Roddick Steals from Federer in Win over Ljubicic

by Sean Randall | March 16th, 2007, 10:11 am

Maybe it was a dream I had last night, but I swear during his win over Ivan Ljubicic yesterday at Indian Wells, Andy Roddick stole a few pages right out of the Roger Federer playbook!

From what I saw, Roddick carbon copied the Federer short backhand slice into the ad court (the “chip and dip”), which is meant to lure the opponent in forcing him to make an exceptional reply or get passed. ADHEREL

Roddick used that Fed tactic twice against Ljubicic in the second set tiebreak with remarkable success. The first time off it Ljubicic tried to reply down the line to Roddick’s forehand, but the shot wasn’t deep enough and Andy torched a forehand crosser (okay, I think it skipped over the net). The second time, Ljubicic replied with a deft cross court angle drop shot which Roddick tracked and steered down the line for a winner.

(I still wonder, “Did I really see those two shots?”)

So I got to give Roddick a lot of credit for incorporating that one into the game plan, and for pulling out the win. It’s a great shot – one that Federer has used against Roddick at will – and Andy pulled it off masterfully last night.

And it’s really the first time I’ve seen someone outside of Federer use the chip and dip with such purpose, which is quite surprising since so many players nowadays want nothing to do with coming into the net.

But when used and used effectively, the chip and dip, much like a drop shot, is a terrific tactic against baseliners: It takes away their rhythm, it takes them out of their baseline comfort zone and it throws in an element of surprise.

And no doubt Roddick learned this tactic from all the beatings Federer’s given him. Roger loves hitting the short slice to Andy’s backhand, almost teasing him to come in. Andy usually replies with a weak slice cross court to Fed’s backhand which Fed, with the court wide open and Andy cemented at the net, simply lasers down the line for a winner, or if he’s feeling rather cruel he will go back cross court with the backhand topspin angle dipper.

My thinking is is that Roddick or anyone else having to face that shot, Ljubicic included, would be best served just hitting a drop shot into the deuce court. Or, maybe hitting a deep slice right back at your opponent. That is if you can’t hit an outright winner off of it.

In his next match against Rafael Nadal, Roddick will have to be cautious about using that tactic because Rafa will reply with his own dropper or a forehand winner. And my guess is it will be a more difficult shot to pull off since Rafa’s far quicker than Ljubicic and his heavy forehand topspin will be tougher for Andy to control with a backhand slice. Plus, against a lefty like Nadal that shot goes right into the forehand.

Regardless of whether he employs the chip and dip (he probably can’t wait to try it again but really shouldn’t against Rafa), I see Andy winning the match in straight sets. I just think Andy will get more looks on Rafa’s serve than Rafa will on Andy’s – Rafa is not the strongest of returners and Andy’s serve has been untouchable this week. Add to that the fact Rafa is still making a few more errors off the ground than usual and his serve remains a question mark, Roddick should prevail. Actually, Nadal should be hitting nothing but drop shots to Roddick, who’s still about 50/50 at the net at best but seems to be more consistent these days from the baseline.

At the end of the day, though, I still like Tommy Haas taking this title.

You Might Like:
Ivan Ljubicic: Djokovic Isn’t Happy, He Wants More, And He’s Going To Get More
Croatia Will Put Roddick, Blake(?) on Clay in Davis Cup Encounter
Longshot Ljubicic Out-Guns Roddick for Indian Wells Title
Novak Djokovic: Roger Federer Hired Ivan Ljubicic Because He Knows My Game
Federer, Roddick Awarded Favorable Draws in Miami

Don't miss any tennis action, stay connected with Tennis-X

Get the FREE TX daily newsletter

45 Comments for Roddick Steals from Federer in Win over Ljubicic

zola Says:

nice analysis. What do you think of the court speed? Nadal won Roddick on clay and Roddick won him on har. Which one will benefit more from the courts in IW?

VMan Says:

More on the chip and dip….

