Greetings Tennis Obsessed,
The news that Andy Roddick isn't fit enough to participate in The Masters Cup came officially yesterday, but things have been headed in that direction since early October, when Roddick made his feelings known about the Ridiculously demanding ATP schedule.
If you've forgotten, I'll remind you: "It's ridiculous that you have a professional sport that doesn't have a legitimate off-season to rest, get healthy, and then train," said Roddick. "We finish around 30 November and then have to be Grand-Slam ready by 4 January, year after year after year."
"I don't think it's coincidental that you see Roger and Murray a little bit hurt now, or Rafa missing four months in the middle of the year, or maybe some odd results from Del Potro and myself last week."
My intentions are not to write another post about the fact that the ATP's season is long. We all know that it's a haul, particularly for the top players, and we've all been hearing about it and talking about it since the U.S. Open concluded in early September.
But while the ATP's player council gives lip service to the idea of actually shortening the schedule (they'd like to figure out how to do that without shortening too many important bank account ledgers), the player's dilemma continues.
And until the issues are resolved it will be up to players like Roddick, who are in their late 20's, to do a very careful job of scheduling their appearances, and managing their health. While it is disappointing that Roddick — a player whose pedigree includes qualifying for The Masters Cup for a seventh time this season — cannot attend, his absence might be the best thing for his health in 2010.
For Roddick, and other players like him, managing a personal schedule has to be a question of priorities. In the past a player like Roddick, who chases the ball around the tennis court like an NFL Linebacker chases slot receivers around the gridiron, might have opted to play hurt just to avoid missing a prestigious and potentially lucrative event like the Barclay's ATP World Tour Finals. But after enjoying a great rest and relaxation propelled run this summer that featured his best ever performance on the Roland Garros Clay followed by his valiant near miss at Wimbledon (they came after a six week layoff that featured his marriage and a whole lot of track work), Roddick knows that the key to his success, at 27 going on 28, will be finding that ever elusive sweet spot that will enable him to be both well rested and warmed up.
In other words, Andy's not keen on heading to Australia on a bum knee, mate.
While it would have been great to see the svelte Nebraskan represent America across the pond next week, I think it is even greater that Roddick is getting the chance to experience a legitimate off-season.
A big part of winning at 27 and beyond for Roddick will rest on his ability to channel the immense wisdom that he has gained from being on the tour for so long, and from knowing what it takes to find his best form at the times when it really matters - the Grand-Slams.
Roddick was oh-so-close to bringing home that coveted 2nd Grand-Slam this summer. His ace in the hole was his fitness, which was probably as good this year as it has ever been. By making a prudent decision to skip the Masters Cup, Roddick keeps his ace in the hole.
By giving himself the off-season that every player so badly needs to build a base of fitness to pull them through during the arduous months on the ATP tour, Roddick may have just turned the ATP's curse into his own personal blessing.