Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - Answering the Questions
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Answering the Questions 12/01/2007 - 10:47 PM

ArjbIn the third set of Saturday's doubles match, just after the Bryan brothers had broken for the first time and put one hand firmly on the Davis Cup, the big screen at the top of Memorial Coliseum flashed back to the last time the U.S. was in this position, in 1995. That was against the Russians as well, and the screen was full of the man who beat them single-handedly and in dramatic fashion that year, Pete Sampras. I looked toward the sideline to see whether the player he beat to clinch that weekend, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, happened to be watching. Instead, it was Andy Roddick who was standing, his full attention on the screen above. When the clip ended and Sampras was shown saying, "it was one of the greatest accomplishments of my career," Roddick clapped loudly and nodded in satisfaction.

Those well-known pictures of Sampras winning and falling to the clay in agony must have been an inspiration to Roddick for years, but his relationship to them was about to change. After seven years of toiling in Ostrava, Bratislava, Seville, Göteborg, and dozen of other far-flung tennis outposts, he wasn't going to have to live up to those legendary images anymore.

Neither were James Blake and Patrick McEnroe, or Mardy Fish and Robby Ginepri, for that matter. That's because their teammates, the Bryan brothers, after two close sets, had broken the serves and spirits of their Russian opponents Nikolay Davydenko and Igor Andreev. The Bryans would get one more break for good measure, and after Bob popped a volley off the court and into the stands, this generation of American men finally had a team title to call their own.

The third point in the tie was never seriously in doubt Saturday, but for a set and a half it hadn't exactly been easy. One shot-maker can do a lot of damage on a doubles court, even if the format isn't his specialty, and Igor Andreev proved that today. We know he has one of the most explosive forehands around, but watching it up close I was surprised by how viciously he cuts at it. In his practice session in the morning I thought he was swinging as hard as he could just for the hell of it. But as the match began it was clear this was how he hits it all the time—by the end of the match I was half-expecting his arm to fly off.

To warm them up for Andreev, the Bryans had asked Robby Ginepri to hit his forehand "as hard as he could." That's about all you can do to get ready for it, but Andreev still set the bros back on their heels with a few nasty returns and mid-court bullets. More surprising was Andreev's skill around the net. Despite his beyond-extreme forehand grip, he adjusted well up there and knocked off a series of angled backhand volleys, including one that he flicked in the opposite direction at the last second. The Russians stayed back even on their first serves and never poached—returns from the Bryans that would have been mauled by most teams floated down the middle of the court unharmed—but they still matched the Americans hold for hold.

No matter how vicious, you can only rely on ground strokes for so long against a net-crowding team who knows what it's doing. The Russians went up 3-1 in the tiebreaker, but that's when they finally fell back to earth. The turnaround came at 3-3, when Bob outrallied Andreev in a crosscourt forehand exchange. Three points later, Andreev, hero of the first 12 games, double-faulted the set away for the Russians. When Davydenko was broken one game later, the floodgates were open.

At that point, the Bryans appeared to begin moving in fast forward. They walked more quickly between points, knuckle-bumped in a hurry, and snapped off their volleys with more disdain. Each of them foot-faulted at least once—they may have just been in too much of a rush to throw themselves into the court and put the team one point closer to the Cup.

As for the Russians, they kept firing forehands into the Bryans defenses but couldn't find a way through. Three blasts from the baseline would just lead to a fourth that flew long. The Bryans kept moving forward, into the Russian attack—Mike knocked one forehand volley for a winner as he was ducking. The Bryans crowded closer and closer to the net, as if it were the finishing line for the Davis Cup and they were in a neck-and-neck race to pound each ball away. Two points before they reached that finish line, the crowd made them pause for a deafening roar and the big-screen camera panned to Roddick, who had tears in his eyes.

Throughout the week, Roddick said that even after seven years, getting to play Davis Cup for his country remained a "surreal experience." When a reporter told him that his win Friday tied him with Arthur Ashe for Davis Cup victories, Roddick looked dumbstruck. He was silent for a second, then said that hearing his name with Ashe's was "insane."

Unlike the Bryans, Fish, or Blake, Roddick still strikes me as an accidental tennis player, a guy who might have naturally gone to baseball or basketball. He says his parents didn't know anything about tennis when they were younger, but they liked individual sports so they put his older brother, John, in a clinic as a kid. Eventually Andy followed him onto the court.

Roddick is a cocky guy, no question, but he still brings a "do I really deserve to be here?" attitude to representing the U.S. The fact that he's had to live with names like Agassi, Sampras, and Courier ringing in his ears hasn't helped. When he reached No. 1 in 2003, he might have plausibly believed that he was going to succeed them as the next great American champion. It hasn't worked out that way in the Grand Slams, but that's only made the quest to win a Cup—a tradition among top U.S. players—that much more important to Roddick.

Today's win is the culmination of years of team effort from a group of guys who have taken a lot of criticism. But it's Roddick's win more than anyone else's. He's the guy who has played everywhere, played hurt, and made a specialty of clinching ties. His dedication to DC, which has been deeper for a longer period of time than Sampras' or Agassi's was, let people know that the U.S. cared about the event again. For years, the best American players were more committed to winning individual major titles than Davis Cup titles; now the U.S. may be more committed to the team concept than any other country (we'll see what happens now that they've won it, but that's not a question for today). One reason the Americans won this weekend is simply that all of their best players were there, while one of Russia's, Marat Safin, didn't show.

We could hear the boys coming in the press room today. Blake, Roddick, Ginepri, Pat Mac, the Bryans, John Isner, Donald Young, and other assorted hangers-on chanted "U.S.A.!" on the way in. They careened through the door with cups in their hands, their hats on sideways, and what I can only assume was beer all over their shirts. As Roddick sat down, he yelled to the room at large, "I'm not answering sh--!"

When it comes to his place in U.S. Davis Cup history, he doesn't have to anymore.


 
78
Comments
 

Posted by REDTennis 12/01/2007 at 11:12 PM

Great post..this really is such a historic match. Andy desreved this. He gets so much critism for not beating Federer and not living up to the American tennis predecesos. He really proved himself.

Great day for Blake..a real class act player..happy he has an important title

Posted by jb 12/01/2007 at 11:55 PM

awe man Steve - this was a great post! I had to leave right after the US win (thank goodness for good humoured friends who don't mind my being late..) and just got back. I'm still all sorts of psyched for the boys!

