It’s the match that all Andy Roddick fans both dread and look forward to. Roddick was 2-21 in official matches in his career against Roger Federer. Federer is probably the reason that Roddick only has 1 Slam. Without Fed, Roddick probably has at least 4 and as many as 6 or 7. It’s a match that all Roddick fans want to see Roddick win but know that the overwhelming likelihood is that he will lose.
Roddick has had some struggles in the past few years. He hasn’t been advancing far in as many tournaments so he has only met Federer twice since their epic five-setter in the Wimbledon 2009 final. His ranking has slipped outside the top 30, which is why he had to meet Federer in only the third round here. Roddick played a very good match though in the second round against Gilles Muller and he had played a good match a month ago against Federer in an exhibition at Madison Square Garden, so expectations were pretty high for him coming into this match. And, of course, the constant claims that he’s in decline and that he needs to pick up his game make every big match feel even bigger for Roddick. Still, Federer had won 16 straight matches and was playing some of the best tennis in the world right now. What chance did Roddick have against a player he was 2-21 against who was still close to the top of his game?
Both players came out serving well, and the first set went into a tiebreak pretty quickly, with break point opportunities being earned in only one game in the set (by Federer early in the set). Roddick played well in the tiebreak and hit a passing shot winner after Federer couldn’t put away an overhead to take the final minibreak and served out the set. Still, you got the feeling that it was an even match going forward and that Roddick was not the favorite.
The second set, though, was all Federer. Roddick held serve to open the set and Federer responded by winning six straight games, breaking Roddick three consecutive times in the process. After Federer held to open the third set, he came out with a 0-40 lead in Roddick’s next service game. Roddick fought tooth and nail and held behind some big serves-and that’s when Roddick took over the match.
Roddick came out in Federer’s next service game like it was 2003. Roddick just started unleashing flat forehands that we haven’t seen from him in years. Roddick hit the ball hard and flat and shocked Federer, breaking him to take the lead which he would never relinquish. He had to fight a few times to hold his next 4 service games and had a few openings to break again in Federer’s, but Roddick eventually held his serve and won the match.
There are two important things to take from this match-one of them a positive for Roddick and the other a negative for Federer. Roddick played a good aggressive match (well, only 1 set but close enough) for the first time in forever and it did very good things for him. Roddick was able to control the match and hit winners for once. If Roddick can keep this up, he can challenge just about anyone on any surface other than clay. This is the first real flash of the old Roddick we have since since Wimbledon in 2009 (well, maybe in Miami 2010). Hopefully we’ll see more of it more consistently moving forward.
The other thing to take from this match is that Roddick really rattled Federer. You could see that Federer was uncomfortable once Roddick started blasting those forehands. It was the first real time all year that someone took the match to Federer and tried to blast him off the court. Federer couldn’t get comfortable after that and his first-serve percentage plummeted. Federer is still not used to having play dictated to him. It doesn’t happen often, but when someone does control the points Federer has to find a way to adjust to it so that he doesn’t get blown off the court when he faces these types of matches.
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