Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Last King of Switzerland

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt can now be friends. Maybe. At least they have something in common. They’re both Slam champions and former No. 1’s who’ve been bageled by Federer in Grand Slams. I don’t feel like looking up any statistics, but I don’t think Roddick has ever been bageled in a Slam. At least I don’t remember it.

Roger played the best match I’ve ever seen him (or anyone for that matter) play and completely had his way from everywhere on the court in his 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 demolition. During the match, which took all of 83 minutes, someone asked me what Roddick had done to make Federer so mad and I immediately replied, “He won Kooyong.”

How Roddick recovers from such a demoralizing loss will show what he’s made of. If I were he, I’d take the fine and skip the presser because I don’t know if there’s anything he could say about this match that won’t get him skewered by someone, somewhere, and that’s the last thing he needs.

As for the King of Switzerland. It doesn’t get any better than that. I wish I could be a fan. I can’t. But there’s no denying that his greatness is unparalleled.

He’ll be collecting his 10th Slam title on Sunday, and as Pete Sampras conceded, he’ll be well on his way to breaking record after record after record.


Anonymous said...

Hi Craig,

I feel sorry for Roddick as I did for Hewitt. You said Fed bagelled Andy b/c he revenged for the recent lost earlier this month. I wouldn't think only b/c of that. Safin beat Fed in AO-05, and later on that year they played on grass in Halle, Fed won in 3 tiebreakers. Either Fed didn't want or he couldn't bagel Safin. But I know Fed respect Safin very much even Safin is an underachiever. I think it has much to do with Safin's character.

Anonymous said...

I meant "recent loss".
I think the hype of ESPN really hurts Roddick. Andy himself is a very likable person. But the hype turned neural fans away from Andy. Simply b/c everything, no matter how good it is, is not welcome in excess.


Tom said...

One thing is Roddick always knows what to say in any situation. Not too much, not too little, just enough to get the point accross and be funny at the same time. But unfortunately for him, in this era, it's clear that unless Federer steps down from his A game, there's no stopping that blitzard. Until Roddick can volley like Sampras, I am afraid there's no hope to match a Federer's A game.

Anonymous said...

too bad there never where kings in Switzerland - and neither is Roger. He is a amazing athlete and debatable an agreeable person but no king. and I don’t belief Roger sees himself as one.

btw too bad your previous claim Roddick would win fell how shall I say down the toilet...

Craig Hickman said...

The title of this post is a take on the film, The Last King of Scotland, the film that features a performance that many have called the greatest to ever be put on film. It's not meant to be taken literally. Federer is called a King by many of his fans, so read this as a tribute to his fans and as a tribute to Federer. And that was the greatest performance I've ever seen a tennis player achieve in a Grand Slam tennis match. Just because I'm not fan of Federer's doesn't mean I have to deny what's in front of my eyes.

And I never said Roddick would defeat Federer. I predicted a Roddick win in my preview of the men's draw as "farfetched" but in my semifinal preview I said that my heart picks Roddick but my head picks Federer because I didn't think Federer would allow Andy to get him in a Slam.

But I doubt anyone, Federer and Roddick fans alike, would have predicted this particular performance from Federer that would lead to this particular scoreline. And if you did, more power to you. I hope you play the lottery on a regular basis.

To repeat a Federer fan from a message board, a straight set win for Federer would be a shock based on Roddick's current form. But this went beyond even that. This included a bagel and a loss of only six games. I repeat: If you saw that coming, good for you and I wish you all the best in your future psychic endeavors.

tangerine said...


Nobody but nobody could predict this kind of result. Federer simply played out of his mind tennis and Roddick barely showed up. This wasn't the same Roddick who had played brilliantly to defeat Marat Safin. Mentally, Roddick is still suspect.

The worst thing that happened to Roddick was the media hype leading up to this "blockbuster". Not only did the close calls at Shanghai and USO scare Federer but now the media was getting ready for Roddick to pull off a huge upset. Roger always ups his game when he feels threatened and he never takes Roddick for granted.

You watch: Roger will not play the same mind blowing tennis in the final as he did in the semis.

Other than the semi, I do hope that Andy will recover and realize what a terrific run he had at AO and that he will just continue to get back in the saddle and look forward. He's come a long way.

Craig Hickman said...

Yes, tangerine, Roddick is still mentally suspect, especially against Federer on the biggest stages. Can you say 3 match points?

