are big brother versus little brother numbers, not pro tennis rival numbers. Roddick almost beat Federer here last year (that match was his and he let it slip away). Is this the one? Will there ever be one? Chime in until tomorrow.

PS: If those Federer v. Roddick stats don't blow your mind, these will.


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Posted by Fedexfan 11/14/2007 at 11:58 AM


I was scoreboard watching this match. It looked like Roddick just blown Gonzo with his serve. No BPs.

Posted by Andrew 11/14/2007 at 12:12 PM

bahahaha. Mark my words: Federer will never have a winning record against Federer.

Posted by Rolo Tomassi 11/14/2007 at 12:14 PM

Hi, Tom,

Thanks for all the dispatches from Shanghai - the next best thing to being there!

Regarding Andy versus Roger, I agree that there's much more at stake for Roger on the day. I also feel that "all" Andy needs this week to come out feeling great is one win against Fed - I'm sure he'd dearly love to knock him out of the tourney tomorrow, but he's be just as happy, I'm sure, to beat him in the final on Sunday. I think for Andy's head going into 2008, either would be just fine, and give him that belief when they meet.

I also feel that losing their RR match could be a gift in disguise for Andy even if he has to face Roger again in the final ... I once heard a player say that playing Roger more than once in quick succession is actually a good thing because it prepares you for those outrageous gets and out-of-nowhere winners in the second meeting.

Having said all of this, I have a hard time seeing Andy beating Roger either day, or ever - I just don't think he has the wit/variety to pull it off. He has the serve, but he had that working as well as ever at the US Open this year and the result speaks for itsef. I do wish it for him, though - he deserves a win just for keeping up the fight all the years, but as Clint Eastwood says in Unforgiven, "Deserve's got nothing to do with it."

Posted by Sher 11/14/2007 at 01:42 PM

[So I ask you all, how long has it been since Roddick and Federer played a match where there was more on the line for Federer than Roddick? ]

Australian Open 2007, US Open 2007, so I guess a few months?

Posted by The Original French(ie) 11/14/2007 at 01:53 PM

It's always a bit disheartening when one has to read that Roddick does have the "wit" to pull off a win against Federer.

As his record shows, he has taken sets over the Fed, so it's totally feasible with his tennis and I don't think his intellectual capabilities or how he approaches the game are the problem. What is always forgotten in Roddick's case, is that he is a very emotional, nervous player ("émotif" as we say in French) despite his "big game" and that he loses his composure against the Swiss more than usual. The Fed can read him like an open book! Sometimes I think it's not even fair play, the way it's so easy for him to play around Roddick.

Now that Federer is the one rattled and a bit shaky-in-the-head and Roddick has got some momentum, I'm really curious to see how it will go.

I really like the Eastwood quote, but I think Roddick "deserves" a break in his battle against Federer and I hope it's going to be this week.

Posted by The Original French(ie) 11/14/2007 at 01:54 PM

does NOT HAVE THE WIT. sorry it's getting late in here.

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 11/14/2007 at 01:56 PM

Other than the fact that Federer has the greatest defensive return of serve I've ever seen, and Roddick's entire game plan revolves around losing a majority of the points when he is not serving and using his serve to keep even, I'd say Roddick has nothing to worry about.

Its not merely happenstance that Roddick is frustrated with this match up.

Posted by Kash 11/14/2007 at 01:58 PM

Hi Tom,

That last one was really good :) If I laugh any louder my boss will kick me out of the office.

As for andy Vs roger, i feel the exact opposite sentiments. I think fed will steam roll roddick like the aussie open semi-final and claim he is back to his dominating best. over the years, roger has used a-rod as the canvas to show off all his masterpieces. the effect of roger's sublime game gets exaggerated when he plays roddick, whose game is the god-sent match up for fed. roddick is quick on the court, but his court sense is just lousy enough for fed to blow winners past him left right and center. a player with a better court sense like djokovic, nalbandian or nadal really makes it tough for the rajah. roddick's serve is great but just not great enough to bet fed-ex's return. same goes for a-rod's fh which is just not good enough to cover his bh from roger's exmanination. all in all, he is the player fed would love to play to just get a little "good feeling" going. i will be looking for a fed master-class, which ironically might not be such a good thing for roger, coz he really needs tighten his game up a bit against counter punchers like nalby, canas and nadal.

Posted by Rosangel 11/14/2007 at 02:00 PM

Tom: very interesting, again.