I saw Gael Monfils vs. Dusan Vemic yesterday at the Sunrise “Challenger”. (Its officially a challenger but players like Monfils, Tursonov, Karlovic, Hrbaty are playing). I was surprised to see the number of times Vemic used a similar strategy against Monfils. He would hit a short and low slice approach shot, almost a drop shot, and even though most of the times Monfils would chase it, he would end up giving a simple put away volley to Vemic.

RodFan Says:

Wow Sean,
It is your first positive article about Roddick! He must have really impressed you yesterday! So it appears that Roddick CAN play some tennis after all!
You even predict he will take Nadal. I’m with you on this and truly hopeful it will happen.
Go Andy!

not happening Says:

not happening, all good wishful thinking won’t help out deflate Roddick’s huge cocky attitude, he’ll lose and lose dearly to rafa.
I got my money on it, well all 20 bucks I put on the online bet :)

Agassi fan Says:

About time someone gave roddick a bit of credit. Just because he has won only one slam doesn’t mean he is any less than someone like courier or becker – if it wasn’t for federer, roddick would have had 4-5 slams by now.

Go Roddick! Says:

We don’t see enough of Roddick-Nadal duels, which is such a shame…

I think it would give Roddick a lot to think about and develop his game when he plays vastly different top-level players, what with Connors in his corner now. He’s had to deal with a lot of similar styled players which made him one-dimensional in his younger days. He won over Murray after losing to him and that shows he’s improving too.

backhander Says:

Nothing new really Roddick has been using that short slice for a while now.

Looking forward to the Rod-Nadal clash. Ahh but the tennis has been superb this week without the predictably dull Federer around.

FloridaMan Says:

I disagree that Roddick is favored over Nadal in their upcoming semifinal. I think Nadal will win in 2 or 3 sets. Nadal is much, much, much better than Roddick from the baseline. Ljubicic is not nearly as good as Nadal from the backcourt. So that means Roddick is going to have to attack a lot…but even there, he’s not the best volleyer out there. He’s pretty close to mediocre as a volleyer, actually. On top of that, Nadal is an awesome passer. So that leaves Roddick’s serve, the only weapon that is superior to Nadal’s. So Roddick can only win this match if he gets a lot of free points on his serve. Otherwise, no chance against Nadal.

The Obvious Guy Says:

FloridaMan… you predict that nadal will win in 2 or 3 sets? Wow, what an awesome prediction! :P

FoT Says:

backhander said: “Looking forward to the Rod-Nadal clash. Ahh but the tennis has been superb this week without the predictably dull Federer around. ”

This match would have taken place even if Roger was still in the draw since this is the opposite side of where Roger was…so what has the Rod-Nadal clash got to do with Federer?

In fact, this tournament has lacked a lot of great matches. Sure I’ve seen some great shots, but hardly any of the men’s matches (after Roger went out) even went to 3 sets! And the 3-setters have all been a wash with the 3rd set being won by scores of 6-2, 6-0, 6-3, 6-4..

Wouldn’t this tournament have been great if in one SF you had Roddick vs Nadal and the other Federer vs either Djokovic or Haas? By Federer losing in R2 did not make this tournament more exciting. I would think that you would want to see the very best at the end of the tournament and no matter how you may dislike Federer – he still is the very best right now.

FloridaMan Says:

Obvious Guy: I guess what is less obvious to you is that I predict Nadal, not Roddick to win. Actually read what I wrote, and you’ll see why I made that prediction :) Says:

Roddick Steals from Federer in Win over Ljubicic…

I got to say that I am surprised on how Roddick has improved his backhand and slice. But, he still has a long way to go to before his shots are deadly enough….

Skorocel Says:

Well, quite optimistic analysis (from Andy’s point of view), but really, I wonder how Nadal’s gonna return those thunderous serves… He doesn’t like to get aced, simply because he doesn’t have any of those lightning-quick reflexes on the return a la Agassi… Can’t wait!

sanirogers Says:

The Editorial Management of Tennis-X wants to say sorry to those who read this article that this is not written by Sean Randall, but by ….

i am really looking forward to this. because first time i think u have showed u too have mind and pen coordination.

cheers…at last u got out of schizophrenia

Sean Randall Says:

Zola, the court seems to be playing rather slow, but quicker in the heat, which this afternoon will favor Roddick and his serve.

