Yes, it’s true. I, Freakyfrites, self-described Fedophile, worshiper of all things Roger and frequent flier on the Federer Express, am miffed that my hero beat Andy Roddick Wednesday night in the quarterfinals of the Sony Ericsson Open. Before you call me a turn coat, consider this:
Federer is to Roddick what Nadal is to Federer. Roger’s win record against the Spaniard (6 of 19) isn’t as abysmal as Roddick’s is against him (2 of 19), but it seems equally insurmountable. In fact, Roddick’s beaten Roger more recently (Miami, 2008) than Roger’s beaten Nadal (Shanghai, 2007.)
And Roddick, unlike Roger, has done anything and everything possible to improve his performance against his nemesis. Since losing that heart-breaker Wimbledon final to Federer in 2004, Andy’s partnered with a series of top tier coaches – Brad Gilbert, Dean Goldfine, Jimmy Connors and now, Larry Stefanki. They’ve worked hard on his weaknesses – his backhand and net game – as well as on strengths like his serve and forehand. Now Roddick’s working on his foot speed and mobility – famously losing 15 pounds at the start of this season at the directive of his new coach.
And after all this effort, Andy Roddick still hasn’t found a way to beat Roger Federer.
Why? Because of the mental trauma he’s sustained from losing repeatedly to Federer. No matter that Andy’s put in the hard work and made progress with his game (look at his impressive Rd. of 16 win against Monfils this week for proof) – when he plays Roger, he reverts to old patterns. He feels the pressure of Roger’s return, approaches the net on Roger’s forehand, and can’t maintain a high enough level to threaten Roger’s service games. Or maybe it’s just a bad match-up for him.
It makes me wonder if there’s anything Roger Federer can do to improve his record against Nadal.
Yes, the margins are smaller for Federer – he and Rafa have played many more tight matches than he’s ever had against Roddick – but Roger’s been slow to make any major changes or adjustments to his game. He claims that he “doesn’t work on weaknesses” (click here) and that he doesn’t need a super-coach to help him beat Rafa (click here). His continued dominance over the new-and-improved Roddick won’t convince him that he’s wrong.
I find some comfort in Novak Djokovic’s quarterfinal victory over my other favorite, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Novak’s suffered a similar losing record to Tsonga as Roger has to Andy Murray this year, so it’s encouraging to see that losing streaks can be reversed. And now I won’t have to root against Tsonga in the semis.
That said, I do hope Federer creams Djokovic in the semis, and proves me utterly, stupidly wrong by taking home the trophy. Go Rog!
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