After knocking back three break points down 0-1 in the third set of his somewhat shocking 7-6(4), 1-6, 6-4 over Roger Federer in Miami, Andy Roddick went out in third game and all of sudden after nearly a full year and three quarters of looking a slower due to injuries, he ran with sheer abandon. He earned a break point, and then dashed to his right and retrieved a forehand crosscourt volley. With the quick flick of his wrist, he curled a gorgeous forehand down the line pass that stunned the Swiss. That was the moment when he picked up his career again, and whether it lasts another week, month, or two years, he was finally rewarded for the relentless yet frustrating rehab work he has put in since his great run to the 2009 Wimbledon final, when Federer found a way to wear him down mentally him in a five set classic. “That was one of the best return games I have ever played,” Roddick said.
The 31st seed’s victory did not come easily at the end, when Federer out smacked him in a tough forehand-to-forehand rally to gain a 30-15 edge at 5-4. So what did Roddick do? What the old Andy would have done, and this time he succeeded against the Swiss: he nailed an ace and then two service winners, not allowing Federer to trip him up in a rally.
It was just Roddick’s third win in 24 career meetings with Federer, but two of his wins over the 16-time Slam champ have come at Crandon Park on Key Biscayne. It is somewhat hard to recall the last time he played that well against an elite player and actually won the match. His win over David Ferrer at the 2011 US Open showed his grit on a back court, but it was not a victory over a guy who has totally owned him and was on a 16-match win streak, which included titles in Rotterdam, Dubai and Indian Wells.
It was very likely when Nadal knocked out Rafael Nadal at 2009 Miami, a tournament where he has often times played his best.
“It was a great night for him and for American tennis, I guess, but it was tough for me. It was a close match that didn’t go my way,” Federer said. “I came out a bit flat today, I was a bit tired, I guess, but it was more mental than physical, I think.”
Roddick played as about as aggressively as he could: he did not allow Federer to push him around on the forehand side or trick him into absurd net approaches. He looked like the boss and while the win will not allow him to sleep easy for the rest of his life and not think about his Wimbledon defeat, it will make a very happy man in the short term, and also signals that he can be a relevant player again.
QUICK HITS on the rest of the results
Victoria Azarenka d. Dominika Cibulkova 1-6 7-6 7-5.
The victory was Azarenka’s 26th straight, but the contest was the Slovak’s to take, as she held a 2 break lead in the 2nd set. The new Vika was gutsy and clutch, while her old foe from the juniors, Cibulkova, once again failed to show that she has the mentality to be a top 5 player.
Serena Williams d. Samantha Stosur 7-5 6-3
Stosur looked in control of the match early on, but a nervous Serena finally began to take high hopping balls to her backhand early and came away with a small measure of revenge for her 2011 US Open loss to her.
Maria Sharapova d Ekaterina Makarova 6-4 7-6
Sharapova cannot always beat the rest of the top five with her “B” game, but she gutted this one out even though she was way off her top level, as was Makarova. She better up her game quickly as Li Na, who bested her at 2011 RG, is next, and nemesis Serena looms.
Caroline Wozniacki d Yanina Wickmayer 7-6(6) 6-0
Caro has not been so far under the radar since early 2009 publicity wise, but that will change as she will face Serena, who took her out at the 2011 US Open. She’ll take her to at least 3 sets this time around.
Li Na beat Sabine Lisicki 3-6 6-4 6-2
It’s so hard to figure Li and when she’ll will have a mental check out, but the surface and whether suits her and one would expect her to give Sharapova hell. Lisicki is stuck in place.
Agnieszka Radwanska d. Garbine Muguruza 6-3 6-2
If you are a Spanish rookie do you really want to face the white witch of the WTA? I think not, but Muguruza made major strides this week. And Aga, well if she doesn’t face Azarenka she has a good chance to win her sixth high grade outdoor hardcourt title in the past eight months.
Marion Bartoli beat Maria Kirilenko 6-1 6-2
All respect to Marion, but Kirilenko must have been sick or hurt here as she’s been playing way better than this score. Let’s see if Bartoli can go at Azarenka in the same fashion that Cibulkova did.
Juan Martin Del Potro d. Marin Cilic 6-3 7-6(3)
This use to be a super relevant match between up and comers, but Cilic is barely relevant any more. Delpo is promising better play than he showed against Ferrer in Davis Cup.
David Ferrer d Julien Benneteau 7-6(5) 6-4
Ferrer rarely loses early, on any surface, but does anyone actually see him reaching the final?
Novak Djokovic d. Viktor Troicki 6-3 6-4
What was that, the 1000th time Djokovic has defeated Troicki?
Nicolas Almagro d. Fernando Verdasco 6-3 6-4
Three years ago, Verdasco would have won this match but Nico has become more consistent. Maybe he’ll actually make a real run at a Slam this year
Richard Gasquet d Alberto Ramos 6-2 5-7 6-3
Do you realize that these days you can actually say that Gasquet does things quietly – like winning.
Mardy Fish d. Kevin Anderson 6-4 6-3
This is the first time this year that Fish has dug himself into a tournament. If he wants to move to Center court, he is going to need to be very focused vs. Almagro.