Holy Goat! He is the greatest of all time
From The Independent Newspaper by Nick Bollettieri
Holy cow! Another five-set final on the glorious lawns of Wimbledon and another stunning match. I find it almost unbelievable that Andy Roddick, who put up a Titanic fight, lost the title because he dropped his serve once. Once! Think about that. The kid played fantastically for the whole fortnight, goes into the final as the underdog but takes the Greatest Of All Time to five, holds his serve for 37 consecutive games in that final, but drops one, and it’s over. Ouch.
At the same time, massive respect must go to Andy for his role in the final, to the crowd who were respectful beyond words, and to the sportsmanship of the whole occasion. It was a day with multiple winners: Roddick, the Championships, even Andy Murray, whose performance in the semi-final can be viewed in even more of a flattering light now. Andy M, you have nothing too much to worry about in losing to Andy R in the form of his life.
And then there’s Roger, the GOAT in my view, as regular readers will know.
What a champion. And what a way to take the outright record for winning the most Grand Slam singles titles. He endured. He didn’t have his very best day yesterday. But it was still way, way better than most mortals can aspire to.
And he held his nerve, and he stayed the course, and his serve was as terrific as the near faultless Roddick. Yes, there were some errors in there too, but the shot selection was brilliant at times.
This was an appropriate way for Roger to win his sixth Wimbledon and his 15th Slam; with a real test against a guy playing out of his skin, with all the pressure of expectation that even a steely competitor like Roger cannot be immune to.
I mean, hell! You already had Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver and Manuel Santana, three greats, sitting in the front row of the Royal Box when the match started. So no pressure there! And then at 2-1 in the first set, in comes “Pistol” Pete Sampras!
And the crowd acknowledge him there and then. That’s pressure, and yet when the heat was on, Roger came through.
Not easily, though. He was broken mainly through his own errors in the 12th game of the first set. Andy’s awesome consistency with serve hurt Roger. Roger might also have got a bit confused out there and thought he was playing on clay – by the end it was real dirt ball.
But then in the breaker in the second set, as Andy felt the weight of the world on his shoulders to let slip a 6-2 lead, we must credit Roger’s Zen- like calm in taking advantage. Same thing in the third set, when Andy came back at him but Roger swatted the set home with crashing forehand volley.
Back came A-Rod, in the fourth, to set up the epic fifth. Something had to give and it wasn’t Roger, saving two break points in the 17th game. If Andy was serving superbly (27 aces), then Roger was beating him in numbers (50 aces! His most ever. Holy Mackerel!) if not in power. And when it mattered, in that last set, he just got cooler and cooler. I thought we might even see that roof after all, and still be playing today.
I always thought Roger would win, throughout the fortnight, as I kept writing, and through the match. But I didn’t envisage it would be so easy to get to the final and then so hard when he got there. What a spectacle. What a show. Roll on 2010.
Serena and Venus Williams were the other big weekend winners, Serena in the singles and both sisters in the doubles. Well done, girls, I’m proud to know you and you’re a credit to your family, to America and to your sport. Another of the fortnight’s winners was my boy Tommy Haas, who reached the semi-final against the odds with a spring in his step. Sabine Lisicki also did well at 19 to reach her first Slam quarter-final. The future’s so bright I gotta keep on my shades.