Djokovic And Roddick To Renew Rivarly
Novak Djokovic couldn’t have hoped for more when it comes to his US Open preparation. Although he may have winced when he saw his next opponent was American favourite Andy Roddick, the truth is Djokovic needs this match like he needs a better service technique. Djokovic hasn’t faced Roddick in 2010 but they had three meetings in 2009, all leaving a sour taste in the Serb’s mouth. Their bitter rivalry first came about at the 2008 US Open, where Roddick mocked Djokovic’s claims of injury. Djokovic responded by first beating the Texan and then letting Roddick’s home-crowd know exactly what he thought of the comments. Djokovic must regret this decision. He was booed off court and hasn’t beaten Roddick since. Instead, he made matters worse by retiring with heat exhaustion against Roddick at the Australian Open in 2009. He then lost in straight-sets in both Indian Wells and Montreal.
Djokovic will be keen to show he is a much matured player when they take to the court in Cincannati tomorrow. He has improved on his results in 2010 and has come through Viktor Troicki and red-hot David Nalbandian in straight sets so far in Cincinnati. He had a semi-finals result in Toronto and took a set off runner-up Roger Federer. Djokovic hasn’t retired at all in 2010 and instead has shown some courage when battling injuries and the elements, most noticeably against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the Australian Open where Djokovic had to leave court to vomit. His form has been solid all year and he will be looking for a second title. A win over Roddick would be the perfect medicine for Djokovic’s struggles with his serve and entourage.
Contrary to Djokovic’s model of consistency, Roddick has had a topsy-turvy year. He started 2010 with a roar, reaching the Indian Wells final and claiming the Miami Masters. However, opting to withdraw from the majority of the clay season to spend time with his wife left him poorly prepared at Wimbledon where he was upset in the fourth round. He has struggled since with lack of match play and a mild case of glandular fever. He seems to be finding some much-needed form in Cincinnati where he came through a tough three-setter against Robin Soderling.
For Djokovic, tomorrows quarter-final is a golden opportunity to get the monkey off his back before the US Open. The hot conditions forecast for his afternoon match and a very pro-Roddick American crowd will make sure that this is the toughest it can get for Djokovic as he faces his biggest rival. Yet Djokovic has much working in his favour in 2010; his serve is better, he has reunited with his backhand down the line, and has shown a willingness to fight. Djokovic will need to do just that if he is to come up best against Roddick and the crowd. A win for either player would be a minor breakthrough and huge confidence booster before the US Open, a title they both covet.