Rodfan, thanks. But i’ve actually supported Roddick before. Hard to believe I know. And now with Haas out of the event I think it’s Roddick’s to lose.

As I said, I fully expect him to blast past Nadal today, and then overwhelm (with his serve) Djokovic or defeat a tired Murray.

FloridaMan, actually Roddick is the very slight favorite over Nadal in the official betting lines, -109 to -101 last I checked. The rest of your analysis is spot-on, although I really don’t think Nadal has been as consistent from the back court as he should be.

Skorocel, that’s the basis of my arguement. I just don’t think Nadal is going to be able to return Roddick’s serve with any effectiveness. That said, Roddick not going to get a ton of looks at breaking Nadal’s, but I think he’ll have a few more cracks at breaking than Nadal will, meaning Nadal will be far more under pressure in his service games than Roddick.

sanirogers, I love it. Though I must admit I was heavily drugged up when i wrote that post.

FloridaMan Says:

Roddick may be a slight favorite in betting, but strategically Nadal is definitely favorite. As I said, the only way Roddick will win is if he’s having a great serving day. Then he does have a great chance. But otherwise, Nadal is MUCH better from the baseline, and can make passing shots to Roddick’s mediocre net game. Edge to Nadal in straight, or possibly 3 sets. Either way, I’m looking forward to a fantastic match this afternoon.

FloridaMan Says:

I told you all – I was right. Roddick really didn’t have much of a chance against Nadal after all. His game has improved, but come on guys, not THAT much. His baseline game is still not up there with the very best, and neither is his volley game. That part REALLY needs work. He’s only ranked as high as he is because of his serve.

zola Says:

I am so glad you were right! He played great.I hope he playes the same way tomorrow. He so deserves this trophy!

FloridaMan Says:

Yes I think Nadal will win the whole tournament. The over-hyped Murray is injured and will be tired, win or lose tonight against Djokovic. And Djokovic doesn’t really have the kind of firepower that can hurt Nadal. Between Murray and Djokovic, I think Murray has the better chance to win against Nadal because Murray hits through the ball better than Roddick, and can take Nadal’s topspin a little better. But again…too tired, too injured to really make much of a dent. I am glad Nadal is finally proving himself again on hardcourt.

JCF Says:

“Regardless of whether he employs the chip and dip (he probably can’t wait to try it again but really shouldn’t against Rafa), I see Andy winning the match in straight sets. I just think Andy will get more looks on Rafa’s serve than Rafa will on Andy’s – Rafa is not the strongest of returners and Andy’s serve has been untouchable this week. Add to that the fact Rafa is still making a few more errors off the ground than usual and his serve remains a question mark, Roddick should prevail.”

Well you were correct about the straight sets drubbing, just not which way. Roddick had no break point opportunities at all on Rafa’s serve, while Rafa had plenty on Roddick’s, so you were wrong about him getting more looks on Rafa’s serve than the other way around. Just shows that anything can happen in tennis.

Can anyone still call this guy a clay court specialist?

“At the end of the day, though, I still like Tommy Haas taking this title.”

Wow, didn’t know how old this article was, but Haas got ousted days ago.

JCF Says:

“Skorocel, that’s the basis of my arguement. I just don’t think Nadal is going to be able to return Roddick’s serve with any effectiveness. That said, Roddick not going to get a ton of looks at breaking Nadal’s, but I think he’ll have a few more cracks at breaking than Nadal will, meaning Nadal will be far more under pressure in his service games than Roddick.”

Heh sean, it must be embarassing now. Even armchair critics have to face the aftermath of bad predictions. Roddick had NO cracks at all on Nadal’s serve. Nadal returned Roddick’s serve VERY effectively it turns out. The scoreline doesn’t even show what a rout the match was. And this was on a surface more suited to Roddick than Nadal. I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting this result. I thought it would be a dogfight, but couldn’t pick a winner.

