Thursday, August 6, 2009

August 6, Roddick looking for 500

Greetings tennis fanatics,

It's been a solid three days of tennis at the Legg, and the dog days of summer have been relatively kind to the Americans (get them off that European clay and they don't look half bad, do they?). While the competition has strengthened considerably compared to what it was in Indy and L.A, the young missile firing Americans haven't seemed out of sorts at all.

6'9" John Isner battled back from a one set deficit against No. 7 ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga last night to force a deciding set tie breaker. When the dust settled it wasn't Tsonga, who entered the match at 21-9 in tie breaks on the year, and 46-28 over his career, who got it done. Instead it was Isner (obscure stat alert: Isner now sports a remarkable 7-0 record in deciding set tiebreakers in Washington) who pulled the shocker, and proved once again (like Querrey did against Haas in L.A), that you better watch out for Americans when you are playing them on a hard court in the states.

It's a great win for Isner, the University of Georgia man who many patriotic Americans have very high hopes for. At 6'9" he isn't the best mover on tour, but with his sizzling serve, and his ability to excel under pressure, he surely will find himself higher than No. 80 in the ATP rankings, and probably sooner rather than later.

If mother nature cooperates (showers expected in D.C, with a predicted high of 77 degrees), fans will be treated to a gem of a match between Andy Roddick and Sam Querrey today.

Roddick was imperious in his straight set deconstruction of German Benjamin Becker yesterday, but he'll undoubtedly meet a bit more resistance from Querrey, who just recently became the first American since Andy Roddick to take part in three consecutive ATP finals.

With Mardy Fish already unceremoniously knocked out of the draw, and James Blake incognito, Querrey is looking more and more like the consensus no. 2 American these days.

But all eyes will be on Roddick, our perpetually patriotic bacon-saver, the man who has single handedly kept American men's tennis afloat since the days of Sampras and Agassi. The svelte Nebraskan will try to become the 4th active player to reach the 500 win mark on the ATP tour today. In case your curious, the others are Federer (657), Moya (573), and Hewitt (511).

And the milestone victory opportunity comes at time when Roddick, under the tutelage of Larry Stefanki, just might be playing the best tennis of his career. It has only been a month since Roddick's heartbreaking defeat against the Federer Express (July 5th to be exact) - enough time for him to realize that if he keeps doing what he's been doing this year there could and should be more opportunities to win slams.

Roddick, at 40-9 this season, has showed a level of commitment and intensity that has further endeared him to his loyal fan base. At 26, he appears to be adding layers of tactical prowess to his game. He never looked so good from the baseline in his win over Murray in the Wimbledon Semi's, and the same goes for his epic and heroic defeat at the hands of Federer.

There couldn't be a better time for fans of Roddick to sit back and revel in his sublime accomplishments - when he hits the magic number, whether it be today or next week, the achievement will be accompanied with the burgeoning belief that Roddick is a player once again on the rise. He's no longer content with being (or being considered) a one trick pony, and unlike the disinterested and disgruntled players on tour (Safin, Blake, etc...), Roddick loves the sport enough to want to honor it by being the very best he can be.

Across the net from him today, will be a player who could learn a lot from the type of soldiering that Roddick has been doing in 2009. Querrey, as good as he has been and as good as he can be, could surely benefit from dialing up his determination the way Roddick has.

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