Connors impressed with Roddick
September 11, 2006 JIMMY Connors is convinced he has a pupil capable of bringing down Roger Federer after watching Andy Roddick boss the world No.1 around before eventually succumbing in the US Open final.
Roddick was a desperate man at a mental low after dropping out of the world's top 10 for the first time in his career when he lured the legendary Connors out of the tennis wilderness and into the coaching fray after a third-round loss at Wimbledon.
What Connors saw in Roddick - less than two months later and despite a 6-2 4-6 7-5 6-1 loss to Federer - warmed the heart of the 54-year-old eight-times grand slam champion.
"I'm proud of him," Connors said. "The way he took everything and soaked it up and wasn't afraid to do it, incredible. And, over a six-week period, from where he was to where he is now, that's your story."
Roddick charged the net at every opportunity and, at one set apiece, 2-2 in the third and with Federer serving at love-40, a massive upset looked on the cards.
"I liked his attitude. I liked his guts. I like a kid who's not afraid to get in there and mix it up - win, lose or draw - and who's not afraid to put his reputation and his game on the line every time," Connors said.
"Now, that's what he's willing to do. Plus I like the way he played. On top of everything, he played like a man. He lost like a man. It's heading in the right direction."
It was Roddick's 11th loss in 12 career meetings with Federer, but the gallant manner of this defeat gave the 2003 Open champion and his coach renewed hope that a second grand slam title could be around the corner.
"I gave myself a shot today," Roddick said. "That's all I could ask for. I wanted to make it tough. I played my heart out. I tried my best. I'm excited.
"I feel like I have a lot of room for improvement still. I've just got to keep working. That's it."
Connors, who still holds the record for the longest unbroken reign as world No.1 with 160 consecutive weeks between 1974-77, had been off the tennis radar for the past 16 years since retiring and had no desire to ever coach.
He was adamant he'd only ever tutor his children, until seeing something special in Roddick.
"It was either my kids or nobody, so for Andy to fit into the mould is pretty cool," Connors said.
"Obviously, Federer's the guy everybody's chasing and the way Roddick played tonight for the first three sets, I'm so encouraged by the kid, it's unbelievable.
"The way he works, the way he trains and - he said it - the most important thing is he went out and enjoyed himself. I don't think he enjoyed playing tennis the last year or so.
"Federer's a great player and he is the number one player in the world, but now there's three men (including Rafael Nadal) in the mix. Make no mistake."
I LOVE JIMMY.