The Tennis Phile

January 26, 2010 1:24 AM

Roddick's Grand Slam Tour of Heartbreak Continues

3986508.jpgMarathon Man Marin Cilic extended his coming out party in Melbourne with yet another five set victory (his third such in the event and second in a row) as he defeated Andy Roddick 7-6, 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3. The 14th seeded, 21 year old Bosnian survived a giant momentum swing as he nearly blew his two-sets-to-none lead. But Roddick failed to capitalize on three break points in the opening game of the final stanza and then reverted to a more tentative style of play which eventually became his undoing. To his credit, Roddick was dealing with a sore shoulder and arm throughout the match and that no doubt contributed somewhat to his defeat. The 7th seeded American is now 12-15 in five set matches throughout his career.
It was an odd match with Cilic looking unbeatable, especially in the second set. But then Roddick decided on a more aggressive style that quickly rewarded him as he repeatedly broke Cilic in the third and fourth sets. It looked at that point that Roddick would outlast an exhausted Cilic, especially when he earned those three break points in the first game of the fifth. It was Cilic's calm demeanor which proved the difference in the end as he was able to redouble his efforts as he once again became the more aggressive of the two.
For Roddick, this is a microcosm of his difficulties over the last year. Though he is a far more consistent player under coach Larry Stefanki's tutelage and is in better physical shape, he still has a tendency to revert to a defensive style. This often serves Roddick well earlier in the big events but he's going to have to continue to attack against the top players. Last year's Wimbledon is a great example where Roddick sustained his intense level and nearly won.
The win now solidifies Cilic's credentials on the Grand Slam stage.  Whether or not he can recover physically to take on the winner of tonight's Rafael Nadal-Andy Murray encounter is another matter. Whatever the case, the intelligent and soft spoken Cilic is a welcome addition to the tennis conversation. 

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