He’s my second favourite player next to Roger and a player who I wish had won more in his career. With one slam at the age of 20 , he has gone on to win 30 ATP titles but has failed on 3 occasions to win Wimbledon; falling most memorably to Roger in 2009 16-14 in the final set.
It is of course Andy Roddick, the guy who held the fastest serve in the world up until a few weeks ago, the player who has maximised the all the available talent he has been given.
Some call him one dimensional, others boring, but for me he is one of the most exciting characters on the ATP circuit. Andy always gives 110% in games, you never see Roddick not trying or crying off a game because of injury, its just not in his nature. He truly is a model of professionalism and a role model to tennis.
However (forgive me Andy) recently I have noticed that Texan Temper appearing a little too much in matches. Yeah we all knew you were a firey character and want more than anything to win every match but Roddick’s temper has been letting him down in games.
Similar to a Murray defeat, a Roddick tantrum starts with perhaps a bad day on serve, a few dodgy line calls, verbals with the umpire and a smashed Babolat. Unfortunately despite Andy’s many many fans throughout the world, it is tarnishing his excellent reputation amongst fellow pros and fans alike. So much so Andy is starting to show his age, dare I call hime a grumpy old git! So Andy you know we love you but please keep the passion but lose the anger! Best of Luck at Miami this week.
Rain rain go to Spain! Unusual for this time of year in Paris but the rain has wrecked the Roland Garros order of play and scheduling. Most of us spent yesterday glued to those green ‘ Wimbledon’ tarpaulins covering the courts, looking skyward wondering if we were ever going to see some play. Eventually we did, Andy managed to cruise the 3rd and 4th sets in his second round match against Juan Ignacio Chela and book a safe passage into round 3.
Ana Ivanovic’ fall from grace has accelerated of late, the 2008 Champion was humbled by Russian 28 seed Alicia Kleybanova 6-3 6-0, despite Ana having break points in every one of her opponents service games. I wonder will she ever reestablish herself in the top echelon of the women’s game. The Monfils Fognini match left so delicately poised at 5-5 in near darkness on Wednesday evening, resumed and despite the partisan home support La Monf lost 9-7 in the decider. Fernando Gonzalez last years semi finalist, was surprisingly beaten by Ukrainian Doglopolov Junior.
Rafa took to the court today and resumed were he had left off against Gianni Minna, winning 2-3-2 against fellow clay court specialist Horacio Zeballos. Big serving American John Isner was comprehensively beaten by Czech Tomas Berdych. More major shocks in the ladies draw, as 8th seed Aggie Radwanska beaten by little known Shevdova, Katerina Bondarenka and Vera Zvonareva also suffered defeats to lower ranked opponents.
Stosur, Henin, Sharapova and Serena all made light work of their 2nd round opponents today, whilst Dementieva, Venus and Wozniacki all made serene progress into the last 16. Tie of the 3rd round for the ladies must surely be Justine Henin vs Maria Sharapova. The little Belgian must be favourite especially on clay, however on the back of winning in Strasbourg last week Maria is certainly not short on confidence.
Nadal faces off against Lleyton Hewitt in round 3. Fresh from his hip surgery in Febuary, Hewitt is eager to make up for lost time, but should prove no match for the might Matador Rafael Nadal on the hallowed clay of Philippe Chatrier. All the higher ranked players should make it through, will the majority of the clay court specialists still in the draw, there could be some very tasty 4th round ties come Monday!
Everybodys favourite runner up, the player of 2010 thus far, finally got his just desserts in Miami on Sunday. Andy A-ROD Roddick finally held aloft the winners trophy again. Having been so close to winning in Indian Wells, Roddick’s serve proved to be the decisive factor in the end as young Czech Thomas Berdych simply couldnt break him despite coming up with some fantastic lobs and passing shots. This is Roddicks first Masters title since 2006 and a testament to the work he is doing on the practice court with coach Larry Stefanki.
In the womens draw, Kim Clijsters clinched her 37th career title as she romped to victory against form player Venus Williams, winning 6-2 6-1. This was the Belgians second tour victory since her comeback last August, she proved she is the one to beat on the hardcourts by overpowering a hapless Venus, the score says it all. Both the ATP and WTA return to the dirt for the next 10weeks, with the Monte Carlo Masters and Rome Masters the next biggies!
 R Soderling (SWE) vs  T Berdych (CZE)
Both these men are in arguably the form of their lives. Both had a good tournament in Indian Wells last week and both have dispatched some big names; most notably, Berdych’s victory against Roger earlier this week. Soderling has a postive 4-2 (5-3)if you include challengers) record against Berdych, and was very impressive against Youzhny last night. Berdych hasn’t beaten Soderling since 2007 and 2005 on hard court. I don’t know whether it’s instinct, or that I want Berdych to win for the sake of my Bracket, that I was going to call this one too close to call. However, Berdych got rid of his Federer demons earlier this week, can he do the same against Soderling? Soderling will be hungry for a masters title, but so will Berdych, so I’m going to go against the paper and predict Berdych for the win.
