Category Archives: Andy Roddick

The first grand slam of the year has arrived and the number one ranking is already in question.

Think about this for a minute: Roger Federer could lose the number one ranking to Rafael Nadal by the end of the Australian Open. Will it happen? Let’s see.

Roger Federer’s Quarter

Juan Monaco and Tomas Berdych are waiting around in the top half of Federer’s quarter but Monaco still isn’t good enough on hard court and 2004 was the last time Berdych beat Federer.

In the bottom half of Federer’s quarter there are a few stories. Ivan Ljubicic’s ranking has been sinking since last August and I don’t expect him to recover. James Blake dropped out of the top ten last October and is currently ranked number 15. I don’t expect him to drop further but I also don’t expect him to get back to the top ten. Ljubicic has a 4-1 record over Blake but his victories came over two years ago and Blake won their last match. If they meet in the fourth round, Blake should win.

Then we come to Fernando Gonzalez. He reached the final here last year then played through the most wildly inconsistent year I’ve every seen from a top player. He lost his first match in eight tournaments yet still ended up in the top ten. Well, except for Nikolay Davydenko who also lost his first match in eight tournaments but we expect that from him.

If Gonzalez gets to the fourth round and meets Blake, he should be golden because he’s won their last five matches. That would put him in the quarterfinals against Federer but Gonzalez can’t win that match.

Novak Djokovic’s Quarter

Marcos Baghdatis is in Novak Djokovic’s half of this quarter but he’s right up there with Gonzalez and Davydenko for inconsistency. Still, Baghdatis should be able to beat Lleyton Hewitt and that should put him in the fourth round against Djokovic. That will be as far as Baghdatis gets because he’s lost both of his matches to Djokovic.

I think Nicolas Kiefer will take out Juan Carlos Ferrero in the first round. Kiefer is one of my two dark horses. He could get to the fourth round because David Nalbandian is having trouble with back spasms. That wouldn’t be shocking because Kiefer got to the semifinals here in 2006. He’d meet David Ferrer and though he beat Ferrer in their only meeting, this time Ferrer should prevail.

I’d love to tell you that Ferrer could beat Djokovic in the quarterfinals but I’d be lying. Djokovic has beaten Ferrer every time they’ve met on hard courts and he beat him in straight sets at last year’s U.S. Open.

Nikolay Davydenko’s Quarter

My second dark horse is Stanislas Wawrinka. I say he beats Davydenko in the third round then loses to Mikhail Youzhny. The big match here is a possible fourth round matchup between Richard Gasquet and Andy Murray. I think one of them gets out of this quarter and into the semifinals. Which one?

This is the toughest match in the draw to call because Gasquet and Murray have similar hard court records. Gasquet has beaten Murray both times they’ve met but that’s not why I’m choosing him. I just think Gasquet is a bit more mature than Murray and is ready to reach the semifinals here.

Rafael Nadal’s Quarter

We’ve been concerned about Nadal’s fragility on hard courts and we saw it again in Chennai two weeks ago. Nadal survived a four hour semifinal with Carlos Moya then suffered a lopsided loss in the final the day after. This doesn’t happen on clay and it doesn’t even happen at Wimbledon. Nadal played seven straight days in Wimbledon last year due to the rain and still got to the final.

Given Nadal’s fragility I didn’t think he’d go far here but now I’ve changed my mind. I was expecting a knock down drag out fight between Moya and Nadal in the fourth round but Moya has bombed out in the first round the last three years. He just beat his first round opponent, Stefan Koubek, in Sydney last week but Koubek won both their hard court matches last year. And Moya lost to his second round opponent, Agustin Calleri, in Sydney.

That leaves Andy Roddick in the top half of Nadal’s quarter. Philipp Kohlschreiber should be Roddick’s third round opponent and I wanted to pick him as one of my dark horses because he just won Auckland. But Roddick takes care of business in slams so let’s look at Roddick versus Nadal in the quarterfinals.

Nadal beat Roddick in the semifinals at Indian Wells last year so I’m going with Nadal to get to the semis.

Australian Open Draw

My Picks

Semifinalists: Roger Federer plays Novak Djokovic, Richard Gasquet plays Rafael Nadal.
Finalists: Federer, Gasquet
Winner: Federer

The answer is no, Federer won’t lose his number one ranking but Nadal may get even closer to the top.

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The Bryan twins won the doubles rubber to clinch a Davis Cup title and there’s still one more day to go.

After Bob Bryan smashed the last volley and saw it bounce high over the heads of Nikolay Davydenko and Igor Andreev, he turned back to his twin brother Mike, spread his arms and beamed in disbelief and joy.

The twins had just clinched the 2007 Davis Cup title for the U.S. and it had been a long time coming. The U.S. had not won a title for 12 years and the Bryans had been dreaming about this moment for their entire lives.

I was so happy that I was actually crying. I can’t help it. I get patriotic. I was happy for Andy Roddick because a Davis Cup title was his dream too and he has absolutely carried this team on his back for the past few years. I was happy for James Blake because he got an unexpected victory over Mikhail Youzhny in what he called the best win of his career.