I think the dedication to davis cup will remain there - at least for this particular team. Between the long road to the final win, and the fact this team truly seems to be a 'team', i'm seeing them wanting to play and win davis cup for while. I may of course be a cock-eyed optimist, but i'm thinking this it important in a real way to these guys, its not just a notch in their belts.

either way - glad you're there - and thanks for the posts!

Posted by Dan 12/02/2007 at 01:43 AM

Dar Steve T.
This is the most moving and im;ressive tennis article I have read in years. Warmest thanks.
Dan Scarlett
Santa Rosa California

Posted by KG 12/02/2007 at 02:33 AM

Grrrrreat post Steve! Though I'm not a big Roddick fan, he thoroughly deserved this one. At least he now has this great achievement to his name even more Slams aren't coming (and may not at the rate Fed, Rafa & co are going). Many kudos to him and the team. Ecstatic for Blake too!!

Posted by Joey Z 12/02/2007 at 02:37 AM

Im very happy for Andy, James the Bryan brothers and Pat McEnroe. They are a team, they've dealt with a lot and this weekend it all paid off.

I think loads of top tennis players are cocky...but at the same time I think Andy is pretty respectful and gives credit to other players when he loses. And with all he has had to deal with (e.g. Federer, the new young guns) I think he has really hung in there and showed a lot of fight and heart.

Congrats to Team USA...I'm really happy for these guys!

Posted by ncot 12/02/2007 at 02:51 AM

go andy!!! do not answer sh*t!!! hahaha. really funny guy. if there's one who deserve it the most, it's really roddick.

i hope he solves federer one day. but one milestone at a time, they say...today is for celebrating their win! congrats USA!

Posted by Or 12/02/2007 at 02:54 AM

Great article, I was so happy for Andy, standing there with tears in his eyes.

The US team is no fluke winner, between Andy and James and the Bryans, it's amazing it took them so long.

I'm thrilled for the Americans, they were most deserving.

Posted by mary 12/02/2007 at 03:22 AM

Do you think Roddick punched his ticket for Newport with this win?

Posted by Rob York 12/02/2007 at 06:47 AM

I said a few weeks back that Roddick's accomplishments match up very well with any other "one slam wonder" who ever played, and that's especially true now. Before he's finished, he will have accomplished more than Chang or Gerulitis, I believe. Unlike most other uni-slammers, his failure to win more has been the doing of one single opponent, who just happens to be the most gifted to ever pick up a racquet. Is he hall of fame material? I'll let someone else decide, but all American fans ought to be proud of his career.

Posted by richie 12/02/2007 at 08:22 AM

Steve - Great Post. Reading your take on the matches has been almost as good as watching the USA finally get the monkey off their back. You are correct in giving Roddick his due. When you look at the teams that won in 1995 and 1992, you have to wonder why they did not win more. But the "biggies' did not play that often. Roddick does and endures the clay courts all over the world and finally wins the big one. Thanks for the great coverage.

Posted by marie 12/02/2007 at 09:20 AM

yup, I agree Steve, and I think other guys on the team wanted to win it for Roddick as well---he seems to be the baby brother on the team, not the annoying one (okay may be sometimes), but more the one that you want to make sure is always doing alright

Posted by luvten 12/02/2007 at 09:26 AM

Thanks for a great read, Steve. Andy, Blake, Mike, Bob, and Patrick deserved this tremendously. Go USA!!!

"One reason the Americans won this weekend is simply that all of their best players were there, while one of Russia's, Marat Safin, didn't show" IMO Marat's absence has nothing to do with the win by the American team. The tie might have been more competitive (depending on which Marat showed up), but I feel confident that the Americans would still be holding the Cup this morning.

Posted by Suresh 12/02/2007 at 09:57 AM

Steve, great post.

'After seven years of toiling in Ostrava, Bratislava, Seville, Göteborg, and dozen of other far-flung tennis outposts, he wasn't going to have to live up to those legendary images anymore.'

Patrick McEnroe said something to that effect too after the win. Finally team USA has a win after all these years.

--------------------------------------------------------

Rewinding back to when Pete won the Davis Cup for the U.S. , he was a little dejected when the reaction to the win back home was petty lukewarm. He expected a better recognition, but that did not happen - might have played a little part in pushing Davis Cup lower in his list of priorities. Cannot blame him.

----------------------------------------------------------

The Russians played doubles in an unconventional way. It is not going to work against a top doubles who are great at crowding the net, but this also showed how the power/spin of the groundies has made volleying more dificult.

The Bryans have pretty much all the strong points for a great doubles team - quick reflexes at the net, great volleys, Bob's serve and Mike's return and decent groundies.

In this match, Bob was able to trade forehands with Davydenko and often times coming up on the winning side. He was camping to his right and there was no way Davydenko could have found his backhand - throw in the poaching/volleying/moving abilities of Mike at the net and the Bryans had an upper hand.

Posted by Eh 12/02/2007 at 10:09 AM

Other than the final three sets of Youzhny vs Blake, this tie was bland - this neutral tennis fans perspective. But I understand nationalism, and given the reality of Fed's dominance of tennis, you must revel when you can. Congratulations Team America!

Posted by ajv 12/02/2007 at 10:10 AM

Terrific post, Steve. You vividly evoke the wonderful Davis Cup spirit of the squad, particularly Andy's. On your point about Andy as an "accidental player",however, I would say that such a description truly applies to Blake, and is something that Andy has constructed as a defense mechanism, late in the game.

It strikes me that James has never truly "believed" he deserves to be at the top of world tennis. James' extraordinary sportsmanship towards Roger in all those matches--his over-the-top complimentary comments after all those losses--seem to me to be examples of how James, when confronted with the ultimate challenge, just does not "truly believe" that it is his destiny to reach the top. The top players play those moments as if they were in the zone, oblivious to all other implications. James, and all those other much less talented players who truly should not ever believe in that type of destiny, are unable to get into that zone. At the crucial moments, the magnitude of the possible achievement enters their brains, and, for whatever reason (and that is the real mystery) they freeze up.

In the case of James, who is from the same area of Ct. that I'm from, there is a ready expalnation. He was a top junior player in our region, but our region is much less competitive than Florida or California. It was only until late in his development, the Harvard years, that he began to show true potential. It is reasonable to assume that when he turned pro his greatest, reasonable, expectation was to get a good enough ranking to keep him on the main Tour. It's a long psychic journey from that kind of mind set to beating Federer.

