Archive for Sunday, June 20, 2004

Roddick poised for Wimbledon

American could pose biggest threat to Federer

June 20, 2004

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— Andy Roddick has what it takes to be a transcendent tennis star. He boasts a record-breaking, highlight-reel-worthy 150 mph serve that makes opponents whiff and spectators gasp. He backs that up with a ferocious forehand, while the rest of his game is steadily improving under Brad Gilbert's tutelage.

It helps that he plays with a Connors-esque energy that can lead to high-fiving fans after a fantastic point. He even has a potential career-long foil: No. 1 Roger Federer.

And unlike 12 months ago at Wimbledon, where play starts Monday, Roddick now possesses something essential to consistently contending at Grand Slam tournaments: a Grand Slam title, earned in September at the U.S. Open.

"I was playing really well at Wimbledon last year, but maybe I didn't have the belief that I have now. Now having won one, that is definitely an advantage for me," Roddick said. "I'd always talked about, before I'd won a Grand Slam, that the only fear is the fear of the unknown. People would ask 'Can you win a Slam?' and I would say 'I'll let you know' -- and that's a big difference."

The Williams sisters remain the sport's most marketable stars, its biggest attractions on and off court. But beset by injuries, they haven't been at their best in a year -- since Serena Williams beat Venus Williams in the Wimbledon final.

Both lost in the French Open quarterfinals, the first time they were bounced in the same round of any tournament.

With top-ranked Justine Henin-Hardenne and No. 2 Kim Clijsters sidelined, the sisters' history on grass makes them the most likely title contenders and they could meet in the final. Serena jumped from a No. 10 ranking to a No. 1 seeding, and Venus went from No. 8 to No. 3.

Andy Roddick serves during the Queen's Club tournament earlier this
month in London. Roddick is among the favorites at Wimbledon, which
begins Monday.

Andy Roddick serves during the Queen's Club tournament earlier this month in London. Roddick is among the favorites at Wimbledon, which begins Monday.

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