Larry Stefanki

Isner and Mattek-Sands (above), champions at Hopman Cup in Perth.

Roger had a little trouble with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Doha semi, who seems to come to Australia and always play his best tennis.  Tsonga, a big man, really capitalizes on the two month break and is always at his best when he’s fresh.  Sure Roger won the first set easily, and had to take the second in a breaker 6-3, 7-6 (3), but Tsonga has the game to challenge Federer, though that challenge was only slight yesterday as Federer continues in fine form.  The great man was again barely challenged this morning in Federer/Davydenko XVII.  Davydenko, who dusted world #1 Rafael Nadal in straights Friday, got dusted by the great man for the 15th time in 17 encounters, 6-3, 6-4 in little over an hour.

And we’re gonna take a sec to toot our own horn here, because in last month’s piece about Roger and Venus, we mentioned the fact that a healthy Davydenko is a bad matchup for Rafa, and well, what we saw in our crystal ball came to pass some 6 or 7 days later.  But this is primarily about Roger, of course.  The great man takes his 67th ATP tournament victory in his 95th finals appearance.  Those numbers are a testament to Roger’s brilliance and consistency over time.  Federer has been serving lights out on the Plexicushion, only broken once so far in 42 service games leading up to the final.  Today Federer won a staggering 40/51 points on serve, and faced no break points.

This is not to say that Davydenko did not play well.  He played to a very high level, but could never mount an offensive against Rog, who we will repeat, appears in his finest form since 2006.  With more results in and more time to analyze, it would appear that Paul Annacone has focused on Roger’s serve, and impressed upon him the absolute necessity in holding serve.  We haven’t seen Federer throw in more than 2-3 bad service games since October, and he dominated Nadal on the strength of his serve, and agressive first strike tennis at the YEC in London to end the year.

Next stop for Fed is likely the Kooyong Classic, a well run Melbourne exo where Roger and a few other big names usually get 2 or 3 matches in.  Remember a few years back that Federer lost to Roddick at Kooyong, and then demolished him in the AO semi-final, as the great man obviously keeps a few tricks in the bag until he hits Rod Laver.  Andy Murray is also expected to show up at Kooyong, and it could be interesting to see Roger playing coy with the other Andy there.  Speaking of Murray, the lad completely out-classed Giant John Isner in the men’s portion of the final B tie at Hopman.  But thankfully, Bethanie Mattek-Sands had already clinched the Americans spot in the final with a trouncing of teen Laura Robson.  As for Isner, he only managed 2 paltry aces versus Murray, who set the tone in the match’s first game with an easy break of Isner’s serve.  The Isner serve, gigantic in terms of MPH, was no problem for the quick reflexes of Murray, who dialed in to Isner’s serve very easily, and on some returns, took the ball close to 2 meters inside the baseline and struck 1st ball return winners.  We aren’t quick to praise Murray who we despise for his passive style, but as Fred Stolle remarked, Murray delivered quite a wakeup call to Isner, and illustrated vividly the difference between world’s #4 and 19.  If Isner doesn’t play aggressive first strike tennis on the Plexicushion, which is a hard surface to hit through on, he has zero chance.  Murray moved the ball around, and the lumbering Isner was the one on the defensive.  Murray tired Isner out with side to side rallies, and executed several almost perfect drop shots that left Isner frozen in time.

In the end, no cause for alarm for the Americans, who faced Belgium unexpectedly in the final, because the group A leaders, Serbia, had to drop out of contention due to an aggravated stomach muscle suffered by Ana Ivanovic.  There are no injury replacements permitted in the Hopman Cup.  Though Henin gave quite a lesson to Mattek-Sands in the first match of the tie, clinically dispatching her, Isner shook off the loss to Murray quite nicely in defeating Belgian youngster Ruben Bemelmans.  As is often so fascinating with Hopman Cup, the tie came down to the mixed portion, where you have Giant John Isner serving to one of the greats, Justine Henin, giving away a foot and a half to the American.  Unlike Serena, who has carried the US to several Hopman Cup titles, the best female could not elevate her squad to victory this morning.  Isner and Mattek-Sands defeated the Belgian team, and we are very hopeful that they will remain paired and take a run at the mixed title in Melbourne, where the AO begins in 8 days.

