Roddick rides emotional wave; sends U.S. to Davis Cup final
Call it a life-altering experience. Fifteen years ago, Andy Roddick attended the Davis Cup final and decided tennis was in his blood. Now, Roddick is a step closer to leading the U.S. team to its first title since 1995.
GOTHENBURG, Sweden -- Credit the put-out to Andy Roddick, with a big assist from a thousand miles away in Moscow.Roddick kept his perfect streak intact Sunday, defeating late singles entry Jonas Bjorkman 6-2, 7-6 (3), 6-4 to win a clinching Davis Cup match for the ninth time in as many chances. That launched the U.S. team into its second final in four years -- and thanks to Russia's comeback from a 2-1 deficit against Germany the same afternoon, the U.S. will host that final for the first time since 1992. Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier and John McEnroe -- playing in his last Davis Cup -- combined to beat Switzerland in Fort Worth, Texas, 15 years ago this December. A boy from nearby Austin attended the championship with his tennis club, and has always said it changed his life. "It just kind of blew my mind, to see the team that we had there," said Roddick, 25.
In the quarterfinals, James Blake's opening win over fellow top-10 resident Tommy Robredo set the tone as the U.S. swept Spain on indoor hard court in early April in Winston-Salem, N.C. Next up were the Swedes, who made the tactical decision to play to their own strength rather than the U.S. vulnerability on clay and selected indoor carpet as the surface.Sweden put up a fight, as the 56th-ranked Thomas Johansson upset No. 7 Blake on the first day and the scrappy doubles combination of Bjorkman and Simon Aspelin pressured the top-ranked Bryans throughout a marathon first-set tiebreak before going fairly quietly in the second two sets. Roddick booked the team's trip to the final by executing on both his service and return games, keeping Bjorkman on his heels in the second-set tiebreak. The crafty Bjorkman, still capable of acrobatic moments at age 35, mixed in his characteristic mix drop shots and angled volleys to try to keep Roddick off-balance. But he couldn't make a dent in Roddick's serve. "If you would have told me going into this weekend that I wasn't going to get broken for the entire weekend, I would have looked at you like you were a little bit nuts, a little bit crazy," Roddick said. "But I kind of found a groove. I guess I was able to just build upon what I did at the [U.S.] Open. My serve definitely, definitely was able to bail me out at some pretty key moments this weekend." While Roddick's serve is still one of the main structural beams in his game, Bjorkman said he also deserves credit for his staying power in rallies. "Sometimes it doesn't look that he moves well, but he does," said Bjorkman, who hadn't played Roddick since a Davis Cup tie in 2004. "Sort of the way he moves, long steps, it looks maybe sometimes not so smooth, but he's always there.
Chance to Clinch Tie
Bonnie D. Ford is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com.