Wednesday, November 12, 2008

One foot, and he's out the door

You know what? I really feel bummed Andy Roddick had to drop out of the tournament with an ankle injury. I didn't mention this before in my Shanghai preview, as I like to present the image of impartiality (sometimes!), but I was really hoping he could make some kind of statement there.

He had as tough a task as one could possibly imagine after dropping his first match: beat Roger Federer to have a shot at advancing in the tournament. I think the idea of those two going head-to-head in a match that was pretty important would've been a great one to watch. But now, to quote that narrator from the Tootsie Roll pops commercial: "The world will never know."

I think my disappointment kind of goes beyond this match, too. This season for him, obviously, is a wrap. And it was alright, but not a great one, especially by his standards. What does next season hold for him? What's going to be different? These whipper-snappers that made big gains this year, such as Andy Murray, Juan del Potro and Jo Tsonga, are only going to get better. Novak Djokovic (a Shanghai semifinalist despite my earlier prediction!) and the injured Rafael Nadal, both who are already great, are only going to keep improving, too. Roger's Roger.

So where does that leave A-Rod? Winning San Joses and Bangkoks till the cows come home? Correct me if I'm wrong, but Roddick hasn't even made a Masters FINAL since 2006. In his presser after dropping out of Shanghai, he mentions that his coaching sitch will be addressed (you can see it here at Down the Line!), which is a good thing.

I'm not going to get into being critical of his game, as I've done in the past. I just hope that something changes and he can get on even grounds with these young guns. He's too good for that not to be the case.

(Photo: AFP)


Rich said...

C'mon Van - get critical! Fine, I will.

A-Rod's sliding slowly, but surely, down the backside of his career. He's had a good career so far but I think combo platter of "The Age of Federer" coupled with confusion about how to use his weapons strategically has kept him back.

I've always said he should see a head shrinker and I stand by it. Why not? A new voice, a different perspective, learning some mental gymnastics isn't such a bad thing. Exhibit A: Amelie Mauresmo. She has one more major over A-Rod and she beat Justine twice in major finals though one was the illness withdrawal in Australia (though she was leading.)

He keeps switching coaches but the change that needs to happen is in his head. Time is running out...

heyheyhey said...

I think time has run out for Andy. He's another one who will tumble in the rankings next year.

hcfoo said...

If A-Rod and James Blake career is going down, what's in store for the future of US tennis? I'll be interesting to watch this space.

freakyfrites said...

Hey Van,

A-Rod's baseline game is looking better to me - more stick on his shots and that forehand is back to being a weapon. But I agree, he's still losing pretty regularly to the up and coming talent (although, to be fair, it seems like everyone is losing to Andy Murray lately.)

I can't wait to see who he picks to be his coach!

TopSpin said...

Oh Dear! Well I like Andy Roddick a lot and still believe he can retain his top 10 position for years to come even if he is no longer at the very top...

And in Dubai he's shown that he can occasionally lift his game that little bit further and challenge the very best.

I think the game of the top 4 is beyond him at the moment, but theres no reason he can't regroup by posting wins against most everyone else.

So heres a battle plan for 2009 - I'm deliberately avoiding mention of any technical improvement:

1) Don't beat up on yourself for losing to the top 4: with the exception of Djokovic and Federer who are a little vulnerable right now, most everybody else they play
get scorched too.

He'll need to fend off the likes of Del Potro, Gulbis, Cilic and others. Focus on forging gameplans against these guys instead of worrying about the top 4.

2) I like Rich's idea of a Tennis Psychologist - not a coach but someone focused on changing his thought process - I don't know what happened in Dubai but for a while there Roddick looked like Superman - a specialist may be able to analyse that more clearly, maybe even recapture it.

3) Getting a new Coach is a great move - I'm glad to hear he's no longer working with his brother - to be honest it takes a very special kind of relationship
for that to work.

4) Stop being the nice guy! Applauding opponents shots - joking about his losses to Federer and others - admirable sporting traits no doubt, but not convincing examples of belief. TBH this has got a little better recently; Im not suggesting he becomes negative, just find a middle ground.

5) Rediscover his love affair with grass. Its only in 07 that he won Queens and just missed out on a semi final spot at Wimbledon - not the result he wanted but not bad. (Incidentally he made two quarters and a semi at the Slam level that year - again, not bad). It has come a little unstuck this year but not enough to lose hope.

Vava said...

Roddick, to me as a casual tennis observer, seems to be unfocused or something. And then at other times he is too focused and intense. He's very talented, obviously, but his shortcomings in the mental part of the game, in my opinion, are what's holding him back from reaching the pinnacle of tennis and another Grand Slam victory. Harsh maybe, but perhaps he just isn't as smart as his competitors.

Anonymous said...

He complained about the long ATP season (and emphasized it was not the reason why he withdrew from the year-end master cup). But come on, who is he kidding? His typical season normally starts in January, and then he will take a hiatus after Miami in March, until the clay court season ends. Then he will resume playing again in late May.

He should not complain abou the long season. There are a lot of journey men that rely on all these tournaments to make a living.

van said...

Hey everyone, sorry I'm just now getting to post to my own blog: busy weekend!

I think everything mentioned here should be sent to Roddick somehow! Maybe he'll take heed and get it together.