Roddick a real Grand Slam threat once again

BY Zack Pierce • July 21, 2009

Roger Federer deservedly ruled the post-Wimbledon headlines, but the bigger story just might be the man who lost to him in that epic final on Sunday.

After five sets, 77 games and over four hours' worth of heavy hitting against the best player this side of the Milky Way, Andy Roddick matters again.

The American, of course, was no slouch before his run to the Wimbledon final, a match he lost in five sets (and probably should've won in four) to Federer, with the final set score a surreal 16-14. He has ended the year ranked in the top 10 every time since 2002 and had reached at least the semifinal round at a Grand Slam nine times headed into the fortnight. He is and has always been a world-class player.

But ever since his lone Slam triumph — at the 2003 U.S. Open — he has watched four men storm past him in the rankings. First, there was Federer. He was tied with Roddick on the all-time Slam titles list after that 2003 U.S. Open — both had 1. Since then, Federer leads 14-0. Later, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray all joined Federer in co-founding the prestigious tennis club known to the media as the "Big Four." This club owns every Grand Slam championship trophy since the 2005 Australian Open.

"Big Four + Roddick" Standings
Rafael Nadal
Roger Federer
Andy Murray
Novak Djokovic
Andy Roddick

If you were to take the Big Four along with Roddick and make a five-player "conference," where their career records against each other comprised the standings, the table at right shows how it would look.

As you can see, Roddick's not in the pennant race (though his and Federer's records are made mostly on Federer's lopsided 19-2 edge over him). He had become an afterthought when 2009 started, not even considered for admission in the Big Four. And how could he be? Going into this year, he had just one win over the rest of those players at a Grand Slam, beating the then-49th ranked Nadal at the 2004 U.S. Open.

Then came this year's Australian Open, where he had Djokovic on the ropes in the quarterfinals before the Serb retired while trailing in the fourth set. Roddick went on to lose to Federer in the semis in Melbourne. At Roland Garros, Roddick put up his best-ever showing — a fourth-round appearance, though he did not cross paths with a Big Four member.

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