Good on Rafa. I hope he wins the tournament. Djokovic and Murray won’t be easy opponents for him though. Murray led two sets to one against him in Australia before finally capitulating in the 5th. Since this isn’t 5 set tennis, Murray should be able to endure the punishment. Djokovic has plenty of firepower also. He is one of the biggest hitters in the game. Nadal will have to play his best.

zola Says:

I think Rafa plays way better than in Australia. The courts are a bit slower here and he loves the sun ( rather than the night matches in Australia).

He has won Federer, Davydenko, Murray, Haas, ljubcic and robredo (from top 10) on hard courts. He is certainly becoming an all court player and has made his special blend of tennis that works on both courts. Good for him and I hope he wins tomorrow.

zola Says:

add Roddick to that list.
By the way, I read Roddick’s presser and he is a great guy. Making no excuses for his loss and crediting Rafa for his great play.

Flatter2Deceive? Says:

How long is Nadal going to continue this form? Methinks not for much long…
He’s the kind of guy who grinds it out only to get tired later. For someone of 20 years of age he sure is looking old; almost a year since his last final. Will it take another year for him to reach another final?

JCF Says:

“For someone of 20 years of age he sure is looking old; almost a year since his last final. Will it take another year for him to reach another final?”

Not likely. The clay season is coming up. He holds the longest winning streak on that surface, and it’s still alive.

zola Says:


He “IS ” in the final here in indian wells on a hard court. He has not been beaten on clay since 2005. ( 62 matches). He might lose to someone, but I am pretty sure he will be in several finals.

He had way worse injuries in 2004 and 2005. I think he is learning to play less tournaments and get enough rest. If he stays healthy, he can be in form. He has to be commended for his efforts to adapt his clay court game to hard courts and now it is paying off.

He doesn’t look older at all. He is focused and determned on court. Doesn’t do throw tantraums and acts more mature compared to many of the palyers at the same age range, say Murray or Djokovic.

Sean Randall Says:

Wow. Was I way off on Roddick-Nadal. Way, way off.

FloridaFan, you called it!

Nadal served lights out, while Roddick struggled on his own serve. That wasn’t supposed to happen.

Then, much like he did when Roger Federer blew him out at the Australian, Roddick for some reason kept coming to the net on horrible approaches. And when he did get a racquet on the volley, well, we saw what happened…

And what I really didn’t see coming was Nadal just abusing Roddick’s backhand. Basically, Nadal could have, and did, hit a winner off just about any of Roddick’s backhand replies. Because he was 10 feet behind the baseline, Andy’s backhand just hung in the middle of the court waiting and wanting to be crushed! Awful!

I guess have to admit that I get easily caught up in the ESPN, U.S. media Roddick hype. Same thing happened to me during the Australian, when I really thought Roddick would give Federer a real tussle. I have to stop that.

Give a lot of credit to Nadal, who played a flawless match and one that was clearly his best in months. Is he back? Who knows, we’ll find out on the clay, but I think he’s restored some of his confidence that’s for sure.

Today I think Novak Djokovic presents a much tougher challenge for Nadal. Djokovic has a complete game, and a wicked backhand that should be able to handle Rafa’s heavy topspin. If he’s not overwhelmed by the situation he’s got the game that can beat Rafa. Decent serve. Hard groundstokes anchored by an excellent backhand and a nasty attitude. But I do think the stage will be too great for the teen, as will Rafa.

zola Says:

Rafa was never out. this is his third title on hard courts. All his other titles have been on clay. The media just didn’t follow him so closely before French Open and Wibmledon. He has not lost on clay in 62 matches and has been No 2 for 86-87 weeks, These are all records that he has broken. The media was just concentrated on his losses on hard courts.

Well, he worked hi way out and he is now playing the agressive game that was defeating him. He is only going to get better and way scarier.

Djoko played a fantastic second set. Good for him. He is a brilliant player.

FloridaMan Says:

Actually, Nadal has 5 hardcourt titles: in 2005 he won Beijing, Montreal and Madrid; 2006 he won Dubai; and 2007 here in Indian Wells. He’s an awesome hard court player. Better than any Spaniard or Austrian before him.

