Thanks to the magic of TiVo, I just got through watching a good chunk of the Andy Roddick-Phillipp Kolhschreiber thriller played Friday night at the Australian Open, which is the best match I’ve seen thus far in the event.
I have to say first, unbelievable effort by Kohlschreiber who won 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 6-7, 8-6 in 3-hours and 53-minutes.
Going into the match I thought the German had a decent chance to win either in three or four sets, but not really in five sets given Roddick’s history and his schoolyard bully mentality that he uses against lesser players not named Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Once Roddick secured the fourth set odds were that Kohls would slip up somewhere and feel the nerves in the fifth and fold, but to his credit he didn’t. Instead Kohls kept going for it with his laser groundies despite Roddick serving out of his ass.
Andy finished with a career-best 42 aces, three of which he angrily slammed in squashing consecutive ad-court match points while serving 4-5 in the fifth (one of which was 148mph I think). At that point, having lost three match points and another on a lost challenge, most players would have left demoralized and after getting so close, just not Kohls who maintained his composure and poise.
In final game of the match, Kohls broke Roddick with a screaming forehand return and a of couple sparkling passes. Minutes later the match was over on a Roddick error, and Philipp secured his first win over the American who exits Australia at the earliest stage since 2002.
Again, Kohls won this match, Andy did not give it to him. He took it. The guy played incredible, sustained a high level and showed no fear in the fifth. And he hit some of the hardest one handed backhand bee bees I’ve ever seen.
For Roddick his weaknesses were again exposed. While he continues to have one the best serves this sport has ever seen (how many guys on the tour come up with those three aces down match point like Roddick did? Amazing!), if you can get Roddick into a rally on a slow court you can turn the tables, especially if you have a lethal backhand like Philipp’s.
Time and time again we’ve seen Andy hit his backhand reply crosscourt, and in this case that very response goes right into Kolhschreiber’s preferred weapon of choice. That’s why I gave the German a chance in this match. Until Andy can make a serious impression with his backhand down the line shot, he’s going to keep struggling with guys like Kohlschrieber, Richard Gasquet, Tommy Haas and Roger Federer who can consistently fire winners off that backhand wing.
Kohlschreiber also made liberal use of an excellent dropshot, which I don’t recall him ever really missing. Again, a great tactic by the 24-year-old since Roddick was perched around the “Melbourne” lettering, which looks to be about four feet behind the baseline on Rod Laver.
And it didn’t hurt that Phil also enjoyed a monster serving night, nearly matching Roddick’s ace total through the first four sets and end with a career-high 32.
So hats off to Kohlschreiber.
As for the rest of the field today/tonight, Fed’s looking virtually unbeatable, and with my man Andy Murray long gone, Gasquet’s looking quite good. Novak Djokovic has been sharp, but untested really, though that will change today against Sam Queerey and in the next round against Marcos Bagdhatis, who I expect to beat Lleyton Hewitt. I could see Gonzo losing to Marin Cilic and even James Blake going down to Sebastien Grosjean, who’s never lost to the American.
On the women’s side it still looks like we are heading for Venus-Serena final.
I’ll go into a little more depth on both draws once the fourth round is fully set and the rain clears away. I hear there’s good money to be made if you do the opposite of what I pick!
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