 A Roddick (USA) vs  R Nadal (ESP)
This match carries all sorts of intrigue. Roddick will have the entirety of the home support, but Rafa will not want to let another fantastic opportunity to get back on the roll of hnours slip past him. Both men have been in descent form since oz and Rafa in particular was clinical against Tsonga. Andy can win this one, but going by the head to heads, I reckon this match will be decided by who’s hungrier for it. For the answer to that, can anyone look past Rafa? Is he not hungry for every single point, no matter what the importance? For that reason I’m going for Rafa into the final.
It’s quarter final time in Miami and once again we find only 1 of the top 4 seeds left in the draw. Has the tennis world gone upside down? Roger Federer lost for the first time against a spirited Berdych yesterday, and it just confirms my suspicions that he no longer cares about these tournaments. He said “I had tons of chances at the end. I tried everything I could. It is just not happening for me at the moment.” I don’t believe he had any other issues other than motivation. Wait until you see the change in him playing at the French Open. To today’s schedule…
 A Roddick (USA) vs  N Almagro (ESP) – ATP
If anyone had a bet on niccy almagro making the quarter finals of Miami, they’ll be in for a bit of money at the moment. He has played well, and has never met roddick, and given the amount of upsets there has been in the last 3 weeks, who knows, he may pull it out of the bag. However, Roddick hasn’t been in bad form himself and with the backing of the crowd I’ll say it will be Andy into the semi’s
 J Tsonga (FRA) vs  R Nadal (ESP) – ATP
This match has intrigue written all over it. When Tsonga turns up, on any given day, he can destroy anybody, including Nadal (memories of ozzy open 2008 anybody?). But Rafa seems to have had his number of late, even when his own form hasn’t been at it’s best. So for that reason I’m picking Nadal to make it through
Every now and then the ATP tour throws up a completely unpredictable tournament. These usually happen in the clay court season, but this time it was not to be the case. This time it was to be the hard courts of Indian Wells. I mean what’s going on, the American hard court season is safe, it’s standard, it’s a foregone conclusion, or at least we thought it was. This is usually the playground of usual suspects such as Federer, Murray, Djokovic, Nadal, Roddick, Davydenko and more recently Del Potro and Cilic, whom none of which (save for Roddick) made the semi-finals of the biggest tour tournament there is other than the Grand slams.
There was simply shocks in abundance throughout the tournament, but one of more namely was the defeat of Federer by Marcos Baghdatis. I think this shows perhaps just a little bit of insight into his desire for these tournaments from now on. It could be put down a little to lack of match practice but I doubt it. I still think though Federer, if he decided he wants to, could easily bag another masters tournament.
Andy Murray was an early exit albeit not so shocking to an in-form Soderling. Despite losing ranking points, he still overtook Nadal into 3rd place in the rankings, but he’ll have to defend his title in Miami to have any hope of sustaining it. Nadal on the other hand showed some encouraging signs of a comeback, and if it wasn’t for an inspired Ljubicic, we could have been talking about a back on track Nadal. Still don’t think there’s much we can judge from him by this hard court stint; I will be looking forward to the clay season to get a true picture of where his game is at.
And speaking of Ljubicic, I take my hat off to you sir. 31 years old, fallen from grace about three years ago, just about everybody had written him off not even to make it to playing the quarter finals. Nevertheless he made it that far to beat Djokovic (world no.2), then Nadal (world no. 3) and then Roddick (on his home turf). Can he keep this performance up in Miami, I really don’t know, but my how interesting would it be for the tour if he could break back into the top ten…here’s waiting with baited beath for Miami.
I said yesterday that Soderling needed to be at the top of his game to beat Andy, and indeed he was. He was showing that kind brutal corner to corner tennis that beat Nadal in the semi-finals of the French Open. Andy Murray will be disappointed, but he rightly commented on his lack of match practice, something he will hope to rectify in Miami next week. But for the second big tournament in a row, we have found ourselves with a few unexpected semi-final appearances and here are some of our thoughts.
 R Nadal (ESP) vs  I Ljubicic (CRO)
Ljubicic has done really well to get thus far, especially his victory against Novak Djokovic. One might argue if he can beat Nole, then he can beat Rafa, but I just have a feeling that he doesn’t have enough to beat Rafa today, and Nadal will be hungry for confidence boosting title. That coupled with the fact that Nadal hasn’t lost to Ljubicic since 2005 should go in his favour to give him his first masters final appearance since last April.
