Tennis-X 2004 ATP Tennis Preview: All Hail the Three Boy Kings and their Grandfather [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

Tennis-X 2004 ATP Tennis Preview: All Hail the Three Boy Kings and their Grandfather

Deboogle!.
01-03-2004, 07:39 PM
2004 ATP Tennis Preview: All Hail the Three Boy Kings and their Grandfather Andre

By Richard Vach, Tennis-X.com

While it wasn't a college football BCS Standings-level controversy, the 2003 year-end ATP Rankings gave everyone a little something to chew on during the "off season" in men's professional tennis.

The Andy Roddick faithful had their boy on top at No. 1, with a US Open trophy, a trophy girlfriend in singer Mandy Moore, and a potential all-Andy, all-the-time reality show in the coming year. Fans of the Swiss Roger Federer boasted the Wimbledon title, a stunning year-end run to capture the Tennis Masters Cup, and shouts that their man, who features every shot, was the "real" number one and best player. Aficionados of Juan Carlos Ferrero, the French Open champion and US Open runner-up, were understandably muted as their horse stumbled down the home stretch, losing his last six matches of the year to hand the American the top ranking.

As we segue into the year 2004, these "Three Kings" of men's tennis again take the spotlight, defending their respective slam titles while remaining roughly a tournament win apart from each other on the ATP Rankings. With legends of the game such as Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, Richard Krajicek and Goran Ivanisevic (unofficially) and Yevgeny Kafelnikov (unofficially) going by the wayside in 2003, the game of men's tennis has seen a radical shift at the top and now rests in new, younger hands.

But as Andre Agassi showed with a sterling display through the first half the 2003, there are remnants of the old guard still lurking. If there were any questions as to whether the "old man" still had the will to compete in 2003, they were quickly dispelled when Agassi won four of his first five tournaments, including the Australian Open, San Jose, the TMS-Miami, and Houston (where he beat Roddick in the final). Agassi entered the US Open atop the ATP Rankings, but left the year-end No. 1 for the younger generation when he took a sabbatical after the Open for the birth of his daughter Jaz.

In 2004 there is no reason to expect anything less from Agassi, who thanks to a tireless off-season regimen, has enjoyed a number of exceptional starts to the year during his career, and has the strong support of his rock-solid team that includes wife Steffi, coach Darren Cahill, childhood friend and manager Perry Rogers and trainer Gil Reyes.

"Steff has been so good to me and good to my dreams that are still left on the tennis court. I just have a network," says Agassi. "I'm a very blessed man in reference to all the people I have around me."

Reyes, for his part, is always optimistic on his protégé's chances, and always on the ready with a quip.

"I don't know if he's in a class by himself, but it sure don't take long to call roll," Reyes said. Don't quit your day job Gil.

Watch Agassi during the year, as he will be a case study in resilience during the 2004 campaign. Many times last year it appeared the former No. 1 was losing the ability to "pull the trigger" as he once did during points. If you don't believe us, pop in a videotape of the 2003 Masters Cup final, when Federer made Agassi's ground game resemble Chris Evert during a charity event.

Federer, despite cutting ties with longtime coach Peter Lundgren this off season, looks ready to enroll in Agassi's elite class in the coming year. The only one of the "Three Kings" who has yet to ascend to the top spot on the ATP Entry Rankings, the big question in 2004 will be just how many times Federer will be able to conjure up that magical game he displayed at Wimbledon and at the year-end Masters Cup, where he drew himself within only a handful of points of the top-ranked Roddick.

The Federer-Roddick match-up looks to be the most intriguing rivalry entering 2004, with the American working to play catch-up to the Swiss' dazzling array of shots under the tutelage of coach Brad Gilbert. The two-handed backhand, unarguably the weakest shot in the American's arsenal, will be first on the list for Gilbert, and also adding a bit more serve-and-volley play.

For Roddick, 2004 will be a barometer as to just how good the 21-year-old really is and can be. A No. 1 finish brings with it greater pressure, higher expectations and more demands, things surely not lost on both Roddick and Gilbert. It will be quite revealing to see just how Roddick handles his rock-star status and if can maintain his form, avoiding past slumps (mainly mental) like the one suffered during last year's claycourt season and, most importantly, again stay injury free.

Back across the pond, Ferrero, who suffered an agonizing finish to last season, figures to fulfill expectations in challenging for the No. 1 ranking in 2004. The Spaniard proved in 2003 that he's not just the King of Clay anymore, and he remains eager and driven to prove his mettle on other surfaces.

Aside from predicting which newcomers will rise into the Top 10 or 20, a big storyline in 2004 will be which former superstars can rebound from injuries or self-imposed exiles.