In Andy's case, the story is different and that is the reason why I don't buy the "accidental" tag for him. He was identified as the next big thing by the USTA very early on. Part of his cocky arrogance has always seemed to me to stem from that kind of early favored nurturing. I sense that he was always expected to be Number 1. I believe his "accidental" vibe these days is a defense mechanism to the shellacking, physical and mental, that he was suffered at the hands of two players he never expected to show up at his party: Fed and Rafa. Andy's aside to the cameras in mid-US Open comeback mode in his final with Roger ("I am having so much fun" or something like that), is something I just don't think he would have ever uttered at a similar point in the match as he was beating Ferrero to win the Opne all those years ago. At that time he was exactly in the zone he had occupied throughout his tennis career, and there was no reason for him to expect anything would change in the foreseeable future.

Posted by teemot 12/02/2007 at 11:11 AM

I don't get how people brand andy as cocky. he has a sarcastic streak for sure which too often gets mistaken for being cocky. he understands his place in US tennis history and has a real deep respect for those that have come before him. i would say when it comes to things that matter, he is more humble than cocky.

Posted by The Original French(ie) 12/02/2007 at 11:49 AM

thank you steve it's a great piece and ajv: your post is one of the most insightful about Roddick and Blake I've read for a long time. I completely agree.

I think there are 2 different things here:

the first one is that yes, perhaps Roddick is an "accidental" tennis player meaning that he'd fell into tennis "by accident" and wasn't really "predestined" for that discipline, as a kid his parents weren't on court breathing down his neck and pushing him like crazy as Agassi or Sharapova were, but that does not make his presence at the highest level surprising or just an act of luck ("ooops I won the USO and just now, the Davis Cup with my buddies, what I am doing here & how come??"). All this is well deserved and despite his, ahem, shortcomings Roddick is a hardworker who takes his craft-tennis very very seriously. I mean he's got a lot of trophies to be proud of and he earned them fair and square.

The second thing is, it's just the way Roddick deals with journalists and the fact that he had to "rewrite" his professional narrative when not living up (completely, let's not forget he won the USO, ok?) to the so-called "hype" a lot of people had put on his shoulders. When I look at his reactions during the week end, I think of him as being a bit self-conscious/aware, courteous and respectful of the moment & of his colleagues (when someone says he's on the same plane as A. Ashe (3/4 slams winner) about Davis Cup what should he say exactly? something like "YOU BET I AM !!!!!"). I mean, come on !

One last comment about this, in L'Equipe someone has written one of the best despiction of what was happening yesterday after the Big Win: that the patriotic pride is immedialtely "trumped" by more personal feelings (which stems from the friendship between the players and all the ups and downs they lived together). I think it's really true and that explains a lot of the subduedness I saw last night which explains some of Roddick's reactions.

------
"La victoire des Etats-Unis en finale de Coupe Davis (3-0) est la concrétisation d'une histoire amicale forgée par le temps, les échecs et la persévérance. En grattant, on touve bien des traces de fierté patriotique, mais celle-ci est tout de suite rattrapée par des sentiments plus intimes et exclusifs. "

http://www.lequipe.fr/Tennis/breves2007/20071202_131129Dev.html


Posted by KAD 12/02/2007 at 12:03 PM

I would say Roddick and Blake are at least as good as Sampras and Agassi, now that they have brought home the most prestigious prize in Tennis, aka DC. Maybe, Roddick and Blake are even better players than Sampras and Agassi, because they have managed to win this most coveted prize in Federer-era, when nobody other than Nadal can win any meaningful thing.
So Roddick > Sampras and Blake > Agassi.

Posted by embug 12/02/2007 at 12:10 PM

Thank you, Steve, for this insightful post. I have to admit that I'm taken by your writing style. Your "periodic" sentences -- how English class is that!! -- flow smoothly and lead my eyes on and on.

You also put words to something I haven't been able to articulate... Roddick as an "accidental tennis player." It fits. Roddick discovered his massive serve goofing around on court one day. His forehand is a violent action that players seem to have adjusted to in the last few years. And, according to Agassi (from the booth at USO, Roddick vs. Federer) Roddick's back hand will never be a threat because he pushes instead of swings.

However, now, after winning the DC, Andy's tennis techniques and abilities have taken him to the lofty levels of tennis history. He will have to deal with his own private Idaho of "insanity," that of seeing his name alongside Arthur Ashe's.

Maybe team sports is for Roddick. The DC team worked for Andy. He loves his mates. He was the biggest cheerleader on that bench; and, it bolstered his confidence, too.

During the Olympics in Athens, Roddick seemed to be the sole American cheering for Mardy Fish as his game imploded against his Chilean opponent. Instead of a coach, maybe Andy needs a team of coaches. Some mates who'd warm the bench and warm Andy's heart as he begins another year of trying to improve his ranking.

Posted by john 12/02/2007 at 12:38 PM

This is a well deserved Davis Cup for the US team. They arne't the best in the world rankings as individuals, but there isn't another country that could outplay Roddick/Blake/Bryans. It's clear that these guys enjoy being on the team together, and they're the best US team since Sampras/Aggasi/Courier/McEnroe. It's important for all these guys...that this year's team won the DC, to dispel the doubts and close the deal. Well done to Patrick McEnroe! He stuck with these guys, and kept them on couse to attain what they certainly had the talent to attain.

Posted by steve 12/02/2007 at 12:55 PM

ajv, that's a good post and a good point that roddick when he was younger thought of himself as someone who should be no. 1, and was a top prospect, unlike blake; it's no accident that's he's a top pro. i mean that his personality and family background strike me as not typical in tennis for whatever reason. the bryans: those guys are u.s. tennis all the way.

watching roddick react to hearing his name with ashe, you couldn't help but believe that he was amazed—no constructed humility there.

embug: what's a "periodic" sentence?

one thing; tarpischev said he would have gone with andreev sunday. why not use him saturday? he's beaten roddick at least twice

Posted by The Original French(ie) 12/02/2007 at 02:53 PM

"periodic" sentence: I was wondering the same thing!!!


Posted by Lou 12/02/2007 at 03:08 PM

Congrats to Pat McEnroe! He put the right group of players together, kept them together through good and bad times and didn't give up on James Blake. This winning team and their willingness to play for him year after year is a testament to his skills as a Davis Cup Coach.

Go Patrick!!!!!!!!

