We have a good one today in my nation’s capital. Top seed Juan Martin del Potro and second seed Andy Roddick meet for the Legg Mason title in Washington D.C. The match, which is scheduled to begin in about four hours from now, is the first big blockbuster showdown of the summer hardcourts, and its outcome may shed some light as to what’s ahead.
For me, there’s more at stake than just a trophy today. I have to think both these guys will reach the last eight at the U.S. Open a month from now, but I’ going to say the winner today gets to the semifinals. That’s my feeling.
Handicapping the match is a tough one. Both players are past D.C. champions – DelPo last year, Roddick three times prior – and they’ve each had their share of struggles this week. DelPo needed three sets in wins over Lu and Hewitt while Roddick had to scratch out a tough three-setter last night over the vastly improving John Isner.
Head-to-head, they only met once that a year ago in L.A. which went to DelPo. So slight edge to the Argentine in knowing he’s done the deed before.
I also like how DelPo’s already backing up his results from last year showing that he’s not a fluke. If healthy, this guy will be a force for the next few years and hopefully much longer than that.
At the start of the summer I questioned how would Roddick recover from than gutting loss to Roger Federer at Wimbledon, and so far so good. As I said he hasn’t looked great, but he’s winning. And that’s what counts.
I will say, though, that Roddick in the two matches I’ve seen against Ivo and Isner, was not playing that brand of attacking tennis that we saw in the Wimbledon final. As I’ve said all year, it really seems like Roddick is transitioning away from the power player of his early days – big serve, big forehand – into a more thoughtful, get the serve in and work the point kind of guy.
That said, I give the power edge to DelPo. And if the courts are as quick as ESPN said on TV, I actually think that benefits the big guy more than the American. But, I also hear the temperatures are expected to hover around 100F and even though Andy’s playing his first day match of the tournament, I give the edge to Roddick in conditioning and fitness.
As i see it, the key will be how well Roddick can stay with Del Potro from the baseline. I think both guys will get some breaks of serves, but Roddick will have to be on his “A” defensive game, blunting DelPo’s powerful groundies. If Andy can do that he’ll be in good shape.
And of course the match is in the U.S. and part of a US Open Series that is already three-for-three in crowning U.S. champs, so I’ll stick with the trend and take Roddick 7-6, 6-4.
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