Do you have any idea how long I have been waiting for Andy Roddick to make it to the Wimbledon Finals?
Do you have any idea how many times he has disappointed me? Probably not, I suppose, but just try to look at it from my point of view...
My infatuation with Andy Roddick began back in my high-school days, way back when Brontosaurus and Tyrannosaurus-Rex were roaming the Earth. I had been playing tennis, both for pleasure and in competition since the third grade. I guess it has at least a little to do with the fact that I was born Asian and we just happen to love the game of tennis.
At least in America we do.
For some reason, just like soccer, cricket, and rugby, tennis is a sport that's a huge deal for just about every other country besides the United States. The Russians absolutely SWEAR by tennis, especially their women, which can be seen in such famous players as Martina Navratilova, Anna Kournikova and Maria Sharapova.
I only mentioned the latter two because they are smoking hot and their influence extends beyond just the sport they play. As for Martina, well, she's just one of the best women to have ever played the game, hand's down.
The majority of Asia, Europe and even the Middle East/Africa play tennis at a high level as well. Tennis games are a big deal throughout the year in these countries, rather then just when the grand slam tournaments are on.
In America, sure there are a lot of players, especially in high school or at rich, uppity country clubs, but for the most part America has not consistently ranked very high at the professional level... with only a few exceptions.
The major difference is that when you look at the top 25 players in the world, both men and women, over the past couple decades it seems to have been primarily comprised of Russian and Eastern European names.
So basically, since a very young age, I had very few American role-models to look up too in terms of tennis. I can basically count all of them on one hand and I'm talking both sexes combined.
The Williams sisters, I believe, are monstrous, brutal and perhaps the perfect specimens from which elite tennis playing females should be cloned. Have you seen their sheer muscle definition or the power in their serves? This duo of destruction has rampaged through the professional tennis scene for over a decade now.
John McEnroe, who probably wouldn't be a role model for most other people but because of my own short fuse and natural god-given talent for tennis, was the first professional tennis player I ever heard of. He's also one of the most evil people on the planet in my opinion and as far as I'm concerned, a great man.
Andre Agassi, with or without hair, had the most will power and heart I have ever seen in tennis, at any playing level. He won sets and tournaments that he probably had no right to win, against players in their prime much younger and stronger then him.
Throughout the '90s and even past the turn of the century, Agassi proved that wisdom and heart will always be a match for strength and speed. Oh yeah, he was also married to one of the most beautiful white women I have ever seen... Brooke Shields.
(Well, when she was younger at least. Now she had all that plastic surgery and her head is bigger and her features all blunt and blocky...Blechkkk.)
Pete Sampras: Classic and distinguished throughout his career, he foiled my other favorite player, Andre Agassi, on numerous occasions. Until Roger Federer, the Swiss tennis player currently ranked No. 1, overtakes him, Sampras is the holder of the record for most majors won in men's singles with 14. It's only coincidental that this article is being written at the same time that Federer is attempting to win his 15th major...against Andy Roddick.
Finally there's Andy Roddick. Lean, muscular, American as can be and the owner of the most powerful first serve ever to be clocked in tennis, at around 155mph. He's not quite as old as my other favorite American players, nor has he won as many tournaments. He's currently ranked No. 6 on the ATP list and is the highest ranked American player (yay!). In the past, he has been ranked No. 1 in the world.
The reasons I have always rooted for the sometimes-underdog are pretty simple. He plays fast, aggressive and has a punishing serve. He was born and raised in the heartland of America (Omaha, Nebraska) so basically he bleeds red, white and blue. He is known as the "other A-Rod" and unlike a lot of other pro athletes: He doesn't splurge and go out to bars and clubs excessively. Also, he's married to the pretty ridiculous Sports Illustrated model, Brooklyn Decker.
Even though he has made it to 27 career finals matches, he is still often considered an underdog for one unfair and obvious reason: He has a career head-to-head record of 2-18 when facing Roger Federer.
Now personally, I don't think that's so bad in and of itself. Federer is not a typical professional tennis player. He is pretty much a lock to make it into the Tennis Hall of Fame and arguably THE BEST MALE TENNIS PLAYER OF ALL TIME. For Roddick to have even been ranked in the top three, during a time period that includes both Raphael Nadal AND Federer, is remarkable.
Luckily, this year's edition of Wimbledon did not feature Nadal—the Spanish defending champion who made a surprising withdraw due to a case of tendinitis in his knee, leaving the playing field at the All England Club a little easier then it typically would have been.
Early this morning, No. 2 Roger Federer defeated No. 24 Tommy Haas and No. 6 Andy Roddick defeated No. 3 Andy Murray in the semifinals.
So I guess what it comes down to is the 21st showdown between Roddick and Federer that is set to take place over the next couple days. This is the third time they will battle in the finals on the lush grass of Centre Court.
Andy is better coached, better versed, stronger and more versatile than he has been in years, and hopefully that and a good bit of luck will help swing things his way this time. Federer will always remain a dangerous opponent but this time I believe, I must believe, that Roddick has the confidence and stamina necessary to keep the sets close, jump the net and neutralize and respond to Federer's potent offense.
Article has also been posted on Mikey's Webpage: http://kyarnboy.wordpress.com/