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Upset Alert! 01/18/2008 - 8:34 AM

Roddick Good morning all. I've tried to answer most (I think all, but I might have missed a few) of the questions in the Ask Tom post. If you have any interest, head back over there for more. Some of you might be watching Philipp Kohlschreiber as he threatens to put Andy Roddick out with the early morning Melbourne trash. The man's playing some fantastic ball at the moment, especially on big points. In the third set, he recovered from 5-5, 15-40 (including a 31-stroke rally) and in the tiebreaker he saved two set points. His backhand has been exceptional all night -- except for the one he just whiffed on (an omen of things to come?).

Feel free to comment here as I head upstairs for the rest of the match. I'll report back later.

***

Now, that was a classic Melbourne match. We had fabulous shot making, mostly from Kohlschreiber (at one point in late in the fourth late, the man hit so many backhand down the line winners and forehand cross court passes that you had to wonder whether he was plugged into a nearby electrical outlet--no human ought to put out that much voltage stroke after stroke).

We had clutch serving the likes of which I haven't seen in a long time, if ever, from Roddick, who obliterated three match points with three aces in the outside corner of the ad court service box, the first at 147 mph, the second at 141 mph, and the third at 138 mph. That's the most difficult serve in the business at the fastest speeds possible. Three times. In the same game. All three on match point. Unrealistic. He also let his second serve fly on a couple of key points, knowing that it was his best chance (once it worked, the other it didn't, but it didn't matter in the end).

You want gaudy offensive statistics? Kohlschreiber hit 104 winners and made 33 errors. Roddick had 79 winners and 24 errors. Roddick won 83% of points on his first serve; Kohlschreiber won 83% and 63% on his second serve (he served out of his mind; that's not one of his strengths). Roddick hit 42 aces; Kohlschreiber 32. If you are looking for a good way to measure the disparity between these two men in baseline rallies, here it is: 11 forehand and 3 backhand winners for Roddick, versus 27 forehand and 30 backhand winners for Kohlschreiber.

We had a hostile crowd, too, one that turned on Roddick, who is usually something of a fan favorite in Melbourne, in favor of an unknown (to most people) German player with a flashy game who hits one-handed backhands that at times defy belief. We also had steam coming out of Roddick's ears: I haven't seen him this worked up in a long time. He yelled at Kohlschreiber's vocal fans and told them to "Shut up!" He hated the way chair umpire Emmanuel Joseph, who was given the business by Lindsay Davenport earlier this week, called the match, handled the crowd, and interpreted the rule of Hawkeye challenges (when you can make them and when to play a let or award a point). Roddick heaped abuse on him--I'm not sure what was audible on television, so I'll share a few of his best lines:

"You need to do your job."

"Do you have ears? Do you have ears connected to your head?"

"Stay in school kids, or you'll end being an umpire."

And my personal favorite, "I'd love to be stuck in an elevator with this guy for about five minutes."

Why Joseph took all this without at least a warning I'll never know. Stick up for yourself man!

Kohlschreiber played the match of his life--and I have to say, I didn’t think he had it in him. He's what you might best describe as a high wire act, the sort of player who can dazzle and dominate, but who expends so much energy while doing it that he can't possible remain precise for long stretches. Roddick knew this and smartly tried to wait for Kohlschreiber to fall on his face, just as Rafael Nadal did at last year's Australian Open, when he beat Kohlschreiber in four sets. Kohlschreiber played a sloppy game in the second set and wobbled a few times in the third, when he wiggled out of a 15-40 jam at 5-5 (that 31 stroke rally I mentioned before). But he wouldn't fall. Roddick didn't expect him to keep his balance, either.

"I took his best stuff for five sets and I thought I was going to get him to break or to fold," Roddick said. "I thought if I kept it on him long enough that that would happen. Tonight he played like a great, great player."

Roddick also tempered his remarks with a bit of realism: "Let's let him get into the quarterfinal of a slam before we put him in the hierarchy of tennis. No disrespect, but I mean...." (Don't take it out of context; he was asked about Kohlschreiber's ability and gave a solid assessment. That's it.)

This was Roddick's best chance since the 2006 U.S. Open to reach a major final (he had a good shot against Rafael Nadal on this surface). For that reason, this is an enormous loss, a terrible, awful loss, worse than the loss to Gasquet at Wimbledon last year. I leave it to you to debate when he'll have another chance as good as this one.

That's it, I'm done for the night. Talk away and I'll check in later this morning.


68 Comments

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Posted by Val 01/18/2008 at 08:48 PM

Unfortunately, I am glad Andy lost. He always acts like a whiny cry baby.

Posted by frank 01/18/2008 at 10:38 PM

Kohlschreiber has been playing great stuff since the season started. He's just come from winning in Auckland and I think anybody with any sense would have already earmarked him as the main outsider threat in the bottom half of the draw. It was always on that he would take Roddick out - I certainly cleaned up a neat little amount betting on him to win today! :))

Posted by # 01/18/2008 at 11:21 PM


How could Roddick possibly have had 'a good chance against Nadal on this surface' when it's practically the same as Indian Wells where Nadal wiped the floor with him last spring?

