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Why Roddick will benefit from Connors

7/26/2006 - Tennis

The final at the RCA Championship was the best I've seen Andy Roddick play in a while. Spending just a few days with Jimmy Connors made a difference. It was obvious he got through to Andy as he was hitting the ball as well as I've seen him hit it all year.

I thought he was extremely unlucky to lose the match against James Blake. In many ways Andy outplayed him, but James is obviously playing great and with a lot of confidence, and he played better on the bigger points. But I loved the way Andy was hitting his backhand, hitting it more aggressively, taking it earlier and hitting it up the line. He was also coming to net at the right times. He was coming in with a purpose and with confidence.

Look, if Connors can have that effect on him in five days, it could be a huge boost for Andy, no question.

I expect Andy to have a great summer and I actually said that a couple weeks ago. Obviously, the third-round loss at Wimbledon was a huge disappointment to him, but I think he bottomed out there. In a weird way it maybe took a little pressure off Andy. His attitude is positive and I love what I saw from him at Indianapolis, and I expect that tournament gave him some much-needed confidence.

Roddick has a history of playing well in the summer months. Last season he played very well, winning the U.S. Open Series. I think he will play very well in the upcoming tournaments and by the end of the summer it wouldn't surprise me to see him back in the top five of the ATP Tour rankings.

I believe Connors will help restore Roddick's confidence. Judging from what he said in his press conference, Connors really believes in him. Look, Andy has a lot of respect for Connors -- who wouldn't as a player and a competitor? -- and I think Jimmy just said to him you have the game and the tools, you can get back to where you were. Connors hasn't been a coach before, and before taking over as Roddick's coach, he hadn't really shown any interest in that aspect of the game. Andy took that as a sign that Connors believes in him.

Roddick has taken a lot of shots, but the bottom line is he knows how to play and win. And, in Connors, he has someone he respects a lot and who believes in him.

That's a major aspect of why this should work.

Patrick McEnroe, the U.S. Davis Cup captain, provided analysis for ESPN.com during the tennis season.