Andy Roddick is getting his year off to a flying start in Oz.
The former US Open champ, who made the final in Doha earlier this month, continued his solid run of form advancing to the Aussie Open semifinals when defending champ Novak Djokovic retired from their match while A-Rod was leading 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-2, 2-1. It's his fourth semifinal appearance Down Under and first since 2007.
The American baller believes his much-improved fitness allowed him to be aggressive with his positioning on-court:
Yeah, I noticed [the positioning] a lot on the first ball. When they hit a return, I'm able to stabilize on that one, or at least get there a second quicker and at least neutralize that one. I'm not getting hurt on that ball as much, which helps. When I get going, I'm able to kind of move a little bit, and that's nice also.And did he realize Nole was struggling with the conditions?
I didn't. I was kind of just playing my side of the court and I didn't notice until the umpire said that they had someone coming out to see him.
In his post-match presser, Nole discussed his reasons for retiring in the big match:
Well, the main reason is cramping and soreness in the whole body. I think the people could see that I was struggling with movement. I couldn't serve the way I served in the first two sets. That third set I just started dropping 20, 30 kilometers per hour first serve. Obviously wasn't ‑‑ it was much easier for him to return. He saw that longer rallies are not comfortable for me at that point, so he was using it wisely. Really unfortunate way to end up my Australian Open 2009 here in this way. Really tried my best, but sometimes you can't fight against your own body.Nole also revealed he made a request for a night match after finishing his fourth rounder against Marcos Baghdatis at 2:30am on Monday but was denied due to Jelena Dokic's quarterfinal being broadcast in primetime:
It's on the tournament organizers to decide whether they going put me or her or whoever plays on prime time. I don't blame them putting an Australian on at 7:30. It's obviously it attracts most people and attention. You got to think about people, about the public, about everybody. That's what it's all about. You can't think only about the players, which is normal. But sometimes you got hear what the players have to say. Things like this happen for ‑‑ not for a reason.And is he prepared for any criticism for notching another career retirement under his belt?
I wasn't thinking about that. This is all part of the sport. I did have some retirements, but I always retired with a reason. I don't see why should anybody, you know, take it or mean it that way. Whenever I retired, I retired because I felt I cannot go on. I mean, I don't ‑‑ that's the only reason.Sure you always had a "reason" but was the reason always worthy of a mid-match retirement? That's questionable, especially when you respond "Yeah, I feel better. I feel better now. I want to get on the court again" when asked how you were feeling in presser.
And, correct me if I'm wrong but isn't this Nole's seventh retirement from a match since 2005? Regardless I find it truly disappointing and annoying that he couldn't finish out this match being down 1-2 in what would likely be the final set because of cramping and soreness. That's crap.
Even a wobbly Victoria Azarenka tried to push through obvious dizziness and illness to complete her match against Serena Williams before being forced to retire. A pretty pathetic attempt by Nole here but apparently more par for the course.
He also continued his country's Serbian Slide following Ana Ivanovic's + Jelena Jankovic's early round exits. *clap*
Big kudos, however, to A-Rod for coming through this section of the draw and making me look like I might know a little something of what I blog about. He's looking fit and confident but he'll have a stern, if near impossible, task of defeating a now-zoning Roger Federer (more on his crushing win over Juan Martin del Potro later) for a spot in the Aussie Open final.
(images via Getty)