Posted by rich 12/02/2007 at 04:43 PM

As a huge fan of Andy Roddick since 2002, seems the author and everyone else here seems to have forgotten how the USA got to the final. It was the two wins that Andy Roddick had against Sweden that put us in the final. James Blake lost his match in the semis and it was up to Andy to win both his matches and he did, convincingly. He is not an 'accidental player' and his humor in press conferences is refreshing. I had the privilege of meeting Andy several times and he is polite, articulate, loves the game, loves his fans and still has the best serve in the game, past and present. he's been unfairly written off on many occasions by the press and he didn't deserve it. I believe he would have won 2 or 3 more slams if not for some guy named Roger, who beats everyone, not just Roddick/. Andy has been in the top 10 for 5 years now. That's no accident!!!!

Posted by Tim ($4.85 spent on Starbucks today) 12/02/2007 at 05:42 PM

Congrats to the frat boys, let the kegger begin! sounds like it already has in the presser,

awww but it saw sweet to see Pat Mac get teary on match point, they deserve the spotlight after so many disappointments...

a blowout was a tad anticlimactic but oh well...

Posted by 12/02/2007 at 06:17 PM

"Other than the final three sets of Youzhny vs Blake, this tie was bland - this neutral tennis fans perspective. But I understand nationalism, and given the reality of Fed's dominance of tennis, you must revel when you can. Congratulations Team America!"

So true, especially the first two lines...and I'm not even a neutral tennis fan but a fervid one!
And TEEMOT -- yeah, roddick is COCKY!

Posted by lulu 12/02/2007 at 06:38 PM

"One reason the Americans won this weekend is simply that all of their best players were there, while one of Russia's, Marat Safin, didn't show."

I'm a Safinette, and I know how well (how better) Marat plays for DC, but honestly, this year, I really don't see how his presence could have changed things... If Tarpi made a mistake, it was not cause marat wasn't there. Nor do I like the innuendo that Marat "should" have been there, like he or the russians lack team spirit or whatever. Wrong analysis, on this point, if you ask me.

Posted by DCfan 12/02/2007 at 06:51 PM

It's too bad that some people find it so difficult to admire and give sincere congratulations for a great achievement. But, thanks to comments like those of Lou, rich, teemot, and others, it's easy to overlook and dismiss the few backhanded compliments and bitter comments that have appeared here.

Congrats to Andy, James, Bob and Mike for a job well done!

Posted by FoT 12/02/2007 at 06:51 PM

First, congrats to the team for winning Davis Cup and I know no one wanted this more than Roddick.

However, I think one of the real reasons the US Team won this Davis Cup was the Bryan Brothers. I mean, this is one of the few teams that their single players don't have to worry about playing doubles at all. They can concentrate on singles and singles only. Not too many countries have this luxury. Usually their #1 singles player has to play singles, then team up with someone to play doubles, then play the the following day in the other single match. Both Roddick and Blake know that - unless injury happens - they don't have to pick up a racket on that middle day of Davis Cup. That's a big advantage since these matches are best of five.

So sure... hats off to Roddick and Blake, but having the #1 double's team on board doesn't hurt one bit! I wonder how the team would have held up if Roddick had to play singles and doubles; or if Blake had to play both? And it's easier to play Davis Cup when you know you only will be called upon in singles - or in doubles. This was a great team and the TEAM came through.

So congratulations again to the US team.

Posted by deb 12/02/2007 at 07:03 PM

FoT - completely agree with you about the importance of the Bryans as doubles specialists. Definitely a TEAM effort as it would be impossible to have the Bryans on the team if Roddick/Blake dipped in and out of Davis Cup.

All the players have been trying to emphasise how much they see it as something that's been achieved as a group - including Fish and Ginepri in their press conference was clearly a deliberate effort to get that point across.

Posted by Liz (for Federer 4-ever) 12/02/2007 at 07:16 PM

I will concede Andy gets a lot of flack because he can't solve "the Federer riddle". He's been walking around with a lot of baggage, trying to be the next best American player, taking up the mantle of Sampras & Agassi, but the fact remains he still strikes me as a marginal tennis player. He is a good and steady top ten player and nothing else. Does every American player who comes along have to be #1 material? Sure Roddick had the ranking for awhile, but Federer's TALENT has kept him on top of the men's game. It's Andy Roddick's fate to play in the era of the greatest player who ever picked up a racket. Period~~

Look at Switzerland's Davis Cup results--even with or without Roger Federer's services, they can't bring home the cup. As the saying goes, the field is deep out there.

I'm happy for the American team and for Patrick McEnroe who's been working hard to try to put together a winning Davis Cup team.

But while I respect Roddick and the efforts he brings to the game of tennis, he still strikes me as cocky with a frat boy mentality. I don't get a sportmanship vibe from him.

It cracks me up how James Blake gets flack for being " too nice" -- I'll take James's sporting attitude to Roddick's any day. Yet, the Williams sisters are accused of being cocky. This smells of double standard to me. Its not ok for James to be "too nice", its not ok for the Williams sisters to be cocky, but Roddick can do whatever he pleases?? PUHLEASE~~

Wake up and smell the coffee, people. The whole American team won the Davis Cup, not just Andy Roddick.

Posted by Tim ($4.85 spent on Starbucks today) 12/02/2007 at 07:17 PM

the bottom line here is that the US finally got the breaks with the surfaces and the draw... Sweden on a hardcourt is a GOOD match up for the US, as is Russia on a hardcourt at home... this is a clear case where draws and luck of being at home determined the Cup... the US could have won many other years, if not for red clay in away match ups ...

the only one they blew in a sense was when Ljubie got hot and took them out singlhanded...

and anyone who can put Roddick and blake anywhere near Agassi or Sampras at this point is mixing up some very strong cocktails~

I mean Phillippousis was a Wimby finalist and once clinched the Cup for his country, does anyone seroiusly put him in any kind of Hall of Fame career category?

Posted by Tim ($4.85 spent on Starbucks today) 12/02/2007 at 07:19 PM

Liz, you rock... I concur!

Posted by Tim ($4.85 spent on Starbucks today) 12/02/2007 at 07:23 PM

I think its noteworthy to point out that in todays NY Times, the main story on the front page is not about Roddick, but about McEnroe, their family, DC history, etc. Its still amazing to me that McEnroe still generates more press than most players, just because the public knows him so well I guess ...

Posted by Eh 12/02/2007 at 07:27 PM

"t's easy to overlook and dismiss the few backhanded compliments and bitter comments that have appeared here."

