Can Andy Roddick Win Another Slam?
For over 20 years now many Coaches and National Tennis Federations around the world, decided to develop players the easy way, with one-mode robot like baseline tennis. Fortunately 2 players survived this onslaught and have kept the interest alive in the serve and volley all court game,
Pete Sampras and Roger Federer with Andy Roddick in a grey zone between these two great players.
Due to that one dimensional teaching of tennis by coaches and federations,, today everyone that faces Roger has the jitters. They have no answers or solutions for the challenges Roger presents.
This has awakened every expert in the world to talk wonders about the "all court game"! The very same game that 20/30 years ago they themselves almost killed with new rules, heavier balls, bigger balls, slower balls etc...and by following certain "tennis gurus" with poor coaching/development examples or tennis knowledge. Remember that everyone turned their backs on the teachings of a great Master of the all court training the late Harry Hopman "The Fox".
Now back to Andy Roddick; all these technical Coaching trials at bettering his backhand or his volleys or his returns are purely making him lose confidence.... now everyone is talking about Andy Roddick developing a more all court game! Amen! Pete Sampras was saying that with his game style to all coaches for 15 years!
With Andy Roddick it would be foolish to tinker with the core of his game at this point of his career. Those things (weak parts of his game) will better themselves as he grows as a professional, practices and gets smarter, eg. experience and more self-confidence. Nevertheless the weaker parts of his game will always be "weaknesses".
If you all remember Stefen Edberg had a "poor forehand" and a not so good forehand volley! The same was for Jimmy Connors with his "poor mid-court low forehand" and "weak serve", or with
Guillermo Villas "no serve" and weak volleys, or Michael Chang trying to get a "Bigger service" all his career and last, Ivan Lendl trying to stop being a "chicken" or to better his volleys to win Wimbledon (I guess Lendl should have let Tony Roche volley for him at Wimbledon when needed!...not to mention the mental debacle in 1989 at Rolland Garros). Yet, these players
turned out to be great champions even though those weaknesses followed and pestered them throughout their careers.
Then Sergio what's the secret? There is a simple secret:
Top class players learn to compensate or hide their weaknesses the best they can sometimes even with ruses! For example, you problably may not remember an Italian player called Corrado Barazzutti, but the his ploy was to look like a loser to you, act like a loser, look miserable, despondent, get down on himself. He walked with his head slightly down almost inside his stooped shoulders, all in all he was the antithesis of Dr. James E. Loehr (famous sports psychologist), stay positive, I love the battle, pumping fists, agressive, mighty fighter full of adreneline type. But, boy you miss a bit and Corrado "Mama mia" Barrazutti took you to the cleaners and you were on the next airplane home or to the next tournament. Corrado was a great competitor and athlete. He made it to the respectable career ATP high ranking of 7 in the World with many brilliant wins!
Great players learn to play on their strengths and base their games on their strengths and they win the most by NOT deviating from what they do best, whatever that is. That is the secret!
Remember Boris "BOOM BOOM!" Becker? Now imagine if Ion Tiriac or Bobby Brett had told Boris, "Boris, you have a great 1st serve but, you need to get a much higher percentage of first serves in".... you get the idea, we would never had gotten to know "BOOM BOOM" Becker and he probably would never had won Wimbledon either!
Now back to our young friend Andy Roddick, coaching and over coaching has taken away from Andy Rodick what were his greatest tools and what I call his core strengths or weapons:
-The punishing aces (he hits a lot less aces now then 4 or 5 years ago!).
- The risk-taking forcing second service (when he first came onto the scene his second serve was a weapon, today it is not!). Remember how Pete Sampras used is second serve as a weapon!
- The punishing shots inside the court. Today Andy is playing 80% of his aggressive or defensive shots 12 to 15 feet behind the baseline! He basicly runs unecessary miles that take away much needed energy for further winning matches and for a long tennis season.
What does Roddick need to do? Forget about the Coaching and the experts! Go with his instincts, his power game, his natural strengths:
- Use his biggest weapons at all time, be it big first services, big second serves or serve and volley occasionally.
- Stop playing 15 feet behind the baseline! Play 3 to 6 feet from the baseline and get inside the court at every opportunity he gets and hit the big forehand WINNERS! Never give up an inch!
- Go to the net and mix the approach shots with short fades or disguised drop-shots and mix solid volleying with drop-angled-volleys.
- When attacking go 85% of the times up the line use very few cross court approaches.
- Never worry about the volley, if he gets inside the court, he will get easy enough put away volleys.
- Return closer to the baseline and darn it, he must get inside the court on those second serves pound them or go to the net and put some kind of pressure on the other guys serves (chip & charge you name it!).
- From point one get ahold of his opponents and rattle them with his sheer physical power and never let go. Like Jimmy Connors use to do with his strokes.
- Take control of the center of the tennis court and of the match; mentally, physically and with his shots.
Finally, in the grand slams he has to be able to do this at all times 3 sets in a row or 5
intercalated if he is forced to. He needs to decrease the amount of rounds with long five set matches to 3 sets. He also has to increase the level of his self-belief, concentration and general stamina!
Easier said then done, but I believe that the young man can do it!
About the Author: Sergio Cruz is an ex # 1 National Champion, Davis Cup Player from Portugal and former Coach Jim Courier ATP World Ranking # 1 http://www.tenniscruz.com