Roddick Crashes Out and other stories

Jun 29, 2010

It was a shock seeing last year’s finalist Andy Roddick come a cropper in a tournament many had pipped him to win, and if not win at least a final or semi-final place. But he came unstuck against Taiwanese Yen-Hsun Lu. Unseeded, and ranked world number 82, Lu gave the performance of his life to get past the former finalist.

It wasn’t until the last few games of the fifth set that you could truly believe Lu could win. Andy Roddick is good at five setters, and Lu had never played in a fourth round match before; more than that he had never been pass the second round at Wimbledon in any of his six appearances at the grand slam. So the odds appeared stacked against him; particularly with a man as fit and formidable as Roddick. He had fallen short at Queens, but this was his chance to get back to where he had failed last year and this time come out the triumphant one. Even discounting last year’s final performance, Roddick’s playing history shows a comfort level at Wimbledon that certainly surpassed Lu’s.

Whatever it was –  whether comfort level, pressure, skill, fitness, a better game plan –  Lu did what many was thought the impossible and knocked Roddick from his beloved tournament. The first set was won comfortably by Roddick, but Lu went on to take the next two sets in two very tense tie-breaks. The nerves of a possible victory in the fourth set appeared to rattle Lu’s game, and he was unable to send Roddick home just yet. It took a very close fifth set, where Lu saved break points and held his serve admirably, to give him his final chance to beat Roddick; all he had to do was inject that little bit of flair that would break Roddick’s service game. In what was to be the final game of the match, Lu eventually found that extra gear. Still, it seemed almost ridiculous to scoff Roddick’s chances even at match point. Roddick was playing against an unseeded man at a tournament he had done so well in for so many years. But Lu’s hunger just appeared deeper than the American’s, and it showed when he executed a master class passing shot and celebrated his victory. His supporters in the player’s box looked almost more excited than he did. Lu becomes the first Asian man to make a quarter final of a Grand Slam since Japan’s Shuzo Matsuoka did it in 1995 (where he was eventually defeated by Pete Sampras).

So, it’s end of SW19 for Andy Roddick. Surprised? I can’t help but be. With Nadal in mean form and Federer being, well, Federer, it didn’t seem a given that Roddick would win the tournament or get into the finals. But many thought that he would put on a better show than he did yesterday. Where was the tenacity that showed in the 2009 final? He seemed stilted, slow, his play felt laboured. Only Roddick will know the reasons he went out in such a style, but we are left wondering what the end of the tournament will look like with the quarter finals set up as they are.

Tomas Berdych will definitely be one to look out for; after a superb performance this year at the French Open, he beat the unseeded German Daniel Brands 4-6 7-6 (7-1) 7-5 6-3. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is blasting his way through the tournament too, and will come up against Andy Murray after beating fellow Frenchman Julian Benneteau. Novak Djokovic appeared not only back on form, but back to his old ways from a few years ago, beating Lleyton Hewitt 7-5 6-4 3-6 6-4; he came through the pressure from the 2002 champion to eventually prevail, and in true Djokovic style he ripped his shirt right off in celebration. Showboating? Maybe. But frankly I’m not going to complain if he wants to make this a regular thing, or even if other players want to get involved in that kind of trend. Djokovic worried his fans a little when, at 80 minutes into the game, he called on the doctor and took some medication for feeling sick. But he seemed relaxed in his post-match interview and put the sickness down to a stomach muscle problem, not a bug or something he ate. Hewitt couldn’t help get a little dig in about the reputation Djokovic has for suffering from various ailments, but the Serb didn’t seem too bothered by the remark. Soderling is also cruising pretty comfortably through Wimbledon, although now he has dropped a set. Although this was his first real test (against David Ferrer), he came through it with some real positives 6-2 5-7 6-2 3-6 7-5.

After Britain went crashing out of the World Cup in fine style on Sunday, the country’s fervent patriotism will now be turning back to Andy Murray. He seemed untroubled by heads turning back to his progress when he beat Sam Querrey, but now the expectations will be once again notching up. If England had stayed competing in South Africa, Murray could have cruised much further than normal without many people noticing; unfortunately the England team are back on British soil and Andy Murray has the stifling British attention focused solely back on him. Good luck with it Andy, if you harness it well enough it could be your year; misuse it and you could just have another disappointing repeat. As a little side note, I promise to never mention the football again. I’m amazed that I’ve mentioned it twice already in this tournament, considering the frustration I harbour at the BBC’s coverage of Wimbledon continual discussion of the football (don’t cross pollinate your sports, BBC, it simply undermines your commitment to each as individuals), but I promise it will not happen again. If it does, feel free to give me a red card.

The women’s quarter finals are currently under way, and I shall be back later on to report on whether Clijsters made it through, every stage taking her closer to a title at SW19.

- Sophie G

Written by: SophieG

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