Men's Tennis (ATP)
Roddick stumbling to '09 finish line

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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Since reaching his third career Wimbledon final this past summer, brash American star Andy Roddick has mostly struggled on the court, including a current stretch of four losses in his last six matches.

Roddick had his heart ripped out when he lost to the great Roger Federer at the All England Club back in July. The American slugger pushed Federer, and pushed some more, in a men's Wimbledon-record 77-game marathon final before ultimately succumbing 16-14 in a 30-game, 95-minute fifth set. The amazing Federer finally prevailed by breaking Roddick's massive serve for the first and only time in the 4-hour, 16-minute showdown.

It marked Roddick's third loss to Federer in the Wimbledon final in six years, as the former world No. 1 American also gave way to the Swiss legend there in 2004 and 2005.

FYI: Roddick, who's a paltry 2-19 lifetime against Federer, is 1-4 in his career Grand Slam finals, with all four losses coming against...who else...Federer.

Andy Roddick suffered an unexpected loss at the China Open, prompting him to lose his cool and smash his racquet in Beijing.
More importantly, however, the Wimby setback seemed to deflate Roddick...and for more than just a couple of days.

Since losing to Federer at the AEC, A-Rod is an OK 9-5, but he followed up the Wimbledon loss with a title bout setback at the hands of powerful Argentine Juan Martin del Potro in Washington. While losing to del Potro in the final at the Legg Mason Classic is nothing to be ashamed of, Roddick is a three-time DC champion, and was the top seed there back in August.

Del Potro, for the record, has won the last two titles in DC and stunned the tennis world by shocking the iconic Federer in last month's U.S. Open finale.

Back in July, I fired up an "ATP Report Card" piece praising a resurgent Roddick to that point in the 2009 season, saying the Davis Cup stalwart was having an A-type campaign by posting a 39-9 record, which included a title in three finals, all under the tutelage of new coach Larry Stefanki. The Nebraska native reached the Aussie Open semifinals (lost to Federer), the fourth round at the French Open (which marked his best-ever showing on that particular red clay before he lost to Gael Monfils), and the final at Wimbledon.

Pretty good, right?

But he hasn't been the same player since the Federer downer.

Note: Roddick failed to represent the U.S. (because of a hip injury) in its quarterfinal Davis Cup loss at the hands of Croatia the week after the Federer setback at Wimbledon.

Roddick was a hard-luck loser against Roger Federer in July's epic Wimbledon final.
After losing to del Potro in DC, the Texas resident bowed out to the 6-foot-6 Argentine star again, this time in a semifinal at an ATP Masters event in Montreal. Roddick then proceeded to drop his first match at the Masters tournament in Cincinnati, falling in straight sets against 6-foot-6 fellow American Sam Querrey in the second round, after enjoying an opening-round bye.

And at his beloved U.S. Open, where some thought Roddick had a real shot at landing in his third-ever final in Flushing, the 2003 champ and '06 runner-up was shocked by 6-foot-9 compatriot "Big" John Isner in five sets in only the third round. The consistent Roddick had reached at least the quarterfinals in New York the previous three years and in seven of his last eight trips to the Big Apple.

Maybe the Isner loss deflated him even more than the Federer one at Wimby.

Mmmmm...I doubt it.

And just this week, playing his first event since losing to the towering Isner in New York, Roddick came up an opening-round loser at the hands of unheralded Pole Lukasz Kubot at the China Open in Beijing, where the American star had been the reigning champ. It was this Kubot loss that really prompted me to write something here.

The 27-year-old Roddick doesn't typically lose to lesser (lower-ranked) opponents. Most of his setbacks are going to come against Top-5 stars. He's lost 14 times this year, with eight of 'em coming against current Top-5 standouts, such as Federer (four times), Rafael Nadal (once), Andy Murray (once) and the always-improving del Potro (twice).

But his last three losses have come against Querrey (ranked 25th), Isner (43rd) and Kubot (143rd), respectively (and his only title of the year came at a less-than-sexy event in Memphis, where he beat Radek Stepanek in the final).

Roddick's lone 2009 title, thus far, came in Memphis back in February.
The doubles specialist Kubot had never beaten a Top-10 player before this week (0-3), as Roddick crashed out against the 6-foot-3 Pole in surprising straight-set, 6-2, 6-4, fashion.

"I didn't play well," lamented Roddick, who smashed/mangled his racquet in frustration during his match against Kubot. "I don't know if I was super prepared. It showed. I was trying stuff out there, and nothing seemed to be working too well."

Roddick has now failed to title in his last 11 events, and was unable to reach even a quarterfinal in his last three.

Concern?

In all fairness to the world No. 6 star, his strong first half of the year did feature big victories over the likes of a No. 3 Murray, in the Wimbledon semis, and No. 4 Novak Djokovic, in the Aussie Open, Indian Wells (Masters event) and Montreal (Masters event) quarterfinals.

But what started out as a fine season for Roddick has developed into one where he's on the canvas, reaching for the ropes.

Roddick, who married his model girlfriend Brooklyn Decker earlier this year, will have a chance to pick himself back up at the mandatory Masters event in Shanghai next week, and, barring an unusual circumstance, he'll also be part of the prestigious eight-player season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London next month.

It's probably safe to say that Roddick will never reach No. 1 again, but you would like to think that he at least has a shot at securing that elusive second-ever major title before eventually calling it a career.

Can he do it next year, at the Aussie Open, Wimbledon, or U.S. Open? (Notice how I excluded the French Open.)

Only if he climbs back on the saddle.

Ace or double fault? Send your comments to Scott Riley at sriley@sportsnetwork.com.
Scott Riley

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