How could you not be happy for these guys?

The only thing that’s making me unhappy is the wait. The cup won’t be handed out till the last two meaningless matches are played tomorrow evening. And that was the only problem this weekend: the tennis was too one-sided.

There were a few tiebreakers here and there and one four set match but it was all over too soon. No marathon five set matches or 17-15 scores and, really, no doubt about the outcome except for the set Blake dropped and his failure to hold serve to end his match.

The doubles match was interesting if only to see whether a couple of very good singles players could hold their own against the number one doubles team in the world. These days top singles players skip doubles because they don’t need the money. Back when they did need the money, you were likely to find the same players at the top of the singles and doubles rankings.

Would the Bryans be anywhere near as successful if all the top singles players took up doubles again? Yes they would and today we found out why.

Virtually all of the top singles players are baseliners and that goes for Davydenko and Andreev too. And most of the top players serve big. But it was the Bryans who won most of the baseline rallies and as for the serve, Bob Bryan put 27 out of his first 29 first serves into the court. The first set went to a tiebreaker but after that it was no contest.

That could also be said for this year’s Davis Cup final.


Read more about the first day of Davis Cup here and see if our predictions were accurate.

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The U.S. should beat Russia in the Davis Cup final that starts tomorrow in Portland, Oregon but then, the Michigan’s college football team should have beaten Appalachian State and England’s soccer team should have beaten Croatia. But they didn’t.

What could go wrong this weekend in Portland?

Andy Roddick’s back could start hurting again and Mike Bryan would have to play one of the reverse singles matches. Roddick hurt his back in the year end championships.

Mike Bryan’s elbow could start hurting again and James Blake would have to play doubles. The Bryan brothers skipped the year end championships because Mike’s elbow was injured. I thought those guys were going for too many aces with their new Prince rackets. Don’t they know doubles players should focus on getting the first serve in?

James Blake could fail under the pressure of a Davis Cup final and lose both of his matches. He’s lost more than half his Davis Cup singles matches when the outcome of the tie was undecided.

Dmitry Tursunov could rise to the occasion and beat Roddick 17-15 in the fifth set of the decisive match as he did when Russia defeated the U.S. in Davis Cup last year.

Mikhail Youzhny could beat James Blake just like he did in last year’s Davis Cup match with Russia.

Here’s why that won’t happen.

Roddick will have a day off to rest between matches and Davis Cup means the world to him. If he can’t beat Roger Federer and win Wimbledon, at least he can bring home a Davis Cup title.

Mike Bryan’s elbow can make it through one match.

James Blake might lose two matches but Roddick will win both of his singles matches and the Bryan brothers will win doubles so it won’t matter, luckily, what Blake does.

Tursunov beat Roddick on clay last year and it’s a miracle that Roddick even got to a fifth set on clay. On an indoor hard court, he should be fine.

So what if Youzhny beats Blake? Go back two paragraphs and see why that doesn’t matter.

Notice that I haven’t mentioned Nikolay Davydenko. He’s Russia’s top singles player yet he’s scheduled to play doubles. Russia’s top doubles player, Tursunov, is scheduled to play singles.

Davydenko has had a bear of a time since he was implicated in a possible fixed match in August of this year. Former Scotland Yard investigators interviewed his brother and wife on behalf of an ATP investigation into the matter.

The ATP gave Davydenko seven days to submit phone records to the investigators despite the fact that they had little legal standing to do so. Davydenko is so beleaguered that he has agreed to turn the records over. That might be an indication that he is wearing down because it makes little legal sense to turn over such evidence. In the U.S. at least, the ATP should get that information from the phone companies if they are legally entitled to it.

You know what, this has all the ingredients of a huge upset. The pressure is all over the huge favorites while the underdogs feel little or no pressure. This is especially true for the Russians since they’ve won two Davis Cups in the last five years while the U.S. hasn’t won since 1995.

Could happen but probably won’t. Feel free to weigh in and clobber me if I’m wrong. I’d expect nothing less.


Read more about Davydenko’s legal problems: Celebrity Tennis, Gambling, Blow and Poison.

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Which players have the most volatile games and what does it say about them?

Not volatile temper, silly, volatile game. Volatile in the sense that a volatile player will break serve often but will also lose his serve a lot.

I, for one, believe that we are much better off embracing gambling and educating ourselves than bemoaning the trend and pointing fingers. To that end, I’ve been reading gambling advice on Betfair.com’s blog and found an interesting piece about volatility.

Matthew Walton rated all of the ATP players as follows: if the player broke serve or lost his serve, his volatility ranking would increase. If he held serve or failed to break serve, his volatility ranking would go down.

As you can imagine, big servers who don’t move all that well had low volatility rankings. Andy Roddick has the huge serve but he doesn’t break his opponent’s serve that much. Sam Querrey is in there too and so is Benjamin Becker who depends on his serve far too much. That may be why he’s slipped down to number 87 in the rankings. Querrey might want to take note of that and spend a lot more time on the clay developing his sliding skills.

