Saturday, September 09, 2006

Don't call it a comeback part 2: The 'new' Andy Roddick

After dismantling Lleyton Hewitt in the U.S. Open quarterfinals on Wednesday night, Andy Roddick was asked about John McEnroe's suggestion that he's now playing like 'the old Andy.'
Roddick flatly dismissed it and declared, "This is the new Andy Roddick."
Same trucker-style cap. Same hissy fits at umpires and linesmen. Same rocket serve. So what's new?
For the first time ever, during the Hewitt match, Roddick hit a backhand winner. It wasn't blocked, either. He actually took a real swing at it. And while it's still the weaker side, there is a marked improvement.
Another thing: Roddick approached the net without being dragged in. The man saw an advantage and took it. He even hit some volley winners. They weren't pretty volleys, but they landed inside the lines. Unreal, you're thinking, and I'd say it couldn't be true either if I didn't see it with my own eyes.
There's no mistaking the almost-immediate effect Jimmy Connors has had on Andy Roddick. Seeing him so subdued in the stands during Roddick's matches almost makes one wonder if they had a Freaky-Friday moment, where Connors gave him his brash confidence on the court, and got the spirit of Roddick's boring-ass game. Eh, the 'old' Roddick's game.
It would be a giant upset if Mikhail Youzhny managed to beat Roddick, more of an upset than Youzhny's victory over Rafael Nadal. Assuming Roddick makes the final, his newfound confidence and willingness to serve-and-slap-volley could bother Federer. Federer has had issues with the S&V game in the past, a reason Tim Henman used to give him trouble. Now what I'm going to say next might get me kicked out off some tennis courts in these parts, but Andy Roddick has a chance against Roger Federer if they both make the final on Sunday. The combination of the big serve and Roddick pouncing (somewhat) on weak returns could test Federer. It's hard to see anyone not named Nadal beating Federer, but the world number one has been showing some weakness this Open. This could be a fine opportunity for a boisterous American with a New York crowd and Jimmy Connors behind him to reclaim his U.S. Open championship.
Or Federer could just smirk and shove a few bagels down Roddick's throat.

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