Okay, it’s a stretch, but Andy Roddick and David Ferrer are no longer that diametrically opposite on a tennis court anymore. Just watch him play and you, too, will see some similarities. Roddick, er, the new Roddick, as we have seen this year is more patient, more willing to rally and keep the ball in play and clearly more mobile than the old Roddick who would relentlessly annihilate forehands from 8ft behind the baseline and lumber about the court.
He’s basically turned into Ferrer, just with a bigger serve, and it’s working! Credit to him and his new coach, Larry Stefanki, as at first I didn’t think it could be done
I first mentioned this new Andy at Indian Wells and I didn’t like it. I like the overall philosophy of getting fitter, getting balls back into play, playing smarter, etc., I just didn’t think Roddick had the goods and discipline to execute such a plan. I also thought the top guys would feast on Roddick’s spinny middle-of-the-court ground strokes, and early on they did.
But to Roddick’s credit he’s closer to the baseline, keeping the ball deep, mixing up his spins and he has much more shot direction off his backhand now. And like Ferrer in David’s heyday, he’s returning serve much better and making the other guy hit that extra shot and it’s paying off.
We saw against Novak Djokovic, Fernando Verdasco and even Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final, that the longer the rally goes the better for Roddick.
Who would have believed he could have done that a year ago? What a stunning transformation!
Just how far this new tactic will take him is really up to how long and how hard he’s willing to work at it. But for the moment I’m buying in. Now if he can only done a headband, bounce around like a jitter bug and speak a little Spanish, he’ll really be David Ferrer, just with a bigger serve.
As for today against Juan Martin Del Potro, I’m picking Roddick. I thought the courts would be faster in Montreal but the guys on the tube are saying it’s slower than Washington, so advantage goes to the guy who gets more balls back – Roddick! Plus I think DelPo going to be a little fatigued with all the tennis he’s played. Roddick played a lot too, but I don’t think the Argy is fitter than Andy.
But if DelPo is at his highest level he’ll beat Andy because he matches up good again him. His height helps against Andy’s serve and as we saw last Sunday he has more than enough power to muscle the ball around the court.
In the earlier match, I speculated yesterday that Murray might not lose a set this tournament, we’ll I’m sticking to that. I think he’ll straight-set Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a match that begins in about an hour. Though the Frenchman has the game to do it if he can get on a hot streak so in some ways it’s up to JW the outcome of this one.
Of course yesterday we saw both Federer and Rafael Nadal lose. Federer’s gag up 5-1 in the third set was very reminiscent of his play earlier in the year when he kept blowing leads to the top guys. Clearly it’s in his head and his recent Slam wins didn’t clear out those cobwebs. It’s still in there. And as of now I don’t like his chances in Cincinnati and it’s tough to pick him at the Open.
For Rafa, Camp Nadal warned us he wouldn’t be in top shape this week and whether or not that was indeed the case, DelPo got the better of him again last night. I guess I have to ask when will Rafa be Rafa again, if ever? If he’s not playing in Cincinnati next weekend it’s tough to see him lasting until the US Open final weekend.
And the same goes for Novak. If you are not playing on the weekends during the summer you are not going to be playing on that final weekend at the US Open. It’s been done, but it’s tough do and if Novak doesn’t get his act together quick he’s going to slide out of the Top 5 very soon. After a strong clay season and a good start to the year it’s surprising to see how far he’s regressed.
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