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Archive for Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Slumping Roddick turns to veteran

Jimmy Connors hopes to bring ‘intangibles’ to pupil in attempt to revive 23-year-old’s career

July 25, 2006

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— Andy Roddick has turned to Jimmy Connors to give his sputtering career a boost.

"I've got a coach," Roddick said Monday at a news conference with Connors at the Los Angeles Tennis Center, where the Countrywide Classic was being played.

The announcement wasn't a surprise.

Roddick reached out to Connors after an early exit from the French Open in June and there had been much speculation since about their association.

Connors said he never would have imagined himself as a coach and called it a "great opportunity" to help Roddick regain the No. 1 ranking.

"I would like to try to give him a little bit of what made me what I was, and he is able to suck that up like a sponge.

"He's proven that already," said Connors, who won 109 titles and four Grand Slams.

"It's not always in the game. It's the intangibles that could make the difference, along with a few tweaks here and there.

"I'm not sitting down there breaking down and criticizing everything. I'm just trying to make him the best competitor that he can be."

The 23-year-old Roddick won the U.S. Open and reached No. 1 on the ATP Tour in 2003 and was runner-up to Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2004 and '05, when he finished the season ranked No. 3.

He has struggled this year, however, failing to win a title and falling to No. 10.

Roddick was coached by Brad Gilbert in '03, but those two parted in 2004 and since then Roddick has worked with Dean Goldfine and his brother, John.

Roddick said he and Connors spent four days working together in Santa Barbara, Calif., where Connors lives, before Roddick played at Indianapolis last week.

Roddick reached the finals at Indianapolis, losing to gritty James Blake.

But Roddick said he came away optimistic about the association with Connors.

"First of all, it's just belief," Roddick said. "It means a lot when someone who has won as many tennis championships as Jimmy Connors comes through and says, 'I believe in you. I think you can really do some great things, and here's how.'

"I never felt that I couldn't play tennis any more. It was just a matter of taking what you're doing on the practice court and applying it in matches.

"Jimmy gave me some things to work on (for Indianapolis) and I went and tried to apply them the best I could, and I'm pretty optimistic after the first week."

Neither Roddick nor Connors would, or could, clarify the parameters of their relationship.

Connors said, "we're just starting out" and will try to "get through this year and see how things go," and Roddick said he wasn't sure how much time they would spend together.

Connors is a willing participant, though, after some initial reluctance.

"The one major concern from my standpoint was what he was willing to give and how much he was willing to give and it didn't take him long to prove that to me," Connors said.

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