I remember back in 2003 when Andy Roddick won the U.S. Open. He was a new up and comer and got a lot of press as the guy to watch in men's tennis, since Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi were retired or nearing retirement by that point. (Agassi retired in 2006; Sampras in 2002). He got a Visa commercial, was on the cover of every magazine, hosted Saturday Night Live (terribly), and altogether got a whole lot of attention. The commentators were falling over themselves talking about the "new" rivalry, between Roddick and another up and comer named Roger Federer, who also won his first major at Wimbledon in 2003.
That was the last major Roddick won. His best appearances since have been runner up at Wimbledon in 2004, 2005, and 2009, and runner up at the U.S. Open in 2006. Roger Federer has won fifteen more majors. So much for the rivalry. And inside, I'm secretly gleeful. I don't like to root against people, but with all the attention he was getting, along with his attitude that he was the best thing in men's tennis ever, along with something else I just can't quite put my finger on, I wanted to see him lose. He has not disappointed. He's still ranked in the Top Ten (barely, at number 9), but in my opinion the best (and primarily only) thing he's ever had going for him is an amazingly fast serve. His game has no grace and no style. He just slugs it out, with a lot of grunting, moaning, and shirt adjusting along the way. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose -- provided you win every now and then.
Tonight he is playing Janko Tipsarevic in Round 2 at the U.S. Open. And as per usual, he is in the midst of a meltdown. He won the first set easily, but lost the second and third sets. During the second set (at 2 to 5 Roddick), the line Judge called a foot fault on him, and he flipped out. He's still flipping out ten minutes later after losing the set, pacing back and forth across the court, yelling about his foot, and yelling at the Judge. He just can't seem to let it go. But it was a foot fault. We watched it in slow motion on the replay. Even John McEnroe, who practically falls to his knees in worship at the altar of Roddick, agrees that it was a foot fault. But even if it wasn't, bad calls happen. They happen in every sport. John McEnroe is stunned that the umpire didn't give him a warning for his behavior.
The thing is, he does this all the time. He doesn't agree with a call, throws a hissy fit, and makes a complete ass of himself, while the rest of us are at home watching in the replay that the right call was made. While almost every player (even calm and collected Pete Sampras) has meltdown every now and then for what they perceive to be incorrect calls (and sometimes in fact are incorrect calls), Roddick pulls this stunt all the time. And he doesn't just walk over to the Judge and quietly question the call, then go back to playing the game. He yells and screams and paces and goes on and on and on about it. Sometimes it helps him get out of his funk and back on his game; other times the opposite happens and he collapses. Regardless, it makes me dislike him even more. This is the kind of behavior I expect out of someone new to the game -- not a seasoned professional. And not on a regular basis. So, I enjoy it when it happens when he's playing much lower ranked players and then they go on to beat him.
So tonight I'm cheering for Tipsarevic, who is currently ranked at 39.