In Brisbane this morning, Andy Roddick overcame a loose second set and a very powerful opponent with a big serve, South African 24 year old Kevin Anderson, who played his college ball at the University of Illinois in Champagne.  We have seen the poor returning Roddick have big difficulty with big servers, notably John Isner in the round of 16 at the USO, and of course Roger Federer.  Anderson served big, and kept Roddick off balance with his pace, which prevented Roddick from taking control at the net.  In the 3rd set, Roddick made an important adjustment, following slice backhands in, which travel slowly and give him the time to set his feet at net.  Good to see from Roddick, who doesn’t always have a strong plan B.  Roddick took out Anderson in 3 sets, and played the majority of the big points better than his opponent.  Roddick looks to be in great physical condition, and may have dropped a few pounds.  As the match wore on, he seemed like the guy better able to be at war, while fatigue seemed to creep in for the young Anderson.  Dandy Andy will take on Robin Soderling in the final tomorrow (Soderling easily straighted Radek Stepanek earlier), and we love Soderling’s game over the past few years, and figure he will be favored going in.  We’ll pull for Roddick, but we are figuring on Soderling having too much pace and being too aggressive for the safer Roddick to stay with.

By the way, our woman Brooklyn Decker was looking very casual next to Roddick’s ace coach, Larry Stefanki, in the player’s box.  We also well await the Decker/Jenni Mostrom matchup tomorrow morning.

Crack (,

A listless former US Open Singles Champion (2003) Andy Roddick, perhaps still suffering the effects of mono, but garnering no extra motivation from the night session crowd which was desperately pulling for him, won the first set in his second round match on Ashe last night, 6-3, before a swing in momentum that saw him blitzed by Janko Tipsarevic, the world’s # 44 and a talented Serbian who lives for the big stage.  Tipsarevic, the 26 year old Serb with the techno look, marked by his trademark crackhead glasses, became known to most tennis fans in 2008 when he had world #1, Roger Federer, looking to defend his 2007 Australian title, on the ropes in round 3, and had led Roger 2 sets to one before finally losing an extended epic fifth set 10-8.

Ironically, Tipsarevic upset Andy Roddick that year at Wimbledon in similar fashion to last night.  It was a second round matchup that Roddick might have looked past, but the Serbian was ready, and beat Dandy Andy with an identical scoreline to last night–after dropping the first set.  That year at Wimbledon Tipsarevic parlayed his 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (4) over Roddick into a 2nd straight round of 16 appearance at Wimbledon, his best showing to date at a major championship.

Last night, Roddick played into the big hiting Serbian’s hands by leaving too many short balls around the court, and by mustering virtually nothing on Tipsarevic’s serve.  Roddick only created 5 break chances for himself, and only broke Tipsy twice, while Tipsarevic broke Roddick 3 times in 11 opportunities and virtually matched Roddick’s ace count (Tipsarevic struck 16 aces to Roddick’s 17).  But the Serbian, playing the important moments much better than the struggling American, won 63 % of his 51 second serves–ample opportunities for Roddick to get out of his own way.

Tipsarevic seemed to relish Roddick’s safe style, and dictated from the baseline while flashing quick hands at net.  Tipsarevic struck 66 winners in the match to Roddick’s 40, and Tipsy was sharp at net, while Roddick looked lost up there, losing key exchanges at net which clinched the third set and then the fourth for Tipsarevic, who was by far the better player last night.

While Roddick flashed the style of play on hards at Indian Wells and Key Biscayne that make him a contender at any hardcourt major, he has not been able to translate that play into success at Wimbledon or during the summer season this year, making one question, at this point, how much help ace coach Larry Stefanki has been of late to Roddick.  If Stefanki can’t help, I’m not sure anyone can, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Roddick end up with good friend Mardy Fish’s coach, South African David Nainken, who has done a fantastic job with Americans Fish and Sam Querrey.  Fish and Roddick already spend a lot of time training together, and have done so for years (Fish, the Minnesota native, lived with Roddick’s family during high school so that he could play tennis in a better tennis climate). 

Roddick, known in his youth as a player with a scary serve and a huge forehand, has played too tentatively, and has been consistently out-winnered in big matches.  His big forehand has been nowhere to be found, and too often, Andy cracks a big serve, and still loses control of the point because he doesn’t do enough with the first ball after the return.  His net play, which Stefanki seemed to improve, now seems to have reverted, and Roddick seems loathe to pull the trigger on a backhand, which has become even more of a safe, short, defensive ball for his opponents to tee off on.

