Great article, Greg Couch is a great writer about tennis
he also tweeted this:
#Roddick gave his racquet to 12-year old, Jose, in wheelchair. Didn't do it 4 cameras. I know cause I ran into kid & parents, all so excited
Roddick Not Great Yet, But Getting Better
4/04/2010 10:30 PM ET By Greg Couch
MIAMI -- Andy Roddick can try to play it cool, but it doesn't work. He's too hyper.
He beat Tomas Berdych 7-5, 6-4 Sunday to win the Miami Masters, a big tournament, and before talking to the crowd over the public address system, he excused himself for a minute.
He jogged off the court, coolly, got into the tunnel, out of site of fans and TV cameras, doubled over and screamed at the top of his lungs.
Twenty seconds later, he was on court, calmly thanking everyone. Roddick might be having his breakthrough moment, but he's still got more to prove.
He beat Rafael Nadal in the semis by playing aggressively, and then beat Berdych with a mix of power and patience.
"If I can continue this, there will be some exciting moments," Roddick said. "But that's a big if. You have to earn that if."
That's what this moment is for Roddick. He is back to the "if" stage instead of the "no-way" stage.
Andy Roddick has become a maybe.
You don't arrive at greatness by beating Berdych, who I've always thought of as "That Choker Guy." Berdych did have a career week, even beating Roger Federer. So this was exactly the kind of match, with a built-in excuse against a hot player, that Roddick normally loses. In fact, he lost this same match two weeks ago to a hot Ivan Ljubicic in the final of the Indian Wells Masters.
The thing Roddick has done, the importance of the moment in Miami, was this:
"He put himself fully back in the conversation," said Jim Courier, former No. 1, who was in Miami for a charity event for Chile on the stadium court Saturday. "There has been a real passion in American tennis to see Andy play that way."
I wrote a couple days ago that this is Roddick's big moment. He has come through some early-season injuries that signaled old-age for tennis. He's 27. Several of the players above him are hurt or struggling.
And one more thing: He's playing the best tennis of his life.
This moment doesn't count as his crowning, but only as his re-entry into the race for big things. After all these years, Roddick has won only one major, the 2003 U.S. Open. He, and his defenders, point out that he has spent years in the top 10.
True. But that's also a condemnation. If he has been consistently among the best, then why doesn't he ever win major titles?
What is missing?
Some people call him a choker, say he's lacking something inside. Could be, but he hasn't ever gotten far enough for us to figure that out.
Roddick spent too many years hard-headed about his game, unwilling to learn strategies beyond crushing a serve and hustling, that he left himself fighting the big fight with only one weapon.
Dumb, brute force is not going to beat Federer at Wimbledon. I mean, in the big moments, are we sure Roddick was lacking guts?
Or a backhand?
"He's playing much better tennis than when he was No. 1 in 2003," Ljubicic said after beating Roddick in Indian Wells. "I remember playing him in those years. It was basically find his backhand two times in a row and you win a point.
"Now his backhand is fantastic shot. He can slice it now."
No, it is not fantastic. But it has improved, and Roddick said he now knows how to use it and what its limits are.
It has skyrocketed from horrible to adequate. But he has also lost weight, changed his diet, and developed enough of a game around that serve.
Coach Larry Stefanki, who has helped Roddick immensely the past year and a half -- including developing strategies -- said the next thing for Roddick is to take groundstrokes more aggressively on the rise, the way Andre Agassi did.
It's funny listening to Roddick now. He gets defensive about people thinking he's still all serve. After Sunday's match, someone asked about how his serve has developed into something with changing paces and spins.
Roddick took it as an insult.
"A lot of people say the serve is fine and the rest of it's pretty average," he said. But he pointed out that some players have good serves but no results. "So there's got to be some difference (with his game)."
Let's not go overboard. The rest of Roddick's game is not great. It's just better. And that, added to the serve, can win.
Sunday's win was straightforward. Both players held serve for a while until Berdych threw in one of his typical nervous games. Roddick took advantage and won the first set. Berdych was then flustered, and Roddick found his groove with his slice backhand. Nervousness against patience. So Roddick broke serve early in the second set, and kept holding his own.
Stefanki said it's exciting to see someone willing to change when "you get old and you've got a lot of money in the bank."
He envisions Roddick as similar to Agassi, having his best years late.
"I asked him 'What do you want to do?' " Stefanki said. "He said, 'I want to win a Slam.' "
Another major. That's the big thing now for Roddick.
Give him credit for overhauling his game, but frankly, it's still galling that he didn't do it earlier. How could a top player go years
without bothering to develop a backhand?
These Masters level events are one notch below a major, and Roddick hadn't won one since 2006. So this was big. He moves up a spot to No. 7 in the rankings, but for the past month, he actually has been the best player in the world.
But he still has to prove it in a major. If he wins another one, then it will be testimony to his effort. If not, then maybe something bigger really was lacking all along.
Finally, we're going to find out.