The following was posted last Friday on tennis.com by Peter Bodo. It's a bit obsequious
, but otherwise fair.
A couple of interesting things. He was told that the current shoulder problem is a small self-healing muscle tear. But along the lines I wrote in the neighboring thread
Quite frankly, I never trust anything that is said by Andy or his team for public or fan consumption. One frequently comes across statements that were cleary disingenuous in the light of later knowledge whether they concern his game, his coaches, his medical condition, or even his romantic life. Its all PR.
One can only go by what one sees and in the photo I saw he was clearly in pain in the right shoulder. We'll just have to wait to see how he looks on grass to know how serious it was.
it was interesting to learn that he and Connors had effectively broken up at the time of the Australian Open even though the parting of the ways was not announced until more than a month later. I expect it took a while to arrange formalities.
Posted 05/23/2008 @ 3 :31 PM
Howdy. Well, I have disappointing news for those of you who might be expecting me to report that when I met up with Andy Roddick yesterday evening he showed up in baseball cap worn backwards, proceeded to throw down 16 beers, dragged me off to a strip club, and insisted we finish the night harassing vapid young models on the dance floor of Tejeune, the chic hotspot in Manhattan's meatpacking district.
I was walking down Lexington Avenue toward the Gramercy Park hotel when I saw a tall guy in a gray overcoat jaywalking just ahead. He was wearing headphones so when I called out "Andy?", he didnt hear me. I adjusted my volume control and tried again. This time he turned around. It was indeed Roddick.
It occurred to me that if I were not a tennis fan and had to guess his occupation from his looks and bearing, I would have ventured film maker, or maybe successful, no-nonsense entrepreneur in some digital enterprise where casual but tasteful, understated, dress is the norm. If you're one of those readers who insists seeing Andy as a frat boy, all I can say is that in civilian life the vibe he exudes is anything but. Sure, he's big, raw-boned, handsome in a clean-cut way; but that doesn't always add up to "knucklehead" unless you're hell bent on seeing it that way.
We greeted each other and made for the hotel. On the way, Andy told me he was relieved to learn that his shoulder problem was a small muscle tear
, and all it required was a bit of rest. Upon walking into the hotel and checking out the bar, I was worried about the ambient noise (I would be using a tape recorder). So we wandered away and found a great spot to talk - an arrangement of plush sofas and chairs facing a fireplace. While we were engaged, an attendant came and added wood to the fire. The GPH is an elegant joint; one thing I particularly liked was that the pillars near where we sat were faced in horizontal planks of a rich, dark brown wood. You don't often get such a pleasant mixture or rustic and elegant.
Many of you know that I'm fond of Andy and enjoy what I'd call a cordial relationship with him. For one thing, he's an appealing combination of bright and sincere, and if he has an edge, at times, so what? That comes with the territory of having the self-confidence to ignore the impulse to self-edit. It's also respectful, which always grows out of humility. It's not that hard for the Roddicks of this world to feel so superior and entitled that anything not directly related to their aggrandizement is seen as a chore, a hassle, an imposition - something to be done as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Does Andy know that it's in his best interest to have good public relations? Of course he does - how could he not? But that doesn't mean he does things solely because he seeks good public relations, or that he doesn't exhibit certain qualities irrespective of how they affect his persona.
You may wonder why it's a pleasure for me to have that kind of relationship with my subjects (and I've managed to have quite a few like that, partly because of having covered tennis since before it became so associated with celebrity). Is it some groupie gene? Some bizarre vicarious thrill? Sheer if absurd ego-reinforcement?
Nah. It's because like all of you, I prefer to have "authentic" and satisfying relationships with the people I deal with at work. If you want to know just how difficult that can be in the age of the athlete-as-celebrity, read this piece, at Slate. And even if you couldn't care less about some sportswriter's lament, there's a four-word quote from Tom Seaver in there that makes reading the whole piece worth it. The comment is already enshrined along with all those quips by Goran Ivanisevic, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Jelena Jankovic et al in my personal quotation hall-of-fame.
Anyway, my main mission in talking with Andy was U.S. Open related, and most of the material I gathered will be used in Tennis magazine's September issue. However, I thought you might like a taste of it. We may also use some of the material next week, probably in an update on Roddick that will run on the home page (Tennis.com).
I mentioned Roddick's basic respect for others earlier; that respect extends to rival like Roger Federer, whom he respects in a more basic and realistic way than you might expect from someone who's so often been thumped and denied moments of glory by Federer. This is not cursory, mail-it-in appreciation.
"Nothing has changed this year as far as what Roger can do with a racket in his hand," Andy said, when I asked if he felt that Federer is more vulnerable now than in the past. "If you have the theoretical big point to play and one guy to play it, you want the racket in his hand. And I know from experience that having to talk about a 'slump', or being asked if you're 'struggling' every single day takes its toll. It's impossible not to start thinking about that stuff.
"If Roger didn't have to hear or be asked about struggling, I don't think he'd give the idea a second thought. I honestly believe that. But how tough is it if you're playing a Masters Series final and, when you lose, people ask 'what's wrong?' It's quit a monster he's created for himself. Look, he gets to the semfinal of a Slam and loses to the guy who wins the tournament and people are talking about it with, almost with. . . disgust. I don't think Pete Sampras ever had to deal with that. Wimbledon was different, but Pete could lose to someone in Paris, or Melbourne, and nobody said much. Roger, the guy's won four or five Masters titles on clay, he gets it every time he loses a match. Roger is unlike anything we've ever seen in men's tennis."
That was an interesting way to put it, I thought. And speaking of that Grand Slam (the last Australian Open) where Roger lost in the semis, you'll recall that Roddick was upset in Melbourne in the third round, and caused a sensation when he berated an umpire. Of that incident, he said, "In Australia, I wanted to win so bad that I was driving myself crazy (Roddick had just severed his relationship with Jimmy Connors, which put him under a certain amount of pressure to perform).
And it showed up, with that incident with the umpire - the general way I handled that loss and all that.
"Since then, though, I've settled down and gone about my business. And just when thing were going badly, up comes Dubai (where Roddick beat Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in back-to-back matches before winning the title) and everything starts to click. The whole thing - confidence, expectations, pressure - it works in weird ways, and I don't have an explanation for it. But I'm not sure I would have won that match with Roger in Miami if I didn't have Dubai in the background."
Andy said he was really disappointed to miss the clay-court season, and said of his game on clay:
"The big thing for me is that when I play well on clay, I really feel I can win matches. It's that middle ground that hurts me, where I'm playing so-so, but on hard courts I can slime out a match 6-4,7-5, with one break here and there against a guy ranked no. 40 in the world. On clay, if I'm just playing average against a guy like that it can go either way.
"This year, I was playing well, I was moving well, mixing it up, playing the right shots at the right times. So I was really looking forward to the French Open. Any other year, a part of me would have been relieved about missing Paris. Not this year. I might have gone there and won the matches I'm supposed to win, and then you just see what happens when you come up against someone who's more of a clay specialist."
We went on to talk about subjects like Davis Cup and the assignment facing Roddick at the U.S. Open, but I'll leave it at that for now. After our interview, we walked up Lexington together a little way and shook hands, wishing each other well.