Miami diary: Sunday April 4
Originally published on: 05/04/10 10:07
Prior to the men’s final, the National Anthem was performed by Arturo Sandoual on his trumpet to a packed house in Crandon Park’s Stadium Court. The musician – who defected from Cuba in 1990 – has racked up five Grammy awards, six Billboard awards and an Emmy as well as having performed with Justin Timberlake and Alicia Keys. And after cranking out the high notes today, two helicopters flew over the arena (in a more conservative display than the ear-splitting roar generated by yesterday’s jet fly-past.) In spite of the glittering silver and green Miami Central High School Marching Band, who first entertained the crowd, it was more of a subdued entrée to the ensuing battle for the Butch Buchholz Championship trophy than the build up to the women’s finals.
Versatile A-Rod clinches second Miami title
In the heat of the Miami sun, Andy Roddick bagged the first set 7-5 in fifty one minutes, and after breaking Tomas Berdych in the first game of the second set – that was really it. The 24-year-old Czech, who managed to score a storming 6-1 first set advantage when the pair met in the Brisbane semi-finals earlier this year, failed to break Roddick’s serve as easily in their third meeting of 2010 as the American hammered down 13 aces. Roddick had the chance to break for a third time right at the death, but had to wait until his third match point on serve to wrap up a 7-5 6-4 victory in an hour and forty-three minutes after some late resistance from 6ft5” Berdych. The match stats demonstrate how Roddick’s game has evolved, highlighting not only his thumping serves, but eight out of 16 points won at the net to boot.
The defeated Berdych, who had been bidding to become the first player outside the top ten to win the title since Jim Courier in 1991, not to mention the first Czech player since Ivan Lendl in 1989, noted of his opponent “He’s not just serving the big bombs. He’s a guy who can serve like 70, 75% of first serve and then of course he’s solid from the baseline. Then when he gets the chance he can play also really aggressive with a lot of sliced backhand. It’s very tough to do something with that…I think his game has really changed.”
In an interview after the final – and given how many times we saw A-Rod approach the net today and in his semi-final victory over Nadal – it was interesting to hear the views of coach Larry Stefanki, whose partnership with Roddick has seen a maturing of both his game and his on-court emotions. Stefanki says Andy now has a variety of serve speeds, serve and volley and slice, while he’s lost between 10 – 15lbs in weight. “He’s gone from being a mid western TGI Friday eating boy,” says Stefanki, to a man who now eats whole and organic foods. The former trainer of Tim Henman admits he instructed Roddick: “If you want to get faster you’ve got to lose a lot of weight.” Stefanki won’t take all the credit though, and praised Mrs Roddick for a proportion of the player’s current success. “She is his greatest asset in terms of mentality and believing in him,” he said. There is clearly a great deal of respect between player and coach – Andy himself said he wouldn’t have hired a coach if he was only going to refuse to take his advice, and while player and coach will undoubtedly discuss and disagree on certain matters, this is clearly turning into a great partnership. The 27-year-old Texan has appeared in four finals this season with a 50% percent success rate. He held 50 of 52 service games on route to his Miami victory, dropping a solitary set.
Twice the champ
Roddick had played three sets – in the Champions for Chile Exhibition match – the night before his clash with Berdych. The match raised $125,000 for the Chilean earthquake relief fund, and swung in favour of American pairing A-Rod and Jim Courier. Fernando Gonzalez was delighted to have Roddick in attendance the day before his biggest match of the season. “Andy has to play a really important match tomorrow,” he said. “I mean I feel really good about him. He’s a great person. We think maybe really similar, because we know that there is something more important than tennis. I think he feels that way”. It’s been an excellent week for the world No.7, especially in view of all those extra curricular activities he’s indulged in (he also played H-O-R-S-E with NBA world champ Dwayne Wade and had his say on all manner of subjects in his ever-entertaining press conferences during the Miami fortnight.) Dare Americans dream that he might finally add to his 2003 US Open title with another Grand Slam in 2010?
The last match of the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open was an entertaining women’s doubles final, won by Argentine Gisela Dulko and Italy’s Flavia Pennetta who defeated No.3 seeds Nadia Petrova and Sam Stosur 3-6 6-4 10-7. This is the fourth title that the pair have won together after previous triumphs in Bogota (2006), and Hobart and Bastad in 2009.
Signing off from Crandon Park
This year’s attendance at the Sony Ericsson Open has been a whopping 312,386, trouncing the previous record set in 2008. Who knows what next year will hold for this vibrant tournament given the departure of it’s chairman and founder Butch Buchholz. But back to this year, and the stunning turquoise water and trademark swaying palm trees of Key Biscayne have once again provided a fabulous backdrop for a stunning fortnight of tennis on the distinctive purple and green courts of Crandon Park .