Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Dossier: Beware the might of Roddick's forehand
Exclusive briefing from the man who has coached champions from Agassi to Sharapova and the Williams sisters
Friday 03 July 2009
Today's big match: Andy Murray v Andy Roddick
I can guarantee Andy will win. I just can't guarantee which one. Has Murray got the ability, the impetus and the control of his nerves that will be required for victory? Of course. But Roddick is a seasoned competitor who's in good shape, full of confidence, in possession of a dangerous serve, hungry for this title and playing his best tennis for years. Could he win this match? Yes.
Working on the basis that both men bring the best of themselves to the ball game, and play at their peaks, I'd pick Murray to win. But I do want to stress, again, that the longer this tournament goes on, the bigger the pressures on Murray's shoulders, and no home fan should be expecting a walk in the park for him today. This is huge, the biggest match of Andy's life. And it's not the biggest match of Roddick's life; it's just one of quite a lot of important matches.
Breaking down their games, Roddick has the service advantage, certainly in pure power. Murray's serve is much improved, he moves it around and mixes it up (bomb, slider, kicker), and that second-serve kicker elicits defensive returns he can attack.
Roddick's explosive forehand, for pure power, is also bigger. Murray's forehand will lull you into a rhythm and then, as an opponent, shock the hell out of you with a ferocious change of pace. Murray has the better and more versatile backhand. Roddick has improved his movement by losing 15 to 18 pounds in weight but Murray's movement is still better. For all-round versatility and ability to change the pace – with drop shots and slices – Murray is ahead. Temperament will play a part but both men are ready.
I believe this match will swing on Roddick's serve, Murray's return of that serve and how quickly Roddick can nail his points. If Roddick's serve is on, he'll keep holding and it'll be only a matter of time before he'll break you. But we know Murray's returns are up there with the best in the world, and if he can get an early fix on A-Rod's serve, he can take control by picking it apart. Roddick will want short points. The longer a rally goes, the better Murray's chances because of his court coverage and ability to hit those big shots down the line off both wings.
This will be closer than people expect, four sets, maybe five. If Murray starts slow like against Wawrinka, he could be punished. I give the edge to Murray. I could as easily flip a coin.
Tale of the tape
Andy Murray Name Andy Roddick
British Nationality American
22 Age 26
Dunblane Place of birth Nebraska
Dunblane Residence Texas
2005 Turned pro 2000
Right-handed Plays Right-handed
6ft 3in Height 6ft 2in
84kg Weight 88kg
No 3 World ranking No 6
No 3 Wimbledon seeding No 6
12 Career titles 27
£12m Career prize-money £4.4m
W14 L3 Wimbledon record W33 L8
SF 2009 Wimbledon best R-up (04, 05)
2-7 Odds 11-4
Head-to-head: Eight previous meetings. Murray leads 6-2
Bollettieri's prediction: Murray in four or five
Herculean task for Haas – but miracles do happen
The odds-makers only see one winner when Roger Federer plays Tommy Haas in the other semi-final today and it isn't Tommy. But I smell the upset of upsets. It's a faint aroma, admittedly, and if you hold your nose in the air, the whiff of another Federer victory in a Slam semi and then final is stronger. But my boy Tommy is on the run of his career, he's pumped with confidence, he's mixing up his serve, he's volleying like you wouldn't believe, and he stands just one win from the first Slam final in his long career.
He's 31 now and he's been living at my academy since he was 13. Tommy will show Federer a lot of respect, and vice versa. Can Federer win? Doh! If he took this in straight sets that's not going to surprise anyone. His record against Tommy is 9-2 but Tommy can get under his skin and make him work. I'll take the fifth amendment on picking a winner.
The Williams sisters: one wobble but two wins
So it's a Venus versus Serena final, as I thought all along that it probably would be. But we must heap praise on Elena Dementieva, who controlled yesterday's match against Serena and should probably have won it. Dementieva's performance was impressive: strong, consistent, clever. The way she pushed Serena further and further back: three, four, five feet behind the baseline was key to her coming so close to a famous victory.
You could see how much it meant to Serena to stay in it. When she held serve late in that third set just before breaking for the match, she balled her fists and yelled like a prizefighter. I think she was sending a message to her people in the box: "I'm fighting out here." But as she was also facing Dementieva at the time, it also looked like: "Hell, let's throw away the rackets and just settle this between us!" That must be a terrifying sight for an opponent but it does show the awesome will to win the sisters have.
Venus had an altogether easier time of it and she beat Dinara Safina as I expected. We'll preview the final tomorrow.
Watch out for the next generation
Your great young hope, Laura Robson, was out of the juniors early but she'll be back. On the boys side, my academy has reasons to be cheerful. Three of the four players through to the semis in the boys' single live and train at my academy in Bradenton, Florida. Jordan Cox, 17, and Devin Britton, 18, and a winner at Roehampton before Wimbledon, are both American, while Bernard Tomic is an Australian. Britton plays Cox now. Tomic, 16, plays Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia.
Improve your game: Avoiding a sweaty grip
Got a tennis problem? Email me and I'll try to help out. Today's question comes from Jacqui Marsh, who writes: "How do pro players prevent their hands sweating in hot weather? I've tried all sorts of lotions and potions but my hands still sweat so much that my racket slips." I'd stay away from lotions and creams, Jacqui. Wash your hands and dry them before play. Trying changing grip frequently. Or try dabbing diluted ammonia on the grip and then wiping it down with a towel at the change of ends.
The A to Z of Bollettieri: Snapshots from 53 years as a top tennis coach
V is for victory, the whole point of pro sport, although any individual, as they develop, can only be expected to do their best. So there are scoreboard victories and personal victories, when a player does all they can, but loses to someone doing better on the day. Andre Agassi's defeat to Jim Courier at the 1991 French Open was like that. Andre tried. Jim was magnificent. I hope one of my victories at the academy is helping to create rounded people as well as top athletes. A common misconception is that the academy is just a pro-standard hot-house. Actually we have hundreds of students of different levels, with different aims. Many get good enough to win scholarships. V is also for Venezuela, one of many countries from which we draw students. We're the world's academy.
W is for West Point, as in the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, the world's most sophisticated military academy. I've had the honour of lecturing there. Recruits know only winning matters, it's literally life or death. You see similar obsessive drive in champion sportsmen.
Win a week in Florida at my tennis academy
Want a week's tennis holiday at my academy in Florida? Included in the prize is five days' top-class tuition, accommodation in our poolside clubhouse, and all meals. The winner arranges the travel. All you have to do is email to tell me who will win today's big match. I want a specific score line, and as a tie- breaker, a one-sentence summary of the manner in which your pick will win. At the end of the tournament, all the daily winners will go into a hat, and one overall winner will be picked from there. Yesterday's winner was Mark McGee, and he goes into the hat.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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