Roddick Deserving of His Good Fortune

Donald FincherAnalyst IJuly 5, 2009

WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND - JULY 03:  Andy Roddick of USA celebrates 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 Pool/Getty Images)

I may be late to the party to write an article about Andy Roddick at Wimbledon, given that the final is about eight hours away and most people in the U.S. are going to be sleeping between now and then. But I'm going to give it a go anyway.

I have seen some on this board criticize how Andy Roddick pops off at the chair umpires and the press, and they think he acts like a spoiled brat. Those people will probably not believe Andy Roddick is deserving of anything because their minds are made up.

But I am very happy to see Roddick in the finals and would not be anything but happy for him if he wins. I don't think that's likely and I would like to see Roger make history. But, if Roger has to put it on ice for another couple of months, that would be OK by me, too, in this case.

That's because so many of Roger's titles (slam and ATP) have come at the expense of Andy Roddick. It would seem like justice for Andy to return the favor at this very important occasion tomorrow. Again, I don't think it's likely.

Andy's a guy that had the unfortunate timing of peaking around the same time and being right around the same age as Federer. But he has never complained or whined about it... even though it can legitimately be argued that Federer has prevented him from winning a few more slams.

Andy constantly lives with the underachieving, almost derogatory title of being a "one-slam wonder." Yet, with the exception of his acerbic wit towards reporters, he goes on about being the happy warrior.  

This year, he has shown immense dedication in his fitness. He has always shown the desire and flexibility to try most anything to improve. He has used several coaches including Jimmy Connors and now Larry Stepanki.

Andy just goes on about his business and doesn't portray himself as a victim of bad timing even though it could legitimately be said that he is.

Another thing Andy has had to tolerate besides the "one-slam wonder" designation is that of the "one trick pony." People say that he's all serve. There was a time when that was partially true.

For instance, he had too many tendencies to avoid backhanding the ball and ran around to forehand, constantly leaving him out of position for the next shot. I think Connors broke that habit and doesn't get enough credit for laying the groundwork for what Stepanki is building on now.

But, nonetheless, he's had to endure that label for some time now.

These things had to get to him, had to depress him, had to make him question himself and his place in the game. But he never offered excuses and he kept his pain to himself.

Until Friday...

In Friday's post match press conference, Roddick revealed that he seriously considered giving up tennis last year. He was having some real doubts about his ability to compete at the top level and was dealing with some injuries too. Can anyone imagine that?

This guy is only 26, yet Haas is over 30, Davydenko around that age, Federer nearly 28. The average age of the top 100, as Roddick himself mentioned, is 26. This should be just past the mid-point of his career, yet he was considering letting it be over.

He was so despondent that he almost left the game. But losing weight, reaching the semis in Australia and the finals at Wimby, getting further than he's ever been at Paris, being newly married (to someone apparently that offers more than just looks from what Andy said at his presser), and finding a coach that seems to work for him, has all helped his game get back where it could have been all along.

I believe that we'll see Andy becoming part of the big four conversation as Djokovic fades away and Del Potro is limited as to how good he can become. And I think Andy being in that conversation will help tennis in many ways.

In the back of his mind, Andy has to know that he is up against a guy who many are claiming is the best ever and playing that opponent on his favorite surface. The task will be daunting. However, given the probable outcome, I think Andy can still take away from this accomplishment of reaching the finals that he belongs in the upper tier.

Andy also revealed (for the first time to my knowledge) after the match yesterday that he seriously wondered if he would ever reach a slam final again. If nothing else, even if he loses to Roger, he can walk away with his head held high knowing he probably will reach another final (most likely US or Australian) and that the hard court surface gives him the best chance to win.

While I can't see Andy winning Wimbledon, I can see him becoming a two-time US Open champion or a one-time US Open champion and one-time Australian Open champion. Either would have a nice ring to it.

But, if that ends up being the case, he will still bear the label of "only being able to win on hard courts." While I think that will be his burden to bear and his legacy, it would sure be a better legacy than "one-slam wonder."