Aaah, the complimentary backhand: A shot of power, guile and beauty.

Posted by Andrew Miller 12/02/2007 at 07:42 PM

Gosh. I think I know why the U.S. has no great lefty serve and volleyer, rangy and athletic pressure player in the top 50 who could have been a "snake in the grass" or spoiler at Wimbledon or other big tournaments.

It's because the dude's playing doubles.

Bob Bryan
http://youtube.com/watch?v=C73-Aq4V70Y

My hunch - Bob Bryan would have done some damage to the top 50. My hunch is also that this never would have happenned, because Bob Bryan would never have concentrated on singles (hence - the Bryans exclusive focus on doubles). Bob was NCAA Singles, Doubles and team champion. Since 2004, he has played in ONE ATP SINGLES TOURNAMENT, period. Like James Blake, Bob Bryan turned pro at age 20 after winning the NCAAs, and about a year and a half later found himself at a ranking of 116 in the world (22 years old, 116 in the world, after 2 years on tour, not many singles tournaments, and an already formidable presence in ATP doubles, #57 ranked). For comparison, James Blake was 74 in the world at the same age. Admittedly, Blake is a late bloomer, but what if Bob Bryan were relentlessly focused on singles? It wouldnt have happenned, but if it were to have happenned, would we have been looking at a serve and volley threat??? Would the talk have been about how the U.S.'s top players - Roddick, Blake, Ginepri, Fish AND BOB BRYAN arent performing up to par? Would he have made it to that discusssion....

So...the Bryans are, no question, a testament to dedication and focus: they do one thing exceptionally well, and their dedication to doubles only probably deprived the U.S. of another top 50 ATP singles player - ???perhaps higher??? - but also gave the U.S. Davis Cup back. So - to me, choices have tradeoffs - I would say they are definitely a case example of focus! Can their results be argued with???

Posted by deb 12/02/2007 at 07:46 PM

Liz - I think Roddick would wholeheartedly agree with your first para. A couple of quotes:

On reaching the No 1 ranking
"I snuck in at the tail end of Pete and Andre."

and in reponse to a statement comparing him to the current 'best players'
"I don’t know if I’m working with the talent of Fed or Nad," he says frankly. "Roger has set the bar pretty high. Fed is someone who has been blessed with the ability to do most things with a racquet."

He went on to describe his major asset as being a worker. Perhaps he's more aware of his limitations than some of the people who talk him up too much.

If this board is reflective of general opinion I'm not sure he gets away with anything!!

Posted by Liz (for Federer 4-ever!) -- who frequents Starbucks as long as they serve Tangerine Tzao Tea~~yum!) 12/02/2007 at 08:02 PM

Tim ($4.85 spent on Starbucks today)~~

~~waves to Tim~~

I'm sending you a cyber Starbucks coffee drink--sorry its not the real thing!

posted by deb...

Liz - I think Roddick would wholeheartedly agree with your first para. A couple of quotes:

On reaching the No 1 ranking
"I snuck in at the tail end of Pete and Andre."

and in reponse to a statement comparing him to the current 'best players'
"I don’t know if I’m working with the talent of Fed or Nad," he says frankly. "Roger has set the bar pretty high. Fed is someone who has been blessed with the ability to do most things with a racquet."

He went on to describe his major asset as being a worker. Perhaps he's more aware of his limitations than some of the people who talk him up too much.

If this board is reflective of general opinion I'm not sure he gets away with anything!!


Liz's reply to deb~~

thanks for the quotes~~its always interesting to see the player's assessment of themselves. I'm glad he's realistic about his tennis career. It's just his karma to live in the "age of Federer"

On the other hand, the glass is half full for the Americans~~Bob & Mike Bryan have singlehandedly put doubles on the map! They have been quietly racking up significant grand slam results, equal to Federer's in a lot of ways.

Posted by Kay 12/02/2007 at 08:11 PM

I can't believe that anyone would describe Andy Roddick as "cocky" He is the nicest player in the world in my opinion. He can be humerous at times, that's not being "cocky" He is always gracious in defeat and triumph. We would not have won this cup without him - that is a certainty. I was looking forward to seeing him play again today, anyone know why he didn't? No explanation was given except that McEnroe had the right to switch players if he wished.
Well done Blake and the Bryan brothers too. It's so great to have the Davis cup back in the USA.

Posted by deb 12/02/2007 at 08:24 PM

deb's reply to liz:
Bob & Mike Bryan have singlehandedly put doubles on the map! They have been quietly racking up significant grand slam results, equal to Federer's in a lot of ways.

Do you think the Bryans will surpass the Woodies total number of titles? What annoys me is that TV executives don't have their enthusiasm for doubles so we, in England anyway, rarely get to see any outside DC ties and Wimbledon.

Posted by Heidi 12/02/2007 at 09:02 PM

Gotta say that I'm with Lulu on the Safin thing. Strikes me as a nicely worded barb to the Russians, Steve, but honestly, Safin is such a hit-or-miss player (and mostly missing) that I doubt he'd have been played anyway. Or do you think he ought to have been there on the practice bench? Either way, not a reason that they lost.

A lovely post to Andy's dedication, though. I don't think it will falter now that he's won; I think he'll love that cup and want to keep it around!

Posted by steve 12/02/2007 at 09:14 PM

you'd have to think a dedicated safin would have helped. i just meant to say that there was no way one of the americans wouldn't have been there to play the davis cup final when he was healthy.

and roddick being cocky, i'm not saying it's the worst thing in the world.

FoT: i hope you're not bringing roger into this, in a subliminal way!

Posted by Sakhi 12/02/2007 at 09:52 PM

Adding to Liz's comment above-not to sound like a complete wanker, but isn't this whole davis cup victory being blown out of proportion? steve's post was clearly well-written and astute, but to think of roddick and sampras in the same breath is impossible. also, i do think roddick's sentimentality over the win seems a bit overplayed. alright, so he can't win anything else of substance anymore, so he focuses on an event that even machiavellian shamil said the russians would lose. i mean, c'mon. this is where american jingoism seems a bit much--- a little self-reflexivity please. Russia is still a better tennis nation than the U.S., and a "healthy Safin," to quote Steve, would certainly be impossible to beat. Apologies for the irritation--but this whole post-davis cup euphoria has been a little off-putting. Just hope the Americans don't rest on these laurels and forget that they have a serious crisis at hand in terms of tennis stars and upcoming juniors.

