Posted: Thursday September 1, 2011 7:38PM ; Updated: Saturday September 3, 2011 8:40PM
Jon Wertheim
Jon Wertheim>TENNIS MAILBAG

Listen closely to Roddick's words, even before Fowler's interview

Story Highlights

Andy Roddick's logic was shaky, but he also made absolute sense sometimes

After Roddick hit balls into the crowd, he muttered, "If he's there, I'm walking out."

The hardcourt season may be reason for the numerous retirements and walkovers

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Andy Roddick
Andy Roddick gets fellow Nebraskan Jack Sock in the second round.
Carlos M. Saavedra/SI
2011 U.S. Open
Day 15
Day 14
Day 13
Day 12
SI Photos
Previous Coverage

What you think of Andy Roddick's post game interview last night?
-- Ryan, New York

In case you missed it. Opinions are, of course, all over the place. But far as I'm concerned, that was great television. Chris Fowler set Roddick up. A contrarian by nature, Roddick happily engaged. Fowler, to his credit, was poised and resisted lightening the mood. And we had one of the better television exchanges in recent memory. Having seen Roddick begin his career as such a giddy, happy-be-here kid, it's jarring to take stock of him in this jaded state. (And Mary Carillo called Ryan Harrison "crankypants?") But he raised some valid points both on TV and later in the post-match interview room. Sometimes his logic was shaky; sometimes he made absolute sense.

Some of the savvier viewers noted that after Roddick hit balls into the crowd after beating Russell, courtside audio picked up his voice muttering, "If's he's there, I'm walking out." (Fire up the TiVo if you're inclined.) Multiple sources tell me that the "he" in question is John McEnroe who, you'll notice, was not present with Fowler in the ESPN booth a few moments later. Bear that in mind as you listen to Roddick excoriate tennis analysts.

Jon, have you EVER seen such a run of retirements and walkovers at a Grand Slam? More today. What gives?
-- Tracy Collins, Phoenix

• It's not obscenely hot, either. You know what I really think? A) It's a physical sport, now more than ever. B) It's the final slam of the year -- after six weeks of taxing hardcourt tennis -- so everyone's a bit beat up. C) Don't ignore the $19,000 awarded to a first-round loser. For a lot of players this is serious dough, a serious inducement to go out there and give it a go, even when (significantly) less than 100 percent. Many times Lleyton Hewitt has said, "If this weren't a slam I wouldn't be playing." That sentiment is not unique to him.

Jon, spent part of Day 3 watching Gilles Simon win his first-round match in five sets. Here's what puzzles me though: the guy is the No. 12 seed. Anyone ranked that high presumably has a weapon shot, no? Maybe it's just me, but I wasn't seeing it. Serve looked pretty good but not remarkable, groundies looked reliable but not huge. Nothing really stood out; maybe his court coverage. Off-day, or is reliability alone enough to maintain a lofty ranking like this on the tour?
--
Stewart Glickman, South Orange, N.J.

• Here's the dirty secret about the men's game: Shhh. Lean in. Think about the concentration of points and how many the Big Three have hoarded. There's so little available after that it doesn't take all that much to be a top-20 player. I like Simon for the reason you state: there is an elegant minimalism to his game. But in terms of artillery, he is a pacifist.

I just attended my first U.S. Open. I had night tickets for Ashe in the nosebleed section. For every argument there is to put a roof on that stadium, here's one for keeping it as is; From the very top row, you can't ask for a better view of the sunset and the Manhattan skyline. It's a spectacular view.
-- Jon, Philadelphia

• I'm not sure it's an either/or since we're likely talking about a retractable roof. But, yes, while the tennis can seem a bit remote, you get a tremendous view when sitting in the FAA seats. (Incidentally, same holds from Citi Field.)

Instead of criticizing Caroline Wozniacki, I think we should applaud her for her efforts. This is a girl with no real weapons, except her determination, and yet, she reached the No. 1 ranking, one slam final and a couple of slam SFs. If she does not win any slam, I would not categorize her as an underachiever, but rather as an overachieving "ordinary" player.
-- JR Basa, Chicago

• Agree. Think we need to put this issue in the deep freeze for a while. Or at least until she wins a major or give up her ranking top spot.

Is Sergei Bubka's dad who I think he is?
-- Darrell, Toronto

• When he hurdles the net and clears it by 8 feet, you'll have your answer. (Yes, his father was the track and field legend.)

Shots, Miscellany

• Re: Venus Williams' condition, my friend Nancy Howard chipped in with this:

"After tedious and long battles with why my dry mouth and OK, yes, fatigue, I was diagnosed with Sjogren's when I was in my 40s. I would be playing my (amateur) tennis and ("pro") paddle (Platform) tennis which often require three matches in a day. ... I would be nearly crippled by the last match. A doubles sport, my partners struggled to comprehend my physical state as I'd start out full of usual vigor and deteriorate as the day went on. It took several years for my diagnosis back then ... nearly 30 years ago. I managed to continue to play and compete until back surgery five years ago. I'm 73. I always had great support from family and partners, but the immune deficiency is an enigma in the medical world today regarding cures and, worse, cause. Needs research. For years I carried a Diet Pepsi with me everywhere, slurping in the car with stick shift ... the drink-and-drive mother. I cannot talk for many sentences w/o a sip. And well, the teeth, without much or any natural saliva, they don't keep pace. (By the way, I gave up the diet sodas long ago, and now, of course, am into good ole Adirondack spring water ... great accompaniment for paddling, hiking, gardening and snowshoeing.) Doctors have a dilemma. Venus could do a lot for the syndrome, but best of all, she needs to know she can carry on, even playing at a pace, with grace and empathy on her side.

Steffi Graf on Venus.

• "Strong is Beautiful," the new global advertising campaign from the WTA, featuring a mix of 40 champions and the next generation of stars, was unveiled earlier this summer.

• The USTA announced that Pancho Gonzalez, a tennis pioneer and two-time U.S. National Champion, has been named the 2011 inductee into the U.S. Open Court of Champions, a U.S. Open and USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center attraction honoring the greatest singles champions in the history of the 130 years of the U.S. Championships/U.S. Open. Gonzalez will be inducted during a ceremony in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday evening.

• Apropos of nothing, came across this quote from Cincinnati. This should be a clip-and-paste for all athletes, no?

Q. When you have to get so taped up on your leg, as you said, you had plenty of tape on there, when you're putting it on, is there any part of you thinking, What am I doing here? Maybe I ought to withdraw and rest up for the Open.

ANDREA PETKOVIC: ... I'm not the type of person to just withdraw and leave the audience out there. It kind of sucks. You know, when you go I go to concerts and the band comes two hours late and plays for 45 minutes and then they leave, then I'm really, really pissed. I just tried to put myself in their position. The moment that I knew I'm probably going to be fine for the U.S. Open I knew I'm going to play. And I would rather die than retire, so the decision was quite easy for me.

• RZ of Los Angeles:

Hi Jon, I'm passing along this article I found on Slate.com -- by Eliot Spitzer, no less! -- that uses the decline of American men's tennis to explain global economics.

• Tony Richey of Albuquerque, N.M.:

Long lost siblings: Mike Mattison and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

 
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