“He deserved to win more than I did.” Never truer words spoken, Andy.
A keen student of the game, Roddick knew exactly what went wrong in this bewildering of a loss: his lack of return of serve. With a weapon so overwhelming and deadly on the turf, Roddick never once lost his serve…until the final game. Regardless of his serving prowess, he was matter-of-factly flat on his return games, allowing the crafty, diminutive and hugely unheralded Lu to dictate many of the baseline exchanges.
Regardless of how on-point Roddick was at analyzing what went wrong post-match, he was completely at a loss during it. Passive, defensive, and pinned miles behind the baseline, Andy was a shell of the player that pushed Federer to a 16-14 fifth set in last year’s epic Championship final. To make matters worse, we all understand how devastating this loss is for Andy. “It gets harder every year,” Roddick defeatedly quipped post-match, well aware that the older he gets the tougher it will be to win his second slam.
And truly this loss is perplexing: when is an admission “he deserved to win today” against a player ranked outside of the top 60, from the Chinese Taipei, who has lost his previous four Wimbledon matches in the FIRST round, a good enough of an excuse after an inexcusable fourth round loss at Wimbledon, Andy? I repeat: Wimbledon, Andy, the tournament that you very nearly won last year, pushing the all-glorious one named Roger to the limit. Wimbledon, the tournament that best suits your booming serve and driving forehand. Wimbledon, the tournament you most desperately want to add to your trophy case.
Asked at the end of his press conference how he was going to feel, Andy snapped “I’m going to be thrilled…what do you think?” I feel for you Andy, I truly do. You deserved to pull this one out. We know how much you care. We know how much this tourney means to you. But when you play a match so tactically tactless, the result can hardly be surprising. Here’s to hoping you can fair better at Flushing Meadows later this summer at the Open. But cheers to you, Yen-Hsun Lu, you played your heart out. The question pre-match may have been “Lu who?” but who’s moving on? It’s all you.