What a difference 24 hours makes in Miami. Monday night Andy Roddick blitzed nemesis Roger Federer for one of his best career wins and halted a ranking death spiral. This evening, just the opposite. A listless Roddick had virtually nothing to offer Juan Monaco in a deflating 7-5, 6-0 loss in the fourth round of the Miami Tennis Masters.
Roddick started strong, though defensively, yanking the Argentine around the court to secure early break to go up 4-3. But that was it for the American. After reaching 5-5 Roddick was done. Physically done.
Monaco reeled off the last eight games to hand Roddick on of his most disappointing defeats on American soil.
“When you have to make a quick recovery, it will expose you if you’re not in shape,” admitted Roddick. “Most people can play a match and it’s fine. It’s the recovery where it kind of defines you. You know, there are a lot of positives out of this week. I feel healthy. I played matches, and I was running hard. My lack of any sort of fitness regime on my leg is apparent, but that’s something that is a matter of work. It’s not a matter of health. That’s something that’s in my control. I just didn’t have it physically. I got to about 4 All, and I was you know, I’m out of shape. That’s it.”
And that’s it for Roddick’s hardcourt season until the summer. Andy will have to seriously work on his fitness during the tough claycourt season or he’s going to continue to struggle and labor.
“Right now my priority is I feel like there is a little bit of a window to get right,” Roddick said. “I’m playing a very, very heavy summer schedule from Queen’s, Wimbledon, pretty much straight through the US Open. So I’m gonna go when I feel fit and ready. I’m certainly gonna get some in before the French, that’s for sure. But my priority from tomorrow on is getting in shape, dropping weight, and building strength.”
After Roddick’s upset, it was up to Serena Williams to restore the American order in Florida. But it was not to be. An overly aggressive Caroline Wozniacki exposed Serena’s movement in putting together one of her greatest wins defeating the 13-time Slam champ 6-4, 6-4 for the first time.
“I think I just struggled a bit with a lot of errors more than anything, I guess both on the return and she did well, she moved well, and I just made too many errors,” Serena said.
“The good thing is I could’ve played a lot better,” she added. “I probably played about 20%. You know, it would really suck and if I had to sit here and say I couldn’t do any better. That’s not the case.”
We often give Serena the benefit of the doubt these days in often making her the favorite at just about every tournament she enters. But facts are facts, she’s just not winning anymore. Sam Stosur beat her at the US Open, Ekatarina Makarova at the Australian and now Wozniacki. And her last Slam title came in the summer of 2010 at Wimbledon just before she suffered that mysterious foot injury.
Serena is still an incredible force in women’s tennis, but now at age 30 she’ll need to play more tournaments and get more matches to continue to compete for the big tennis prizes. And I’m not sure she has that in her.
As for Wozniacki, off this confidence-building win maybe bigger things await.
“Serena is a great champion and I have much respect for her,” Wozniacki said. “I thought I played a very good match out there. I’m very pleased about the way I was able to also close it out.”
Earlier in the day, after a slow start Rafael Nadal got into gear taking out Kei Nishikori. Mardy Fish continued his rebound enjoying a nice three-set win over Nicolas Almagro. Defending champion Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Janko Tipsarevic and JW Tsonga were also easy winners.
In the late match, my tournament pick Juan Martin Del Potro was sent packing by the bulldog David Ferrer 6-3, 6-3. Del Potro had some chances but couldn’t break through. Ferrer is just so darn tough, especially for an impatient youngster like Del Potro. And with Djokovic’s level not quite where it was a year ago, maybe Ferrer can pull the upset. Based on what I saw tonight he’s got a real chance.
Tomorrow in men’s quarterfinal action, Murray meets Tipsarevic in the daytime, Nadal gets Tsonga at night. I think Murray, who beat Gilles Simon, appears to be in form and, led by Ivan Lendl, motivated and he should prevail over Janko.
In the evening, I had Tsonga beating Nadal at this stage and I’ll stick with it. I think the nighttime helps the Frenchman against Rafa who had the first match of the day Tuesday and now plays the last one on Wednesday in a odd scheduling quirk. Nadal has never won the Miami title and his road to a first crown might go through three players who have given him trouble: Tsonga, Murray and Djokovic.
And he’ll have to do it with a bad knee. Oh boy!
“During the week of Indian Wells, the knee was getting a little bit worse and I arrived here so so,” Nadal said. “I’m happy to play in the quarterfinals. I am probably not at perfect conditions today with the left knee, but the important thing is try to win as many matches as possible. For me, this is an important tournament, and every victory has very, very big value for me.”
The women’s last two semifinal spots will are set to be filled Wednesday. Winner of her last 26, world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka faces Marion Bartoli. In the sunshine, Venus Williams continues her remarkable comeback against the steady striker Agnieszka Radwanska. I think Azarenka prevails and I have to believe Venus is out of gas or at least running low on reserves. And against Radwanska, who gets an awful lot of ball back, you’ll need fitness.
The ESPN2 crew will have coverage from 1-5pm and then 7-11pm ET live.
WEDNESDAY MIAMI SCHEDULE
STADIUM Start 10:45 am
David Marrero (ESP)/Fernando Verdasco (ESP) v  Leander Paes (IND)/Radek Stepanek (CZE)
Not Before 1:00 PM
[WC] Venus Williams (USA) v  Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
Not Before 3:00 PM
 Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) v Andy Murray (GBR)
Starting at 7:00 PM
 Victoria Azarenka (BLR) v  Marion Bartoli (FRA)
Not Before 9:00 PM
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) v  Rafael Nadal (ESP)
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What Do We Read Into Rafa’s Return After One Week? It Is Time To Panic Or Time To Chill?
Oudin the Russian Killer; American Men Out at US Open
WTA Charleston Day 1: Seeds Bail, Americans Fail