Here are the match stats from last night:

     Tipsarevic(SRB)   Roddick(USA)
  1st Serve %
72 of 123 = 59 %
78 of 119 = 66 %
  Double Faults
  Unforced Errors
  Winning % on 1st Serve
58 of 72 = 81 %
61 of 78 = 78 %
  Winning % on 2nd Serve
32 of 51 = 63 %
22 of 41 = 54 %
  Receiving Points Won
36 of 119 = 30 %
33 of 123 = 27 %
  Break Point Conversions
3 of 11 = 27 %
2 of 5 = 40 %
  Net Approaches
17 of 26 = 65 %
22 of 37 = 59 %
  Total Points Won
  Fastest Serve Speed
130 MPH
142 MPH
  Average 1st Serve Speed
114 MPH
126 MPH
  Average 2nd Serve Speed
85 MPH
104 MPH

For Roddick, the American has got to find away to get his feet moving again–what we feel is part of the reason for his poor net play and awful return of serve–perhaps the worst return game of any top player.  It must be a disappointing 28th birthday for Roddick, who also cut down early at last year’s Open, in the 3rd round by American Giant John Isner.  As for Tipsarevic who played his spoiler role to a tee, he will face Frenchman Gael Monfils in the 3rd round, and by knocking off Roddick, has knicked off line possible All-American quarterfinal matchups between good buddies Roddick and Blake and Roddick and Fish.

We couldn’t help noticing last night, and in general, how encumbered Roddick seemed by his two handed backhand, which produced virtually no winners, and left far too many balls in the impressive Serbian’s strike zone.  3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (4) win for Tipsarevic in 3 hours and 18 minutes.  Ironically, it is Tipsarevic, with 39 aces, who leads the tournament in aces so far.

–Crack (,

Current back to back Rogers Cup champion and pride of Britain, Andy Murray (above).

Last weekend, amid a semi-raucous bachelor party, your loyal scribe still made time for some definite appointment television: Saturday evening from Toronto, it was the 15th career meeting between the legend and the lame–Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, and then Sunday at 3 PM, after Roger had taken care of his business from the night before, it was the Australian Open rematch from this year, in a best of 3 set format live from Toronto between Roger Federer and Andy Murray.

That major final–and that major in its entirety for that matter–was the last time we saw Federer move with the surgical precision of a highly artistic grim reaper, completely dusting Nikolay Davydenko in a quarter-final matchup in which Federer won an incredible 14 straight games, after dropping the first set, a winning run that stretched on into a 2nd hour.

Roger then held a clinic in the semi-finals, abusing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets, and going deep into the bag of tricks while doing so, pulling out the lob volley and the drop shot serve return, on his way to a date in the finals with Andy Murray and an inevitable 16th major championship and 4th Australian title, jumping on Murray early in a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (11) straight set whipping that left Murray in tears.  You remember Murray’s classic loser’s speech (below) in which he declared that he “can cry like Roger, I just can’t play like him.”

Murray, who we are intensely critical of here in this space (we don’t like players who wait around for errors; we like players who take the initiative), suffered a heart breaking 4 set loss with the weight of the British Isles on his shoulders in the semi-finals of Wimbledon 09 to American Andy Roddick, then made a big deal of telling the world that there was too much pressure on him at Wimbledon, and that he’d train harder than ever for the major where he felt he had the best chance, the quick hardcourts of Flushing.  Several weeks of interviews and ESPN commercials later that showed Andy Murray doing situps with a medicine ball and training in the hot Miami sun–and talking about how great he is–and then Murray posts a big win over arch rival Juan Martin Del Potro in Montreal, and the next thing you know, this kid is telling the cameras of his personal rankings computations and how if he wins Cincinnati and The Open, he takes over the top ranking on the computer.

Federer, panned for dropping so many best of 3 set matches to Murray in his career (2-6 vs. Murray until then with all the losses coming in best of 3’s), must have been watching ESPN with a healthy distaste for the British media darling.  He jumped on Murray in the finals at Cincy, took the 1st set off the kid in 17 minutes which left him reeling, on his way to a 6-2, 7-6 (8) victory that assured Federer of the top spot for months to come.  Murray then came out in the round of 16 at The Open, took a big serving, ball crushing opponent like Marin Cilic lightly, and the big man dusted Murray 7-5, 6-2, 6-2, ending Murray’s 2009 quest for a major title, and rendering his year a grave disappointment, despite his 6 titles during the calendar year that led all players on the tour. 