 A Roddick (USA) vs  R Soderling (SWE)
Andy Roddick has been clinical this week, and is always around in the latter stages of big tournaments. He too will be desperate to win a long awaited masters, but he has never beaten Soderling in his two attempts and given the form Soderling is in, I would expect to see Robin meeting Nadal in grudge match final. That said, I have a suspicion that Roddick will be up for this one, and who’s to say another upset isn’t on the cards, especially in front of the home fans.
PS we would like for it to be known that we are not sexist here at the LTB! We are just as interested in the WTA as we are the ATP. Unfortunately at the minute we are short on bloggers and short on time, so if there is anyone out there who would like to be our WTA correspondant, please email [email protected] or comment here.
It was great to see Ivan Ljubicic fight back from a set down against Juan Monaco with some massive serving to book himself a slot in the semi-finals to play Nadal. Even though he is not expected to get past Nadal (although this tournament has not been one to go with expectation!), he should be proud of his efforts of being the first croatian to reach the semi finals of Indian Wells since Goran Ivanisevic in 1996. As for Nadal, he was beautifully clinical against and in-form Berdych. Should he make it to the final, to win his first tournament since Rome in April last year, he will have face one of the winners of today’s matches…
 T Robredo (ESP) vs  A Roddick (USA)
Tommy Robredo and Andy Roddick have a long history of playing against each other, and unfortunately Tommy has only ever taken one set in their ten matches they have played. He has even lost against Andy on his beloved (and Andy’s not so beloved) clay. I can’t see today being any different. I don’t believe Tommy has the weapons to cope or even retalliate with Roddick’s blistering serve and for that reason I believe it will be Roddick who progresses to the semi’s.
 A Murray (GBR) vs  R Soderling (SWE)
Murray hasn’t exactly been on the scintilating form that got him to the final of the ozzy open, but now he has the chance to make the semi-finals in a masters event on his favourite surface, I believe he will step it up a gear. Soderling is a dangerous opponent however, and depending which Robin decides to turn up today will have a huge bearing on the match. Soderling will need to be at his level best to stop Andy Murray moving into the semi finals.
Well this week wasn’t exactly as straight forward as I thought. Thomaz Bellucci surprised us all by beating 4 time reigning champion, Fernando Gonzalez on his home turf and on clay. It’s his second career title, can this be a good year for him? Will he be that one season wonder the clay court season gets every year? Neither top seeds made it to the final of Jo’burg either, with Gael Monfils being particularly disappointing. He seems to be following the footsteps of so many French stars to not fulfil their potential. Order was thankfully restored by Marin Cilic, winning in Zagreb bringing his tally for the year to 15 wins to 1 loss – a formidable start and a place in London looming for the young Croatian.
This week sees the first ATP 500 series event in Rotterdam, where the field is surprisingly uncompetitive. Some key players are missing, with only 7 of the top 30 showing up and only Novak Djokovic of the top 5. I’m suprised to see that Andy Murray isn’t trying to defend his title, as he needs the points to stay in touch with Djokovic and stay above Nadal in no.3. Perhaps he’s carrying an injury. Novak has improved one round every year he’s played at Rotterdam and I expect him to improve on last years semi final performance and make the final.
Elsewhere, the SAP Open in San Jose boasts probably a more competitive field than Rotterdam despite only being worth 250 ranking points, with Sam Querrey, Philipp Kohlshreiber, Tomas Berdych, Tommy Haas, current champion Radek Stepanek, Fernando Verdasco and usual suspect Andy Roddick. It’s hard to call this one as Stepanek will want to defend his title, Verdasco has been on good form, Querrey is on home turf, Berdych blows hot and cold and Roddick is probably the favourite. There is also a clay court event happening in Brasil, can Thomaz Bellucci make it 2 from 2?
I mentioned on twitter that the QF’s look tasty and indeed they are. Ok so I picked all the winners last night, but tonight it is almost impossible to choose from. It really is anybody’s from here.
Andy Roddick v Marin Cilic
It’s the battle of big servers here, and last year Roddick had a really good record against fellow pelters. Cilic is on hot form and will be inspired by some of his wins this week. He also won their last meeting, in canada last year, Roddick’s first tournament after that crushing defeat at the hands of Federer in the Wimbledon final. If this goes to five sets, I would imagine Andy to be the fitter of the two, and would expect him to pull through. Otherwise, there is usually on surprise package at the Ozzy open every year, and this year I believe it is Cilic, which is why I’m giving him the edge tonight, but only if it doesn’t go to 5.
Winner: Marin Cilic
Andy Murray v Rafael Nadal
Much has been made of Andy’s lack of grand slams – see peters post below – and this I think will be the single most contributing factor as to whether he can beat Nadal today and go on to win the tournament. I think Andy is playing better than Nadal at the moment and should win but you simply can not write of Rafa, which Federer and many others have paid an expensive price learning. Andy needs a US Open 08 semi final performance to come through this, and it’s my biased side that hopes he does.