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The Epic Story Of The Roger Federer – Andy Roddick Wimbledon 2009 Final

Let me just say for the record 😉 , that I would really like to see Andy Roddick win at least one Wimbledon since he is a great player, has been improving his game and is really an honest guy.

I’d also like to see Roger Federer crack that record of Pete Sampras too since he is really in a league of his own when it comes to the mastery of the complete tennis game.

So I basically wanted both players to win but that’s of course not possible. So let’s see how the match went…

Roger Federer wins against Andy Roddick in the Wimbledon 2009 / Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
Roger Federer wins against Andy Roddick in the Wimbledon 2009 / Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Roddick started the match very relaxed, hitting his first serves around 135 mph and easily won the first game. Federer showed in his first service game that he can serve well too although the players did engage in 2 baseline rallies.

But the games went really fast as there were many first serves in (around 80% for both players!) and the Federer and Roddick finished the first 3 games in 5 minutes…

The first set showed Roddick in excellent form when it came to passing shots; he passed Roger with forehand and backhand shots almost regularly and Roger really had to rely on his first serves to win his service games. Roger won 3 out 7 approaches to the net by 3:3 in games.

Another interesting stat: Roddick had no unforced errors at 4:4, Federer had 3 and they both hit 19 winners – so the quality of tennis was really high, except that the points were very short…

But suddenly Roddick made 2 unforced errors at 5:5 and fell behind 0:30. He leveled to 30:30 with two first serves but committed another one at 30:30 when Federer played a very high percentage point and only rallied medium paced shots to Andy’s backhand.

The game at 5:5 was the best game of the match so far; Roddick saved a couple of break points with booming serves (138 mph) and Federer attacked with big forehands but was very unlucky as he missed 3 shots by just a little bit.

Andy eventually managed to hold and I really wondered how this game will affect Roger and Andy in the next game and possibly tie-break. And really, Roddick fought to his first break point thanks to 2 unforced errors by Roger and one huge forehand from Andy.

One more baseline rally, more decisiveness from Andy and he won the first set 7:5.

Federer really only served well in this first set but wasn’t really dominating from the baseline. He also didn’t attack the was he can but simply rallied with Roddick who took more risks and forced Federer into mistakes.

I assume Roger felt the pressure of winning another Wimbledon, of surpassing Pete Sampras’ record (Pete showed up at 2:1 in the first set) and just couldn’t completely let go.

Roddick on the other hand played exactly as he did; he had nothing to lose, he took his chances and surprised Roger (and me too) in the first set.

The games went with serve in the second set, there were no chances for either player to break because they both had excellent first serve percentage and did well when they had to.

Roger had a few half-chances to pass; he makes them here and there on big occasions but just couldn’t hit single one in the second set. Roger also didn’t seem relaxed and kept quite a gloomy expression on his face.

I assumed that that would change if Roger were to win the second set…

The players reached the tie-break and it didn’t look good for Roger at the start. Roddick unleashed a 143 mph serve and Federer missed a forehand from the baseline.

Roddick raced to a 4:1 lead continuing to serve 80% of first serves and then won another baseline rally when Federer simply didn’t do anything from the baseline. Roddick played tactically perfect tennis, he played the ball exactly where he should with the right amount of risk.

Roger fought well though and came to 5:6 but then Roddick had a set point on his serve. Andy approached the net but had to deal with an awkward high backhand volley and missed it.

That was perhaps it and I really felt sorry for Roddick because that backhand volley may haunt him for years. Federer made a good backhand pass and Roddick missed a backhand from the baseline and Roger leveled to 1 set all.

Andy Roddick played perfect tennis until that backhand volley at 5:6 and Roger really couldn’t do anything about it. Andy still had his chances at 7:6 as he and Roger were in a neutral ball exchange from the baseline and Andy simply broke down and missed a rally backhand.

As it so often happens, the higher ranked played simply kept his level of play and allowed the poorer ranked player to break down. You don’t always have to beat your opponent, you can simply play good tennis and wait for the opponent to beat themselves.

