Understanding Andy Roddick's journey in Tennis
An inductee of the tennis hall of fame, Andy Roddick carried the American tennis legacy forward after Sampras and Agassi. Known for his dominant serve and an attacking forehand, Roddick won the US Open title in 2003 and even clinched the #1 spot in the men's singles circuit.
But, he couldn't continue the start he had to his tennis career. Many opined that his game was overshadowed by the likes of players such as Federer, Nadal, Djokovic. Tennis is all about survival and Roddick survived, fought for every point on the tennis court with valor.
Style of play
The major advantage that Roddick had was his powerful serve. Be it the big serve down the line or the wide serve, he aced them with utmost precision. This huge serve was generally followed by a forehand that was powerful and laced with pace.
During the initial stages of his career, Roddick depended on these two weapons and defeated the likes of Sampras, Chang and other great players. His ground-strokes were powerful and accurate at the same time.
Keeping the backhand aside, Roddick generated enough power with his forehand that won him many matches even though there was not much variety in his game.
The Federer factor
Every tennis player has an opponent who dominates and questions their abilities at times. There was McEnroe for Borg, Nadal for Federer, Djokovic for Nadal and so on. Similarly, for Roddick, it was Federer.
Soon after winning his first major title in 2003 and becoming the world #1, he lost to Federer in the Tennis Masters Cup (which is presently called the World Tour Finals). They both met 24 times with Federer leading the tally by an astounding 21 wins to Roddick's three wins.
It was in Wimbledon 2009, where the two met for the last time in the final of a major. The match turned out to be an epic contest with Federer edging Roddick 16-14 in the fifth set.
In every match they played, Roddick gave a tough fight to Federer and even outlasted him in some points. But, Federer played his absolute best in crucial moments that guaranteed him the victory.
Changes in his game
The Roddick of 2003-04 used the serve and forehand to win points. It didn't take more than three strokes with his powerful forehand to steer through the points. But, with the rise of some good returners in the form of Hewitt, Federer, Djokovic, Roddick found it hard to close the points quickly.
He was forced to play longer rallies, especially on his backhand and that was something which was not his forte. This resulted in Roddick changing his gamestyle eventually, to the point where he was the one who kept pushing the ball until his opponent made an error.
Injuries and split with coach
Like many other players, Roddick suffered from injuries throughout his sporting career and that costed him dearly in the rankings. He suffered from a hamstring injury and a knee injury in 2007.
He couldn't regain his full potential after the injuries and his game started to decline. Roddick had Jimmy Connors as his coach during 2006-2008. It was during this period where he started coming towards the net much more than he used to.
This gave him the flexibility of earning free points but also made him vulnerable. After Jimmy Connors left, Andy had his brother John Roddick and Larry Stefanki as coaches till the end of his career.
Last US Open Appearance
Andy Roddick played his last match against Juan Martin Del Potro in the Quarterfinals of the US open in 2012. A career marked by victories, crushing defeats and some serious injuries, Andy received a standing ovation from the crowd at the Flushing Meadows.
It is fair to say that Andy Roddick is one of the greatest players to have ever graced a tennis court. He fought till the end and had he played a decade earlier, his career graph would have been much better.
The decade he played in saw the rise of so many talented players and it is a bit unfortunate that he was just good on the court, but not good enough to beat the top brass.
Published 23 Oct 2018, 11:28 IST