We all know that Andy Roddick has somewhat dropped out of the conversation lately and Mardy Fish is now the talk of the American tennis town. Fish, who just a year and a half ago was ranked outside of the top 100 (#101 – 3/22/2010), has taken the tennis tour by storm, reaching more finals this year than he ever has in his tennis career. Now comfortably ranked at a career high #7, Mardy has a lot of game in him and Roddick should be paying close attention to the moves Fish makes during matches.
Roddick, ranked at 15 in the world, has not been ranked this low since July 10, 2002; needs a little something to get him back up to his normal place in the rankings. The two tennis pals have been close since 1998 where they played basketball at Boca Prep International School. Roddick has been the dominant American tennis player for the last 7 years, however; now that Mardy has taken his place perhaps Roddick should take some careful notes.
What can Roddick learn from Fish?
- Tennis is not one-dimensional – Fish has a well structured tennis game, an all court game. Mardy can be extremely effective from any part of the tennis court; whereas Roddick tends to hang out at the baseline and just push the ball over. If Roddick wants to win more matches, he’ll have to pick up on Fish’s way of playing, from all parts of the court; not just a serve and a forehand.
- Slice less often – I have watched most of Roddick’s tennis matches and I can recall more slice backhands more than I top spin backhands; In Mardy’s case, I rarely see long backhand slice exchanges. The backhand slice is great stroke for neutralizing a point, but it’s not very effective at winning points; especially when Andy approaches off a slice. If Andy were to learn anything from his fellow countryman, he should start with less slicing.
- Serve variety is key – Yes, Andy Roddick’s serve is probably the most impressive serve in tennis history, but that’s all it is…showboating. If Roddick thinks that he can serve out a match every time, then he’s got another thing coming for him; players the last couple of years have not been as intimidated by his monstrous serve. Players now can pick up on placements and have the ability to put it back in play, which throws Roddick for a loop. Mardy Fish has a nice smooth variety of fist and second serves, and all off the same toss too! If Andy were to put a little variety in his serve like Fish, he could be a more effective player.
- Chase ’em down – Both Mardy Fish and Andy Roddick have lost quite a bit of body fat recently which have made them both quicker and stronger, however; only one of them uses it to their ability. Fish’s fitness has been key to his 2011 tennis season, Mardy has the ability and fitness to chase down balls and keep the point going. Roddick, on the other hand, gives up too easily. We have all seen it countless times, Andy will be in a point then all the sudden he’ll just give up on a point and not chase it down. Same goes with service returns, Andy tends to just watch the ball go by and chooses to not make a move for it. Fitness only works if you can actually use it – Roddick needs to start chasing down balls if he wants to be a top contender.
- Play with purpose – Determination, heart, desire, dedication, purpose, whatever you call it; you have to have it if you want to win. Roddick at one point seemed to want it badly, he would break tennis racquets out of frustration (with himself), and pump himself up to convert. Lately though, especially after 2009 Wimbledon Final, Roddick has been a little flat. It’s like the wind has been removed from his sails, he clearly does not believe in himself. Mardy though, he’s got more determination than I have seen from any American in a while; win or lose Fish seems to know that it’s only temporary and looks forward to the next match. He’s got the heart of lion to keep moving forward and playing 100%.
It’s hard to tell what Andy Roddick needs to do to get back on his tennis horse, however; if he looks at his tennis game compared to his friends’ game, he will see a difference. If Andy were to put a little more heart in his game, he would easily win back the hearts of his fans; since that can be a driving force.