JCF Says:

Madrid it should be noted is a fast hard court played indoors at high altitude. He can play on quick surfaces. And Roger Federer who he beat at Dubai final even conceded that Dubai was a fast hardcourt. He made the semis at Shanghai masters which is another fast court, and there are no easy draws there. And he made the finals of Miami (losing to Fed in 5 sets). He led 2 sets to love and was 2 points away from finishing it before Fed came back. It’s important to note that finals are no longer 5 sets, so he would have won that match.

Being the 2nd ever spaniard to make a wimbledon final also says something.

Roddick.. it just wasn’t his day. On paper, he should have been the favorite, but as it turns out, Nadal wins IW without dropping a set. Would have been nice if it was Fed vs Nadal in the final though.

RodFan Says:

Andy seems to ‘choke’ recently when he plays ‘big’ guys, like Federer, Haas, Nadal, Murray. Those are the goys he lost to this year so far. All these matches were one-sided (or almost one-sided). Andy had troubles to get 1st serves in, his forehand was off and he got passed at the net. Seems like the same pattern each and every time. In the yesterday’s interview Andy said that he and Connors would take a closer look at Roddick/Nadal match trying to analyze it and come up w/some conclusions. I also think that Andy MUST spent more time w/Connors training (and not one week here and there). It just will not cut it with these elite players.
P.S. Sean, don’t blame yourself too much for wrong prediction in Roddick/Nadal match: Djokovich was clueless and helpless against Nadal too!

bjt Says:

Unfortunately for men’s tennis in the U.S., Andy Roddick get’s all this attention and hype because of his serve. He can serve HUGE, and the radar gun displays the 140+ speed, and everyone says “wow”. Even a lot of players are stunned by the speed. But a fast serve makes not an elite player. It gets Andy through early rounds, like Rusedski or Goran used to do, but it doesn’t win tournaments.

Look at all of Andy’s better wins over top players; he played like a grinder, and did not rely on his serve to win a match. He made amazing shots, like Nadal does, even on his backhand side. His U.S. open win over Nalbandian (the toughest match leading up to the finals) had him hitting backhand winners from deep in the court. But for Andy, who is more an athelete than a natural tennis player, playing like that week in week out is very difficult, and Andy just wants to hit the big serve and the big forehand (which he doesn’t really have, way too much spin). Conners, a total grinder, is probably getting fed up with Roddick’s tactics. Conners ground so hard, he blew out his hips and had to have them replaced. I don’t see Roddick making that kind of sacrafice, but who would.

Roddick is not an elite tennis player. He’s a great athelete who can have a good day against players who get scared by his serve. But he has only 1 and 1/2 weapons (Serve and very spinny forehand). The top guys now days have three weapons or more. I fear this tournament is the last we’ll see him in the semi’s for some time to come.

FloridaMan Says:

Totally agreed, bjt. And I’d like to add that only someone as strong as Nadal can have such a topspinny forehand and muscle it with such pace and accuracy. I mean the guy can curl almost 70 pounds on his left hand, his main hand. He can curl a little less on his other hand, but then again, that awesome two-fister gets him through many a point.

sensationalsafin Says:

last semi for a while? no way. roddick’s played some good matches like the one against ljubicic. i think he underestimated nadal and expected him to just hit short balls like he’s done so many times against the players who have beat him. roddick doesn’t hit that flat or that deep to beat nadal, like berdych and blake do. yeah roddick lost but cmon, nadal’s amazing. he said he would not rather have played federer in the finals. well, i think he would have won no matter what. of course federer wouldn’t give him the first 4 games so easily. it probably would’ve been like 7-6 6-7 7-5 if it was against federer but i think nadal would’ve prevailed becuz his forehand was just unstoppable and his backhand passes were sick and he was serving absolutely great. roddick’s not out yet, but he should start digging deeper if he wants to win the big titles, or even the little ones apparently.

