Buoyed by a powerful 145 MPH serve and a lightning forehand, Andy Roddick seems like a natural to win multiple Grand Slams on the ATP men’s tennis circuit. Yet Roddick has only managed one Grand Slam title, the 2003 US Open Championship.
Back in 2003, Roddick was emerging as the American player most likely to carry the American tradition of tennis on after Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. He had achieved a No. 1 ranking in tennis with a Wimbledon runner-up finish as well. Things were looking good for Andy Roddick.
Then, Roger Federer entered the scene and started winning everything in sight. The Swiss player with the amazing shot-making ability and sound mental fortitude crushed Roddick at every opportunity. Federer was ranked No. 1 for 237 consecutive weeks before losing the No. 1 ranking to Nadal after Wimbledon last year.
Federer and Nadal have met in the finals of a Grand Slam seven of the last eight times. Does Roddick lack the mental toughness of these competitors? I would say so. Roddick gets emotional pretty easily if he misses a shot or thinks the chair umpire made a bad call.
Federer and Nadal let their games do the talking and are not so much into disputing calls or getting wound up at missing shots.
Nadal’s physical nature makes him stand out against Roddick. His conditioning is superior and wears any opponent down with his ability to play defense and get himself out of trouble. Nadal can outrun any opponent.
Roddick seems to tire easily if a point lasts longer than 10 strokes and would prefer points that end quickly. If Nadal plays a point shorter than 10 strokes, it is a shocker.
Roddick hasn’t fared well against Federer at all. Roddick hits a flat, hard backhand, which has fallen prey to the Federer forehand all too often, the best forehand in the game.
Roddick’s game relies so much on his big serve that if he’s forced to get creative to win points, he’s in trouble. Federer is the king at improvising shots and can hit winners from all over the court and at any angle.
Roddick knows he’s getting up in years. He will be 27 this August, which in tennis years is getting close to the end. On the plus side, he did win his third round match at the French Open for only the second time.
As long as Nadal and Federer continue to have a choke hold on the top two spots and vie for Grand Slam supremacy, Roddick will not beat either of them in a Grand Slam. They have superior mental toughness and better shot-making ability, as well as stamina.
Roddick’s best chance for a Grand Slam championship will be either in Wimbledon or the US Open, but not against Federer or Nadal. He needs Federer to have a bad day of unforced errors and lose before the final and Nadal to get injured playing his physical game.
Roddick’s mental toughness is the biggest thing keeping him from joining Nadal and Federer’s company right now, and until that improves, he will not beat Federer or Nadal in a Grand Slam.