Thursday, August 02, 2007

Another Open Letter to Andy Roddick

Andy, Andy, Andy.
I get it. It must be hard, trying to carve out your piece of history playing alongside the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. It took you awhile to try to adjust, but finally last year, you hired all-American bad boy Jimmy Connors to help you with your game. It seemed to work – at first. He helped you shore up that weak backhand of yours, and encouraged you to be more aggressive, to come into the net. You made it to the 2006 U.S. Open final, and even though you lost to Federer, you had to be encouraged by your best Grand Slam showing in more than a year.
But the worm has turned this year, hasn’t it, Andy? In Australia, Federer beat you again in the semifinals. The second-set score was 6-0. Ouch. At the French Open, possibly your least-favorite event, you lost in the first round to some guy named Igor Andreev, and headed straight to London to get some practice at Wimbledon. How did that work out? Not great, Andy, not great. You lost in a quarterfinal debacle against Richard Gasquet, in a match in which you had a 2-0 set lead before it all fell apart.
Trying to shake it off, no doubt, you headed to Indianapolis. You looked really good – until the semifinals on Saturday, where you lost to Canadian Frank Dancevic. Did you know, Andy, that Dancevic’s 2007 win-loss record before that tournament was 9-12? After the match, you claimed you had a stomach bug, but on Monday, you admitted that a late-night fast-food meal slowed you down.
Andy, I’m ashamed of you. Are you nuts? A Big-Mac? A Taco Supreme? Can’t you afford real food? You’re a millionaire, for crying out loud!
Almost worse than that, you had the audacity to say that you didn’t put a lot of stock in the Dancevic loss because you weren’t playing at full strength. Is that right? First: Whose fault is that? Did Coach Connors force a Whopper Jr. down your throat? Second: Face it, Andy, the fast food might not have made a difference. You are at a crossroads. (Please don’t enter the Wendy’s.) When you first started on the tour, you dominated a lot of players with your 150-mph serves and big forehand. Now that they’ve adjusted, what are you going to do? When you hired Connors, you wanted to be able to beat Federer. Truth is, if you want to beat Federer, you’ll have to get to more finals. If you want to get to more finals, you have to stop making excuses, and start strengthening your weaknesses. That means learning how to volley. And not that chopping motion you’ve been perfecting, either. Developing more variety on your backhand wouldn’t hurt either, now that you can actually hit one.
So get to work, Andy. Don’t kid yourself by thinking that with your current arsenal that you can go to battle with Federer or Nadal. If you’ve got your hands full with the Dancevics of the world, you’re just not ready.

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