Andy Roddick - 1st Round US Open 2011
At this point in our tennis lives, most of us should realize that Andy Roddick loves giving commentators and interviewers a hard time. Whether it is during a post-match press conference in a room full of reporters or at a one-on-one debrief on national television, Roddick will tell it like it is. Not surprisingly then, after his lackluster victory over Michael Russell in the first round of the US Open, Roddick conducted a post-match interview that probably caught the attention of a lot of people.
Suggesting that tennis analysts are nothing more ex-post facto critics, Roddick made it clear that he did not like the situation he was in. While his style might have been inappropriate, his point had some traction: tennis "analysts" do at times criticize players based on the results on the court.
To be sure, a few years ago, several analysts suggested that Roddick needed to vary his game. They argued that Roddick's big serve and forehand were becoming too predictable and that he needed to throw in some net game, develop a stronger backhand and improve his fitness. While these suggestions were certainly valid and arguably led Roddick to enjoy a period of moderate success for a couple of years, something changed.
Today, Roddick no longer remains atop the U.S. Men's game, having been eclipsed by one of my favorite players, Mardy Fish. Roddick clearly struggled in his first-round match against Michael Russell, who should have been an easy opponent. But most importantly, Roddick dropped out of the top 10 in the ATP rankings.
Do you think Roddick's criticism of tennis analysts was correct?
If you watched Roddick's match against Russell on television, you probably heard commentators argue that Roddick was getting into too many long rallies and that his serve was lacking. What's more, they also said that Roddick should avoid long points and try to use his serve forehand combination to end points quickly.
Unfortunately for analysts, when this very same approach stopped yielding success for Roddick a few years ago, everyone said Roddick need to change his game. Today, however, when he has varied his game, mixing in drop shots, strong backhands and a net game, analysts are suggesting otherwise.
Why? Because Roddick struggled today in the first round of a major? I hope not.
None of this is to suggest that I am a Roddick fan. I do, however, think that analysis of sports in general, and tennis in particular needs to be improved.
For one thing, commentators should refrain from criticizing players or suggesting broad changes to playing style based on a single match. Moreover, they need to be more scientific in their analysis. That is, they cannot ascribe player successes and failures in a match to a single variable like playing style.
I think Roddick should continue to play his game however he sees fit, but should work to solidify the style he has committed to. This should get him past Jack Sock in the second round.
Follow Zain Pasha on Twitter @kritikalace2011