Andy Roddick's Reasons for Hope Against Roger Federer at Miami 2012
As Andy Roddick goes up against Roger Federer tomorrow in Miami, he goes up against something horrendous, too—a 2-21 record against the man from Basel. It's as bad a head-to-head record as there ever will be in this modern era, and really more a testament to the now bygone Roger Federer domination.
As these two old rivals (they really are, whatever the numbers say) face each other again for the 24th time, it's not hard, based on history alone, to see why Federer should be the heavy favourite.
Stranger things have happened in tennis, nonetheless, than Roddick defeating Federer, and i'ts lucky for Andy that half of those wins (exactly one) occurred precisely at this venue four years ago. These are a few reasons why Roddick's legion of fans might have just some reason to hope for an unlikely upset tomorrow:
1) Roddick is 1-1 against Federer at Miami
While Roddick has only ever beaten Federer twice (who has done the same to him almost eleven times as much), it's good to know that the last two times they faced at this same venue they pushed it to three sets.
In fact, Miami is the only place that Roddick actually got a head start on Federer, beating him in their first meeting here in 2008, and nearly doing the same the next year, when Federer won by almost the same score he had lost it the year before. Something about Federer having been slightly down, and the court being slower, may have played slightly into Roddick's hands. It’s a useful mental note to have for him, though, come those four-all points in the third.
2) Their last six matches have been contested affairs
It's not the best accompaniment to the knowledge that these were close affairs that Roddick, well, lost them all. Since beating Federer in Miami 2008, however, Roddick nearly managed to repeat in 2009, played three tough sets at the Australian, pushed Federer to three, and came so close at Wimbledon. We might just forget the last two defeats, when Federer trumped the American at a year-end tournament, indoors, and close to his heart, at Basel.
It's better for the American to selectively remember that, the last time he played Federer this early in the year, he came very close, and as pale as mere "making it tense" may be to "pushing over the finish line," it's just the realisation that these are in fact only questions of glasses half-full or half-empty that may bring Roddick the confidence he needs.
3) Roddick won their last (unofficial) meeting
Unofficially, Roddick is actually 2-0 against Federer—he has precisely two victories over the Swiss in exos, one in Kooyong in 2007, and one this year in 2012 at historic Madison Square Garden. Exhibitions be what they may, it was still a win, and Federer must surely have been trying in some way to win those matches, even when losing might not have made winning any sweeter. It is an interesting statistic which might suggest that Roddick may have felt inhibited in some way in all his losses to Federer.
Since then he's pushed Tomas Berdych to three at Indian Wells, and even a like showing against Federer will promise much for him in the future. Sometimes the benefits of side wins to the confidence are understated—note what the Davis Cup has done for the confidence of Djokovic and Federer last year and this year. It might just have brought a welcome boost and lightening of his shoulders, just as he reaches the twilight of his career.
4) Intangible I: The last cry of the great American?
Then, we leave it to the gods. Will Roddick really just leave tennis the way he is, married and progressing in life, but slowly fading in this sport he loves? Or will this luminary of brash, openhearted tennis wave a late-career flourish? That dream Ivanisevic-esque maiden title at Wimbledon, for one. But beating his long time rival at a major tournament, and at an unlikely stage in their long and storied tennis history, might just be another.
5) Intangible II: Will Federer's run come to an end?
As they all say, great runs do come to an end one day. It isn't as if Federer seems done with his current streak of hot form, though, and as well as Roddick might have found a mini-revival in the last fortnight Federer has been thriving on one he found in the last few months. It remains to be seen whether Roddick should just become another victim condemned to anonymity, or the man who stopped the untouchable Federer.
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