Sunday, February 20, 2011
If you haven’t seen the shot yet, I suggest you stop reading and go watch it right now.Â The running, diving, rolling on the ground, down the line forehand passing shot, was not actually seen by Andy Roddick that broke Milos Raonic and won Roddick the ATP 500 title in Memphis.Â In his news conference after the match, Roddick said it was “the best shot I’ve ever hit” and I thought I detected a lingering bit of surprise in himselfÂ that he had managed that shot, at that moment, in that match.Â When Raonic was asked about the shot later in his post-match conference that was held after Roddickâ€™s he said, “well his legs weren’t anywhere near the ball”, a comment which brought laughter in the press conference room and a big smile across Raonic’s face.
Last night, I had stayed to watch the women’s doubles final which was a competitive seesaw battle.Â The kind of firecracker match that doubles matches specialize in producing.Â The crowd loved every drop of drama and emotional outburst from the players, with Govortsova/ Kudryavtseva prevailing 6-3, 4-6, 10-8 (TB) over Hlavackova/Hradecka.Â These power baseliners played some net rushing, Australian born, poach every opportunity you can, doubles.Â Â I hope Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver were watching, because I have a hunch they would’ve been happy to see it.
I got to the club about an hour before the men’s doubles final was set settled in for Nestor/Mirnyi vs Rojer/Butorac.Â The first three games it was Rojer/Butorac playing with more pizzazz, especially â€œhoppyâ€ feet Butorac.Â Then Nestor/Mirnyi changed the script and brought out their doubles textbook: make returns low, go hard and up the middle, pick on Rojer’s volley, mix up serves, and by all means control the net.Â It worked and they ran away with the first set.Â The second set stayed on serve, and Butorac dug the team out of a 4 match points down hole with some smart serving that tipped the momentum in their favor.Â Rojer and Butorac won the tiebreak by producing their boldest tennis of the evening.Â Undeterred, Mirnyi/Nestor played the champions tiebreak like they were giving a doubles clinic and the number 1 seeds ran away with the tiebreak and the title.
The men’s singles final was hyped, justifiably so, because Raonic was coming in having won his maiden title last week in San Jose and also he had recently assumed the “next big thing” role in men’s tennis in the media.Â He has beat some quality players in the last 2 weeks and in Memphis had not been playing his best but had been winning close 3 set matches, which probably is a better indicator of potential than winning matches while playing lights out tennis.Â Roddick had played what he called his “best match of the year so far” in the semis, taking out JuanMartin del Potro.Â Â From the start of the match and up until the second set tiebreak, the match was less rallying, more serving display.Â Andy had looked lethargic between points, slumping over a few times and putting his hands on his knees, not trying for reachable balls, coughing into his towel or shirt.Â It was weird to watch and I expected Raonic to pounce and kill, but he could not seem to string points together and take advantage of Roddick’s condition.Â Roddick stayed tough though, even when Raonic won the tight second set tiebreaker.Â Roddick went up 4-1, 40-15 on Raonic ‘ serve in the third, but Raonic showed his biggest weapon, his mental toughness and fighting spirit, and went on to even the match 4 all.Â By this point, the up and down drama of it all had created a surreal environment within the club.Â Both players had nurtured crowd support and people started getting a little crazy fun with cheers and whistles and encouragements.Â There were some fiery line call questions from each player, notably from Raonic late in the match, but no matter how feverish it got they both showed resilience in putting their heads back down and getting straight back to work.Â Raonic got himself out of 0-30 on serve a couple times later in that set, so when Roddick had another match point at 5-4, 40-30 on Raonic ‘ serve, it was funny.Â Raonic had saved match points already, by playing bold big tennis.Â He did the same on that last point, approaching Roddick’s backhand, and hitting what looked like a midcourt angled forehand volley winner that Roddick turned into his best shot ever.Â I was sitting in the media section, behind some tour and tournament staff, and I’m pretty sure everyone was on their feet after that championship winning shot.
Brad Hunter was covering Memphis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal twitter account @BradHunter.