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Andy Roddick vs Roger Federer


In the UK, there is Henman Hill and Murray Mound. In the US, our best tennis player has bupkis [nothing] named after him. That’s not a slight on Andy Roddick, it’s just that Americans view tennis as a sixth-rate sport. He might have a bog or pond named after him back at home in Texas, but it’s really not the same.

I got to know Andy Roddick through a charity event. It turned out he’s a big Office fan and I’m a fan of his, so I ended up going out to where he trains. I got 
to hit with his coach but not the man himself, probably to do with the fact that his 14-year-old cousin beat me in a game, which was humiliating.

Roddick was only 21 when he won the US Open in 2003. Since then, he’s got to four other major finals. Unfortunately, he has been playing in the same generation as Roger Federer, who he has met in every one of those finals.

Their best encounter was in 2009 at Wimbledon [above] where Federer was still at his pinnacle on grass and Roddick, who’d lost some weight, was extra agile and could play at the net a lot more.

I remember everyone was making fun of Federer for carrying a man-bag around at that tournament, while Roddick remained as low-key as ever when it came to fashion.

I was on my way to the airport during the game and streaming it online in the car. The picture wasn’t clear but I saw enough to know it was one of the greatest tennis games ever. It went on for hours — the final set ended 16-14 to Federer. It was a ridiculous win. Federer has had those sort of games with Rafa Nadal, but I’d never seen one that was such a nail-biter. It was an extraordinary event.

Many Americans perceive Wimbledon as snobby with all that strawberry-eating and fancy hat-wearing, but matches such as that change perceptions. Neither man had a bad game. Not that you can fault Federer for winning — his backhand is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. He’s so precise, so unflappable. I’ve never even seen the man sweat. It’s the craziest thing — he’ll play for six hours and not even look gooey.

What you see is what you get with Roddick. He’s a big puppy dog with a heart of gold and, just like Federer, he has a mean competitive streak too.

There’s respect between the pair, which I admire, yet I wish there was a bit more trash talk like back in the old days. No one says anything bad about their opponents now. We need Roddick and Federer to throw some fisticuffs and racquets around. And to add a little more drama, let’s get John McEnroe in the umpire’s chair.

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Images: PA/Getty



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