Posted by FoT 12/02/2007 at 09:57 PM

Steve, who me? *innocently speaking*? lol!

You know I won't go into the Federer/Davis Cup thing again. I think that has been hashed to death!

But don't you agree with me that it is a big advantage for the US team to have a double's specialist team on board?

Posted by steve 12/02/2007 at 10:05 PM

FoT: the bryans are definitely a huge part of this. when pat mac began to go with them, the team started to progress. using them does mean that the top u.s. singles guys need to be healthy, which they have been.

sakhi: i'm not sure anyone was really comparing the careers of roddick and sampras after this win (except kad, who i'm betting was being sarcastic). davis cup is just the one place where roddick can now say that he and his generation have continued the legacy of the Greatest Generation, which is important to him.

Posted by FoT 12/02/2007 at 10:13 PM

Serious question... Since Davis Cup has lost a lot of publicity and public interest over the years, do you think people world wide will remember who won the Davis Cup say... around Wimbledon time?

I know the people in the US (and probably Russia) will remember...but I'm trying to think back 2 years as to who won and I know Russia did last year. Without looking at the stats and cheating... I'm having a hard time remembering who won it the year before them? Yet I can name the last 4 years worth of winners in all the grand slams without any help! (granted, Roger's name is on most, but you get the point)...

I guess I'm wondering... How 'big (or little) is Davis Cup today? A friend of mine saw the highlights on tv and asked me "what's a Davis Cup"? - granted they were not tennis fans, but general sport fans usually know about grand slams yet they had never heard of Davis Cup. Interesting...

Posted by steve 12/02/2007 at 10:24 PM

davis cup is obviously not as big as the slams to the general public, especially in the states. but it is a big deal to the players. just look a the way they react when they win. it's their one chance to share a win as a team. some of the passion in countries other than the u.s. is sort of a spillover from soccer—they love international team sports competitions.

Posted by ncot 12/02/2007 at 10:26 PM

i guess the word "periodic" in embug's comment meant measured, coherent, lyrical writing (which makes for easier and more pleasurable reading), as opposed to haphazard, stream-of-consciousness rambling that is the practice of some bloggers.

Posted by Sam 12/02/2007 at 10:44 PM

Good article as always Steve. I'm happy that American players care about the Davis Cup again but its unfortunate that the American public doesn't. How strange it is that in the greatest era of U.S. male players, there was a focus an winning Grand Slams and a lack of interest in Davis Cup. And in this era, there is more of a focus on winning the Davis Cup precisely because U.S. players are not winning Grand Slams.

Posted by Dirk Arthur 12/02/2007 at 11:04 PM

Sakhi,

I do not think the "whole Davis Cup thing" is being blown out of proportion. Its an awesome event that has an amazing place in the history of our game.

The U.S. team has gone through a lot to win it. A healthy Safin is not impossible for Andy or James to beat...in fact Safins record against Andy and James is 3-4 and 2-2 respectively.

And although not "all" top players take Davis Cup seriously, there are a great many who do and who have over the last 5 years. So it is tough to win. Russia was a worthy team. And the U.S. beat 'em...don't take anything away from that

Night

Posted by Liz (for Federer 4-ever) 12/02/2007 at 11:23 PM

deb said~~

Do you think the Bryans will surpass the Woodies total number of titles? What annoys me is that TV executives don't have their enthusiasm for doubles so we, in England anyway, rarely get to see any outside DC ties and Wimbledon.

Liz's reply~~

I would love to see the Bryans pass the Woodies. They seem to have enthuiasm for the game and are willing to hang in there for the long haul. Yes, the TV execs do treat doubles very shabby. I would love to see doubles get more respect.

Posted by Tim ($4.85 spent on Starbucks today) 12/03/2007 at 12:48 AM

Liz, the thing i dont like about the Bryans is they dont play singles, and just play half a court, and then kick back and practice, pretty easy life comparted to the other pros... woodforde and woodbridge played singles every week, AND won doubles events... huge edge to them in my mind... the doubles specilist thing just doesnt sit well with me...

all the top women, Lisa Raymond one example, totally play singles and often play it well... the Bryans are great doubles palyers but they seem like a sideshow to me, hard to respect a doubles specialist who never sets foot on a singles court....

that said, the Bryans won this CUp for the US as much as Roddick, they were a sure point every tie, pretty nice cushion to have


Posted by Sam 12/03/2007 at 01:00 AM

"Today's win is the culmination of years of team effort from a group of guys who have taken a lot of criticism. But it's Roddick's win more than anyone else's. "

Great post, Steve. I'm really proud of Andy, James, and the Bryans.

ajv: Very insightful post regarding Andy & James.

Posted by 12/03/2007 at 08:02 AM

Tim ($4.85 spent on Starbucks today) said~~


Liz, the thing i dont like about the Bryans is they dont play singles, and just play half a court, and then kick back and practice, pretty easy life comparted to the other pros... woodforde and woodbridge played singles every week, AND won doubles events... huge edge to them in my mind... the doubles specilist thing just doesnt sit well with me...


Liz's reply...

that's interesting, Tim. I had forgotten that the Woodies played singles as well as doubles. They did devote time and energy to their singles game, too. There was a tournament in my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama and that's how I got to see Todd Woodbridge play because he was entered in the singles compeition.

I agree with you, because among the current "doubles specialists" a lot of them did play singles for awhile before they took the decision to devote all of their time and energy on doubles. I think it would bring a little more attention to them if they got more "air time" than what they get now as "doubles specialists".

I do think they're good for the game. Just when American's are crying they don't have a # 1 player in tennis, they still can say we've got the # 1 doubles team, so once again the glass is half full.

Posted by embug 12/03/2007 at 10:15 AM

ncot... you have said it better than I could have written, regarding "periodic" sentences. To me it means concise syntax: subject, verb, object. Enough on the English. I didn't mean to throw anyone off subject.Back to tennis!!

Posted by 12/03/2007 at 01:47 PM

:: Roddick is a cocky guy, no question, but he still brings a \\\\\\\"do I really deserve to be here?\\\\\\\" attitude to representing the U.S. ::

Roddick being brash and cocky isn\\\\\\\'t nearly the same as being pompous, arrogant, and walking around with a sense of entitlement as Federer often demonstrates. Thankfully, Federer\\\\\\\'s self absorption recuses him from participating in the Davis Cup and tennis fans who are bored to death of His Royal Arrogance couldn\\\\\\\'t be happier.

