Roddick and Connors: Two Inflexible Forces

Today’s post is a few items I’ve picked up from around the Tennis Garden, leading off with some good scoop on America’s top male pro, Andy Roddick.

I ran into one of Roddick’s handlers today and he relayed some interesting info, including more insight into his split with Connors, as well some new digs for the Austin basher. According to my source, the last straw for Roddick-Connors came a week or so before he arrived in Dubai, where he beat No. 2 Rafael Nadal and No. 2 Novak Djokovic for his biggest title since the summer of ’06.


In a nutshell, Roddick wanted to stop in New York City on his way back so he could spend time with his squeeze, the blonde S.I. swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker. He asked Jimbo to come to the Big Apple to train. Connors told Andy he preferred him to come to his home in Montecito. It was a good old-fashioned standoff. Neither would budge. Not hard to imagine, is it: Two bull-headed champs standing their ground. Vexed that Connors wouldn’t be more “flexible” considering the princely sum he was paying the eight-time champ from East St. Louis, Ill., the two had a longer conversation about their working relationship, travel, commitment. One thing led to another and…Kaput.

The split didn’t involve breach any contract since Connors was being paid on a weekly basis. The split follows a pattern in recent years with Roddick, whose earnest but edgy personality can wear thin over time. His hyper mind also gives him a wandering eye for coaches. And the reality is that Roddick’s brother, John, has been his real coach for the past 1-2 years, even with Connors on board.

“Like with Brad (Giblert) Andy got inspired for a few months” and then the relationship just wore down, said the source. Unlike the breakup with Gilbert, there are few hard feelings. Connors’ family (but not Jimmy) was here this week attending matches. 

In other Roddick news, the Nebraska-born Texan has invested in some East Coast real estate. Roddick, who owns a million-dollar-plus spread in Austin, recently plunked down some of his hard earned dough (and apparently ballooning bank account – he’s a bit of a miser) for an apartment in New York City’s Bryant Park neighborhood. Why not? That way he can keep better tabs on his model girlfriend.

I had a long and typically fun exchange in the press room with one of my favorite characters, Svetlana Kuznetsova, about the Olympics (she thinks Dementieva will be the fourth singles player after herself, Sharapova, and Chakvetadze) moving to Monte Carlo last summer (she barely knows the place and hangs out on the beach) and her parents – or lack thereof. I’ve never seen them in her box, or anywhere for that matter. Kuznetova provided this startling fact – her father has never seen her play a professional match. The 22-year-old Russian said her dad is too busy with his cycling club (he’s coached six Olympic and world champions) and the only time he offered to come – at the Kremlin Cup 2-3 years ago – she told him, “just don’t bother.” How's that for leaving the nest?

Showing a psychological maturity beyond her age, Kuzy explained that while tennis parents often mean well, their own ambitions and desires can get in the way. “For me it's not healthy,” she said of having her parents around. “Sometimes I feel it's (a) negative vibe coming from parents because (they) overwhelm people. They don't want only...(their) daughter to do well or the son to do well, they want others to do not so good.”

Ana Ivanovic, who apparently is reading some Freud, also riffed on the parent topic last night: “There are lots of cases that parents force kids to play tennis.... I think that's not the right of a parent to do it. It's a kid's choice to do whatever they like and whatever they feel comfortable with. Everyone has different talents and different things they can achieve in different areas. So I know in tennis we have these cases, but I think the most important thing is that at the end of the day you're doing it for yourself and for your own satisfaction and your own motives.”

Considering tennis’ long history of abusive and misguided parents, I think Kuznetsova and Ivanovic have it right.

Shot of the day: Juan Carlos Ferrero’s tweener (between the legs) lob winner over the head of 6-5 Croat Mario Ancic. In a high-level match all around, 2003 French Open champ Ferrero beat Ancic  7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7) after saving two match points.


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