I didn’t know it but apparently what happens in Dubai, stays in Dubai. Evidence, Andy Roddick, who looked like, no, who was a world beater just a week ago in desert in the Middle East, but found no such form in the desert of California Sunday after getting dismantled by nemesis Tommy Haas 64, 64.
I did watch the match, and first full credit to Haas. Under normal circumstances, a Haas win over Roddick would not be much of a surprise, but this one was for me given the circumstances. While Roddick had won two of his last three events, which included convincing wins over Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic en route to a very impressive Dubai romp, Haas had struggled since undergoing shoulder surgery last November. The oft-injured German had won two matches on the year, defeating Diego Hartfield and Robert Kendrick while also losing to the same Hartfield, John Isner, Ben Becker and David Ferrer.
If you are losing to John Isner how the hell are you going to beat Andy Roddick? Well, Haas pulled it together and did just that, really putting away Roddick with little difficulty, although things did get a little precarious at the end, but again, credit to Tommy for pulling out what has to be his biggest match win in about a year.
For Roddick, maybe Dubai was a one-off. The Roddick I watched in Dubai was not the same one that I watched Sunday at Indian Wells. Sure the court was slower and Haas played a smart match, but this was the Roddick we saw the Australian Open, and the one we’ve seen the last few years. The one who stands too far behind the baseline and the one who comes into the net when he shouldn’t be. Roddick is not a net guy. He never will be. He didn’t win the US Open and get to the No. 1 by hitting volleys. He did it by smashing serves, cracking forehands and coming in to put balls away, which is what he did in Dubai.
Contrary to what Roddick thinks, he does need a coach. Haas is a great player without question, but in the second set with Roddick serving, Andy made two, maybe three horrible (“panic” as Doug Adler rightly said) approaches to get broken. And you just have to shake your head at Andy’s tactic.
We know Haas is a guy who’s not afraid of getting tight. We know the guy has great difficulty in closing out big matches, and we even saw some of that at the end yesterday. So Andy’s got to know that coming to the net, where he is not as his best, really plays into Haas’s hands.
Said Roddick, “You know, to get broken in the second, I felt like I actually played a pretty good game. He was coming up with some serious passing shots.”
Translation: No, Andy, you played a pretty bad game to get broken by coming to the net on total garbage.
To be honest, if not for Dubai I would have expected Roddick to possibly lose to Julien Benneteau, who I thought would have beaten a sub-par Haas in the first round. But I tend to go with the hot guy, and after his performance at Dubai who among us thought Andy would get bounced so soon? For Roddick’s sake and peace of mind, he’d better hope Haas beats Murray!
A major problem for Roddick now is with his Dubai momentum evaporating he’ll have to wait another couple weeks until his next match at Miami. And for a streaky guy like Roddick that’s not a good thing.
And before you go Justin Gimelstob on me, yes I picked Andy to win this title, so naturally I’m dissapointed by the loss. It’s not my worst pick – Andy Murray at the Australian Open, Croatia Davis Cup a few years back – and it won’t be the last time I pick the “hot” guy. But I’m an American and I’d like to see one of our guys finally do well at a big event. The Donald, Sam Querrey and Isner may wind up to be Top 20 guys and James Blake might find “plan B” under the X-mas tree one year, but Andy’s really our only top hope right now, so it’s good for tennis in the U.S. when he’s doing well.
And speaking of Gimelstob, is there anyone besides Justin thrilled to have the IW and Miami events switched from ESPN to FSN. Anyone? All you ESPN and network haters I hope you are happy now. You got your wish, no Pmac, no Cliff. Just a month of Gimelstob. Oh, the madness…And for what it’s worth, Indian Wells decided against ESPN to save money. The tournament paid ESPN a reported $480k for every eight hours of airtime last year, which amounts to over a million spent for 22 hours of coverage last year. Maybe this year they saved that much, but with FSN, you get what you pay for I guess. Hope the savings were worth it. Thankfully I do have the masters stream.
As for the rest of the tournament, not many surprises thus far outside of Roddick. The court looks slow, but guys like Ljubicic, Ancic, Karlovic, Mahut and Fish still got through. A Rafael Nadal-Novak Djokovic meeting looks very imminent. With Roddick ousted I think Fed gets through to the semifinals to play the Stepanek/Nalbandian winner, which I have Steps in that one.
Today we have some good matches with Mathieu v. Tsonga and Nadal v. Young. The Donald gets a lot of heat from everyone, but the kid’s still only 18 and I think he’ll put up a good fight against Rafa. I like Matheiu slightly over Tsonga. And then of course we have the Moya-Blake match, which I will avoid at all costs. Seven of their nine career non-slam meetings have gone the distance and at times their matches can be excruciating to watch, as one guys pulls ahead, then chokes and the other guy comes back, and back-and-forth from there. Sorry, but I’ll stay far away from that one.
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