2007 ATP-WTA Tour Pacific Life Open - At The Indian Wells Tennis Garden - Day 8
Roddick Can’t Keep Up With the Speedy Nadal
By Matt Osias
After an impressive straight-set victory over the No. 8 seed Ivan Ljubicic in the quarterfinals of the Pacific Life Open, American Andy Roddick fell short in the semis to the No. 2 seed Spaniard Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-3.
Roddick was first to drop serve to the consistent left-hander, giving away the first set, but it was in the very first game of the second set that the course of the match changed. Roddick was to start the second set on serve, but a string of unforced errors gave Nadal break-points, to which he capitalized on the offering.
“I really screwed it up in the first game (of the) second set,” Roddick said. “I played a really bad game…and, you know, from there, I felt like I was really playing catch-up. But besides that, I actually didn’t hit the ball that bad…I made it really tough on myself after that.”
That initial game in the second set proved the difference-maker, as neither player would drop serve the rest of the way.
The style of Nadal’s game, a more balanced attack versus a power game, as Roddick possesses, gave Roddick many problems at the net. On several occasions Roddick would hit a crushing forehand, unreachable by most humans, that Nadal would comfortably return. Hoping to control the point, Roddick closed out on the net for the winner, but as he attempted to put away the point, Nadal tracked down the ball for the quick passing shot winner – a definite momentum-shifter.
“When he hits passes like that, it makes it really difficult,” Roddick said. “I mean (he) just crushed them up the line.”
Nadal’s last title was in the French Open 2006, but since then he has been improving, looking better and more consistent.
“I thought he (Nadal) played real well,” Roddick said. “Today he came out and played super aggressive…I never felt comfortable.”
The Battle of the 19-year-olds Falls Djokovic’s Way
In the final match of the day, and in temperatures above 90 degrees, Serbian No. 12 seed Novak Djokovic made quick work of the No. 13 seed Andy Murray, dispatching the Scot in exactly one hour; 6-2, 6-3 on stadium court at the Pacific Life Open.
“This is considered one of the biggest tournaments after a grand slam,” Djokovic said. “And I’m really happy to get through because it’s the first Master Series tournament of the year, and I am already in the finals.”
With the victory, Djokovic has become the first-ever Serbian tennis player to break into the ATP singles Top-10.
“I reached and achieved my goal for this year,” Djokovic said. “It is a nice thing to hear and see…and it opens a lot of doors (for me).”
On the other side of the net, Murray showed obvious signs of a continued ankle injury sustained from his previous day’s match Tommy Haas. Although he decided to play in today’s semifinals, trainers were skeptical of whether he would be able to compete at a high enough level.
“I spoke to the trainer,” Murray said. “He told me I wouldn’t do more damage if I kept playing, but that my movement would most likely be worse.”
Murray is listed as day-to-day, and plans to head to Miami for to prepare for his next event. He said he would evaluate it then.
Both players are just 19 years 10 months old, but Djokovic, unlike most teenagers, has demonstrated a huge amount of maturity, both on and off the court. On the court he demonstrates patience during points, careful not to rush into a bad shot. And off the court he maintains a humble attitude, seemingly understanding that, although he has had some success, that there is a long road ahead of him in this career.
“I think it has to do with experiences,” Djokovic said. “You see guys like Federer, and the way he acts on the court, the way he plays; it is just perfect. He deals with the pressure so easily…and makes it look easy too. So it’s motivation when you see a player like that; for myself and everybody else.”
Djokovic will now face Nadal in the finals March 18th at 12:00 noon.
Matt Osias can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.