Congrats to USA on winning the cup. There is no better and more deserving Davis Cup team.

Posted by jon 12/03/2007 at 04:11 PM

I don't even understand why people seem to think Roddick is this 'brash, cocky guy'...he's one of the most humble players on the tour! You never hear any 'Come on!'s or 'VAMOS!' ala Hewitt or Nadal, you never see him try any gamesmanship tactics, you never hear him say "I don't know how that guy beat me"... He is definitely confident but what good tennis player isn't? Even if he really WERE 'cocky' like a few people are saying, wouldn't YOU be just a tad cocky if you had a 150 mph serve at your disposal!!!??? If I had that kinda serve, I'd be walking around like Federer all the time, with his arrogant smug little grin (fed's still my favorite though shhh don't tell anybody).

Posted by Wmoh 12/03/2007 at 09:09 PM

Could they have done this without James Blake?

Posted by Wmoh 12/03/2007 at 09:09 PM

Could they have done this without James Blake?

Posted by TD 12/03/2007 at 10:32 PM

rich, that was a great post. It's really sad how every time Roddick achieves something of significance the first M.O. of his critics is to tear him down. Give Roddick a break already. He can't figure out Federer? So what? Neither can anybody else.

Don't forget that Roddick got the team to the DC finals beating Berdych (an "unaccidental tennis player" I presume) on his worst surface, red clay in the first round. The Americans earned their DC win big time. No accident and no apologies. :)

Posted by steve 12/04/2007 at 11:31 AM

like i said earlier: i didn't mean "cocky" as as bad thing. you have to be a little cocky if you're going to be a top athlete.

and "accidental": again, i was referring to roddick's background and personality. his parents didn't play tennis and he seems more like a team sports guy to me. has nothing to do with his skill

Posted by frances 12/04/2007 at 02:26 PM

Steve, can you imagine Serena barging into an interview room (tipsy) and yelling out "I'm not answering...," and not be completely lambasted by your brethren and sisteren? Just asking. Roddick gets too many passes.

Posted by ginger 12/04/2007 at 02:53 PM

Such a propaganda all this is!

Posted by trackless 12/04/2007 at 05:13 PM

Steve, can you imagine Serena barging into an interview room (tipsy) and yelling out "I'm not answering...," and not be completely lambasted by your brethren and sisteren? Just asking. Roddick gets too many passes.
...............................................................
roddick gets free passes? since when? haha.
I think I found a video of that comment and it looks like he's just happy and joking around right steve?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhFWrOWGVfA
I am happy for the usa team they looked so happy to finaly win.

Posted by Alex NJ 12/04/2007 at 09:51 PM

woah, what a nice post, thanks a lot. The most important thing these young Americans have in this game is dedication. I wish Andy will get another grant slam title soon.

Posted by Amin 12/05/2007 at 05:19 AM

Some people just cannot be happy for another player's wins if it is not their beloved Federer. Why do you always have to rain on other people's parade? If you have nothing constructive to write about, then say nothing. Let Andy and his group enjoy their win. They have worked hard. I am referring to the Federer fans.

When did Federer ever win a Davis cup? Never. He is too selfish and self-centered. He played this year so that he could play in the olympics but as fate would have it he lost in the doubles. Poetic justice?

I am a Roddick fan and I don't think he is cocky. Far from it. He is charming, witty and has charisma. Cocky is your god Federer. He is most arrogant and pompous. I am glad he chooses not to play in Davis cup. He can't get the big bucks with Davis Cup, he would rather play in Dubai. Anyway, tough for him, they have stated they can't afford him next year. Perhaps Federer is waiting for the Swiss Tennis Association to pay him the big bucks they had to pay Borg to play Davis Cup. I bet he is steaming that they have not done some grovelling as yet to get him to play. Oh, Illustrious one!

Anonymous:

I agree with your post: "the same as being pompous, arrogant, and walking around with a sense of entitlement as Federer often demonstrates. Thankfully, Federer\\\\\\\'s self absorption recuses him from participating in the Davis Cup and tennis fans who are bored to death of His Royal Arrogance couldn\\\\\\\'t be happier." You read my mind.

I could add a few more adjectives to describe him but you've done a good job. Oh, I can't leave out "absolutely avaricious." He has turned tennis into a bartering sport whereby he has to haggle with his sponsors to pay him more, and more money each year. I know his fans will be shocked at the fact that aot of people turn off the TV when he is playing. I am not impressed by his ballet steps, as they claim. He is not Baryishnikov or Swan Lake..

TD: You said: "Don't forget that Roddick got the team to the DC finals beating Berdych (an "unaccidental tennis player" I presume) on his worst surface, red clay in the first round. The Americans earned their DC win big time. No accident and no apologies. :)"

I agree with you. If you notice it's the Federer fans who say such crummy stuff. They are just like their hero, selfish. He wants everything for himself and cannot bear to lose or be happy for someone else to win.

His comments about Novak DJok, when he beat him in Montreal were said in a very testy tone" to the reporters: "like I said he is a young player that is improving. He went on to say something to the effect about let see how long it is going to last.

Posted by jon 12/05/2007 at 02:55 PM

federer doesn't do Davis Cup because DAVIS CUP, PLAYED EVERY YEAR, IS LAME AND HAS NO MEANING! I'm tired of all the Davis Cup Nazis in tennis who look down their noses at players who decide not to conform...ATP rankings points and being #1 in the world are waaaaaaaaaaayyyyy more important than playing 'for your country' (snore)... D.C really has no meaning to me since it's contested every single year. Make it every 4 years and I MIGHT actually be interested. As of now, Davis Cup is purely a P.R vehicle for players...."Oh look, he's taking time out to play Davis Cup!!!! This completely reverses my opinion of that bastard".

Posted by ++++ 12/05/2007 at 05:03 PM

With Argentian with Nalbandian,Canas,Calleri
Russia with a healthy Safin,Tursunova,Andreev on clay
Spain with Nadal,Ferrer,Robredo,Moya,Ferrero the US won't stand a chance!
Austria has Koubek whose healthy and Melzer and playing on red clay PMac ain't winning a damn thing!

I say good riddance to Guillermo Canas whose going to sit the 2008 Australian Open out with wrist tendinitis,karma's a b!tch.Good luck willy might as well up the juice while you'll watch tennis from home;One less cheater to worry about until this whole gambling thing is resolved.

