About nine months ago in the Australian Open semifinals we had the same Roger Federer-Andy Roddick matchup that we have tonight at the US Open.
Back then I really believed and predicted that Roddick was actually going to beat Federer that night. Back then Roddick looked really good en route to the semifinals beating Mario Ancic, Marat Safin and then destroying Mardy Fish. The Jimmy Effect was producing good results.
Federer looked good, too, but not “Federer great” in his wins over Tommy Robredo and Novak Djokovic. Then you throw in that Roddick did beat Federer in the Kooyang exo tuneup and add the Patrick McEnroe/ESPN hype with PMac even pounding the table and forecasting the Roddick win thanks to his new attacking game under Jimmy Connors, and, well they sold me and I bought in and jumped on the Roddick bandwagon.
Well, not tonight.
Going into that match in Australia you could certainly make the case that Roddick was playing better Federer at that time. And that Roddick may have some extra (but not much) confidence in knowing that he beat Fed in that exo. Tonight he has none of that and more likely since that match was there last meeting Roddick probably still has the bad taste in his mouth from Federer ripping him in Melbourne.
This time Roddick comes in rested but really untested. While he looked great in his win over Thomas Johansson, he didn’t look great against Jose Acasuso who stood a good chance to knock out the American if not for a knee injury, and of course against Thomas Berdych, who despite being ill, still should have taken that first set over Andy.
And it doesn’t help Andy when his last win against a Top 15 player came nearly six months ago against David Ferrer in Miami.
Not good signs if you are a Roddick fan.
Federer, on the other hand, has looked real sharp, especially in his “Darth Federer” outfit I might add. While the Swiss enjoyed two easy early rounders, he should be now grooved to handling big servers after four set victories over John Isner and Feliciano Lopez. You could even argue Lopez as a mentally weaker, lefty version of Roddick, So Federer should be comfortable in playing another attacking big server tonight.
Federer will also be motivated in knowing with Rafael Nadal out that by winning his 12th slam he can put some distance between himself and the Spaniard in the No. 1 ranks.
That all said, there’s a great axiom in big sporting contests that goes when everyone goes one way you go the other. Tonight, Andy will have nothing to lose as no one really expects him to win while Roger, with Rafa now out, will have the pressure to come through and pull the win over the home crowd favorite under the NYC lights. And we all know how Roger handles pressure – pretty freaking well. I’ll bet on black tonight.
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