Ace Drivell Says:

19th March
A heartfelt plea to Haynes – PLEASE, PLEASE sponsor Nadal……he is obviously in dire need of comfortable underpants….ones that fit him….perhaps then he would cease plucking his underpants from the crack in his posterior….
EVERY single point he plucks the offending garment…it must be uncomfortable for him and it is certainly distracting for the rest of us…..

zola Says:

loved your “who’s in the trunk” No 1: Greed.
It just doesn’t make sense to me that how is tennis going to be poupular when there is absolutely no tennis on national TV! Agree with you “word by word”.

hatersx Says:

wow!!! whats happened to tennisx? this place used to be funny and it’s just unfunny junk all over the place and sean randall clearly doesnt know enough about tennis to be writing about it. why doesnt that other blogger lynn write more? she has more going on upstairs than this sean fanboy.
what a shame that tennisx is no longer a must-read anymore. :(

—Unfortunately for men’s tennis in the U.S., Andy Roddick get’s all this attention and hype because of his serve.

roddick gets the hype because he is the top american player and has won 20 odd titles and slam to boot. Hes very popular, funny and charismatic. hes also great for for the sport, he is always out promoting it and he gives so much time to fans. and to his work with charities. we are lucky to have someone as authentic and generous as him. its such a shame some jealous americans cant look past the so called hype to see what a decent guy roddick really is and that we are lucky to have someone like him in the top ten.

—Roddick is not an elite tennis player.

of course he’s an elite player. top five for the past four years. only federer can claim that as well. try, try again, haters.

Laver_Fan Says:

Have you seen Vince Spadea’s latest rap video on It seems as though the white tennis rapper is improving in the tennis rapper rankings. He does have a nice win over Haas this year. Darkhorse in Miami???


FloridaMan Says:

hatersx – I am in some agreement with what you are saying. Unquestionably, people like Roddick and Sharapova, bring lots of charisma to the game. They do a lot of charity work. Therefore, they bring a lot of new fans. But herein lies the issue: in anything, there are different types of fans out there. There are fans who only focus on looks, personality and everything they do outside of their main job. Then there are fans like us, who primarily care about RESULTS. STRATEGY. TECHNIQUE. There are a lot of nice, charismatic, charitable people out there, whether it’s tennis players, actors or even astronauts. However, most of us here are TENNIS FANS. This means we, for the most part, analyze the players and their game, and we love doing it. I think it is good for the mind to be analytical about sports. It doesn’t mean we are purposely trying to take away from the great things they do in their offcourt life. We just place game far above charisma; if Davydenko were suddenly beating Federer all the time, and winning multiple slams, I think many of us really wouldn’t be putting that much emphasis on how boring he might be; we’d be praising his game as to why he’s winning so many slams.

bjt Says:

I’ll stick by my statement. Roddick is NOT an elite tennis player. He’s a superb athlete, probably too naturally talented for his own good because it was his athleticism that won him matches early in his career instead of sound technique. He’s so physically talented, he can compete with that ridiculous backhand (would anyone teach that to a young player). He has an amazing career, and I love him to death, and support him, and cheer for him. But I see he doesn’t have the gift. And I would argue that if Fed were not around, someone else would have stepped up and prevented Andy from winning anymore titles than he has. Maybe he would’ve had a Wimbeldon title… maybe. But Fed knocked out a lot of great players on the grass, and actually had a tougher time with them then he did with Andy.

Would you call Brad Gilbert an elite player? He held the number two spot for a while, won a slew of tournaments, though never brought home the slam trophy.

Proof is in the pudding (some humor here). And my prediction of not seeing him in the semi’s for sometime is because we are going to be on the dirt soon, and Andy has proven himself not up to the task (hopefully Conners, who actually was a great clay courter, can instill some motivation there).

Nadal… another non-elite tennis player. But elite physical athlete. He’s like Roddick on steroids. Faster, stronger, better backhand (strangely developed as he’s a natural righty). Nadal also has a bizzare technique on the forehand. His entire body torques to generate topspin… and it’s that topspin, like Roddick’s mutant serve, that gets him through the early rounds. But like Roddick’s serve, people are figuring out his topspin (Blake, Gonzo). So it’s going to be an interesting spring.

Also, does anyone think Nadal’s spin is so effective because the ball lands short in the court? It seems like it’s by design, because in order to take his balls early (lower to the ground) you’d have to play near the service line which is impossible, so you’re back by the baseline where his balls are up over your head, so you have to move even farther back to where they are coming back down to earth, back by the seats… seams like a real drag to deal with it.

