Andy Roddick did beat Roger Federer earlier this month in the Madison Square Garden exhibition, but that wasn’t suppose to reflect on big tournaments, on actually important ATP Tour Masters events. Well, it happened. For only the third time in his 24 matches with Roger, Roddick came out on top, winning 7-6, 1-6, 6-4 in the third round of the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne.
At 29, it’s pretty clear that Roddick’s best days are behind him. Or it seemed pretty clear. Roddick hasn’t won a tournament in over a year (Memphis, February 2011) and has fallen to number 34 in the ATP rankings. He hasn’t been to a Grand Slam Semi Final since Wimbledon 2009, and a Masters Semi Final since Cincinnati in 2010. He’s the #3 American these days, with Mardy Fish and John Isner, both top 10 players, above him for quite some time.
But some days, everything clicks. The serves come booming, all with a 130 mph or more tag to them. Federer, who hasn’t lost in sixteen games and in 77 games to opponents ranked out of the top 20, simply couldn’t compete. There’s always the talk of Federer not bowing down to lesser opponents. He only loses to the big ones, or the guys who are great sometimes. Roddick, despite his ranking, isn’t a nobody, and can still impose his style on a match for long enough to win against better players. Rarely, but it can happen.
Roger Federer – I feel like I lost against a former No. 1, not that I lost against a guy ranked 30 in the world. I’m happy to see Andy play really well. He’s a great champion, and enjoy him while you have him. It was a great night for him and America’s tennis.
Roddick didn’t get all dizzy from the win – It would be a little presumptuous to go from people talking about me retiring to winning a Masters event. I probably wasn’t as bad as I looked two weeks ago. We’ve played a ton; there’s no secrets. I know I have to execute really, really well. There’s a small window of percentages where you have to be right. What he does is he shrinks that window with his strengths.
Maybe there was too much talk of Roger Federer heading back to the number 2 spot in the world and his ambition to be number one once again. His form was brilliant thus far this year, since the Australian Open. Now begins his biggest trial – The Clay Court season begins, and we’ll see if he can remain dominant there as well, or will this be Nadal’s time to shine, or maybe Djokovic, like last season.
For Roddick, it’s just winning one more game. He beat Federer in the 2008 Miami Masters, losing the next round to Davydenko. It’s not about greatness and titles anymore, but just to stay relevant, and squeeze a little bit more out of his soon to be over career.