Andy Roddick announced an amicable parting of the ways with his coach, Jimmy Connors, here last night but stressed: "I'm just happy that I was able to spend a little bit of time with such a legend."
The two Americans had been working together since the summer of 2006, when Roddick was at his lowest ebb after making an early exit from Wimbledon at the hands of Andy Murray. Roddick's fortunes were quickly restored – he had fallen to No 12 in the world rankings but was soon back in the top five – but although he was back in a Grand Slam final within weeks, losing to Roger Federer at the US Open, the success proved hard to sustain last year.
After reaching the 2007 Australian Open semi-finals, in which he again lost to Federer, Roddick's best Grand Slam performances were quarter-final appearances at both Wimbledon and the US Open. In Melbourne two months ago he was beaten in the third round by Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Roddick's brother, John, has also been working as part of his coaching team, and the world No 6 said he had no immediate plans to replace Connors. He will continue to tour with his brother and Doug Spreen, his fitness trainer. "I'm not too worried about it," Roddick said after his crushing quarter-final victory over Rafael Nadal here at the Barclays Dubai Championships. "Tonight's an example. I know how to play. I've just got to set my mind to it. I'm really not thinking about it. I’m happy with John and Doug."
Connors, with eight Grand Slam titles to his name, had settled into a comfortable career as a TV commentator before linking up with the 2003 US Open champion. However, the arrangement was only on a part-time basis, which, Roddick said, had been difficult to maintain.
"Communication's tough," he said. "It's hard when you come off a court and maybe the match hasn’t been on TV and you talk on the phone and try to explain what you're thinking. I think we did the mentor role from a distance as well as you can, but when I’m going from Australia to Austria to California to Memphis to Dubai it becomes difficult. It was as much a matter of logistics as anything.
"It's tough to ask him to come on the road for two, three or four weeks at a time. He has a great family and he likes walking his dogs every morning and I’m keeping him away from the golf course a little bit too much. I understand that. I'm just happy that I was able to spend a little bit of time with such a legend.
"I still have the utmost respect for him. I think it was tough for him to do it part-time. Maybe we weren't getting exactly the results we wanted, but he was retired before we got together. It's completely amicable. We’re friends. I'm sad but I’m thankful for what he was able to give to me and the fact that he was able to take some time out of his retirement and spend it with me."
Roddick said Connors had improved many aspects of his game. "He's helped my backhand a ton. It's a different shot to when we got together. It’s a lot more solid. And just that fighting spirit. When we got together I was as close to down and out as I’ve been. I spent the week after Wimbledon as close to depressed as I've been as far as my career goes. I really credit him with reigniting that spark and getting me back into the top five and into a Slam final pretty close thereafter."
Asked whether he might ask Patrick McEnroe, America's Davis Cup captain, to work as his coach, Roddick said: "I wouldn't do that to our team. It would make Davis Cup weeks weird. If I’m in New York I do go out to hit with Patrick and he'll run some stuff by me. He's definitely willing to give advice, but as far as the travelling is concerned he has a baby girl at home and a wife he loves very much. It's kind of the same scenario. I think he's set between the commentary and the Davis Cup."Reuse content