It's certainly beginning to look as if Sam Querrey will be the last American man standing today....

Posted by Bob 01/19/2008 at 12:19 AM

Roddick's whining was utterly disgusting, as was Lindsay's. It was obvious to a stump that Roddick let that ball go and had no intention of hitting it, thinking it was out. The ball was already past him when the linesperson called it out. He had no play on the ball whatsoever. He could have hit the ball before it was called out. If he had done that, it would be totally different, but he didn't, and it was obvious to the umpire and everyone else in the universe. His whining really was sick, even worse than Lindsay's, which was pretty bad. If the crowd hadn't gotten angry over his display of bad manners and LInday's, then the crowd would be brain dead.

Posted by Bob 01/19/2008 at 12:39 AM

Roddick needs to do something we've never seen done. Change and improve your game after you are about 23. I think Henin and Federer have improved their games, but not their shotmaking, since that age. They have so many options that they do get better, in terms of wins, as they get older. The standard two-handed baseliner never does. Roddick needs to hit flat hard shots, like Connors did. His shots have so much topspin (or are cake slices), that they are easy to get to almost all of the time. I didn't give him any chance against Nadal. As you note, once the ball is in play, Roddick is toast, and he'd be burnt toast against Nadal, who is also a better returner than Kohlschreiber. I've liked Kohlschreiber for the past year, since I first saw him. He's a gentleman and a shotmaker, and is a pretty small guy, at 5'10" and 154 lbs.

Cilic might be a new star. I enjoy it when they emerge. Kohlschreiber is too old at 23 to be a great player, but Cilic is only 19, and 6'5" with great movement.

Posted by steve 01/19/2008 at 09:53 AM

Awesome match. I think andy played a great match. Look at the percentages 79 winners to 24 errors. That's an amazing set of numbers. I do think Andy is much better of the 2 handed backhand side since Conners came. He still needs a lot of improvement on the slice. It's not skidding low enough and he doesn't have any disguse on the dropper. But great numbers and great match.
Kohlschreiber was awesome, period.
104 winners to 33 errors. Almost the same percentage as Roddick. This was the best quality tennis in a long time. The German just hit 33 more winners. 33 winners is a good match. 104 is great. Andy played great. Kohlschreiber just played perfect. Roger, Nadal, Mac, Pete, etc. would have lost. 104 winners against a top ten player is perfect. Great performance and I would like to watch more. Hope he can continue this top play. It will make this year more fun to watch. The bar has been raised again.

Posted by federerfan 01/19/2008 at 12:30 PM

Why do you have to try so hard everytime to put a positive spin on everything Roddick does?

I used to hate his guts for being arrogant but I really started liking him, once I saw there was more to Andy, especially once he started becoming humble after his slump starting that USO first round loss in 05. And along with it, I started finding a way to tolerate Roddicks occasional outbursts. Hell, even Fed has his moments, although he wins most everything...so a guy who sees all his efforts end in a defeat..is bound to crack and say something.

But "a few of his best lines" ???? What is so best about what he said to the ref? and you want the ref to "stand up for himself?", As i see it, he had a lot more cool and common sense to not react to stupid comments compared to what Andy showed in those moments.

I am not saying "beat him up over it" but going overboard to glorify everything Andy does, frankly, is pitiable. He played a pretty good game and yes he does have some of the best lines in the interview room, people actually like him and his game as he is (with the good, bad and the ugly) and dont need his ugly side to be glorified.

Posted by Luke 01/19/2008 at 01:09 PM

I think by "best," he meant "most noticeable/memorable" (with perhaps a hint of sarcasm thrown in). Which is not necessarily a good thing.

Call me a fool, but I've always enjoyed watching Andy play *because* he doesn't have the smooth flowing game that pretty much guarantees the win (*cough*Federer*cough*). One dimensional or not, the man has had to work, and work hard, to get where he is, and he has to work in order to win every time he steps foot on court. I find it nigh impossible not to respect that.

Oh, and you can start calling Andy "overrated" once he's out of the top ten and no longer making deep runs at most tournaments (if you can manage that, I'll try to refrain from whining about Federer being overrated).

Posted by Tennisfan 01/19/2008 at 04:27 PM

I have to say these are really, really funny comments. Specially the one about Andy possibly being a closet scientologist!!!!! Also the crying and complaining have become the trademark of American players when they fail to win. They just don't lack grace when they lose (are you listening Serena). Andy and the williams sisters could get a lesson or two from the likes of Sharapova. Say what you will about Sharapova, but she is a gracefull loser and she proved it last year with a memorable speech during the trophy ceremony at the AO.

