As an American tennis fan, through the years it’s always been intriguing to watch our top U.S. players battle the best international guys. Luckily for the second straight day we have such an occasion with Andy Roddick facing Novak Djokovic this evening from Dubai, and it doesn’t hurt that both guys are arguably two of the more disliked fellas on the tour.
Again, if you live in the U.S. or aboard and don’t get the tournament feed on your television, or maybe your don’t have a TV, you may still be able to watch the match in its entirety, commercial-free online via a high-speed connection and http//www.eurosport.com. If that doesn’t work for you, give channelsurfiing.net a visit, and I’m sure there options beyond those two if you search hard enough.
On to the match up…
With an impressive straight set win over Rafael Nadal, Roddick sent a loud and clear message of his intentions on returning the top of game. Today, we’ll find out if that message he’s sending is for real against Djokovic.
Djokovic, though, presents a much different opponent than Nadal for Roddick. The Serb possesses a complete game, dangerous off just about every stroke – especially the backhand – and some would say he’s already mastered the fine art of gamesmanship. Regardless of what you think, the guy’s a flat-out masher.
Roddick, on the other hand, is a smasher, bombing serves and recklessly ripping forehands. His new, post-Jimmy Connors aggression hints of his play when he won the US Open and finished as the World No. 1 in 2003. But questions need to be answered before we rush to anoint him a legitimate threat to the Top 3 off of just one win (remember David Nalbandian?).
Will this new, “old school” attitude shift pay off for Roddick? Can he sustain it? Or is it just a post-rush of being free from the reigns of coach Jimmy? Was the win over Nadal just a one-off? Perhaps Nadal, who was pushed to three by Kohlschrieber, was just off his game?
Based on Roddick’s results this week, his game’s in full gear and confidence sky-high. Djokovic’s has to feeling pretty good about himself, as well. The guy hasn’t lost an outdoor hardcourt match since the US Open, and he matches up well with Roddick. The game-within-a-game battle between the two backhands gives a huge, huge edge to Novak.
But for me, the key to the match rests with Novak’s serve. While I expect Roddick to again have a big serving night, if Djokovic, who’s only been broken once in three matches, can hold serve easily he’ll have the edge. For my money, if both players are serving at their best, I think Novak would get a few more break opps than Roddick. Djoko’s just a better returner and player, but if he has a poor serving, especially on second serve, day Roddick might be able to work himself into more of Novak’s service games, rip a few forehands and ride that mojo wave to another win.
That said I’ll pick Novak here. I still have to see more from Andy. One win over Rafa’s not going to elevate his threat level, but a follow-up victory over Djokovic just might.
Should be fun!
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