Of all the potential early round encounters (pre- semifinals), the match I had circled on my Indian Wells Masters draw was Andy Roddick v. Novak Djokovic, and in a few minutes we finally get the battle in the quarterfinals.
As I said yesterday, it’s round five of a budding rivalry with the overall series deadlocked at 2-2. And it’s not a friendly rivalry like Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. But rather it’s between two guys that are not best of friends, not after there back-and-forth banter at the US Open last year.
Maybe they’re on better terms now or maybe they still have internal distaste for one another, but regardless it’s still an exceptionally intriguing matchup. Roddick can be labeled as the bully. And it’s a fair label. We’ve all seen Andy talk his smack on the court – though usually only to the lesser players – and do his strut, while Novak tends to back down, if not retire, when confronted with severe adversity. So it’s the bully vs…well, I’ll just stop there.
The two have alternated wins with their most recent meeting in January going to Roddick when Novak quit due to the Melbourne heat. Novak was actually up a set on Roddick and really having his way with the American before his body and his mind let him down.
According to google, temperature in Indian Wells right now is 93F, so heat may again be a factor. But we are best-of-3 today and with both guys having a day off from singles each should be 100% fresh.
As I’ve said many times before and it’s worth saying again, Novak’s a better player than Roddick in just about every department. But here again, like Australia, we find Novak having the pressure to defend champion points and to do it he’ll have the next to impossible task of going through Roddick, then Nadal and then Federer or Murray, all on consecutive days in the heat. Right now, I don’t think he’s up for such a challenge.
That said, I don’t think Roddick is either. For all the talk of Andy’s weight loss diet, new coach, impending marriage, etc., from my vantage point he’s having a tougher go of hitting winners from the backcourt. To me, he’s starting to really look like and almost act like a pusher. And that’s not a good sign. On what looks to be a slow hardcourt I don’t think he’s can outrally the likes of Nadal, Murray, Federer or even Del Potro, should the lanky Argentine pull the upset tonight. And he might not even be able to hold it up against Novak.
Novak himself calls Andy the favorite in the match, but why? The reality is Novak’s the higher ranked guy, the defending champion and a player who’s won five of six sets vs Roddick in North America. But when Novak’s right, he’s right and I’ll take the bully Roddick in this one.
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