Roddick Hopes to Channel Connors Mojo Against Youzhny

Posted on September 8, 2006

Andy Roddick came from two sets down to beat Mikhail Youzhny at the 2003 Australian Open. Their most recent meeting was last year, when the American again was forced to come from a set down for the win at Cincinnati.

Roddick has always struggled against Youzhny, with the two splitting their four career meetings dating to 2001 when the Russian won their first encounter on grass at Queen's.

On Saturday, when the two meet for the fifth time in the semifinals of the US Open, Roddick will look to ride the euphoric wave of his partnership with part-time coach Jimmy Connors that has brought surprisingly speedy results.

"I actually just asked Jimmy that," said Roddick on the pair's success. "I said, "Did you think it would happen this quickly?" He said, "No, I was looking at Australia."

Besides the guidance from the fellow former No. 1, Roddick says don't discount his sweat equity.

"You know, but I'm not -- for all my faults, I'm not scared to work," Roddick said. "I never have been. So that's one of the positives."

Roddick entered his quarterfinal meeting against Lleyton Hewitt with only two wins in eight meetings versus the Aussie. From the first ball hit, it became clear that the past is the past for Roddick, who rolled the fellow former No. 1 in straight sets.

"I didn't panic, which is maybe what I've done against Lleyton at Slams a couple times before, most notably in Australia when I lost to him there," Roddick said. "I didn't play myself out of points. I was down a couple breakpoints in the third set and a breakpoint in the second set, and just was patient and try to make him come up with the goods as opposed to forcing. I did a good job of waiting for my shot, and then when it came, pulling the trigger. That was a mentally tough match for me. Lleyton has gotten the best of me, especially in some of the bigger situations before."

The last thing any athlete wants to do is look past an opponent, but the ultimate test of Roddick's newfound confidence would be against world No. 1 Roger Federer, who faces Nikolay Davydenko in the other semifinal.

Federer has beaten Roddick in 10 of their 11 career meetings. Concerning the lone loss in the semifinals at Montreal in 2003, Federer has since admitted choking that match knowing that a win would have him ascending to No. 1 on the ATP Rankings for the first time. Roddick ended up finishing the year No. 1 in 2003, with Federer dominating men's tennis ever since.

Federer said he would enjoy facing the American on his home turf on Sunday.

"Andy and I look like the big favorites, but we have seen what happens to big favorites sometimes so we have to be careful," Federer said.

Richard Vach, senior writer, can currently be seen on The Tennis Channel's "Tennis Insiders: Super Insiders" episodes, and was awarded "Best Hard News" story for 2005 by the United States Tennis Writers Association.