Lleyton Hewitt is already talking about a return to No. 1, and as the Aussie showed in leading his country to the Davis Cup in November, it is only a matter of commitment for the man who finished the year in the top spot in 2001-02.

"At the moment I'm playing as well as I've ever played...that gives me confidence that I can get No. 1 back," Hewitt said right before leading Australia to the Davis Cup title against Spain. "I have no doubt that I can beat anyone in the world on any given day...the next thought's going to be trying to prepare myself as well as possible for the Australian Open."

Marat Safin tumbled out of the Top 50 in 2003 with his wrist injury, and it remains to be seen if the Crushin' Russian can return to form in the early months of 2004, or will finally bow again to wrist surgery. If Safin's head is in the right place, there's no reason that the former US Open champ cannot contend. But with Safin a question mark and countryman Yevgeny Kafelnikov nearretirement, keep an eye to see if Top 50 Russians Mikhail Youzhny and Nikolay Davydenko can carry the load, or if Top 100 Russians Igor Andreev and Dmitry Tursunov can make their expected leaps.

Tim Henman will start 2004 in full form after slowly recovering from shoulder surgery throughout his 2003 campaign. Tommy Haas, who unexpectedly sat out all of 2003 after shoulder surgery, says you'll see him in January, but also hinted that his shoulder is still dicey. The popular Gustavo Kuerten has had his share of injuries during his career, and with his gangly frame, the odds are not good that the Brazilian will be able to last through too many more physical setbacks.

Sebastien Grosjean should challenge for a Top 8 spot in 2004 after working through a series of niggling injuries in 2003 that saw him finish in the Top 10 but fail to win a title for the first time in four years. The Australian hardcourt swing will be an early indicator of who is still struggling with injury and who will look to regain form. The early season will also be a measuring stick for top German Rainer Schuettler, whose simple, blue-collar game easily translates on any surface and to any continent.

And let's not forget the Argentine Army, with Davide Nalbandian clearly showing that his Wimbledon final was no fluke, and Guillermo Coria's stellar second-half of the season arguably only bested by Roddick's heroics. As for the rest of the "Gauchos," evidence suggests we have yet to see their best stuff.

Up-and-coming players to definitely watch include Spain's Rafael "The Prodigy" Nadal, who manhandled a couple of the top players in 2003; another Spaniard in the aggressive lefty Feliciano Lopez; Chilean Nicolas Massu, who finished the year under the radar at No. 12; Americans Taylor Dent and Robby Ginepri who have shown great promise if they can stay uninjured; and Swedish comer Robin Soderling.

Wildcards for 2004 include Martin Verkerk (can he improve upon or even maintain his 2003 results?), Top 20 player Mardy Fish (will his rush-and-crush game continue to improve?), and James Blake and Fernando Gonzalez (big forehands but no follow-up?). France also has a whole host of comers in Paul-Henri Mathieu, Richard Gasquet, and Nicolas Mahut who could put the slumping country back on the map after the almost-ran seasons of Grosjean and the oft-injured Arnaud Clement.

Suffice to say, 2004 will hold just as many surprises -- probably more -- as the past year. One thing we will guarantee is it will be no easy walk for the Three Kings during the new year, with the men's game continuing to show astounding depth -- four straight years with four different Slam champions. With the multitude of talent at their heels, the triumvirate of Roddick-Federer-Ferrero will have a near-impossible task of finishing 1-2-3 in the coming year.

"It's almost been scripted with Juan Carlos (Ferrero) winning on clay, Roger (Federer) winning on grass, me winning in the States -- it's kind of been almost a fairy tale year for us," Roddick said. "I think it's nice for all of us, and it's a big relief for all of us. Even though we're pretty young, people are already starting to say, 'When's it gonna happen? When's it gonna happen? It's a big relief now. I think all of our best tennis is ahead of us still."

Richard Vach is a Senior Writer for Tennis-X.com. He can be reached at rvach@tennis-x.com.

star
01-03-2004, 08:29 PM
Thanks. Nice article.

MisterQ
01-03-2004, 08:57 PM
2004 ATP Tennis Preview: All Hail the Three Boy Kings and their Grandfather Andre

Great title!

