Off topic, off many other things , But a blast from the past
The whole "nadal is the favorite" has kept raising memories from 2003-W for me, when "It is roddick's year" "You can't help but think roddick is going to win" (McEnroe, carillo, drysdale). And then Roger took control and swept the "favorite" off the court
I have an intuition that this will happen again tomorrow
So I post this again
Roddick has Federer in sights in battle of force and finesse
Young pretenders set for semi-final showdown, writes Chris Bowers
Sunday June 29, 2003
Predicting potential semi-finals, even at two rounds' notice, is a mug's game in today's ultra-competitive tennis world, but mouths have been watering about this Friday's increasingly likely clash between Andy Roddick and Roger Federer. If the 20-year-old American with the unreturnable serve meets the 21-year-old Swiss with the irresistible game for a place in the final, the winner will be favourite for the title, even if Andre Agassi is on the other side of the net.
It is not just a generation thing, although Roddick and Federer are obviously standard-bearers for their age group. It is that these two are the obvious grass-court specialists of the next few years and if both can stay fit, the Wimbledon title should be their oyster for as long as it was Pete Sampras's.
While both are fundamentally decent men who understand the ambassadorial role required of players at the top of the sport, they have contrasting personalities. Roddick is the highly strung dude who looks constantly on the point of throwing his rattle out of the pram - and did so in the 2001 US Open quarter-finals when he called the umpire Jorge Dias 'an absolute moron' after a call went against him. Federer had a few tantrums in his teens but is now so laidback it is a relief to see him get angry at missing a point.
Federer seems to be the natural successor to Sampras. In winning his first grass-court tournament in Halle, Germany, two weeks ago and in his three matches last week, he has at times played such sublime tennis that it begs the question: who can stop him winning Wimbledon? The answer is simple: he can.
The son of a Swiss father and a South African mother, Federer is phenomenally talented, perfectly built for the rigours of modern tennis and is laidback in a way that can make the most difficult shot look a doddle. But that combination makes him mentally fragile and even at 21 there are many who feel he may well underachieve unless he can develop some steel.
After ending Sampras's reign at Wimbledon two years ago, Federer then lost to Tim Henman. At 19, that was put down to a lack of experience, but last year he lost in the first round to Mario Ancic and since he has lost in the first round of the past two French Opens, he needs to reach at least the semi-finals at Wimbledon to silence the doubters, even though he has won four Tour titles this year.
Like Federer, Roddick is a former world junior champion. The Swiss was the world's best boy in 1998, Roddick in 2000 and he has been burdened with the tag of 'America's next big thing in tennis' since turning professional that year.
After a year of consolidation in 2002, he has taken the next big step in the past few weeks since splitting with his French coach, Tarik Benhabiles, and signing up with Andre Agassi's former mentor, Brad Gilbert. Roddick said he wanted 'a new voice in his ear' and he has certainly got that in the author of Winning Ugly , a book about Gilbert's ability to reach the top 10 with moderate talent. Roddick admits he has not read it. 'I have the author, I don't need the book,' he says.
And author has clearly struck up a smooth relationship with player, even if Gilbert forced Roddick to abandon his visor ('I made him burn the visors. They do not look menacing on the court,' says Gilbert). 'We're both sports junkies,' says Roddick and he has been particularly impressed with the way Gilbert has been scouting his opponents. 'He'll definitely get around and ask a lot of questions; he's not afraid to put in the hours to get a good scouting report.'
Gilbert admits scouting is his favourite activity, saying that he is 'dealing with the Xs and Os', which incidentally was one of Agassi's oft-used phrases.
Agassi also used to talk of the risk of information overload when Gilbert takes on a new charge, with the player having to filter out what is not relevant. Roddick says that he has not noticed. 'Brad and I talk a lot about other sports, but when it comes to tennis, he's very serious and very precise. I don't think he throws a lot of nonsense out there at all.'
Roddick is the bookmakers' favourite, but if he does meet Federer, there will be a lot of smart money on the Swiss. Although Roddick's backhand is vastly improved, he has not been breaking serve with the regularity one would expect of a potential champion.
And if the Swiss hits one of the purple patches he has shown these past three weeks, Roddick may wonder what has hit him, as so many wonder what hits them when Roddick thunders down his serves. The match, indeed the whole tournament, really does seem to be Federer's to lose.
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