Roddick has earned rest (great article!)
This person's articles are great!
Roddick has earned rest
By Karen Crouse, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 16, 2003
HOUSTON -- Andy Roddick feels today the way so many of us will on Jan. 2, after surviving another season of endless celebrations and sweet surprises and jolly excesses and heightened stress levels and frenetic days and late nights.
The second half of Roddick's third full year as a professional tennis player was a technicolor blur, with tournaments and titles and televised guest appearances coming as fast and furious as Halloween and Thanksgiving and Hanukkah and Christmas and New Year's Eve.
By Saturday night Roddick was completely spent. His serving arm felt like a wet noodle and he was moving as if his sneakers had cement soles. Roddick's body was in retreat and his mind was in Austin, both of which presented a bit of a problem since Roger Federer was on the other side of the net in their Masters Series Cup semifinal.
Federer was playing to finish the year No. 2 and Roddick was playing to finish. One guess as to who produced the more inspired performance.
It was Federer, natch. He pinned a 7-6 (2), 6-2 defeat on Roddick, who three days earlier had clinched the year-ending world No. 1 ranking.
As long as the Boca Raton resident had the top spot to focus on, he could block out his fatigue. As soon as that carrot was removed, Roddick could think of nothing but how tired he was.
Who knew fatigue is the flip side of success?
Roddick played 91 matches this year and won 72. Seventy-two! That was only six fewer matches than the 21-year-old played last year when he compiled a 56-22 record and finished No. 10.
"I'm upset that I lost but I'm relieved that the year's over," Roddick said. "I've been trying to put up a pretty solid front for the last couple of weeks but I'm really, really wiped out."
Federer, on the other hand, looked as fresh as a shirt plucked from the dryer. Then again, the 22-year-old is incapable of looking stale on the court. As Roddick duly noted, "The guy has more natural flair and talent for the game than anybody, really."
Federer's game is so fluid he can unleash a 123-mph ace and disguise it as a feather. He would produce 12 aces, a few of them impeccably placed and the others simply outside the leaden-legged Roddick's range.
"I just felt like he was a step faster than I was today," Roddick said. "He just outplayed me."
Oh, well. All's swell that ends poorly. You don't have to have a selective memory to forget Saturday's result. It should be seen as nothing more than detritus from Roddick's ticker-tape parade of a summer.
Between May and September Roddick won six titles. The First Fan of tennis, former President Bush, thought Roddick's summer of love-and-love required a Texas-sized celebration.
So the other day, after Roddick's No. 1 ranking became official, Bush invited Roddick to his ranch here for a cookout. Noting Roddick's love of skydiving, Bush threw out the idea of them doing a tandem jump on his 80th birthday, in 2006.
Roddick didn't see why not. He might be fully committed for the foreseeable future but he's not booked that far ahead.
Don't laugh. Roddick's life has been so crazy the past few months, his older brothers, Lawrence and John, and his parents, Blanche and Jerry, had to schedule face time with him.
That's about to change. This week Roddick is staying in Texas and clearing his appointment book for family.
Roddick's 15-month-old nephew, Jerry, appeared to have scored the first booking. Roddick brought him to his post-match news conference and answered questions while softly bouncing the toddler on his lap.
Somebody cheekily noted that Roddick looks as comfortable holding a child as he does a racket. That brought a guffaw from Roddick, who replied, "Yeah, because he's not mine. I can give him back to (Lawrence)."
The No. 1 ranking is Roddick's and he's not going to give it over to Federer or anybody else without a fight. If he comes out on the short end, as he did Saturday, it won't be for a lack of trying.
"I just want to keep improving," Roddick said. "I might finish next year 3 or 4 or 5 but feel like I'm a better player. I don't think it's gonna happen every year where I get on a roll like I did this summer and win that many tough matches in a row and have everything kind of go my way. I realize that as well as I was playing, there was a good amount of luck still involved with that. So you know, we'll see."
Roddick will take the next two weeks to relax and reflect on a season that surpassed his wildest dreams.
"He has a lot to feel proud of," said Andre Agassi, the last American man to finish No. 1 and a winner Saturday to advance to play Federer in today's final. "For Andy sort of to dominate the hard-court season the way he did was incredible. I did that in 1995 and it just took a lot out of me."
Roddick knows the feeling. Man, does he ever.