If there were any questions as to whether the "old man" still had the will to compete in 2003, they were quickly dispelled when Agassi won four of his first five tournaments, including the Australian Open, San Jose, the TMS-Miami, and Houston (where he beat Roddick in the final).

yes, people tend to forget this awesome display in the first few months of '03! :worship:


Watch Agassi during the year, as he will be a case study in resilience during the 2004 campaign. Many times last year it appeared the former No. 1 was losing the ability to "pull the trigger" as he once did during points. If you don't believe us, pop in a videotape of the 2003 Masters Cup final, when Federer made Agassi's ground game resemble Chris Evert during a charity event.
LOL, that is so mean!!! (but even I found it funny :haha: )

good article, thanks bunk

Deboogle!.
01-03-2004, 09:19 PM
lol that's tennis-x for ya.... and I liked the title too, I was :lol: when I saw it on the Google search

glad to share :)

Jessi
01-03-2004, 09:28 PM
Nice read. Thanks. :)

J. Corwin
01-03-2004, 11:19 PM
nice article

Tennis Fool
01-04-2004, 12:27 AM
What is this snarky site :confused: Is this site new?

Chloe le Bopper
01-04-2004, 02:21 AM
The Federer-Roddick match-up looks to be the most intriguing rivalry entering 2004

I really wish that people would stop saying this. Most intriguing to marketters, sure. But as a tennis fan, there are a number of actually rivalries that I'd be interest in over this one... which hardly constitutes a rivalry at this point. It's roughly has competitive as the "Williams rivalry" has been for the past two years.

Deboogle!.
01-04-2004, 02:25 AM
TF, you mean tennis-x.com? Well they did predictions a year ago, so it's been around at least since then..... they're pretty funny though, and put out good commentaries.

Pea
01-04-2004, 03:54 AM
I really wish that people would stop saying this. Most intriguing to marketters, sure. But as a tennis fan, there are a number of actually rivalries that I'd be interest in over this one... which hardly constitutes a rivalry at this point. It's roughly has competitive as the "Williams rivalry" has been for the past two years.

I agree. What rivalry? Roger holds a 5-1 head to head, no? :confused: :worship:

WyverN
01-04-2004, 04:23 AM
Their head to head is not close but their contrasting styles are interesting to watch when they play each other.

Gonzo Hates Me!
01-04-2004, 04:38 AM
Ew, I can't believe my baby is gonna have a reality TV show-- I am so disappointed in him

Deboogle!.
01-04-2004, 05:09 AM
Mrs. Guga.... he's not, not according to anyone anyway. Even Mandy last night on the Tonight Show said everything was blown out of proportion and that it's not going to happen.

Leo
01-04-2004, 06:49 AM
Oh, really? I was looking forward to it since the Bryan Brothers were supposed to be featured.

P.S. Mandy Moore is coming to Ellen (the talk show) soon so you Andy fans might wanna watch.

lsy
01-04-2004, 07:57 AM
gee..."grandfather"??? I wish these reporters will stop calling Andre "the old man". More frustrating the way they non stop asking stupid repetitious questions such as : "how does it feel to be among this pool of "YOUNG" talented players...", "will you come back next year, how long more do you think you can stay as competitive as now..." after every match he played.

Talking about making someone feel outcast...he was the one who made it to the final in TMC and the ONLY one who actually did put up a fight against Federer. He's training as hard as others and looks to me as fit as the young guns. It's irritating that others seem to think him as much older than he himself think he is. It's like they can't wait for him to announce his retirement so that they have something to write about??? :rolleyes:

Deboogle!.
01-04-2004, 04:49 PM
Yea, Leo, the way she made it sound was that Andy (and the other players I assume) were led to believe it was a documentary, not a reality show, and that no one's really interested in a reality show. So maybe it'll work out so that the players are happy, but I don't blame them, I just watched a show about how fake reality shows are and it's disgusting lol

lsy, I don't think tennis-x meant the grandfather comment meanly.... they say a lot of things tongue-in-cheek if you read their stuff..... I think they meant it to paint the picture of these three young guns and this way older guy LOL

star
01-04-2004, 05:37 PM
What year was Nadal born? 1986? :)

That's when Andre's career started.

lsy
01-05-2004, 06:24 AM
Ya, I know that Bunk... :D It's just some of my collections of impression since last year reading every review or Andre's interview that never once did they stop asking him these questions being "old" or the "oldest"...somehow, sometime I hope it doesn't get into his nerves (well it gets into mine ;) ) and retire earlier than he thinks he should coz I thought he really is still competing extremely well among the young players.

Deboogle!.
01-05-2004, 02:52 PM
I actually think it drives him to prove them wrong and keep going and winning! :)

MisterQ
01-05-2004, 04:25 PM
What year was Nadal born? 1986? :)

That's when Andre's career started.

That's frightening! (and inspiring! :) )

MisterQ
01-05-2004, 04:25 PM
I actually think it drives him to prove them wrong and keep going and winning! :)

I think so, too.

Still, I'm sure he gets tired of the age questions.

