Maybe I jinxed him. Yesterday I praised Andre Agassi to the high heavens and, of course, he loses to Roger Federer.
Federer won the match before he took the court. Agassi has so much respect for Roger’s game that he didn’t play his game. He’s a grinder, he grinds people down. Against Federer, though, he went for winners early in the point and made a lot of errors. Federer did his part before the match by figuring out how to counter Andre’s attack. He knows that Agassi loves to pound the ball to his opponent’s backhand relentlessly. Agassi is such a consistent clean hitter that it works against most opponents. Federer decided to hit a lot of backhands up the line to force Andre to play to his forehand. Why don’t more people do this to Agassi? Try it some time. It’s not easy to hit consistent deep shots down the line over the high part of the net off your backhand.
And the serve. At one point Federer had seventeen aces and Agassi none. Agassi is, I guess now I should say was, the best returner in the sport.
Being the competitor he is, I’m sure Agassi will only stay around if he thinks he can win another major. He might be able to win the French Open but he needs help from others. He can play more tournaments and get a higher ranking. That way he would meet Federer later in the draw and increase the possibility that someone can knock Federer out before Andre sees him. He can hope that Federer fails to improve his clay game. Not very likely. Federer has added the drop shot so he can punish those clay courters who like to hang around way behind the baseline. Worse than that, Agassi lost in the first round at the French last year. It’s not looking good.
Federer. What more can anyone say? I only hope I don’t jinx him too. Federer has won Wimbledon but is intent on adding a net game to his already huge repertoire. Federer’s backhand is supposed to be his weak shot but this week he short hopped balls off the baseline and turned them into passing shots. Who does that? His serve is not the fastest but it’s exceptionally difficult to read and he can pull out aces when his opponent has break points. Pete Sampras with a serious full court game and the ability to make adjustments mid-match. Oy!
Federer is one of those players who force a transition in their sport. Magic Johnson was another. Here was a six foot nine point guard throwing the ball behind his back in traffic then off down the court to lead the break. Now the league is full of seven footers throwing up threes and it’s hard to find centers with good post moves. The Williams sisters ushered in the power game in women’s tennis. The power game from the baseline, that is. Big servers like Andy Roddick like to stay back. If you want to beat Roger, you need power, touch, tactical intelligence and brilliant shot making.
Sony Ericsson is the new sponsor of the WTA Tour. Sports Illustrated reports that there have been discussions about letting coaches sit courtside and showcasing the company’s technology by miking the coaches.
Let’s call it the Roger rule. The male players will look at the WTA Tour and say, “Hey, we want our coaches on the court during the matches too! That might be the only way we can beat Roger.”