Sher: you don't think Andy had anything on the line there? As in, you don't think that a second Slam win might even be more important to Andy Roddick, who has been criticised so often for being a one-Slam wonder, than a 10th or 12th to Roger Federer?

I'd like to know why you think there was more on the line for Federer than for Roddick at this year's AO or USO?

Posted by Kash 11/14/2007 at 02:14 PM

Original Frenchie

"As his record shows, he has taken sets over the Fed, so it's totally feasible with his tennis and I don't think his intellectual capabilities or how he approaches the game are the problem."

>>>>> I believe each profession or skill has a "feel" associated with it. And the presence/lack of that feel can make you seem dumb/intelligent when employing that skill. I personally think roddick doesnt have that feel for tennis. for sure he is an excellent competitor and has a world class serve and fh but I dont think he is in the same league as federer in the "feel/intellect" category. To put it in another way, in any other game which does not involve the same "intellect parameters" as tennis, fed may not have owned roddick as he does now. However, when the intellect parameter set required to excel at a profession matches well with your intellect (like it does for roger) the results could be catastrophic for other lesser gifted players like roddick. Roddick might win tomorrow and maybe some more times against fed, but it is also equally likely that he will get pounded much more by fed-ex. A 100% fed will always win against a 100% a-rod. The only way that changes is if a-rod can match fed in the tennis intellect department, atleast that is the most straight forward way of remedying it, if one had to fix it.

Posted by Kash 11/14/2007 at 02:21 PM


if i may,

"I'd like to know why you think there was more on the line for Federer than for Roddick at this year's AO or USO?"

>>>>> There is more on line when people are expecting something off you than when people have written you off, dusted that book, packed it neatly in a container and buried it off in netherworld. Andy has had nothing to lose ever since the "rivalry" turned into a joke a year or so ago in the US open final. after that, not even roddick's staunchest believers would have thought roddick had anything to lose when he played fed-ex.

Posted by The Original French(ie)- 11/14/2007 at 02:49 PM

I personally think roddick doesnt have that feel for tennis.
if I may too, and it's late here so I don't want to start anything- but saying that about someone who has won a slam, 2 or 3 masters series (& 23 titles in all) and lost at least 2 finals to Federer is just plain "silly" . Federer is better at anticipating Roddick's game because Roddick freezes out there, that's all.I'm sorry really.good night.

Posted by Tim 11/14/2007 at 02:49 PM

ah ROgie give Andy a win so everyone can talk about how he's the favorite for Australia next year, and then smash him to bits again in Laver Arena... that was so much fun, would love a repeat!

gonzo's epic collapse just gives the whole event a dour reality check ... Fed played terrible today, Davyd played worse, and its all about 'whee, I have nothing to lose, lets hit for the fences!' ANdy's next up at the plate...

Posted by andrea 11/14/2007 at 02:57 PM

hmmmm...lots of good postings. i was nervous before their match up at the AO after all the 'gap is closing' hype and then of course, sat slack jawed at the decimation of andy.

then i had the good fortune to watch their QF live at the US Open and wonder how roger manages to get a handle on that serve!

andy likes to come out strong aand he'll no doubt be all fired up. i agree that mentally roger may be in a more 'questioning' mindset than andy, but i think his losses to nalbandian and gonzalez are being over analyzed. those guys played with their hearts and mind on fire when they beat roger.

someone posted about how andy gets all emotional and that's the key to why he loses to roger - once he's down, it's all over.

Posted by SwissMaestro 11/14/2007 at 03:26 PM

No one, and I mean NO ONE can read, handle and return Roddick's powerful serve like Federer with a single flick of his racquet. Did you guys see when he played against Roddick in the quaterfinals of the USO? Roddick was throwing fire at him for over 2 hours (God! like serving out of at tree!) and Federer was just blocking it back and waiting for his opportunity (including a 140 mph return he put on the line and Roddick could do nothing but laugh at it). My guess is the same, Federer is such a clutch player when he is focus and he will be for he knows what he needs to secure a groups first place: WINNING IN straight sets!

My prediction: Federer 7-6 (7-4) and 6-3

Posted by SwissMaestro 11/14/2007 at 03:27 PM

and of course, out-acing Roddick for the 14th time in 16 matches...

Posted by budour 11/14/2007 at 03:35 PM

my love affair with andy started in the 01 us open when he beat the then my favourite alex corretja. in those 6 years I always believed in andy. even if he loses to fed 100 times I will always have the belief that andy can beat that guy. and he has to believe in himself. and andy can beat federer. if he plays like he did in their last match at the open and fed plays like he played today vs. kolya, andy will win. fed always raises his game when he faces andy but someday he will have an off day and andy will win. andy is a fighter and no matter what happens, he will always play his heart out and thats what makes him so special. come on andy!!! you can do it!!