Murray had regressed, had struck out at his self proclaimed best major, and had let down his major hungry nation and fanbase.  For a good player who had become a big endorsement machine, and who had a lot of considerable, albeit, lesser hardware in his trophy case, Murray got smoked in the 3 spots where he was racked with the most pressure and expectations: Wimbledon, the home major, Cincinnati, the first step in his plan to steal the # 1 ranking, and the US Open, the major that Murray basically announced would have his name on the trophy.  And to add insult to injury, one time prospective coach and current Roddick coach, Larry Stefanki, ripped Murray after Wimbledon for his gutless, passive style.  Recall that Murray had once had his camp ask Stefanki if he’d coach Murray, and Stefanki replied by telling Murray’s people to have the kid call him.  Murray never called, and Stefanki perceived the non call as diva like behavior from the kid.  Stefanki ended up coaching Chilean one handed star, Fernando Gonzalez, who despite not having english mastered, did call Stefanki personally, before eventually winding up in Roddick’s box.

Sunday’s showdown between Federer and Murray marked their first meeting since Oz, featured Federer on a court more favorable to his game (43 out of 62 of Roger’s titles have come on hards) despite it suiting Murray well too, saw Federer in pursuit of his first title since Australia, and Murray in pursuit of his first title of the year of any sort, and featured Federer as the all time leader in career masters series match wins–a lot of buzz for a Masters Series final.

The matchup meant that Roger had put in his best week of tennis since Australia, not coincidentally in his first week on tour with new coach Paul Annacone, with gutsy 3 set wins over rising nemesis Tomas Berdych and rival Novak Djokovic, whom Federer blitzed 6-1 in the first set, but who looked a lot more stout an hour later when he seemed to be cracking backhand winners at will, and serving well.  From mid second set when Djokovic won back a break until the middle of the 3rd set, Djokovic played the more solid tennis, made fewer errors, and seemed to punish every short ball Federer gave him a look at.  And I said to my buddy, “Fed’s done.”

Not so fast.  It only took a few shaky serves from the Djoker for Roger to get way out in front in the 3rd game of the 3rd set, and a tired looking Roger seemed to transport himself back to Federer circa 2006, dialing up the trademark run around forehand at will until Federer had set up a Sunday date with Murray.  I went out that night aglow, I admit, with thoughts of Roger Federer returning to dominance on hardcourts against Murray the next day, in Cincy like fashion.  Yes, Roger would return to tournament winning tennis by taking his 3rd Rogers Cup, with new coach–the perfect attacking style coach for Federer, former Sampras’ coach Paul Annacone, sitting bemused in the box next to Mirka.

A thousand words plus and we are barely to the actual match.  Enjoy these volumes if you are one to, because you probably won’t see another write-up of the sort on tennis for some time out of me, with many vacations coming up and a few weekend weddings on the slate.

Then the match started.  I told my boy that I expected–no, I knew that Roger would win, that Roger probably already had the kid psyched out, and I expected to see the Cincy 09 final repeated.  Roger would jump all over Murray early, the way he did in 08 at the Open and in 2010 in Australia, and of course, last year in Ohio.  The way he jumped on Djokovic the night before, who, by the way, had a very notable supporter in the stands–world # 1 Rafael Nadal, who came out to watch Fed/Djoker XV in a pink Polo shirt a few hours after Murray straighted him.  Perhaps Fed/Djoker really piqued the Spaniard’s interest, perhaps Nadal was being a good teammate to Djokovic, who was his doubles partner that week.  At any rate, I thought it was a very classy move on Nadal’s part to take in the match as a spectator, especially after suffering a tough loss a few hours prior.

My big Federer hypothesis held up for all of 1 point on Sunday.  Federer, with serve, stepped up and passed Murray to take the first point.  But on the 30-15 point, in a long baseline rally, Murray kicked the ball up high to Federer’s backhand–the Rafa play–and forced the error.  Fed played tight on the next two points, and Murray seemed to play way more aggressively than normal, perhaps with Larry Stefanki’s harsh sentiments echoing in his ears, or perhaps as a result of the watchful eye of Judy Murray, the mother and sometimes coach of Andy Murray, who we assume had her duties expanded when Murray fired coach Miles Maclagan.