FloridaMan Says:

One other thing I’d like to add about Roddick:
Some of you talk about what a charitable, great guy he is. While that is correct, Roddick has also behaved like a jackass sometimes on court – far worse than Federer, Blake, Gonzo and many others, and more than just once or twice.

Sean Randall Says:

Folks, regarding Roddick, as I’ve said before he’s probably done more with less than anyone who’s ever reached No. 1. And that’s not meant to be a slap at him. As bjt says, athletically he’s superb, but I think where he’s best is in his will to win. Outside of Federer on a hard court if I had to have someone win one match for me I might take Roddick.

So bjt, I would disagree that we’ve seen the last of Roddick in late round of events. If not for Fed, Roddick would have 3-4 more Slam titles. In fact, the way he’s got his serve humming he’s going to be tough to beat at any event, and I could even seem him beating Rafa at the upcoming D-cup.

Nadal’s also an athletic marvel. But unlike Roddick who has a massive serve to rely on, Rafa needs his physical ability to win him matches.

Also bjt, when Nadal’s deep spin shot is the one that kills ya. Not really the short ones. The deeper ones pin ya deep behind the baseline, then you reply with something that lands short, then Rafa rips a mid-court forehand and the points over. Pretty basic strategy, but damn good one!

RodFan, Djokovic was “clueless” at the start, but slowly worked his way into the match. Unfortunately, when Roddick plays Roger or Rafa or even Haas he just stays at “clueless” and virtually gives up!

FloridaFan, would agree. Roddick does act like a complete jackass, especially when he’s winning easily or losing badly. I’m sure Jimmy has no problems with that!

bjt Says:

Sean, you ever notice that often when Roddick is in a tight match, and he gets to 30 all in a game, his firtst serve goes away? During the Nadal match, he threw in a couple doubles at 30 all. It looks like a total mental breakdown. Pete used to just go for his second serve even harder when it got tight. But Andy seems to lose all his power. Often they go right into the bottom of the net.

I just don’t seem him making it through in larger tournaments when everyone now days seems to be returning better and better.

I totally agree about Nadal needing his physical presence to beat guys. He pounds them down. But I wonder about that depth of his shot. Yes, sometimes deep is great, especially when it’s flat. But it seems like Fed can take a ball like that with topspin early. I’ll have to watch closely. Great comments!

Sean Randall Says:

bjt, from a playing persective when a ball lands short it’s much easier to attack then when it lands deep. Of course we are talking heavy, heavy topspin, which when it lands short explodes but if you are back around the baseline you will get a good look at it.

Where Fed and many others get into trouble is when Rafa hits that spinner deep to a guy’s one handed backhand and in order to hit it back with anything – and avoid having it land in the middle of the court — that player has to be very strong.

When Rafa hit’s that short to Fed’s backhand Roger can really hammer it.

Back on Roddick, from having watched him play many a match, he reminds me a lot of Becker in that whenever he gets in trouble he can usually crank a few aces. So I really don’t see what you see. Obviously he had some problems the first half of last year, but his serve seems to back on track.

What is abosultely amazing and often never mentioned is that Roddick finished among the Top 10 last year in first serve percentage (number eight). The rest of the guys in that group are clay courters, of course, who use their serve to start rally, whereas Andy’s nailing bombs ar 140mph+. That’s just not even fair.

But as you say, I agree in that the players overall are reading his serve better than a couple years ago. And I don’t think Andy’s second serve is a strong as it once was, either.

I wonder if Roddick circa 2003 when he won the Open would beat the current Roddick. I’d lean to the 2003 version winning, simply because back then Roddick had two options: Serve and forehand. That’s it. Simple. Now he’s got a few more clubs in the bag but it’s those new ones that are getting him into trouble against the top guys.

FloridaMan Says:

By the way, I have also started to post comments in the tennis section of ESPN’s website. Because the screen name I use in Tennis-X was already taken, I am under the screen name FloridaTao on ESPN. Hope to see some of you there.

Top story: 2024 French Open Day 3: Djokovic Returns With Ruud, Sabalenka, Rybakina Tuesday