Clay court players, as you’d also expect, since it’s harder to hold serve on clay, are the most volatile and Filippo Volandri is the most volatile of all. He’s already pretty popular with the bettors if you look at the number of suspicious matches his names pops up in but this is one more reason he’s popular and here’s why.

Betfair is a betting exchange. Bettors offer bets to each other rather than making bets with a bookmaker. A betting exchange is also different than the usual betting operation in that you can make bets throughout a match, not just before a match starts.

As Walton points out, there are a lot more mid-match betting opportunities on a match with volatile players than non-volatile players because Roddick and Querrey are in trouble if they lose their serve so the outcome is more predictable. If Volandri loses his serve, no big deal, because he breaks serve a lot too.

Why should you care if you’re not a day trader in the tennis market? The volatility ranking tells us some interesting things. As Walton also points out, if you’re in the middle of the pack it probably means you hold your serve well and break your opponent’s serve, which is a good thing.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are in this group but so, surprisingly, is Ivo Karlovic. You’d think that being 6ft 10in would automatically put him in the “doesn’t move so well” category but apparently it doesn’t and that explains why his ranking has shot up in the latter part of this year.

Two other people in that mid-group are Paul-Henri Mathieu and Marcos Baghdatis and that means one thing: they have the potential to be top players, they just aren’t fulfilling their potential.

I don’t have time to lay down hundreds of bets but I would love to be on Betfair because they stream tennis matches from around the world. I can’t use Betfair, though, because I live in the U.S. and offshore gambling is illegal. If you have a few coins in your piggy bank and you love tennis, it could be worthwhile to set up an account just so you can see tennis matches from Beijing and Bangkok on your computer screen.

Just don’t come complaining to me if you lose your pennies. In other words, if you have any addictive tendencies, stick to the telly.

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Join us for the Tennis Masters Cup final! We’ll be blogging live this Sunday, November 18th, at 9 am (PT)/12 pm (ET).

What to do when a match fixer approaches you and how Roger Federer made it to the semis in Shanghai.

Call 1-800-FIX-MATCH

After Novak Djokovic lost his third match at the Tennis Masters Cup on Thursday, someone in the post-match media session asked him this question:

Q. Let’s say someone approaches you and asks you to lose a match. …what do you think you should do at that moment? Go and say to someone that someone approached you? Would you be afraid to do that because maybe he’s a criminal and he could do some damage to you, to your family?

Djoko was noncommittal in his answer but the question does explain why players never called up the ATP and said: “Hey, this guy just walked up to me and offered me $50, 000 to throw a match.” The players were rightfully careful about pissing off the wrong person.

The ATP rules currently require a player to call the ATP or the police but I’m guessing the ATP won’t get very many calls.

Match of Futility

Speaking of gambling, in the first match on Friday evening in Shanghai, Nikolay Davydenko and Fernando Gonzalez met to see whether Davydenko could knock Gonzo out and therefore pass Roger Federer onto the semifinals.

It was a match of futility. Gonzo injured his right knee and lower back in Paris and that explains why he kept falling down in his loss to Andy Roddick two days ago. He didn’t do much better on Friday, falling down a few more times.

Davydenko couldn’t hit the side of a barn. He had almost twenty unforced errors in the first five games. When you know your opponent is injured, sometimes it takes you out of your game. Davydenko was attacking more than usual because he knew Gonzo was having trouble pushing off on his right knee and it threw his game off.

Gonzo had trouble warming up and Davydenko broke him right away and won the first set with the break. Once Gonzo got going, though, he fought hard. He lasted until the late in the second set when he started to tire. You could tell because he was going for winners on every shot.

Davydenko broke him to go up 5-3 and served out the second set to win the match, 6-4, 6-3.

Practice Match

Since Federer was now through to the semifinals and his Friday night opponent, Andy Roddick, had already qualified for the semifinals, Roddick’s brother John called this a practice match.

Didn’t look much like a practice match. It looked pretty the same as they’re previous ten matches, all of which Federer won. Whereas the match between Davydenko and Gonzo was full of missed shots, break points and deuces, this match was as fast as a speeding bullet. It lasted about half as long.

Federer got 83% of his first serves in and won an incredible 88% of the points on his second serve. Roddick, on the other hand, won only 35% of his second serve points because Federer jumped all over them. This is how bad it was: Roddick didn’t win a point at the net in the first set.

Roddick must have felt like he was being served up for whatever was ailing Federer. It’s been a rough week for Federer. He lost his first match to Gonzo and beat Davydenko in his second match but looked shaky doing it. He hit 38 unforced errors..

One look at Roddick, though, and Federer’s game seems to flow off his racket. Federer’s next opponent, Rafael Nadal, has no chance if Federer plays this well but he won’t play this well because it’s the power players he eats up. Those annoying energizer bunnies make life much harder for him.

Roddick will face his own energizer bunny in David Ferrer. Ferrer is on fire and Roddick has to be a little discouraged. Federer and Ferrer final anyone?


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