A look to the player’s box revealed that Annacone was not present coaching Federer for the Murray match, an ominous sign for Federer.  But Annacone was prevented from being in the box by a conflict of interest, as his responsibilities to the British LTA have not yet been totally severed, so the man on the scene who knew best about Murray’s game, having coached him for 2 years in Davis Cup, could not actually be on the scene.

Murray jumped out to a 3-love edge, breaking Federer again in Roger’s next service game, and Brad Gilbert pointed out that Roger was tight, and worn out from two hard fought 3 set night matches in a row.  Federer broke back to reclaim 1 of the breaks to get to 3-1, and then capitalized as Murray served for the set at 5-4, and threw in a shaky game, as Murray has always been notoriously bad at closing out sets on serve.  Federer got to 5-5, and very importantly, began to flash the footwork, hitting his first backhand winner on a lightning strike of a pass in the crucial 5-4 break back game.  I felt like Roger was getting it together, but then Federer comes out loose in the 5-5 game on his serve, but down break point Roger smashed a high backhand volley winner, and then he comes in for a touch volley to go up the ad, before wasting a few first serves, then going down another break point on a classic rally point, and then giving up the break before Murray quickly served out the set.

It was a bleak set for Roger, who only came up with 4 winners, total.  When Roger loses the first set to a guy like Murray, who you know is going to fight hard for every point, the doubt begins to creep in about Roger’s ability to take two difficult sets after dropping a hard one.  So it was.  Murray won an early break to go up 3-1, and then the rains came.  Roger would get it back to 5-5 after a rain delay, but ended up dropping the match to Murray, who took his first title of the year, a few weeks after losing in exciting fashion to American Sam Querrey at the Farmers Classic, where Murray was a late entrant wildcard, the top seed and a prohibitive favorite.

Sunday, despite my good feelings coming into the match, was a bleak day for Roger in an otherwise good week.  Murray proved to be the better conditioned player, and the better mover on hardcourts right now, and in watching the match, I marveled at how he hadn’t won a title this year, despite his no guts style.  Though I am no Murray fan and never will be, I find myself empathizing with his plight–the awkward kid with the domineering mom who cried like a baby in Melbourne at the trophy presentation.  The kid who takes out Nadal for Roger, and who just wants to play video games sometimes, who has the weight of a nation’s major tennis hopes squarely on his shoulders.

What about his mom?  Good tennis fans would know that many of the players who Murray came up with do not like his mom, and notably, US Open Champion Juan Martin Del Potro has had heated arguments with both Murray and his mother, on court and in the locker room, stemming from Murray’s mom’s propensity to cheer too loudly during matches.

As for Roger, I’m going to stick with a my time honored philosophy of not getting too crazy about results in the Masters Series.  As gratifying a win as Federer’s was for me last year in Cincy, it would have been much better had he lost in Cincinnati and won The Open.  Was his footwork good enough to beat Murray on a fast hardcourt on Sunday?  No.  But let’s give Paul Annacone a chance–it’s only been a week.  Federer has some work to do yet to prepare for The Open, and hopefully he has enough time to get his feet right going into Flushing, where Federer can pull off an amazing double should he win.  Winning The Open would give Roger a record 6 Wimbledon and 6 US Open titles.

Though it could be disconcerting when a lumberer like Querrey can beat Murray, and a re-invented Mardy Fish can beat Murray (Fish just eliminated Murray from Cincinnati, 6-7 (7), 6-1, 7-6 (5)), and Roger doesn’t.  And it will be, if Federer isn’t more ready for Murray should they meet in Flushing.  Still, something tells me Roger will be okay when he gets his body on the major schedule, and has a day, sometimes two, between matches (except for the semi-finals and finals, which are played on the final Saturday and Sunday consecutively, unlike any other major, and making the US Open even tougher for most to win.)

–Crack (,


Sam Querrey painted lines all day, as he aggressively attacked Andy Murray into submission.

Samurai Sam Querrey, on his Southern California home turf, successfully defended today as Farmers Classic champion, with an exciting victory over wild card entrant and top seed, world # 4, Andy Murray, on the campus of UCLA.  Querrey defeated Murray today for the first time in 5 tries, with his most recent loss coming in straight sets on the lawns at Wimbledon last month.  For Querrey, it was also the first time he took a set off Murray in the American’s career.