Posted by Amin 12/05/2007 at 07:03 PM

JON you stated

federer doesn't do Davis Cup because DAVIS CUP, PLAYED EVERY YEAR, IS LAME AND HAS NO MEANING!

ATP rankings points and being #1 in the world are waaaaaaaaaaayyyyy more important than playing 'for your country' (snore)..

Then he should not play under the Swiss flag. He is a phoney. He played this year because he wants to compete in the Olympics. He is incongruent. He says one thing andoes the opposite. Maybe he should crfeate his own country and put a $ emblem on it, because that is what he is all about. What a guy.

Posted by Ruth 12/06/2007 at 09:54 AM

Amin: I cannot agree with many of the things that you've said about Federer, but I want you to know that there's a large group of Federer fans -- people like me who were fans of his pre-2003 --who are as completely turned off as you are by the tendency of some TMF fanatics to to try to diminish any success/glory/praise that is not directed at Federer. They have to disparage DC and put down DC stalwarts because, right now, Fed has decided not play DC as regularly as he did in the past etc etcetc

We often pray that those folk would shut up lest their attitude and their comments turn potential fans off the man himself (as appears, sadly, to be happening in your case). :)

Posted by jon 12/06/2007 at 04:26 PM

I am not some super die-hard Federer fan; he's one of my favorite players but in no way is the man infallible to me. I've just always thought Davis Cup is stupid and I understand why Federer doesn't do it. If they held it every 2 or 4 years, then I'd be REAL interested in watching Davis Cup, but as of right now it has no meaning to me. The tennis media bullies people into doing Davis Cup and I think it's shitty.

OH and congrats on being exactly the 1,000,000,000th person to ever say 'Davis Cup stalwart'. What, is your favorite tennis player a good 'front runner' too? Did the 'depth draw that error'? Do you have to 'get more 1st serves in'? haha.

Posted by jon 12/06/2007 at 04:40 PM

Sorry but Davis Cup has always reeked of 'phony' to me. Phony patriotism, phony motives for playing (like I said before, playing DC seems like just a PR move for players nowadays; a chance to be reinvented as a 'critical darling'), phony phony phony!

Try not to get too hysterical people. Breathe deep and just keep telling yourself "Davis Cup IS relevant! Davis Cup IS relevant! Davis Cup IS relevant!" Deep breaths, people...deep breaths ;)

Posted by 12/06/2007 at 06:13 PM

>>We often pray that those folk would shut up lest their attitude and their comments turn potential fans off the man himself (as appears, sadly, to be happening in your case). :)

Ah, but Ruth, don't you wish that those Roddick-worshipping folk like Amin would shut up lest their attitude turn off more reasonable tennis fans? But perhaps we should let the Roddick acolytes have their (brief) moment in the sun after the DC triumph, before reality hits again, and Roddick becomes TMF's favorite whipping-boy again, in the tournaments that matter. Love those beatdowns, and Amin, 1-15 has nothing to do with the $, just has to do with who's better :-)

Posted by Ruth 12/06/2007 at 06:42 PM

"Ah, but Ruth, don't you wish that those Roddick-worshipping folk like Amin would shut up lest their attitude turn off more reasonable tennis fans?"

True, O nameless one, but I think the Amins of the world are outnumbered by the extreme so-called Fed fans that I was talking about by about a 10 to 1 ratio -- and that's just on TW! LOL

Posted by Amin 12/07/2007 at 03:08 AM

I imagine from the Ruths and jons of the Federer Tennis worship club are not even aware of the true meaning of Davis Cup and before you say things about something that you are clueless about, do yourselves a favor, get some insight as to the meaning of Davis Cup. I do not care to banter back and forth with you. What I do fel is that you would be on cloud nine if your god ederer played and were to win Davis Cup. Then it would be a different song being sung.

I hope you're not all disappointed in 2008 when he begins to
slide again and he begins to cry after his losses. Be ready with
his tissue. Nothing lasts forever.

We often pray that those folk would shut up lest their attitude and their comments turn potential fans off the man himself (as appears, sadly, to be happening in your case). :)

"Ah, but Ruth, don't you wish that those Roddick-worshipping folk like Amin" -- I don't see why you are worried about potential fans being turned off by comments from people such as muyself and others who does not worship your god federer. If he is so great not even an army could turn off potential fans.

Do any of you think that the illustrious one would even look down his large beak to speak to any of you.

I think this stupidity is over. Enjoy yourselves going back and forth with your posts. Bye.


Posted by Amin 12/08/2007 at 12:47 AM

Ruth:

I owe you an apology. I only read half of your sentence, some computer problem and I answered to that half sentence.

Thank you for understanding where I am coming from concerning Davis Cup and Federer. My comments should have been directed to Jon. Sorry.

Posted by Alan Moore 12/08/2007 at 08:24 PM

When it comes to the Davis Cup Andy Roddick should never feel he can't live up to guys like Sampras and Agassi. Unlike them, Roddick has always acted like a real man and a real American and done the right thing by his country by making himself available to play. Unlike them he hasn't treated representing his country as a chore or a little bit of icing for their resumes. He's been a patriot and a leader, two things Sampras and Agassi, despite all their talent and success, never were. The only guy who can look Andy Roddick in the eye is John McEnroe.

Posted by Amin 12/09/2007 at 04:12 AM

Alan Moore:

You are so right about Roddick. He's a true American. I used to like Sampras, but lately I have begun to lose respect for him. Those exho matches with Federer are just for money.

Sampras makes a lot of comments about Andy Roddick. Roddick has a grat love for humanity, he started a foundation for poor children when he was 18 years old. The only charity Sampras contributes to is the Tim Gulickson Foundation. I don't think anything else.

Sampras feels American Tennis is not doing well. He mentions a lot of things that he feels is wrong with Roddick's game. It would be helpful to our American tennis athlethes if people such as Sampras and the other older/retired players if they would help the present American athletes by giving some of their time to these guys to help them with the "holes" they see in their game. That would be better than sitting home and criticizing them. Give something back to our country and the sport that made them so wealthy.

Federer is crafty he has aligned himself with Tiger Woods and Sampras. From each of those associations he is garnering more money and the recognition he is so hungry to obtain -- Gillette commercial and exhibition matches -- barrels of money.

The exhibition matches is just to improve Federer's game, by picking Sampras' brain. Oh what a circus!!

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