Monday, July 6

Coming Full Circle on ASD, Wimbledon-style

Tomorrow will mark the one-year anniversary of the Amphibious Sports Duo and perhaps it is fitting that the first post on our blog was about the epic 5 set match last year in the Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. I labeled it the "Marathon Match" because the contest went 9-7 into the final set. The final yesterday between Roger and Andy Roddick ended 16-14 in the 5th set. While many did not get the "best match ever" feel yesterday, you could not deny that this was the longest and the biggest test of endurance. There was no rain delay, no fading light, just two men slamming serve after serve at one another.

I will simply say the following about the historical implications. Roger Federer is the greatest by the numbers as Pete Sampras, who was on hand with wife Veronica Vaughn, Bridgett Wilson, put it better than anyone could when asked by John McEnroe who held the title of best ever. It was great to see players from each era standing together; Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver, Sampras, and Roger. There was mutual respect between them all and there seemed to be an understanding that being the best in your era marked your place in history and that any discussion over who is the best ever is a compelling argument, but not one that has a definite answer.

I have been guilty of criticizing Roddick in the past, and also guilty of deferring to his swimsuit model wife and millions of dollars as comfort for him. But as the match progressed and after Andy fell short, I actually felt bad for him. I am not talking in the grand scheme of things, but simply in the sense of a sports' competitor. Andy deserves all the credit in the world for retooling his game and improving on his weaknesses. He stood toe-to-toe with Roger with his groundstrokes yesterday which is something he had not done in his previous Grand Slam losses to Federer. Even Roger had to be surprised by the level of Roddick's play and it is another tribute to Roger took everything Andy had and still came out on top. Roddick had Roger 15-40 in the 5th set but Roger powered serve after serve to get out of the jam. It reminded me of when Sampras used to do that all the time. After that game Roger never let Roddick get close and by the 30th game, Andy could simply not stay at the level he had been playing. Of course Andy will re-live his bad miss on a backhand volley when he had set-point 6-2 in the second set tiebreaker, but he did bounce back from that to force the 5th set which is another credit to his improvement. I do not see how he recovers from this loss anytime soon, but I hope he attacks the game with the vigor and game planning with which he approached his last two matches.

One thing that has remained constant for Roddick is his entertaining interviews before and after matches. On court, fighting back tears, holding his second place trophy like it was a crumpled paper plate he just used to gobble down BBQ, Andy paid respect to Roger and looked over at the royal box and said, "Sorry, Pete, I tried to hold him off." He turned down the clubhouse interview with McEnroe which I think was wise considering the hug he gave a sullen Federer after last year's final. In the press conference, Andy was slumped over, but answered all the questions truthfully and with his usual wit and snark. "I lost," he said. It was that simple.

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