Querrey, America’s most successful male player this year to date, won his fourth tournament of the year and his 6th career title, and denied Murray his first title of the year in the process.  Murray, who is now 0-2 in finals this year (Farmers Classic, Australian Open), plays his best tennis on hardcourts but is always succeptible to the power game on fast hardcourts, which prevail at UCLA.

Querrey gutted out today’s win on the strength of big serves and huge forehands, and had a chance to make shorter work of Murray, as he found himself out to an early break lead in the first set.  Murray took the break back, and another, and found himself up a set.  But Querrey was not broken again in the match, taking Murray to a 2nd set tie break where he blitzed the hope of Britain.  To Pam Shriver’s credit, she called the result of the tie break, and her commentary has seemed to be very insightful, to the point where I may put her in the category of top tennis announcers with John McEnroe, Ted Robinson, Patrick McEnroe, Chris Fowler, and Mary Carillo, who I have not really loved of late but usually do.  Querrey then collected an early break in the third set, for a 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-3 victory in 2 hours and 23 minutes.

To his credit Murray, in the words of Cliff Drysdale, “looked like a jackrabbit out there” and truly wanted this final, but big Sam Q kept on coming, despite Murray’s phenomenal defense.  Though Murray got a lot of balls back, in trademark fashion, Querrey dictated the match with his huge game.  Here on American hards, that now play the fastest of any surface, including grass, in my humble opinion, Querrey was able to finish off way more points and Murray, the “jackrabbit”, was not able to run them down for passing shots the way he did so many times in their Wimbledon quarter-final.  And far too many times did Murray have a short ball or off pace ball to work with, and did little with them.  He was hitting drop shots like he was on clay, but drop shots on this type of court turn into waist high forehands for Querrey.  It used to be a good play to try and draw Querrey in with a drop shot because he was uncomfortable at net–a few years ago.  Querrey has played a lot of doubles with John Isner of late, and his coordination is better developed.  Now, drawing in a guy who is 6’6 and can jump a little is a dumb tactic, unless Querrey is far back of the court, which is not usually where he is.  Still not the best volleyer, Querrey is extremely tough to pass.

As for Murray, this isn’t some case of Murray being more comfortable on grass, as is some people’s notion, that because he’s British and Wimbledon is in Britain, that he must be great on grass.  As a member of Britain’s Davis Cup team, he gets to play more matches and gets more practice time around SW-19 than just about anyone, but he definitely disappointed in semi-finals the past two years against Roddick and Nadal.  He is best on hards, which he has played on for his entire life.  Like so many foreign tennis kids, and domestic, for that matter, Murray moved to Florida as a youth to pursue his career.  When he was a little older, he began to split his training between Florida and Spain.  Speaking of Murray on clay, though he has spent a lot of time training in Spain on red clay, he isn’t the best mover on clay.  Surprising, considering his movement is his only real weapon, having an otherwise popgun game.  I’d also think that a guy like that could conquer such an inadequacy, the way that guys like Agassi and Courier did. 

The whispers on Murray are that he is lazy.  I’ve heard many rumors that Murray is a video game addict, and that it cuts down on his practice time, and may have cost him his relationship with girlfriend Kim Sears.

Sears (above).

I heard that Murray’s coach, Myles Maclagan, and Murray were at odds over how much time he devoted to Playstation.  Murray fired Maclagan earlier this week, citing Maclagan’s differences with Murray’s part time coach, former Spanish player, and a pretty good one, Alex Corretja.  But Murray, who hired Maclagan because he wanted a yes man, did not like when Maclagan tried to have a more active voice in regard to Murray’s training.  After Murray lost to Roddick at Wimbledon last year, Murray blamed Maclagan in the press conference afterward for not having scouted Roddick well.  That’s a ridiculous assertion, considering the 2 Andies have played 9 times, with Murray holding a 6-3 edge in the h2h.

Then Maclagan took issue with Murray’s training regimen when Murray famously took his act to South Beach to train for the hardcourt season last summer, boasting that he was acclimating himself to playing in conditions far more gruelling than Flushing.  Murray supposedly played tennis and ran 5 miles a day on the beach, but still managed to devote 7-8 hours to video games a day.

