Nice article from Memphis paper
Roddick says he's not satisfied
By Phil Stukenborg
February 13, 2005
His game has reached the point, at the mature tennis age of 22, where it needs a little tweaking.
Oh, there's nothing wrong with the 150-mph serves that led to more aces, or free points, than any player in the game in 2004.
And few can argue with the heat-seeking forehand winners that routinely freeze opponents and captivate crowds.
But Andy Roddick understands that to return to the sport's No. 1 position, one he held at year's end in 2003, there'll need to be more variety, more dimension, more patience to his power-laden game.
As he prepares to play in this week's Regions Morgan Keegan Championships at The Racquet Club, Roddick, the tournament's top seed and its 2002 champion, finds himself ranked third in the world. He's nestled behind Roger Federer, the fluid Swiss superstar who beat Roddick to win Wimbledon, and Lleyton Hewitt, the Aussie counterpuncher who defeated Roddick in the Australian Open semifinals last month.
Roddick, unable to win a Grand Slam title in 2004, is serious about taking the steps necessary to fine tune his world-class game.
After last season, he dropped coach Brad Gilbert, who helped him to the No. 1 spot two years ago, and replaced him with Dean Goldfine, longtime coach of recently retired, two-time Memphis champion Todd Martin.
It was a bold move, perhaps a risky one, but a decision Roddick felt he had to make. He said his working relationship with Gilbert, Andre Agassi's former coach, had run its course.
''The results had plateaued a bit,'' Roddick said. ''It was just time to move on.''
After reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open and Wimbledon -- and winning the U.S. Open -- in 2003, Roddick advanced as far as the semifinals at only one Grand Slam event (Wimbledon) in 2004. He conceded the world's top ranking to Federer, who won three Grand Slam titles.
So Roddick turned to Goldfine, who was an assistant coach for the U.S. in Davis Cup play and at last summer's Olympic Games in Athens. Goldfine and Roddick developed an admiration for one another.
''He's worked with a couple of top 10 guys,'' Roddick said. ''We got to know each other. We got to spend some time together. I just like his whole groove.''
Goldfine, whose coaching career began 14 years ago with Mary Joe Fernandez, said he's got a similar respect for Roddick. There's the intense, driven competitor on the court and the fun-loving humanitarian outside the lines. Two weeks ago Roddick, shortly after returning from the Australian Open, participated in an exhibition in Houston that raised $518,932 for tsunami victims.
''You see the Andy Roddick around the tennis court and on the tennis court,'' Goldfine said. ''There is a different Andy Roddick off the court. On the court he is competitive, but off the court he is a great kid, and his parents have done a great job raising him, teaching him what's right and what's wrong. He's just very appreciative of things.
''For me, at this point in my life, I had a good thing going as national coach with the USTA the last few years. I got to spend more time at home. So for me to go out and spend the amount of time that I'll spend on the road again, it had to be with someone I enjoy spending time with and someone I feel I can help.''
While the player-coach relationship is in its infancy (the two began working together the week after Christmas), Goldfine has targeted areas that will receive priority in workout sessions he describes as old school. Goldfine is emphasizing movement, conditioning and volleying.
''For me, movement is 90 percent of the game, especially for guys at his level,'' Goldfine said. ''They all know how to hit the ball. It's all about positioning to where you have options for what you want to do with the ball. To me, that's the most important thing.''
Roddick was frustrated by his performance in the loss to Hewitt in Australia. Hewitt drew Roddick into lengthy rallies and won both tiebreakers in the four-set victory, overcoming 31 aces.
''I felt like I was in control of the match against Lleyton for the better part of it,'' Roddick said. ''Lleyton's going to make you step up and beat him. He doesn't give matches away. The bottom line is I didn't step up in those tiebreakers and beat him. I beat myself.
''I just kind of need to put the clamps down. I've lost two of my last three against Lleyton. I think it's just a matter of me taking my opportunities when they present themselves. I've just got to keep giving myself opportunities to do that ... and hopefully get through them.''
Roddick's power has been his calling card, taking him from obscurity to the top 20 shortly after turning pro five years ago. But sometimes that impressive power has been as much a detriment as a weapon.
''When someone has the firepower that Andy has, he's able to go out there and basically win points with those big shots and win consistently,'' Goldfine said. ''What happens is the more time you are out there, guys figure out ways to neutralize those strengths to some extent.
''You have to work the points better to set up shots. That's the process where he's at now. Guys know he has the big serve to set up the big forehand. Now he has to be more patient and hit five or six balls instead of three to win a point, especially against a guy like Hewitt who is an incredible counterpuncher. It's impossible to overpower him.''
Goldfine said Roddick understands what he needs to do to make the adjustments. And he's willing to make whatever sacrifices are required. Winning titles in San Jose, Miami and Indianapolis are fine, but he's seeking Grand Slam titles and Federer's No. 1 ranking at this stage of his career.
''There are plenty of guys who live match to match and can't see the big picture,'' Goldfine said. ''He's able to see the whole thing. He could go about playing the same way he's been playing and be top five in the world, but he wants to maximize his potential and be the best he can be. If he's able to do that, he realizes he can be No. 1 again. That's what he wants.''