Loss temporarily mars Roddick's day
Nice article from the Houston Chronicle!
Loss temporarily mars Roddick's day
Ceremony honoring year-end No. 1 status serves as surefire pick-me-up
By MEGAN MANFULL
Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle
Andy Roddick sat in the training room at Westside Tennis Club angry and annoyed with himself for losing.
He had just been honored on stadium court as the season-ending No. 1 player in the world, but his afternoon 4-6, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3) loss to Rainer Schuettler in the Tennis Masters Cup overshadowed the ceremony.
Fellow tour player Mardy Fish sat nearby wanting to help. Fish lived with Roddick for a year during high school, and he wanted his friend to look at the bigger picture.
"He was bummed out about losing," Fish said. "And I was sitting there reading the paper and said, `Did you think when we were 15 years old that in six years Andre Agassi winning would give you the No. 1 ranking?' Obviously not.
"That kind of put things in perspective. Yeah, he lost the match, but he is No. 1."
The talk helped -- and so did two bottles of Moet-Chardon champagne, which Fish doused Roddick with during his post-match news conference. A soaked Roddick charged after Fish, who then threw him in a headlock.
After he was let loose from Fish's grip, Roddick was soaking wet but more relaxed. He returned to the news conference and tried to get used to the notion that he is No. 1. The year-end ranking was determined Wednesday night when Agassi defeated Juan Carlos Ferrero, who was Roddick's only remaining threat.
With the ranking, Roddick became only the 13th player in the past 30 years to end the year at No. 1. He also joined an elite group -- Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Pete Sampras and Agassi -- as the only Americans to have held the top spot at the end of the year.
"First of all, let me say that I'm not in any of their classes yet," Roddick said. "You just look at that list, and you think of them as legends of the game. You know, to just be in that breath for a day is kind of cool. I know if I want to stay there I'm going to have to go to work."
At the beginning of the year, Roddick's main goal was to qualify for the Masters Cup. That goal looked like a long shot by May when he lost in the opening round of the French Open to little-known Sargis Sargsian.
Afterward, Roddick made a change. He separated from longtime coach Tarik Benhabiles and hired Agassi's former coach, Brad Gilbert.
Roddick's year instantly turned around. He won the next tournament, Queen's, and put together an amazing run during the hardcourt season. He suffered only one loss en route to winning his first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open.
He slowly continued climbing up the rankings and, in Paris two weeks ago, he surpassed Ferrero to take hold of the No. 1 ranking for the first time in his career. When Ferrero lost his second match of the week on Wednesday, the ranking was Roddick's to keep for the winter.
"It's a pretty big accomplishment for me -- something I never thought would happen or was possible," Roddick said. "And to just kind of storm through the summer and kind of take it the latter part of the year -- maybe I snuck up on some people. It's definitely a big accomplishment for me, and I'm ecstatic about it."
Roddick has every hope of remaining there and will continue to rely on Gilbert's experience. In 1999, Gilbert coached Agassi to the No. 1 ranking and now has become the first coach to have two players finish the year in the top spot.
"The most important thing is to improve in every aspect," Gilbert said. "If you don't improve, the pack catches up to you. And you don't say, `I have to be No. 1' or `I have to win Slams.' You say, `I gotta improve.' He's got to improve every angle of his game."
Roddick's biggest weakness in his three-set loss to Schuettler was his serve. He double-faulted six times in the final set, including once during the tiebreaker, which led to Schuettler's match point.
Today, Roddick will play Guillermo Coria in a must-win match. The winner will be runner-up to Schuettler in the Red Group and will advance to the semifinals to play Roger Federer, winner of the Blue Group.
For Roddick, focusing on that match is easier than trying to grasp his latest accomplishments and his newfound fame.
"I've gotten used to some parts of it," Roddick said. "But there are other parts of it that I'm still kind of like, `What's going on here?'
"I just know I live this ridiculous life, and I'm so fortunate. I'm definitely not oblivious to it. I did the Jim Rome show after the Open. He said, `Were you crying because you were happy or were you crying because you realize your life's downhill from now on?' I didn't know which way to go on that one."