Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Summer Journal: What to Learn from Roddick?

I watched a lot of great tennis last week. Loved Roddick's three matches, against Hewitt, Murray and then Federer. 16-14 in the fifth set? Incredible. But as a coach I was watching and noticing many of the little things that Roddick did to enable him to play his best tennis at Wimbledon, and to almost knock off the greatest player ever.

The first thing that I noticed was that Roddick unashamedly used his strength to dominate matches. He's not a huge baseline rally player, but he has a decent forehand and a servicable backhand for a player at that level. But he played so smart with those tools. The serve percentage was incredible, and not only did he swing for aces but also put the ball into the body of his opponents more often than one might expect. And when the point did swing to the baseline, he would wait for his moment to hit a big angled forehand out wide. Backhands? For the most part they were non-descript, just stroked cross-court in anticipation of a short forehand. He played to his strengths and played them well.

What was really impressive? His mentality. I'm used to watching Andy yell and give big "C'mons!" when he's winning. Then I'm also used to watching him slump his shoulders in defeat when he blows an easy point or loses an important one. Where was that this past week? Nowhere to be found. Sometimes, and I say sometimes, the emotions can be used to cover up severe doubt. That was how I thought Roddick used to be. In this tournament, he finally believed. His demeanor was cool and collected, both on the highs and the lows. Not that he didn't show any emotion, or get pumped up. It was just... smaller. Lit fists pumps, knowing nods of his head, smiles, and those type of things showed you that he believed and was in control of himself. You could just feel it.

That seems like a really good place for our team to start: Do what you do well and be self assured about it.

Because even if it doesn't work out like you want it to, you can stand tall and proud like Andy Roddick, despite the setbacks.


  1. I would actually say, after watching most of the Murray match at convention and then the whole Federer match Sunday, that I thought his backhands were pretty good, he sometimes pounded them down the line for winners. But the volleying was really good too.

  2. what i thought roddick considerably improved from previous months is his footwork, credit to larry stefanki. that and confidence is what i thought helped him get so close to a wimby victory. but an incredible final, nonetheless.

  3. I agree with both of you. His backhands were much better and his footwork was incredibly improved. But they were not enough to truly threaten Federer's serve throughout the match. Seriously, if he would have been broken at any point in the rest of the match, it wouldn't have gone five sets. I think that being confident about what his game is allowed him to be confident even with his usual weaknesses. And he's improved the exact things that he needed (specifically footwork) in order to make his game work even better.


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