US Open Week 2 Recap: Je ne regrette rien.
It seems like a case of life mimicking fiction, that Andy Roddick would have the last laugh – leaving the sport of tennis having won the last encounter in his non-rivalry with McFudderer; and McFudderer in return would manage to steal the headlines from Roddick on the last day of his career by crashing out of the US Open “early”.
And as tempting as it is for me to start with Federer’s utter no-show against Berd, I’m going to start with Roddick, because there is a fundamental difference between McFudd and Roddick’s exits from the Open yesterday: McFudd will be back with his cowbells ringing (moooooooo…), but Roddick has truly said his last goodbye to the sport at a competitive level, and as one rather whimsical Spaniard would tweet: even our guitars were crying.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has read this blog for a number of years that Andy Roddick is far from my favourite player. Game wise, I found his serve and forehand patterns formulaic, he volleys with too much effort, defends with too much comfort. Personality wise, he alienated me with his occasional outbursts at lines people and umpires.
But this isn’t about what I dislike about Roddick. For all his human flaws, Roddick’s presence in the game was an important one. Stylistically, he was both the cause and effect of an era in men’s tennis when forehands got bigger and the serve reigned supreme. When Roddick first became a factor on tour, his serve and forehands were among the biggest in the game. Yet watching him against del Pony yesterday reminded me of a contest between an earlier prototype against a taller, stronger, beta model. Roddick’s forehand now pales in comparison to the more lethal, unretrievable forehands in the game. His serve is still among the best, but it is no longer the enthralling spectacle that it used to be.
But even as his game got smaller in comparison, Roddick, the person, seemed to get bigger. He took his repeated losses to the Federer’s and Nadal’s of the game with more grace than could be expected of a former No 1 and grand slam champion. He excelled in his US Davis Cup duties with a sense of commitment and leadership we rarely see from the top players of the game today (other than Djokovic). And at Wimbledon 2009 – perhaps the defining moment of Roddick’s career – he blinked back tears as he emphatically took out Andy Murray and then lost yet another Wimbledon to McFudderer by a whisker and a flubbed volley. The hardest moments of a player’s career are often the ones that say the most about them as a person. That day, Roddick was driven, focused, passionate, and ultimately magnanimous in defeat.
Andy Roddick set himself 4 goals when he started in his career in the ATP: he wanted to be No 1, he wanted to win the US Open, he wanted to win Wimbledon and he wanted to help his country win the Davis Cup. He would finish his career with a tick next to 3 out of those 4.
And as for Wimbledon – the sole unfulfilment of his career, the whole of tennis world bore witness to the fact that Roddick tried and tried and tried and tried, losing-3-finals-tried, 16-14-fifth-set-tried, heartbroken-and-physically-broken tried, year-after-year-for-a-decade-tried.
And you can’t do any more than that.
And you can’t regret any thing after that.
But what of Fuckerer, who unexpectedly slipped on Berdshit yesterday?
A lot has been said and analysed about his 4 set loss to Berd already, so I won’t waste time paraphrasing other people’s good opinions. Berdych played better than Federer. Or rather, he played more consistently well than Federer across the 4 set period of their match. When he lost the third set to Federer after being so close to victory, Australian Open 2009 had to have been on Berdshit’s mind. The momentum, the crowd and the energy was all on McFudd’s side. We all knew it inherently – Berdych can’t play much better than he was already playing. Federer can.
But Berdych went back to basics. He held serve with authority. He hit big. He attacked Federer relentlessly. He made sure he wasn’t the first to blink in the fourth set. And as cold, smug and insecure a person I find him to be, I have to give Tomas Berdych credit for all of it … lest he refuses to vote for me in the annual Most Sportsman Blogger award and starts blabbing on about how he would go and vote for a Rafa fan blog instead. Hmmph!
But even giving full credit to Berdych for a solid performance, there is no denying that Fuckerer played tennis like an overeager 12 year old between the first set tiebreak and the first 15 minutes of the second set.
After his win in Cincinnati, I remember inwardly telling McFudd to calm the fuck down and save some awesomesauce for the US Open.
Did Federer over-extend himself between Wimbledon and the US Open? Did he lose a bit of riddum in between matches because of the walkover?
We may speculate as to the cause of his rather drastic drop in form in his match against Berdych that caused him to wikileak unforced errors all over court, but the fact is that he had an off day. Just as he did against del Potro at the French, Benneteau at Wimbledon, only this time, there was no reprieve. Berdych didn’t let it slip.
So Federer will go back to the drawing board after a frankly exhausting summer. When fall comes, there’ll be a shipload of points to defend. But if any man out there knows and handles well the pressure of defending titles and holding onto a ranking, it’s Roger Federer.
Bye bye Roddick, and see you in indoors, Roger.