Since Murray already has the “finesse” coach, in Corretja, his next hire needs to be a guy who will beef up his serve, if possible, and get him into more of an aggressive mode.  His mentality is too passive, and that’s why he is always going to have a hard time on the prevailing surface of the tour with hot players whoo have big games–like Querrey.  Roddick’s coach, Larry Stefanki, who refused to coach Murray before he hired Maclagan because Murray did not call him personally, but rather had a lackey do it, said last year after Roddick’s defeat of Murray at Wimbledon that Murray will never realize his potential until he takes a more aggressive countenace.

And that’s not drop shotting Sam Querrey on hardcourts.  As for Sam, the world # 20 should move up in tomorrow’s new rankings.  An impressive week, winning 3 straight matches after losing the first set to keep his crown.  And mention should be made of Sam’s coach, David Nainken, who in addition to seeing Querrey into the top 20, has also coached and continues to coach Mardy Fish on to impressive accomplishments.

–Crack (

Andy Roddick congratulates tonight’s winner at the net, Mardy Fish (above).

World # 49, American Mardy Fish upped his meager lifetime record versus friend, American, and world # 9, Andy Roddick, by winning virtually all the big points tonight in their all American semi-final in front of a prime time crowd this evening at the first ever Atlanta Hardcourt Tennis Championships.  For Fish, it was his first win over Roddick in their last ten matchups and only his 2nd career win over the American # 1 and top seed here in Atlanta in 11 career head to head matchups.

Fish played a great match, and took more risks than Roddick, who seemed tentative and moored to the baseline, once again.  Prior to the match, Roddick’s coach, Hall of Fame coach Larry Stefanki, told reporters that he wanted to see Roddick play a lot of “first strike tennis.”  But then the match started, and Roddick got surprisingly few easy points off of his serve, while Fish seemed to take Stefanki’s advice and run with it–rushing the net 19 times in the set and claiming a whopping 16 of those points.  With Fish up 6-3 in the first set tie breaker, Roddick won two straight points on Fish’s serve, giving Roddick an opportunity to serve for 6 all in the breaker, yet Fish took the next set point on Roddick’s serve with a nice approach and a beautiful backhand volley.

It was a set Roddick really needed, but he played the set way too timidly, and the fact that he only made 2 errors in the set didn’t amount for much in the end.  Roddick also seemed unable to handle the way Fish picked on Roddick’s backhand, which he told Ted Robinson and Jimmy Arias after the match, was a weakness in Roddick’s game, a sentiment echoed by the announcers all night, who continually pointed out Roddick’s lack of pop on his cross court 2 hander.  Roddick only hit 2 winners off the backhand side in the match–totally unacceptable.

Fish took a fairly early break off of a Roddick error in the 6th game of the second set, and cruised to a 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory in 1 hour and 41 minutes, despite only making 40 % of his first serves.  Though Fish served poorly in general, he allowed zero breaks of serve to Roddick, who is still looking very poor with his footwork, and who could not even dial in to Fish’s second serve.  Check out the match stats below.

For Fish, it’s another all American final, this time with Giant John Isner, who survived a tough match from top South African Kevin Anderson in 3 sets.  Fish has now made the finals of 3 of his last four events, and is in excellent form going into tomorrow’s final, which will air live on ESPN2 at 3 PM EST.

And beautiful wife Stacey Gardner was all smiles in the player’s box.

God Bless America!

–Crack (

Court Philippe Chatrier


(1) Serena vs. (29) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

(15) Arevane Rezai and (19) Nadia Petrova to complete their suspended match, picking up at 7-7 in the 3rd.  We know that Venus Williams will be pulling hard for Petrova, because Rezai smoked Venus in the Madrid final, and comes into Roland Garros at # 19 in the world, up 25 spots from # 44, where she ended 2009.  Rezai was playing average tennis, but caught fire in Madrid, and has now won 8 straight matches to raise her record in 2010 to 18-11.

(31) Victor Hanescu vs. (3) Novak Djokovic

(28) Lleyton Hewitt vs. (2) Rafael Nadal…the 2 major champions will meet at Roland Garros for the 3rd time in 4 years.  Hewitt, who is 4-5 lifetime versus Nadal got totally dusted by Rafa last year in the 3rd round, 6-1, 6-3, 6-1.  The last time Hewitt beat Rafa was at Queens Club in 2006 in a match where Nadal retired after the 2nd set.  Otherwise, Hewitt’s last victory over Nadal was way back in 2005, but this is a marquee matchup nontheless.