Posted by Rikard 01/19/2008 at 05:47 PM

Yes , Andy has a great serve but one which,say, Federer mostly reads like a book.When his serve is returned there are many players who have sounder and more imaginative games than he has. I used to think he was a welcome change in a new generation from say Connors and McEnroe,who got away with absolute murder for far too long and which umpires did little to crack down on. After the petulant,spoiled brat act when playing Kohlschreiber ,once again there seems to be an Ugly American in the game. Witty one-liners not withstanding.I do not think any umpire should be as lenient should similar outbursts occur.

Posted by hdpoppa 01/19/2008 at 06:44 PM

I am afraid Andy is on his way to become the Ugly American of tennis. He has seen too many clips of Connors, who was a model of unsportmanship and appealed to the lowest tier ot tennis fans.
HD

Posted by Mitzi Heim 01/19/2008 at 10:03 PM

I used to think Andy was one of the best but his potty mouth and petulant attitude quickly cured me of being the least bit interested in him. For one thing other than needing to slow up the trash talk he needs to start buying shirts that fit him. He pulls at his shirts constantly and he is not graceful at all. He can't sit still and is constantly inmotion. He does give funny interviews but that is about all there is to him. Federer is at least a gentleman.

Posted by James fr Singapore 01/20/2008 at 12:01 AM

Kohlschreiber was fabulous, and it was poetic justice that he win, though he played outstanding!

As for Roddick, he is disgraceful, all his remarks were not warranted, and trying to overturn the hawk eye review, is the most illogical behaviour by a tennis professional. He was very rude to the umpire, entirely arrogant and condescending, while the umpire was right all the time! By the end of the match, only the die hard Americans are routing for him, while the international audience despises his lack of character.

I predict Roddick will never win another GS again! By now, every one knows he only intimidates with his serve !

Posted by Mea 01/20/2008 at 12:26 AM

Most of you are too hard on Roddick. (1) The guy really works hard on his game the best he knows how. Hence, he is still in the top 10. You don't get to stay there unless your a great player. (2) He's attitude has improved over the years. Although I agree that 1 or 2 comments on Friday was not necessary, but most players does that. Federer & others only kept their cool because their winning. Look back when Federer used to lose a lot of matches, he throws his racket, argued with umpires...the point is, its not just Roddick. And saying that he should not represent our country because of one outburst, is way harsh. We're not all saints (most comments accross the board are evidence of that), when put in similar position, we would act the same way. The only difference is that he's high profile. (3) The fact that Roddick's name is always thrown in the mix proves that people like him and actually considers him a great player. Otherwise why the high expectation? Why not talk about other players? Comm'n now, be honest, we're just frustrated when he can't meet our expectations. (4) Andy's right, "call a spade a spade" PK was great that night but he just lost to Nieminen in the 4th Rd today. His "great shot making" was gone. A great player is determined by consistency coupled with improvement, NOT a one match wonder.
And lastly, Don't be quick to criticize (unless it's constractive & fair). Give credit to where it's due. Does any of you play great tennis, do you know what it takes to get fit for a match, tournament. It's so easy to say improve the BH, FH but can any of YOU actually do it? You're a bunch of "first aider" criticizing on how a doctor should conduct surgery. (even surgeon has their field of speciality. Roddick's BH may not be his but at least he's training to improve it). So don't criticize something or someone that YOU can't do or become.

Posted by JL 02/01/2008 at 01:03 PM

Although, Andy lost the match against Kohlschreiber, it is unrealistic to compare his career to Roddick. I can count the players who have won major championship on ATP tour since 2000 with my right-hand. Do not forget, Andy Roddick has to be incorporated in the short list of players with granslam title.
In the near future,I predict Roddick will win his second granslam title. Sometime, "we" as American take Andy for granted.

Posted by Lynn 02/24/2008 at 04:50 PM

In spite of all the "jerks" who have turned against the US's best player, I am and always will be a great fan. Andy Roddick gave me a renewed interest in watching tennis again ever since the first time I saw him serve. He has always been an exciting player to watch. Although he isn't number one in the world again (how many ever can say they were number one), I am always looking to watch his matches and will until his last. I must say that I have always loved tennis (used to be an avid player when I was younger)and now that I am older (I have a son Andy's age), I still enjoy every tournament Andy plays in. When all is said and done, he will be remembered not only for his great serve, but for his exciting game play. P.S. He's also cute.

Posted by penguin 03/14/2008 at 12:45 PM

You can do it Roddick, don't give up!

Posted by FairPlay 02/10/2009 at 03:18 AM

The chair umpire did the right thing staying calm and not hitting back against Roddick's ridiculous tirade. As a result of this the well respected French umpire will probably choose not to umpire any more of his matches (he did not at the 2009 Aus Open), which is a big loss for Roddick because he is one of the best umpires on the circuit. Roddick is an arrogant man with no social skills and needs to learn a little humility.

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