Kiara
01-05-2004, 05:16 PM
TOTALLY off topic but check out Andy's new look....from Doha....

Deboogle!.
01-05-2004, 05:45 PM
*covers eyes* I never want to see that hat EVER Again!!!

Kiara
01-05-2004, 05:52 PM
*covers eyes* I never want to see that hat EVER Again!!!

You mean THIS hat?? :angel:

tangerine_dream
01-05-2004, 06:09 PM
Yeah, I'm getting kinda sick of everyone calling Andre "the old man" or "grandpa", too, even if it IS in jest. He's only 33 and he's still playing great! I wish the media would quit trying to put him out to pasture. :mad:

tangerine_dream
01-05-2004, 06:11 PM
You mean THIS hat?? :angel:

Good thing he's wearing a camoflague hat because Duck Hunting season will be starting soon. ;)

MisterQ
01-05-2004, 06:23 PM
*covers eyes* I never want to see that hat EVER Again!!!

would you prefer a headband? ;) :angel:

Chloe le Bopper
01-05-2004, 06:37 PM
That is one fugly hat.

Deboogle!.
01-05-2004, 06:52 PM
Q, to be honest..... I MIGHT!

maratski
01-05-2004, 07:47 PM
eeeeeeeeeewwwwwwww, terrible hat ;)

star
01-05-2004, 08:15 PM
Yeah, the hat is dreadful.

Some people like the shoes though. :)

Well, I think Naldo doesn't have so much of a problem with the hat. ;)

star
01-05-2004, 08:16 PM
And Kiara, that was pretty funny. :lol:

Kiara
01-05-2004, 10:28 PM
Good thing he's wearing a camoflague hat because Duck Hunting season will be starting soon. ;)

camoflague?why..are they playing tennis on a black&white cow next yr?

tangerine_dream
01-05-2004, 10:32 PM
camoflague?why..are they playing tennis on a black&white cow next yr?

Well, for Andy, it's better to be mistaken for a cow than a duck. ;)

MisterQ
01-05-2004, 10:33 PM
Well, for Andy, it's better to be mistaken for a cow than a duck. ;)

so true! :lol:

J. Corwin
01-05-2004, 11:18 PM
So then what? Cow hunting season now?

heya
01-06-2004, 12:04 AM
My, another off-topic discussion

Leo
01-06-2004, 12:31 AM
Well, the hat's bad. But honestly the shoes are worse. I think Roddick has to win the award for ugliest shoes. I remember what he wore on his feet at the Aussie Open last year ... ugh. They looked more like basketball shoes than tennis shoes. Well, just blame the sponsor.

Deboogle!.
01-06-2004, 05:08 AM
yea it's all Reebok's fault. But Andy must say they're ok to wear so I blame him too lol

Experimentee
01-06-2004, 03:33 PM
I get sick of the media continuously focusing on Andre's age too :mad:
Most of the interviews with him always have to mention it, I know its a great achievement to be still in the top 5 at 33, but surely there are more interesting things to talk to Andre about than retirement?

Deboogle!.
01-06-2004, 03:43 PM
One would think... like the amazing things his charity has done like build a damn school from scratch??? But yea.... his age seems to be more important. And I think it IS... but in a positive way, like wow look how young he still looks out there and how much success he is still having, etc. But you know the media, they like to make it sound as sensational as possible :o

tangerine_dream
01-06-2004, 05:35 PM
So then what? Cow hunting season now?

Hmm, I don't think that would fly ("Rod-cow" vs. "Rod-duck" :rolls: ).

And Rebecca seems to love her Duck Hunt thread too much to start a new Cow Hunting thread. Heck, she wouldn't even start a NEW Duck Hunt thread for 2004. :lol: No respect!

But a Cow Hunting thread wouldn't be appropriate here anyways. It would belong on the WTA board, and there are plenty of bovines over there to hunt. ;)

TennisLurker
01-06-2004, 05:42 PM
The duck hunt thread has been around since 2002, it is not like there is a new duck hunting thread each year.

Deboogle!.
01-06-2004, 05:48 PM
we're just joking around :)

J. Corwin
01-06-2004, 08:50 PM
Yea..duck hunting is much more fun than cow hunting. ;)

Chloe le Bopper
01-06-2004, 08:56 PM
The duck hunt thread has been around since 2002, it is not like there is a new duck hunting thread each year.
I refused to start a new one, because there was no reason. The current one is rich with history!

:D

Kiara
01-06-2004, 10:07 PM
Yea..duck hunting is much more fun than cow hunting. ;)

Cow's aren't hunted they're slaughtered....maybe we should have a cow slaughtering thread for Andy....ugh maybe not....moving on :unsure: