Is there a guy on the tennis circuit that seemingly improves more, year-by-year, coach-by-coach than Andy Roddick? Ever year and with every coach we hear of how the American’s game has grown by leaps and bounds, or at least that’s what I’m led to believe listening to all the TV talk and reading through the stories, that under Brad Gilbert, he improved, that under Jimmy Connors he improved and now Larry Stefanki has him at the very height of his playing powers.
Well, forget the hyperbole, Roddick’s playing better, more consistent, patient tennis now than he was a year ago, but the best he’s ever played? I’m not buying it. Yes, his backhand, movement and perhaps his transition/volley game are all in better form, but I don’t think his serve and forehand are as lethal as they once were. And that’s important because today he’ll need those weapons and every once of his “improved” game against his nemesis Roger Federer in the quarterfinals tonight at the Masters in Miami.
While you could make the case that Roddick is playing better ball than last year, likewise you can argue that Federer is not. I’m still not convinced the once-mighty Swiss has fully recovered from that crushing blow at the Australian Open final, and after watching his third-set meltdown to Andy Murray last week at Indian Wells, it’s clear he’s batting some confidence issues right now late in big matches. So if Roddick can stretch it to a third…
But when your 16-2 against a player as Federer is against Roddick, Roger has to be in good spirits ahead of the match. And despite all the hype and hoopla of Roddick’s improved game and his no-bread diet, I think Federer gets his revenge on Roddick for his Miami loss a year ago.
The rest of the men’s tournament – like IW – has gone pretty much according to plan with eight of the Top 10 advancing into the quarterfinal round.
This afternoon we’ll have another spicy encounter with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Novak Djokvoic getting together again. Both players seem to be hitting their stride, but Tsonga’s won four straight over the Serb and I think today he makes it five.
In the second set of quarterfinals tomorrow, we’ll see Juan Martin Del Potro v. Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray v. Fernando Verdasco, both pretty good matches. I had picked David Ferrer to upset Rafa at this stage and now I might lean to DelPo to get that job done. I’ll give it another 24 hours to mull that pick over. And I’ll stick with Murray over Verdasco.
In the women’s event, today both Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, are a win away from another collision. In the other semifinal, already set, it’s Sveta Kuznetsova and Victoria Azarenka. No surprise, looks like Serena’s going to come away with this title. Then again it is April Fool’s Day. Be forewarned.
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