x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Born-again Roddick is enjoying life

A year ago the American was at his lowest ebb as a grass court player and he is just happy to be in the final after a disappointing period.

Andy Roddick went to the net 68 times during his semi-final against Andy Murray and said that he 'felt like I was doing the right things and picking the right shots.'
Andy Roddick went to the net 68 times during his semi-final against Andy Murray and said that he 'felt like I was doing the right things and picking the right shots.'

A year ago Andy Roddick was at his lowest ebb as a grass court player. The American, twice a Wimbledon runner-up and four times champion at the neighbouring Queen's Club, had suffered his earliest exit in eight visits to the All England Club at the hands of Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic. That second-round embarrassment left Roddick at the crossroads of his career even though he was only 25 with many good years ahead of him.

"I definitely questioned my future at that point," reflected Roddick after his semi-final victory over Britain's Andy Murray earned him a third final meeting with Roger Federer this afternoon. "These two weeks last year were really hard for me and I was hurting for the rest of the year." After months of soul-searching with his wife Brook, Roddick convinced himself that he was still capable of matching up to the world's best.

"Brook was a big help in persuading me to stick at it," he recalled. "She doesn't know that much about tennis but she told me I was playing great and looked cute in my shorts." A 27th career title came his way in Memphis in February and now he is relishing walking out for his fifth grand slam final with high hopes of adding to the one he won at the US Open six years ago. "You don't get back to a Wimbledon final by accident," he declared. "It certainly is a process. And it's probably been a longer process than I would have liked. But I have enjoyed everything that has gone into it."

Roddick's record against Federer makes painful reading. Only twice in 20 clashes with the Swiss has he emerged victorious. Three of Federer's 18 wins over Roddick have been at Wimbledon, a semi-final passage in 2003 preceding the finals in the next two years. The American has had plenty of opportunities to experiment against Federer, usually without success, and promises another different tactical approach today.

"Well, my plans have been varied in the past but I think maybe now more than ever I can vary it and maybe have some confidence playing out of my element a little bit." Told by the statisticians that he went to the net 68 times during his four-set conquest of Murray, he remarked: "I felt like I was doing the right things and picking the right shots, so that's an encouraging sign." Superbly though Roddick played against Murray to win a match he was expected to lose, he is an even bigger underdog against Federer. The world No 2 has pressed the accelerator pedal during the second week and looked terrific in his quarter-final against Ivo Karlovic and his semi-final against Tommy Haas.

"I know how tough it is going to be," concluded Roddick, hoping that the penetrative serve that was a key to his upsetting Murray falls into place again today. "But I'm excited about this one. I didn't know if I was going get to play a final of Wimbledon again. I'm certainly thankful to have that opportunity." wjohnson@thenational.ae