The 2009 Wimbledon men's singles finals bookmarks yet another episode of the Roger Federer-Andy Roddick rivalry [ignoring the statistics, of course] and, to be really honest, given the way Roddick blitzkrieg-ed past the "other" Andy, doesn't he suddenly look threatening to foil the Swiss's chances despite having a worse head-to-head scenario?
Point-by-point analysing everything from every angle possible, Roddick looks to have mastered all of his deficiencies; of course, this point is sure to make everyone yawn and say "We know all of this; what's new?" Still, the latest-ness of this is not about Andy refurbishing himself but about the approach in which he has done the same.
These past few days, Roddick's game has started resembling a chess board with the coins neatly arrayed across a chiaroscuro of 64 squares, with every next move planned and played after gauging repercussions after repercussions to follow that particular move.
One doesn't need to be a Gary Kasparov or Bobby Fischer in order to understand how the basic-yet-convoluted game works, but when it's taken as a chosen profession and where winning is the only thing that matters, then one has to ascend and think to the level of these stalwarts and perhaps even inching beyond them in the process.
And Roddick has started doing that these days; his previously one-dimensional approach has been cut and shaped accordingly to fit the square-less arena of the tennis field.
He has become a perfect amalgamation of a pawn—ready to strike at the first call; a bishop—ready to move cross ways in order to sustain; a rook—attacking and marching forwards, a knight—valiant enough to try out new approaches, a queen—with an arsenal that is gunning where the others might fail. All this instead of his previous acceptance to the role of the king—helpless and unable to defend with very meagre amount of resistance.
And to test him fully and completely on his newly finished education process will be the newly anointed "GOAT" who is all set to regain his beloved silverware back; he is determined and like a man possessed and has been destroying opponents like a flash of lightning igniting a bare tree.
He is the man of the moment, the firm favourite enmeshed in the heart of every fan...he will be the heartthrob at the Centre Court tomorrow; nothing wrong with that considering all his previous achievements and accolades at this particular place, it's a thought that occurs naturally and without any volition.
And where Federer just can't afford to lose because of his reputation and standard here, Roddick has nothing to lose too albeit for a different reason; before he made his way into the finals, no one gave a second glance to this two time finalist...there was Rafa who was the hot debate and once he withdrew, it was all "Murray Mania" out there: pure and unadulterated Murray Mania! Of course, Federer being there all along...
Roddick should carry this lighthearted feeling over Federer when he steps into the centre court on the second Sunday of Wimbledon 2009; his mind in the right place, he has to think of Federer as the rival on the chess board...like in the days of yore, the kings who used the sport as a gauging medium to try and assimilate the possible methodology of their rivals, Roddick has to gauge every minute nuance about his nemesis tomorrow.
Chess is a mental game: Reactions, intuitions, and judgement form a pivotal part in the player's gaming process than anything else, which ultimately carve out a superior player of the two.
The same can be said for Roddick tomorrow; if he is able to conquer Federer mentally—not just psychologically but also strategically—he will end up shaking not just his Federer-induced cobwebs but, in the process, give a raise-up to his own professional competence as well.
The ball is in your court, Andy!