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Roddick still has to win another major

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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Indeed, Andy Roddick has been playing some fine tennis in the early part of 2008, but before he gets anyone's undivided attention, the one-hit wonder must win another Grand Slam title to jump back into the true upper echelon of the men's game.

Sure, the world No. 6 Roddick has captured two of his last four tournaments, including a sexy title in Dubai, where the world's top three stars were all on hand. The surprising Roddick stunned No. 2 Rafael Nadal and No. 3 Novak Djokovic, both in straight sets, in order to reach the final in Dubai, where the American strongman handled Spaniard Feliciano Lopez in an anti-climactic finale in the desert. Top-seeded Roger Federer exited the event in the first round, as he was stunned by ever-improving Brit Andy Murray.

It also came to light in Dubai that Roddick recently separated with his coach, the legendary Jimmy Connors. Roddick and Connors started working together in July of 2006, which means their brief partnership stretched just beyond the year-and-a-half mark. When Roddick beat Nadal and Djokovic in Dubai, he had already parted ways with Connors a week earlier. So much for having a "coach." Roddick is currently being "coached" by his older brother John, who was an All-American player at the University of Georgia from 1996-98. Team Roddick also includes former ATP trainer Doug Spreen.

Two weeks before his assault on Dubai, Roddick took a title in San Jose, which culminated with a championship match victory over gritty Czech Radek Stepanek. The win gave the massive-serving star his third San Jose title.

Andy Roddick
Andy Roddick's lone Grand Slam title came at the 2003 U.S. Open.
But the fact of the matter is that the nine-year-pro hasn't produced a major title in almost five years. He captured the 2003 U.S. Open as a 21-year- old, to mark his lone Grand Slam title to date. Since then, we've seen the emergence of the great Federer, Nadal and, more recently, Djokovic. Federer currently holds the Wimbledon (five straight) and U.S. Open (four in a row) titles, while Nadal is the reigning French Open champion (three years running) and Djokovic is the Aussie Open king. Roddick's current title-less streak at the majors is 17, and it's sure to strike 18 in Paris in the next few months, as he is all but allergic to red clay. Roddick has never advanced beyond the third round at Roland Garros, and that third-round appearance came back in 2001. The best he's done at the French since '01 is the second round.

Yes, he'll have a shot at Wimbledon, where he's a two-time runner-up to Federer (2004-05), but all indicators point toward a Fed six-peat at the All England Club. And it's Nadal, not Roddick, who is the current two-time runner- up at Wimby. That's really bad news for Roddick, who, of course, is supposed to excel on grass, while Nadal is only supposed to be near-unbeatable (which he is) on clay.

And, it's Djokovic, not Federer or Nadal, who is the only player to have performed in the last two major finals. The super Serb lost to the Fed in last year's U.S. Open title bout, and beat talented Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in January's Aussie Open finale. Djokovic straight-setted Federer in the semis in Melbourne, where it is believed the supreme Swiss was suffering with mono at the time. Apparently Federer was at the tail end of the mono ailment when he succumbed to Murray in Dubai.

The 6-foot-2 former world No. 1 Roddick was a furious 15-2 this season before he lost to capable German Tommy Haas in his opening match this week at the Pacific Life Open, the first ATP Masters Series event of the year. And despite the quality 15-3 start to his latest campaign, Roddick was a very disappointing third-round loser at the Aussie Open, where he gave way to decent German Philipp Kohlschreiber in a dramatic five-setter.

The 25-year-old Roddick did, however, help lead the United States past the host Austrians in a first-round Davis Cup tie last month, and helped the Americans capture their first Davis Cup title in 12 years in Portland, versus the defending champion Russians, back in December. Still, this is not Grand Slam action, which, unfortunately for him, is all anyone seems to remember.

That could be the reason Roddick has elected not to participate in the '08 Summer Games, as he will skip Beijing in order to play a U.S. Open tune-up event in Washington, D.C.

The Omaha, Nebraska native/Austin, Texas resident Roddick owns 25 career ATP titles and has earned more than $13.725 million on tennis courts worldwide (which does not include millions of dollars in endorsement money from the likes of Rolex, Lexus, American Express, SAP AG, Lacoste and Babolat), but if he truly wants to be considered one of the greats, he's going to have to start beating Federer (doubtful) and add to his major hardware (questionable). For the record, Roddick is 1-15 lifetime versus the Fed, including losses in their last 11 encounters. The American is, however, 2-2 all-time against Nadal and 1-1 versus Djokovic.

The four-time Grand Slam finalist Roddick trails Russian Nikolay Davydenko and Spaniard David Ferrer in the current rankings, and Argentine David Nalbandian is hot on his trail.

FYI, "A-Rod" holds the record for the fastest serve ever recorded, at 155 miles per hour. He's broken his own record on three occasions.

Is Roddick overrated...underrated...neither...both? I guess only time will tell. But does it really matter?

The point is that he still has some work to do.

Ace or double fault? Send your comments to Scott Riley at sriley@sportsnetwork.com.
Scott Riley


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