Far too many headlines and news pieces could be found on Andy Murray being the man who would stop Roger Federer from winning his 15th Grand Slam title before Andy Roddick altered the script. The altered versions then mention the American as a postscript to Federer’s charge towards his record 15th Grand Slam title.
What unfolded though was a crazy script.
Federer’s head was spinning after the gruelling match and he continually used the word "crazy" to describe just about everything. Roddick was sitting exhausted in his chair, physically drained and emotionally distant after the scoreboard read 5-7, 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 16-14. Roddick perhaps didn’t know till the crowd reminded him that he had played the lead role in the script.
After the match, Roddick was asked that he must be feeling that tennis is a cruel game.
The "No" from Roddick was loud and instantaneous.
He looked at the crowd and said that not too many people get a chance to be where he was. It was indeed a crazy final; a final in which the script was written for the loser.
Federer lifted the trophy, but Roddick lifted the Centre Court.
Federer had reached the final dropping just one set. And at his best he plays as if he is the only player on the court and every ball that comes is a chance for him to reveal his repertoire. Yet he was the first one to admit that he was not in control of the match.
Roddick's ride to the final was not as smooth. He battled Hewitt in a marathon five-setter and defied all odds by beating Andy Murray in four sets in the semifinals.
Crazy as it seems, Roddick looked very relaxed and Federer just a bit tight when they walked out to the Centre Court. Roddick came out firing in the first set and stunned Roger by his initial blows. Roddick broke Federer to take the first set. In the second set tie-breaker Federer came back from being 2-6 down to take it 8-6. That was the lifeline he desperately needed in order to play with some freedom and flair.
Roddick didn’t allow him that freedom and Federer struggled to find his mojo, but still the world number two led by two sets to one as he took the third set tie-breaker. Roddick took an early break in the fourth set and served it out to level the game. This was now unchartered territory as this was the first match between Federer and Roddick to go to the fifth set.
Roddick had broken Federer twice before the marathon fifth set started, while Federer had failed to convert his few chances. Roddick held his serve for 37 consecutive games before he could hold no more at 14-15 in the final set that Federer took 16-14.
Roddick made the greatest tennis player ever fight for every point in the longest Wimbledon final ever by games. After the match, in the press conference, Roddick said, “You lay down or you keep going. The second one sounds better to me.”
Federer’s greatness and place in history was not much in doubt before this tournament started, but everything about Roddick was in doubt. It was this crazy Sunday in which Federer won but it was Roddick who cleared all the doubts.
If Roddick goes on in the direction he has taken it would no longer be a crazy thought if majors start coming his way. He has shown everybody that he can play some tennis.
Written first on July 7, 2009 for my Wordpress blog.