Tue, Aug 28, 2007 - Page 19 News List

US OPEN 2007: Roddick comfident of good run at US Open

AP , NEW YORK

PHOTO: REUTERS

There stood Andy Roddick, owner of one Grand Slam title, swatting shots in Arthur Ashe Stadium a day before the US Open starts.

A few feet away lingered Jimmy Connors, owner of eight Grand Slam titles, looking on and chiming in with the occasional comment.

They have been a pair, player and coach, for a little more than a year now, working on shaping Roddick's game, trying to make him a more complete player, trying to get him back to where he was before a certain Swiss guy emerged to dominate tennis.

"I've been hitting the ball really well in practice. I've started serving well in practice. I've been playing the right way in practice," Roddick said after his workout on Sunday. "So, you know, there's no reason why I can't make a run here."

He was given the day off yesterday, when No. 1 Roger Federer was to begin his quest for a fourth consecutive US Open title by facing 319th-ranked qualifier Scoville Jenkins of the US.

"He's the favorite," Roddick said about Federer, his possible quarter-final opponent. "The way I see it, there's the favorite and then there's people trying to unseat the favorite."

For Roddick, the US Open represents the site of his greatest success: He won the 2003 championship en route to ending that year ranked No. 1.

Then, last year, helped by five-time Open champion Connors and showcasing a more forward-pushing style, he returned to the final at Flushing Meadows, dropping a four-setter to Federer.

"He plays his best tennis, probably, on this surface, in these conditions," 2001 US Open champion Lleyton Hewitt said. "He obviously plays pretty well under Connors. Connors likes this place, as well."

If that helps, Roddick would love to put behind his most recent Grand Slam outing, starting with a strong showing in his opening match tonight against Justin Gimelstob of the US.

The last time Roddick was seen at a major tournament, last month at Wimbledon, he won the first two sets and was two points away from victory against Richard Gasquet -- and that's when it all fell apart.

Instead of advancing to a semi-final against Federer, Roddick lost his quarter-final with Gasquet.

How much did that defeat weigh on him?

"Andy is, by nature, an impatient guy, so I think that keeps him in the now, pretty much," said Roddick's brother, John, who travels the circuit with him. "We haven't really talked about it, other than not lifting your foot off the gas when you're playing well, keep focusing when you're ahead."

Roddick, though, acknowledged it was tough to completely ignore what happened at the All England Club.

"You wish you could have a delete button from your thoughts. But you figure out how to do that, let me know ... It's a new part of the year. It doesn't do any good to beat yourself up over it," he said.

Roddick won a hard-court tuneup in Washington this month, then lost his second match at the Cincinnati Masters.

He got to New York early, giving him plenty of time to work on things, particularly focusing on the idea that he needs to not simply stand way behind the baseline, bludgeoning the ball.

That was a strategy that worked in 2003, but hasn't been as productive in the years since.

"I feel a lot better about where my game is," he said on Sunday, "than I did a week ago."

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