But he did play some great matches at this event and I hope Jimmy will continue to help him improve in every department, but especially in the head.

Stephen said...

Hey Craig,

Brutal. Just brutal. Would have never guessed the score. Just got done watching the first set and up to 3-0 in the second. Believe it or not, I think it's little things that can really close the gap between the two. One, Fed is a better server. Or at least in big matches. Closer to the lines, better angles. It's tough to expect Andy to hit 20+ aces to win against Federer, but like Sampras had to do with Agassi...Roddick will have to go for more, give himself less margin of error.

Agree with the comment about Roddick never volleying like Pete, but volleying well would be a start.

He had Nadalitis last night. Too many short approaches which were perfectly delivered to Federer. Andy has to go for more against Fed. Go for the lines, hit deeper on approaches. I mean, you've lost 12 in a row to the man? Take a match/approach and just go for it.

The key to beating Fed is how you deal with his short slice game. The idea is you serve and volley and pick them out of the air. I think you do some of that, but also Andy has to recongize especially on the backhand side when he's just giving a lazy chip. Rush in and take it. Don't wait for it bounce on the baseline and then attack.

Also, Fed's slice that's meant to draw opponent's to the net. Brilliant how he plays/forces the tempo on guys. If i were Andy and company I'd work on the mid-court game.

There are tactical areas he can improve on against Federer. At one point i think after he was broken to start the 2nd Jimmy mouthed "He's pressing too much."

I dind't see the Masters match. Don't know how different it was. Obviously if you're holding serve more, playing better you'll force more errors from Fed.

It's doable. I think Connors is the type of coach who won't let Andy beat himself up too much. I think the new gameplan can work, it's just going to have to be fine tuned to beat Fed. More power, deeper approaches, better angles. He's not a natural mover. Expecting him to be a true force at the net is laughable. So it's the approach that he's going to have the most success with.

Anyway. Tough loss. He'll bounce back. Hopefully Haas or Gonzo give us a final.

On a side-note Andy Murray will be the one to take over the #1 ranking from Fed in 2 years.

Stephen said...

Also, Roddick is too inconsisent. He nearly gets bounced in round one by looking horrid, then plays well, then plays down a bit to Ancic, then crushes Ancic, then looks like a kid too afraid to go into a big house at the end of the neighborhood at night against Fed.

I think it can be a good year for Andy. work work.

Craig Hickman said...

Andy Murray won't take over any thrones in 2 years, Stephen.

Nice analysis on the matchup.

I got so tired of those short approaches in the middle of the court that Roddick rushed the net on. As soon as he hit them and started forward I was like, here comes another winner for Federer.

In Shanghai, Roddick served out of a tree in the corners. Until match point, that is.

He is inconsistent, which echoes tangerine's statement that he is still mentally suspect. The two go hand in hand.

On a side note - Roddick has always played better tennis when his parents are in the stands. (See Cincinatti and the US Open. When Roddick won the Open, his parents were there. When he lost in the quarterfinals to JJ and in the first round to Muller, they were not. Last year, they returned and Roddick made the final.) Why don't they come to any Slam events outside of the US?

Anonymous said...

Heh. Bring the parents to every event. I noticed Mary called Mirka Roger's "friend." Not girlfriend?

I mean, he has a giant Federer bear that he's selling for charity. Come on. heh. Kidding.

The approach shots were horrible. Most of the time they are. It's built as "oh he can't touch Fed" but really with those same approaches Nalbandian carved him like a turkey at the Masters Cup.

Roddick has to go to the net when he's got something to put away. Occassionally serve and volley. I think this new game plan really is overdone to say, "the man just chips your returns." It'd be interesting to do a point by point work up of this match on Roddick's serve. See how many "aggressive" returns Fed made. I think you'd find 75% or more were just chipped short. It's not so much that Fed is reading/destroying Andy's serve that hurts, but it's Roddick's second shot that's not getting it done.

Fed loosened up in the 2nd. But, Andy was up 30-0 in the first service game. A couple errors, a great shot and it's a break.

I don't think he's untouchable, but clearly Roddick didn't show his best stuff. Kinda have to do that if you wanna talk bout gaps closing.

Love Murray. Should have beaten Nadal. With more fitness and a couple years of maturity for his disposition he'll be right there. Just great hands and already one of the best return of servers.


Craig Hickman said...

Agree with all that Stephen about Roddick/Fed.

But Murray's disposition is, in fact, his personality. It won't change.

See Richard Gasquet.