Roddick continues to show versatility

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The evolution of Andy Roddick has been in progress for a while now.

Much has been written about the fitter Roddick, the Roddick that still has an effective first serve though he doesn't rely simply on pure heat; the Roddick with more variety off the ground.

All of that was clearly evident in Key Biscayne, Fla., where Roddick on Sunday won the Sony Ericsson Open for the second time. It was his second title of the year — he's also an ATP World Tour best 26-4 on the season — his fifth Masters 1000 title and the 29th ATP title of his career, third among active players.

To get there, Roddick beat Rafael Nadal in the semifinals and Tomas Berdych in the final, showing the versatility in his game that we now have come to expect.

Against Nadal, Roddick turned up the aggression after falling behind, charging the net against the Spaniard — "It's kind of like driving into head-on traffic," Roddick said — and pulling out a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory.

Momentum turned when he won the last 11 points of the second set, including a 143-mph serve — the fastest by any player in the tournament — for a winner on the final point to even the match.

Roddick kept coming, winning 12 points at the net in the final set. He also put more oomph into his forehand, especially on returns.

"I took a lot of risks there in the last two sets," he said. "I rolled the dice a lot and came up Yahtzee a couple times."

Nadal noticed.

"He started to play more aggressive," Nadal said. "It was a surprise for me."

In the 7-5, 6-4 victory against Berdych in the final, Roddick used delicate backhands, loopy forehands and changeup first serves to shake up his opponent's rhythm. (Click here to read what Tennis.com's Peter Bodo had to say about the Sony Ericsson final.)

It's been well-documented that since hiring Larry Stefanki as his coach in late 2008, Roddick has lost at least 10 pounds, improved his foot speed and developed a more well-rounded game.

What isn't as well-documented perhaps is Roddick's work ethic.

"He works as hard or harder than anybody else on this tour," Stefanki said. "He could be similar to Andre Agassi, where his best years are from 27 on."

The serve clearly is still a weapon — Roddick faced no break points against Berdych and dropped his serve only twice in the tournament — but it is much more nuanced.

A year-by-year review of Roddick's statistics shows that over the last decade the 6-2 Texan has upped his first-serve percentage by about 10%, including an ATP Tour-leading 70% in 2009. At the same time, he has consistently held serve nine out of 10 times.

In other words, sacrificing power for accuracy has not hurt his ability to dominate on serve and might help preserve his arm over time.

"The last month has been real good for me," said Roddick, ranked No. 7 in the world. "I've played well on the big moments. I've been able to have a game plan and execute it, regardless of what kind of shots it takes. So it's all good. It's all encouraging."

Clay-court season is up next, not Roddick's best surface. Does he think he can add a title?

"To be honest, I haven't thought about it for two seconds," Roddick said. "Four weeks from now I'm going to be feeling a lot different than I am in this moment. It's going be a process over the next month to get there. I know that's redundant and boring for you all. That's the reality of the situation. We'll see how I'm feeling then. I'll be able to give you some more insight."

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Roddick's injury 'coming along well'

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

LONDON - After missing the ATP World Tour Finals because of a left knee injury, Andy Roddick is already looking forward to the start of the 2010 tennis season.

Roddick, who was at London's O2 Arena yesterday to announce that he has renewed his sponsorship deal with French apparel maker Lacoste for another four years, said his knee was "coming along well."

"We're probably a little bit ahead of where we thought we would be," the 2003 US Open champion said. "I've been able to run, run in a straight line, and hopefully next week I'll be able to get back out on the courts and practice."

Financial details of the deal with Lacoste were not announced. Lacoste CEO Christophe Chenut said Roddick brings "his human dimension" to the company.

"Andy will continue to be a major ambassador for the crocodile, thanks to his natural elegance, thanks to his fair play and smile," Chenut said.

Roddick had one of his best years on tour this season, reaching the semifinals at the Australian Open and later losing to Roger Federer 16-14 in the fifth set of an epic Wimbledon final.

"As far as the disappointment of Wimbledon, I don't think I'll ever be happy with the result," Roddick said. "But I'll always want to win that tournament."

But with this season over for Roddick, he is focused on what is next. He said he is planning to start in Brisbane, Australia, in January and then move on to the Australian Open in Melbourne.

"I'm going to try to get down there probably earlier than I normally would, try to get used to conditions in heat," Roddick said. "Obviously, I'd love to get some sets in with these guys before it's all said and done."

The guys Roddick was referring to were the eight taking part in the ATP World Tour Finals, the season-ending event that runs through Sunday in London.

Top-ranked Federer, Rafael Nadal and US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro are among the competitors.

"It is a different dynamic for me to be here and to be talking with all of you, not playing," Roddick said. "It was a lot easier to deal with for me not being at this tournament when I was home. But to be able to come here and see just the energy that's around it, just the great event that's being put on, I definitely am envious towards those guys out there."

His disappointment didn't detract from his sense of humor, though.

Instead of answering yet another question about his chances of winning the French Open, the only Grand Slam tournament played on clay, Roddick joked that he may use his contacts to get some things changed at Roland Garros.

"Well, we were talking earlier, and I said we have ... the Lacoste family here, a bunch of big players, big people in France. So we were talking about a surface change maybe for the French Open," Roddick said with a smile. "So we'll keep you updated on that. We're still in negotiations."

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Roddick Withdraws From London ATP Tennis Finals

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Andy Roddick has been forced out of the upcoming year-end London ATP Finals event according to the London Times.

“I am really disappointed to miss the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals,” Roddick said. “I love playing in London and I’ve heard so many good things about the venue. However, I have not fully recovered from my knee injury and I won’t be able to compete. One of my goals in 2010 will be to qualify for this event again.”

The World No. 6 has been recovering from a left knee injury he suffered during an opening round match against Stanislas Wawrinka at the Shanghai Masters last month.

The injury has since not sufficiently recovered enough for Roddick to compete. The American also missed the 2005 year-end tennis closer and withdrew after one match from last year’s event.

Roddick will be replaced by ATP No. 9 Robin Soderling. No. 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will assume the alternate role.

Groupings for the 8-man field will be announced Wednesday at London’s Millennium Eye. Play at the O2 Arena begins on Sunday. The Top 4 Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are all expected to play.

Federer can secure the No. 1 ranking by reaching the final.

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