On the occasion of International Left-Handers Day (13 August), Andy Roddick spoke in glowing terms about tennis' most famous lefty - Rafael Nadal. Roddick made special mention of Nadal's crosscourt forehand, highlighting how it has been one of the Spaniard's biggest weapons over the years.
While speaking in an interview with Tennis Channel, Roddick was first asked to name the toughest left-hander he has faced on tour. The American, who has a 75-17 career win-loss record against southpaws, picked Rafael Nadal without any hesitation.
Roddick further pointed out that it is difficult to practice against left-handers since they are fewer in number, thus making the task of facing one on the court all the more challenging.
"Yeah, a lot of those losses were (against) a guy named Rafa, unfortunately," Andy Roddick said. "The thing is (only) 13% of the human population is lefty. You just don't get the reps with the opposite spin as much."
The former World No. 1 also opined that Rafael Nadal is not a typical southpaw because his wide lefty serve isn't as lethal as that of someone like Feliciano Lopez, Greg Rusedski or Goran Ivanisevic.
"And Rafa really didn't present like a normal lefty as far as the serve is (concerned)," Roddick continued. "You think of a traditional lefty, you think of the big lefty servers in the men's game, Feliciano Lopez's, Rusedki's, even Ivenisevic's were a complete pain in the butt. But I actually didn't mind playing those guys as much because I returned better on my backhand side; that's the only thing I did better on the backhand side."
Andy Roddick believes Rafael Nadal's biggest strength is his crosscourt forehand, which quite often leaves his opponents bamboozled due to the high amount of topspin on it.
While Nadal's forehand might not be the quickest or the flattest, it is still a very difficult shot to counter. Nadal's crosscourt hook jumps up on his opponents, often forcing them to return it from well above shoulder height. That makes it nearly impossible to do much except send the ball back tamely, thus handing Nadal the immediate advantage in the rally.
"But Rafa, he always had the get-out-of-jail-free card where you might be ahead in a rally and he kind of flicks that hook forehand up," Roddick explained. "And even if he misses it and it lands short, it's still getting up and you really have no good option especially if you can't knock the ball down the line, which was again, hard for me."
Roddick did point out, however, that Novak Djokovic has mastered the art of dealing with Rafael Nadal's crosscourt forehand. The Serb can return the shot with interest in both directions - down-the-line or crosscourt - which is a big reason why he has been able to beat Nadal so often.
"I think that's why Novak has really changed the game because he can redirect that ball as accurately down-the-line as he does crosscourt," Roddick went on.
The American added that it was "no fun" in trying to deal with Nadal's venomous crosscourt forehand.
"But Rafa is able to kind of like start a monopoly game over, if he has a roll with that crosscourt forehand," Roddick said. "He can just get out of jail everytime and get the pattern that he wants. It was no fun."
A look at Rafael Nadal's head-to-head record against Andy Roddick
At the end of Andy Roddick's career in 2012, he had a 3-7 career win-loss record against Rafael Nadal.
Roddick beat Nadal the first time they met on tour, at the 2004 US Open. In fact, the American served Nadal a bagel on that day, winning 6-0, 6-3, 6-4.
After that, however, it was mostly one-way traffic for the 20-time Major champion against Roddick. He only lost twice to the American in nine further meetings, the last of which came at the 2010 Miami Masters.