Posted by Robin Pratt 11/14/2007 at 03:44 PM

Hey, tennis fans.

Where are the fans.

A nonscientific sampling of the crowds in Shanghai show many empty seats. There were even more empty seats in Madrid last week. And these year end championships promise only matches among the elite.

Is this a bad trend? Does not make any sense to me since Indian Wells was sold out in large stadium the first weekend for the first time.

Or is Ivan Lendl right? YEC should be at a place like Madison Square Garden. Will be interesting to see how much interest there is next year in London.

And did anyone see the Stanford Championship matches on Tennis Channel this past week. There were so few fans that it was embarrassing. And watching Courier, McEnroe, Martin, Ferreira, Cash, and Phillopousus is not exactly like watching club tennis. I don't see how they can survive.

Posted by Juan José 11/14/2007 at 03:47 PM

I fully agree with Hank/DM in that Federer is the GOAT of first serve returns. But my God, is he average with it's time to deal with softie second serves.

I think that if Andy is intelligent, he has a shot. Since all else failed, why not let Federer take the initiative? Things have gone astray for Fed when that has happened. Roddick seems to be covering the court well, so playing a little D to frustrate Fed could be an opportunity.

Again, and by no means he should charge the net. Especially to Fed's backhand side. Just don't do it, Andy. Drill that backhand from the baseline.

Don't ask Federer to come up with great shots to beat you. Because, you know what? He will.

Posted by budour 11/14/2007 at 03:52 PM

TOF, second that.
in fact, andy won 4 masters series titles. rached 4 major finals winning the us open and losing to fed in the other 3. he reached 8 major semis... besides fed, rafa and lleyton, I don't think there is an active player who has achieved more than him. andy would have won 5 or 6 slams and 2 times as many titles if federer had not been there. but... /sigh/
come on andy!!

Posted by SwissMaestro 11/14/2007 at 03:56 PM

Exactly Juan Jose,

Players that let Federer take initiative are the ones that have troubled him the most in the past because they get the best of his patience and he goes for too much to soon missing the line by a nanometer but if Roddick goes agains Fed with a gameplan challenging to hit great shots to beat him he will: crosscourt forehand passing shots, down the line backhand passing shots, return winners, you name it...

Posted by Suresh 11/14/2007 at 04:20 PM

Roddick gets many free points against Gonzo because of his monster serve. Gonzalez does not get many balls back in play - on the other hand someone like Federer puts more pressure on Roddick by his return of serve.

Another point , at least as I saw it in today's match - Gonzalez' powerful groundies are neutralized to an extent as Roddick stands further back from the baseline. Fernando tends to blast the balls instead of working the angles which might be a better play against Roddick as he stands so deep in the court - on an off day, it certainly does not help Gonzo's case as such strokes have a low margin of error.

Posted by Ray Stonada 11/14/2007 at 04:26 PM

It's a real pleasure reading you Tom. Great stuff. And it's to all our benefit that you've gotten Juan José commenting regularly again.

At this point, I really am rooting for Andy to take this match. It's not rocket surgery, but I think if he serves well and defends well he has a shot. I think he should come in, but more to clean up after pounding a short ball than off of intentional approaches. The other thing I've noticed is that it is possible to hit clean winners against Federer, on shallow, wide angles to his backhand side. Nalbandian and Gonzalez both did this successfully. Go wide to Fed's forehand, though, and you're usually toast.

Andy seems more in charge of his game right now than during last year's Master's Cup, when Connors had him looking like a kamikaze. He should play his own game, rather than try to adjust excessively to Federer. Also, I think it will benefit Roddick that the really important event for him, the Davis Cup, is still to come. This is all gravy.

With all that, I give him a 25% shot at the match.

Posted by Sher 11/14/2007 at 04:28 PM


I'd like to know why Tom thinks there was less on the line for Roger than for Andy. Roger was a clear favourite to win the entire Slam both times, not just that one match. If that is not pressure, and if having a slam on the line is not enough, I don't know what is.

Posted by 11/14/2007 at 06:40 PM

this one goes to andy tomorrow. if there is any justice in the universe, andy will have his win against roger. we're not talking about another slam title or anything, just a win. the win that forces mirka to schedule an earlier flight out of shanghai.

talk about a guy who deserves a break!
come on...even the most ardent fed kads feel pity for andy sometimes.

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