Great photos, Jlee
Was this posted already? It seems that Bud has jumped back on the Roddick bandwagon:
Federer reigns, but Roddick's rising
Swiss master wins another major, but U.S. star is back on track
By Bud Collins
Sept 10, 2006
I know that many tennis fans might be disappointed that Andy Roddick lost to Roger Federer, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 in the men's singles final at the U.S. Open.
But I’m hoping those same fans understand just how positive this U.S. Open was for Roddick.
Red, white, but not blue
I think this U.S. Open gives us new hope for the Americans as far as men’s tennis is concerned.
Take a look back at the draw and you’ll see it was only two American players that gave Federer any trouble.
Federer lost only two sets at this major: one to James Blake in the quarterfinals, and one to Roddick in the final.
They were the only two guys who made Federer sweat -- and Roddick did that even better than Blake was able to do.
Roddick is of a different temperament. Blake let it be known that he seemed to worship Federer, and I don’t think that’s Roddick's way.
Roddick went right after Federer once he settled into the match, and his two weeks at the U.S. Open allowed him to claim his season back from the brink of disaster.
After his third-round loss to Andy Murray at Wimbledon, I thought Roddick was in serious trouble. But that has turned out not to be the case at all.
Showing some positive signs
Roddick did what he had to do in the match against Federer -- he was attacking, he served well, and he fought off Federer on many occasions in the match, and that is very important.
Clearly, Jimmy Connors, who began coaching Roddick after Wimbledon, has helped Roddick find his way on the court, and with his self-belief.
I must say, however, that when Roddick fell 5-0 behind in the first set, I was thinking it was going to be a really bad day at the office for the American.
And I was thinking it was going to be a really disappointing day for the crowd, which would have to endure a final like that of two years ago when Federer beat Lleyton Hewitt, 6-0, 7-6, 6-0 in about as much time as it took some of the fans to find their way to their seats.
I was saying to myself that here we were in the U.S. Open final, and one of the guys wasn’t even finding a way to get on the scoreboard again. But it was very encouraging the way that Roddick found the moxie to get himself back into the match after the first set, and I hope he takes encouragement from his performance against Federer.
But then Roddick saw a little light at the end of the tunnel, and started to look like he belonged out there. He found his form to put together two winning games in the first set, and came out hot to trot in the second set.
Third set proves decisive
While Roddick looked able to challenge Federer in the match with the way he played in the second and third sets, I must be honest and say I never thought he could win it. But I thought he had the goods to push the match into five sets.
In the second and third sets, Roddick stayed very close to Federer. So close that I thought the Swiss sensation would get a case of the hives.
First Roddick, the very guy who looked like he was lost in space through the first six months of the year, had the audacity to win the second set. It was the first set that Roddick had won off of Federer since the first set of their 2004 Wimbledon final.
In their 12 career matches, Federer has won 11 of them, the Swiss giant has won 27 of 32 sets they’ve played.
Pound for pound, shot for shot, Roddick and Federer worked their way to 5-5 in the third set. And they had to show how they could be both offensive and defensive wizards -– Federer saved four breakpoints in the fifth game; Roddick saved five breakpoints in the sixth game.
If Roddick had won one of those four breakpoints, maybe he would have won the third set. But I think we need to remember that Roddick pushed Federer in the match, and that has to be a positive for him as he leaves the season's final major.
But then the truth came out in the last couple of games of the set -- Federer is the best tennis player on the planet. He held his serve in the 11th game at love, and then went up 0-40 on Roddick's serve in the 12th game.
Sure, Roddick held Federer at bay on that first set point, pulling an ace out of his hat like a magician pulls out a rabbit from a hat. But on the second set point, Roddick made a backhand error and his misery started.
Roddick says he is close to the top of the mountain, but not at the top of the mountain -- yet. But he should take some heart in how he turned this summer around -- he is 20-2 for the hard court season.
No player in the history of the game has won back-to-back three consecutive Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles, and so Federer is without a doubt a tough act to beat.
I think Roddick and the rest of the gang in the upper echelon of men's tennis are still far away from Federer, who is only 25.
Unless Federer gets bored or hurt, he owns this generation of tennis.
But as I said before, Roddick should be proud of himself for how he did at the U.S. Open, and things should only be encouraging for him for the future.