Thursday, April 3, 2008

CAN RODDICK CONQUER FEDERER???

By: Sandra Harwitt
If there is one special thing that fans should admire about Andy Roddick it’s that he doesn’t give up.
Some players might take a look at the fact that they’ve lost 15 of 16 matches against a player and assume their chances of winning another match are slim to none. That reaction would leave a player feeling defeated before they even walk on the court.
But not the case when Roddick thinks about another shot at world No. 1 Roger Federer.
Roddick is an optimist, a guy who thinks the glass is half-full and not half-empty. So when he looks at the possibility of playing Federer for a 17th time and maybe winning, he revels in the challenge.
After Roddick came back from one set down to beat Julien Benneteau in the fourth round, he had a lot to say about his quarterfinal encounter against Federer today.
“I always look forward to it (playing Federer) and I do believe that I’ll beat him one of these times. Hopefully that will be this time around.”
Now Roddick didn’t stop there with his thoughts on playing Federer again. He gave quite a dissertation about the upcoming battle, and because it shows Andy’s personality so well it’s worth putting down all the words.
“You know, he's one of the few guys that I've probably played three or four really, really good matches against him and came up short. I think I have brought out the best in him a couple of times. Sometimes I've walked off the court shaking my head and wondering, but then a couple of times he hasn't played that great and I've matched him.”
“You know, it's just ‑‑ all I can do is put my best foot forward, and hopefully right now he's thinking about it a little bit. You know, obviously I think I have to serve well. Just goes down to the basics: You serve well, you return well, you're going to give yourself looks against anybody.”
All that said, Roddick didn’t hesitate to admit that all those losses are not easy to stomach saying, “If I'm being frank, it is hard. But at the same time, I feel like, I'm out here because I feel like I can still win a Slam. You know, if I'm 1 and 26 against Roger and that one win leads me to a Slam, or leads me (to) something that can get that, then I'm okay with that. Good thing about tennis is you pretty much start over at the beginning of every day. Even after some of my tough losses, I think I've always been pretty clear that I would get up the next morning and keep going. You know, I've had a pretty good career doing that so far.”
And what does Roger have to say about Andy you might say? Well, Roger as expected was ever the gentleman and very complimentary of his colleague, “He’s beaten me before, but I have a definitely very, very good record against him. Toughest places to play against him is always in America. I’ve had some close ones here with him over the years. (He’s) a guy I always enjoy playing against, we have a lot of respect for each other. I think it will be a great matchup for this tournament.”
So now that we’ve heard how the players feel let’s look at the math.
Federer has won 37 sets, while Roddick has won six sets in their 16 clashes. And it’s been quite a while since Roddick scored his one victory at the 2003 Master Series Montreal tournament with a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3) win.
However, the score line doesn’t really indicate how close some of those encounters have been, such as their four-set final thriller at Wimbledon 2004.
If Roddick was going to have a shot at Federer, this might be the place considering the Swiss is just off a bout with mononucleosis. But as Federer’s exceptional showing against Jose Acasuso in the fourth round indicated, he is feeling just fine these days.
I’m feeling the possibility of another good battle here, but when all is said and done, I fear for Roddick that Federer will be standing tall in the semifinals.
In the other men’s quarterfinal, fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko is bound to have a bit of a challenge from Serb Janko Tipsarevic. Now let’s all be honest here and say Tipsarevic was not the Serb we were necessarily planning on seeing at this stage of the tournament, no discredit to Tipsarevic’s talents. But that other Serb, world No. 3 Novak Djokovic, was the defending champion here so he was the anticipated do-gooder from their country. But that’s why you always play out the draw because you never know what can happen – this time around Djokovic was shocked in his opening match by the young South African player Kevin Anderson.
As is usually the case, Davydenko is just quietly tip-toeing through this event, not make a big splash, but ending up in the final rounds. Tipsarevic is definitely the craftier and more entertaining player to watch, but Davydenko’s steady-as-you-go style will prevail.
In women’s semifinal action, former world No. 1 Serena Williams seems back in good form and intent on paying attention to both tennis and winning. That will be a dangerous factor for third seed Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Williams, the eighth seed here, is playing better-and-better in each round. In her last round, she ran through current world No. 1 Justine Henin as if she were just a public nuisance. Williams has won this title on four occasions, and she’s definitely thinking a fifth trophy would certainly decorate the house nicely.
Kuznetsova also knows what it takes to win the Sony Ericsson Open as she’s also been there before taking the title two years ago. She is quite the fighter on the court, and she would love to be one of those rare few players who have beaten both Venus and Serena Williams in back-to-back matches at a tournament. In case you missed it, Sveta took out Venus in the fourth round on Tuesday to earn her shot at Serena in the quarterfinals.
Williams leads in their head-to-head 3-1 in this first meeting here in Miami. The challenge of taking out both Venus and Serena will be too daunting for Kuznetsova, so look for Serena Williams in Saturday’s final.