Sunday, July 05, 2009
You guys, that Wimbledon final pretty much broke my heart. The idea of seeing Andy Roddick playing quite literally the best match he has ever played in his entire life, not once dropping serve until the very end, coming up with gut check after gut check and still coming up short -- it just killed me. After he blew that second set tiebreaker, I totally though he was going to fall apart, since that had pretty much been the pattern in every other major match against Federer he's ever played. He'd been blown off the court and made to look foolish in those other matches. But even battling to that tiebreak in the third showed this was a different, tougher, better Roddick. For the first time, he played like Roger Federer's equal. And even though he lost, he played well enough to win, for whatever that's worth. Not much, of course -- playing the best match of your life, and hanging in when any mortal would have fallen apart doesn't get remembered for as long as you'd like it to. (Ask Aaron Krickstein, Alex Corretja, or Elena Dementieva. Exactly.)
I know there seems to be this view of Roddick in some circles as an underachiever, or even a brat. I somewhat understand the former -- though the evidence seems pretty clear at this point that Federer (and Nadal too, really) is simply better than Roddick, so I'm not sure if Andy's unerachieving or simply failing to OVERachieve -- and completely don't get the latter. He's always impressed me as a good-humored, if intense, guy who is unflaggingly honest about his own faults. Overhyped by the American ad machine, sure, but that's both unavoidable and not his fault.
(Of course, I admit I view Andy through a more favorable prism: While his friendly heckle during Roger's victory speech seemed good-natured, to me, Roger's John McEnroe interview, where he said that it was too bad the crowd wasn't more fully psyched for him due to their support for Andy's effort, totally annoyed me. I'll own my bias.)
Anyway, a fantastic match that would have rivaled last year's (justly) ballyhooed Rafa-Roger final if it had only ended better. There's poignance in defeat, sure, but winning's more fun.