IW Match Call Thread: 3/17

Saturday, March 17, 2007 /by

Okay, folks, women's final is on, and I'm still sifting through Murray-Haas-Roddick-Nadal material. Why don't you move the party from the last O/T thread over here: call the women's final and talk amongst yourselves. No television for the Murray-Djokovic match, so I'll report on that for you. I'll be adding an excerpt from the Andy Roddick presser (just concluded)to this post soon. It has some interesting stuff on last night's epic - one of the most memorable matches I've seen in a long time. And I'll have some thoughts on the women's final as well.Rafawins

Excerpt form Roddick presser:

Q.  Did you watch Murray last night (That was me)?
ANDY RODDICK:  I did.

Q.  What did you think (me again)?
ANDY RODDICK:  I mean, I don't know.  It was good TV.  You know, I had a Holyfield fight on ESPN Classic that I had to turn off to watch Murray and Haas.  So it was -- I didn't know what the hell was going on at any time during that whole match.  I was thoroughly confused.

Q.  Is that part of his secret, to thoroughly confuse people (Neil Harman,
The Times of London)?
ANDY RODDICK:  Confuse and conquer?

Q.  (Neil's follow-up) Is that an element to his game?  Is it part of his game to confuse your position and then to beat you?
ANDY RODDICK:  I guess.  I don't know if you -- I mean, I don't know, Neil, you think he goes into -- in the matches saying, "I'm really gonna confuse this guy, and then once I'm down a set and roll around for a while, I'm gonna come out and kick his ass"?  You think that's a planned attack (laughter)?

Q.  (Still Neil, hanging tough!) That aside, part of his strategy is to bamboozle the opposition, something that he does?

NDY RODDICK:  I love your words.

Q.  He does it better than anybody else?

ANDY RODDICK:  Let's not get carried away with "better than anybody else."  I mean that's --

Q.  Better than 75 percent of the players?

ANDY RODDICK:  At least 75 percent, for sure.  I'll give you that.  But, no, he does -- the way he's able to kind of mix it up and, you know, you kind of have trouble getting a read on how he -- he is able to play different ways.  You feel like he's about to die, then he's running like crazy, and then it's, you know -- and so he's tough. I mean, he's tough.  He doesn't go away and he has a lot of shots to -- he definitely makes you think out there.  It's a chess match with him.

Q.  So what were you thinking when he was sitting there having his ankle worked on for seven, eight, nine minutes (Lisa Dillman, Los Angeles Times)?

ANDY RODDICK:  I was actually at dinner thinking, "I hope my steak gets here soon.  I'm hungry."  And then I said -- I remember I was waiting for my food and I was over at the bar watching the TV, while we were waiting for our food, these guys were sitting behind, they were saying, "Oh, he's out for four months."

I said, "I think he'll be running around in about 15 or 20 here."  And I won, yeah (smiling).

Q. (follow-up, unknown)  Is that annoying?
ANDY RODDICK:  Sorry?

Q.  As an opponent, is that annoying?

ANDY RODDICK:  No.  I mean, you look at the replay, he definitely tweaked his ankle a little bit.  A lot of times you don't know how bad it is at first.  There's that shooting pain.  There's a matter of if you can walk it off or not.  Sometimes you can five minutes later and sometimes you can't.  I mean, I'm sure it didn't feel good today, but, you know, you like to give the guy the benefit of the doubt there.

Okay, you all saw the Roddick-Nadal match; there's no need for me to interpret it for your discerning eyes. What struck me is something a comment poster (stand up and take a bow) cited the other day: the Wilanders Roddick shows for trying to improve his game at this stage in his career, and on occasions like a Masters Series semifinals. I broached that subject in the presser:

Q.  Your game seems to be changing right in front of our eyes, basically over the months as you're incorporating different things and trying new things.  Is that -- I mean, so is that match like a barometer for how you're coming along?  Does it make you wonder about what direction you need to take now?

ANDY RODDICK:  No.  I look at it as -- you know, I kind of try to look at it as a process.  If you're telling me, you know, I was two points away from dropping out of the top 20 if I lose that first match in Cincinnati, and now I'm 3 in the world.  I'm losing -- the guys I've lost to this year, Murray, Haas, Federer, Nadal - that's right, right - there's progress being made.  It's a matter of stepping it up to that next level.  I've gotten back to where I feel like I belong, you know, kind of in the spectrum of the game.  And now it's just a matter of finding that next level and improving that much more.
And that's it's easier said than done.  But I'm going the right way.  I'm, you know, even the weeks where I don't feel like I'm hitting the ball great, I'm still getting deep in the tournament.  I'm giving myself a shot.  I just have to keep plugging away.  It happened real fast at first.  It's a matter of trying to maintain that and getting better.  You know, I'm going to keep plugging.

The dominant theme today, I thought, was Rafael Nadal's willingness to step in and go toe-to-toe with Roddick, playing positive, forcing tennis instead of hanging back to see how Andy was going to play things. Roddick didn't serve well enough to win, and that first game of the second set told you all you needed to know: Nadal rocked Roddick and put him on the ropes, 0-40. Roddick served his way out of trouble, but Nadal notched it up and scored the deferred break with a blazing passing shot.

Nadal is playing awfully well, which led Juliet Macur of the New York Times to ask:  Because you're playing so well, would you wish that Roger would be in the finals because you played so well today?

RAFAEL NADAL:  What?  Well, no, no, no.  Seriously, no.  I prefer this one -- anyone, I prefer Djokovic, but anyone gonna be very, very tough match.  But for sure, I don't know in the future, but right now I am not playing against the best of history.

It really is a shame that these posts don't reflect Jet Boy's facial expressions and accent, or the pattern of his speech; he's so charming that he brings a smile to everyone's face, even when he's being deadly serious.

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