Belfast Telegraph

Roddick hopes for home run

American number one Andy Roddick believes he can cope just fine with the weight of home expectation at the US Open following his epic Wimbledon final defeat.

Roddick was the last homegrown player to win the men's singles title at Flushing Meadows, his 2003 victory being followed by a five-year dominance by Switzerland's Roger Federer.

Roddick has reached the last eight in three of the last five US Opens, but in an event once dominated by the likes of Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, American fans are clamouring for another home success.

Having gone down fighting to Federer at Wimbledon last month, losing 16-14 in the fifth set of a classic Centre Court final, Roddick said he has been energised rather than dispirited by the experience.

“If anything I'm looking at it as a new beginning as opposed to something that's a finisher,” Roddick said.

“I've always had a pressure to win, that's the nature of American tennis.

“I've been in that position my entire career following Andre and Pete and probably the greatest generation ever.

“So it's been on my shoulders and I'm not that concerned about the pressure of it all.

“At the end of the day my first concern is going in and winning a tennis match and I think as long as I can keep it simple like that, it will be okay.”

Seeded fifth and on schedule to face fourth seed Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals before a potential rematch with Federer in the semi-finals, Roddick will play Germany's Bjorn Phau in the first round.

And his Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe agrees that the heartbreak on Centre Court will be a positive rather than a negative.

“I don't think it will destroy him at all,” said McEnroe. “I think it actually gave him a renewed hope that he can win another major.

“I think he's got a great chance, I think he's a favourite to go all the way and it's a good section of the draw for him.

“I think he'll improve as the tournament progresses.”

Federer, too, believes Roddick can go from strength to strength following their Wimbledon epic.

“He was never really gone,” the defending champion said. “Unfortunately he had an image where people thought he could be dangerous, have great runs, but not win tournaments.

“Now people, and himself, believe again he can win big tournaments. He was awfully close at Wimbledon, obviously, where he played so great and automatically things change again.

“All of a sudden he is thinking of winning a tournament again instead of losing in the quarters or semis and that has a big effect on Andy Roddick now.

“I think he has improved as a player again in the last year or two, he's moving better and his serve has always been great.

“For him it was always about playing the right way from the baseline and it seems he's doing the right things so I see him going deep again in the tournament here at the Open.”

Belfast Telegraph


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