Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Quote For The Day

"I watch a lot of tennis with the sound muted—the jazz soundtrack of the weekend was The Sermon, by Jimmy Smith—but I did catch some of Justin Gimelstob's commentary. I’ve always thought he was an insightful analyst who knows the game and the players. He also worked with technique guru Robert Lansdorp, which has to help with the finer points. Gimelstob also offered some ATP information I didn’t know—the South American guys want some clay-court events to be switched to hard—and was honest in assessing the embarrassing competitive habits of David Nalbandian. My only trouble is that Gimelstob puts himself and his analysis front and center in the telecast—he's still proving himself, I guess—which can make it hard to relax and sink into the match itself."--Steve Tignor

5 comments:

b said...

Saw his quotes on another site. Apparently Gimelstob decides who is a claycourter based on nationality/race rather than the actual players. Since when are Nalby, Gonzo and DelPotro Claycourters... They excel at hard courts..... of course they would prefer more HC tournaments......

Unbelievable.

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On another note....
That Wozniacki is really something - she is in great shape and is willing to keep fighting even when it appears she doesn't have a chance..... Kuzzy was very relieved at the end of 3 hours...

Karen said...

Which is a nice way of saying to Gimelslob - STFU

Graf_sampras said...

The ARTICLE ABOUT RODDICK is more important than anything Gimelstob has to say ...

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No Quit: In spite of obstacles, Roddick fights on

By Peter Bodo

MIAMI, Fla.—Sometimes, a weakness is a blessing in disguise, and a flaw can bear surprisingly sweet fruit. When Andy Roddick ventured forth on the pro tour, he toted a massive serve, a bone-crushing forehand, and a sanguine love of competition. They were enough to earn him a Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open in 2003 and a world No. 1 ranking—but not enough to secure a steady perch at the top of the game.

A lot has happened since then. Roger Federer happened. Rafael Nadal happened. Tennis changed, and Roddick could have been forgiven for taking a realistic approach to the altered landscape, humming “to everything, turn, turn, turn . . .” as he plugged away, shortcomings and all, and settled for capitalizing on his celebrity as the lone Grand Slam champion of his struggling, once-great nation.


Andy Roddick and Roger Federer
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Roddick defeated Federer in the Key Biscayne quarterfinals last season, but Federer won their most recent match at this year's Australian Open.
Roddick didn’t do that, though. He chose, instead, to work on those weaknesses, even though some said they were critical and career-defining. The backhand was a shot meant only to keep him alive in rallies long enough to load up and fire the forehand. The footwork was sketchy. His overall sense of strategy, pace and shot selection—even when the shot was that howitzer serve—were superficial. Roddick came onto the tour leading with his chin, and it paid off; since then, he’s taken it on the chin but he isn’t punch-drunk yet.

Over the years, through crushing defeats (including the emblematic three consecutive losses to Federer at Wimbledon, two of which were finals), a succession of coaches, criticism that the game had passed by his “type” (the meat-and-potatoes power-player whose game is built around the serve), Roddick kept the faith. More importantly, he worked. He worked like a dog trying to keep pace with the fire truck barreling down his street, tongue hanging out, nails clicking and worn and bleeding on the pavement, chest heaving, but always keeping that vehicle in sight.

Yesterday here at the Sony Ericsson Open, the fruits of all his labor were manifest, as he eliminated Gael Monfils, 7-6, 6-4, to earn a quarterfinal berth opposite . . . Federer. Roddick has a tough row to hoe, but then he’s playing with house money. What’s he going to do, go ballistic if his record falls to 2-17?

In Monfils, Roddick faced a player much like himself—or at least the Andy Roddick of yore. Monfils can really bring the big serve, and he can smack the forehand. He even lines up to serve just like Roddick, poised with his ankles practically touching before he arches his back and goes up for the ball, like a salmon leaping clear of the water.

But the contrast between the two men in one key area was stark. Roddick has modulated his power, sharpened his focus, and radiates the discipline and patience of a craftsman hard at work doing something he loves. Monfils, by contrast, looks like he’s mostly interested in setting himself up for the spectacular counter-punch. Rope-a-dope of the kind Monfils plays is a risky strategy at best, and allowing an opponent to dictate the tone and pace of a match can be borderline suicidal.

But what the hay—Monfils is still a pup at 22, and he’s also born and bred on clay, where counter-punching your way to glory on the strength of your quads and your ability to pull a forehand rabbit out of your hat pays better dividends than on hard courts. Monfils broke Roddick and served for the set at 6-5, but Roddick won that game and the momentum carried him through the tiebreaker. It was, for all practical purposes, over.

“I think he gives you ample opportunity,” Roddick said later of Monfils. “He likes to do the rope-a-dope thing a little bit. He likes to invite you in, then if you don’t come in, he beats you with length on the next ball. He’s quick enough to be able to pass a lot, so I just tried to at least make my approach shots firm if I did it.”

“Firm” was a good choice of word; “crisp” might have been even better. There was a time when Roddick may have hit his forehand harder, but he’s rarely used it better, or to more deadly effect. All of which is the culmination of —and payoff for—the work he’s put into his game. This week—nay, this year (he is 24-4 in singles, with one title) —Roddick has been playing perhaps the most dialed-in, calm, masterful tennis of his life.

“I feel good and I feel confident,” he said. “I think the big difference is that you get to those 30-all points and I just feel. . . calm. . and like I’m going to play the point the way I want to. I feel like I’m able to plan out more what I’m gonna do. I have maybe some more options now. Yeah. I just feel calm on the court. It’s nice, but I think it can still be improved. It’s only been a couple of months, that I’ve been playing a little better, so. . . “

So how does he feel, going up against Federer tomorrow?

“It is what it is,” he said. “This press conference hasn’t changed for years. It’s going to be tough. . . but I’m going to go out there and just go after it.”

The fire truck is still out in the lead, but it seems this dog just won’t quit.

Peter Bodo, a senior editor for TENNIS magazine, also writes the TennisWorld blog.

Graf_sampras said...

For me , personally, while nadal is known as a hard fighter - but has unusual ways of playing that has been the bane of the player that dominated the scene AND roddick for years ..roger...-

the player that has shown the GREATEST HEROIC COURAGE in competing precisely because there have been weaknesses in his game

is a MAN NAMED ANDY RODDICK.

he TRULY is the player and character in tennis today that CAN TAKE IT ON THE CHIN and get up blaming NO ONE and NOTHING...but takes it all with DIGNITY.

if there is a HERO in tennis. ....

it is ANDY RODDICK.

I believe in Andy Roddick

HoiHa said...

I too just read that article on Roddick by Bodo - it really got me thinking about Roddick and in a way what he stands for. He will never be number one (save that brief moment in time pre Fed), he will likely never win a GS title again, and he is on the sunset side of a career that, while certainly respectable, is not really going to be the stuff of legend.

But what I realised too was that if I had to put forward the sort of sporting personality I would want my kids or young people to look to it would be exactly to somebody like Roddick. Here is a man that does not possess the narural gifts that Nadal or Fed or Sampras or Agassi has - that I think is simply truth. But what he does have is something in many ways more admirable on a human level and something we can all aspire to in life in whatever we may endeavour - and that is his willingness to work hard when it would be so easy to just coast; to try and grow and evolve and change in order to become better. And to believe that there is merit in simply embracing that ethic even if in the end it does not result in glory.

One of the things I suspect is true for Roddick is that a lot of this is about the process more than the end results itself. And that is the lesson I would want more than anything for young people to understand. So yes, my hat's off to one of my sporting heroes. It's his attitude that makes him a true champion.