Roddick Claims Shot at Wimbledon Redemption

Bleacher Report Correspondent IJuly 3, 2009

WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND - JULY 03:  Andy Roddick of USA shows his emotions as he celebrates victory during the men's singles semi final match against Andy Murray of Great Britain on Day Eleven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 3, 2009 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The consequences and burden of bearing the collective interest of a country may not be justified for a 22-year-old.

But that was the story for Scot Andy Murray—a player so much under the spotlight that the media’s perennial darling at this event, the five-time champion and record-seeking Roger Federer, hasn’t had to deal with his ordinate time in the spotlight.

Dozens of pages covered Murray’s journey to the semifinals of Wimbledon, ranging from features on girlfriend Kim Sears to exposés on the tactics of his training regimen.

The press have only two more days with which to feed their papers; however, that documentation will be without Murray providing sensational headlines.

Thanks to a timely renaissance by No. 6 seed Andy Roddick, the United Kingdom will not see one of the more astounding droughts in a sport swept away. No, Murray will not be able to become the first male Brit to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry did in 1936.

And Queen Elizabeth II will need no necessary reason to attend the All England Club for the first time in more than three decades.

After Roddick dispatched Murray 6-4, 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, the emotional outpouring experienced by the 26-year-old American was indicative of his reaction to an opportunity that has eluded him for nearly six years—a shot at Grand Slam glory.

“I never thought I would get a chance to play for another grand-slam title and now I can; it’s just a dream,” he said. “(Murray) has been a much better player than I have over the past year, but I can play some tennis sometimes, too.”

By his standards, though, Roddick is having a great season. He earned a spot in the final four of the Australian Open earlier in the year, while posting the highest finish in the French Open by reaching the fourth round.

On Centre Court, his improvements were on display.

Under the tutelage of coach Larry Stefanki, who was chosen as the replacement to Jimmy Connors and interim trainer Patrick McEnroe, Roddick has learned to tread with more grace and economy on the court. He has become more of an aggressor, too, as he made a total of 75 trips to the net, from which he earned 48 points.

His newfound proficiency at prevailing through duress this season—Roddick has collected 25 possible sets out of 29 pushed to tiebreakers—facilitated the outcome of this encounter, as well.

Incidentally, his preparation for this year was born out of doubt, which required a conference with wife Brooklyn Decker before realizing his weaknesses.

"Brook and I had a lot of talks—if I still thought I could play and at least be toward the top of the game," Roddick told ESPN. "I definitely openly questioned it at that point. Then the rest of the year I was kind of hurt.

"So this offseason, we said, 'You know what, if you're not going to be up there, let's at least not wonder. Let's prepare yourself and give yourself every opportunity.'"

His forehands are hit with more conviction and fluency; his service game is more reliable and consistent, despite the blistering pace of it; and he appears to be adept at adjusting at requisite intervals of the match.

Although Roddick hit four less aces than Murray (25 to 21), for example, his first serve efficiency topped out at an admirable 75 percent.

Considering he was tossed out of Wimbledon in the second round only a year ago, Roddick has the momentum of a projectile to finally enjoy wholesome victory on London grounds.

However, Roger Federer, who is wagering his own war against the current alignment of the record books, has a penchant for subduing Roddick every time both suit up on the same court.

"I don't know how much my great record I have against Roddick would come into play," said Federer, who has only lost two of 20 matches against his fellow finalist.

"I'm not sure. It starts from zero... I've had plenty of time to study his game, to understand his game.

"I've had many different looks against Roddick. I enjoy how he leaves everything out on the court. I can only marvel at how incredible his serve is. I like playing against him, not only just because of the record."

Federer has had the luxury of avoiding a top-10 player so far this tournament, playing wildcard seeds such as Ivo Karlovic and Tommy Haas.

Roddick, to be sure, has dug deep in his matches against both fledgling and fleeting talent alike. This was seen in his five-setter with 2002 Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt, and tonight with a responsive Murray.

He has also ridden the wave of the underdog.

Although Roddick has lost his past three matches with Federer in England—two of which were in the final—the naivety and errant areas of his tennis person are seemingly shed.

Regardless of the result, however, Sunday will still be met by a noteworthy end.