(12) Sharapova vs. (22) Henin…Sharapova is playing on her worst surface, and the clay is slowing down her already vulnerable serve, while Henin has looked really good in her comeback on the dirt so far.  Both players are confident, coming in each with tournament victories, but Sharapova will not be able to blow Henin off the court with big serves and forehands as she has done on hards on the big stages in Flushing and Melbourne.  Henin is 6-3 vs. Maria lifetime and has never lost to her on clay.

Court Suzanne Lenglen


(6) Dandy Andy vs Teimuraz Gabashvili…with a win, Roddick equals his career best at Roland Garros–his trip to the 4th round last year.  Roddick may have to play a near impossible opponent in the round of 16–clay court specialist David Ferrer.  A tall order.  It would be interesting to see that match come off, as a gauge for Roddick, who has improved greatly under his superb coach, Larry Stefanki.

(18) Shahar Peer vs. (13) Marion Bartoli…the hope of a nation, Israel’s Shahar Peer, takes on the unorthodox French woman, Marion Bartoli, who is the highest ranked player in the men’s or women’s game, and one of the only, who hits with 2 hands on both sides.  The clay should benefit Bartoli’s 2-handed style, giving her more time to set up her shots, but Bartoli is plagued by weight issues, which would detract from her ability to have success on a clay court.  Peer leads the head to head 6-2, and has a victory over Bartoli at the French Open (2005).

(7) Verdasco vs. (30) Kohlschreiber…we love Kohlschreiber’s one hand backhand and fluid game, and he has shown the ability to slay giants on the big stage, defeating Andy Roddick in Melbourne in 2008 and Djokovic here last year.  Verdasco is the clear favorite on paper, but Kohlschreiber is an excellent clay courter in his own right.  He destroyed David Ferrer at the World Team Championships in Germany on red clay, 6-0, 6-1 in 2008.

(4) Jelena Jankovic vs. (27) Alona Bondarenko…I’ll say it.  I can’t stand Jankovic.  I hate her game.  She has a terrible serve, and is too busy playing every tournament she can to actually practice the shot.  So all her matches are these break laden, moon ball fests, and it pains me that she is a top player.  But notice how she has hovered around the top 5, and has logged weeks at # 1, and has never won a singles major.  Because eventually, in a major, you are going to play somebody who can handle a 67 MPH second serve.  Will she finally get on the board and win a major, or will she never?  I’m going to vote never.  In tennis, you are only as good as your second serve.

Other notable matches…


(22) Jurgen Melzer vs. (9) David Ferrer…wouldn’t Roddick love an upset here?  You know what?  It’s possible.  Melzer is no quit player, and a very good clay courter in his own right.  Put it this way: if Ferrer mauls Melzer, Andy’s in big trouble.

(16) JCF vs. Robby Ginepri (USA)…Ferrero is one of the best clay courters around and also, a former French champion.  at one point this year, he had a 17 match win streak on clay.  Ginepri shows up to this one already happy, but for a horrible, boring, bland grinder, he’s done a lot with his game since coach Jose Higueras resurrected his career.  I think Ginepri could play well tomorrow, and I will root for him, though he is probably my least favorite American.

(1) Bryan bros vs. Melo/Soares (Brazil)…ddon’t know much about Soares, but Marcelo Melo is a pretty decent doubles player, especially on clay.  The Bryans have played extremely well of late.  But nothing would surprise me.

(23) Hantuchova vs. (16) Wickmayer…Hantuchova has had a very disappointing career in my mind, for a talented, and pretty girl.  She was a top ten player for along time, but has only won 3 tournaments in her career, and she’s 27.  I’d like to see Wickmayer, a tall girl with a big arsenal to out slug DH.

(14) Ivan Ljubicic vs. (24) Tomaz Bellucci…Ljubicic is back from the dead, resurrected by legendary Aussie Bob Brett, but he just got finished with a 2 day marathon with an extended 5th set vs. Mardy Fish.  Bellucci has the legs and the classic retriever’s game.  I like the Brazilian.

(1) Serena/Venus vs. Hantuchova/Wozniacki…this matchup features one player on each team who has a match earlier in the day (Serena, Hantuchova).  That’s old time tennis.  Venus and Serena are pissed they didn’t win the Frenchh last year, and if they win it this year, they will have won four straight majors.  A win tomorrow would give them 21 straight match wins in majors.

Enjoy your tennis (even though it’s clay),

Crack (