I hoped that Roddick would get that lost tie-break out of his head at the start of the third set and he did. He easily won his service game and played like nothing happened. Well done…

The third set went the same as the first two; nothing special happened in the first half. But I noticed another interesting thing which was also confirmed by stats; on the advantage side Roger read Roddick’s serves much better than on the deuce side. In fact, Roddick served all his 13 aces on the deuce side and NONE on the advantage side…

Roger had a break point at 3:2 but Roddick saved it with excellent serves and volleys. Another half chance for Federer appeared at 5:4 and 30:30 but Roddick played well and leveled at 5:5.

My feeling was that if Roddick didn’t win this third set, he had no chances of winning in five… Both players held and it was tie-break again.

Federer forced Andy into low backhand slice exchange rallies where Federer definitely has the edge and Andy missed a shot and fell behind 4:1. Andy fought well and had a slight chance at 5:3 but played slightly too safely and Roger passed him.

Roger had 6:5 in the tie-break on his serve and took the chance with a good first serve. 2:1 in sets for Federer and this didn’t look good for Andy.

Where did Andy lose this tie-break?

I think he played too cautiously and didn’t attack like he did at 6:5 in the first set. Andy tried to outplay Roger with smart controlled tennis instead of letting go and looking to take chances.

Roger’s form definitely improved in the third set and I don’t see Andy winning a tie-break against Roger playing controlled tennis even if they play 20 tie-breaks.

He needs to take chances on returns and take chances in baseline rallies…

But at 2:1 in the fourth Roger suddenly has a little letdown and made a few unforced errors and fell 15:40 behind. Andy made a difficult pass and finally broke Federer to go 3:1 ahead.

After quite a tough game Roddick held – he has never been broken in the match so far – and went 4:1 ahead. Andy won a tough baseline rally at 4:2 and 30:30 and that seemed the key point in this set. Andy then held for 5:2 and I think Federer was again a little bit too passive on that big point and just kept the ball in play hoping that Andy would miss.

At 5:3 when Andy was serving for the set Roger did up the pace with his forehand and won the first two points by really forcing the play. Andy responded well and added some extra power to his shots too. Roger missed a key ball at 30:30 when he had a ball in the service box and Andy leveled the match at 2 sets all.

What happened in the fourth?

Roger has a slight letdown and lost his serve for the second time. Andy kept his level of play and managed to get ahead. Roger did have a good chance at 30:30 at 5:3 but I think went for a too fancy shot instead of a high percentage one down the line.

At 1:0 Federer produced one of his magic backhand passes to earn a break point, but Andy immediately saved it with a good first serve. Andy’s first serve percentage dropped a little bit but he still hit the big serves in big points in that game.

Federer showed a change of tactics at 3:2 on Roddick’s serve when he approached the net from a normal baseline rally and won the point. But Andy quikcly took charge with big serves and forehands and went 40:15 ahead. Roger again forced the game when he had the chance and it was obvious that he was looking to force the game more with his forehand and by approaching the net more.

Andy still held for 3:3 and looked to challenge Roger’s service game in the next game. Every game was now a story for itself and both players tried their best to break the serve of their opponent.

At 4:3 for Federer, Roger immediately tried to hit a winner with his forehand on the first shot that he had the chance and made it, but Roddick again gave Roger no futher chances with his booming serves.

Interestingly, Federer served more aces than Roddick; he had 36 at 4:4 in the fith and Roddick 21… The games went very fast because of such good serving; the final set was lasting 30 minutes at 5:5 – so each game only 3 minutes inlcuding change overs…

It was really a question of who was going to have the first letdown because it was almost impossible to win 4 points and break opponent’s serve if the opponent was serving well…

Andy seemed very positive, was believing in himself and wasn’t letting go. Roger on the other hand missed a few forehand here and there but also made some stunning winners from the baseline. It was 7:7 and still no breaks… Roger played one of his better games at 7:7 and went 8:7 ahead.

Roddick played excellent tennis at 8:8 to reach 15:40 on Federer’s serve but Federer quickly leveled at 40:40 after two big first serves and managed to hold after Roddick missed an approach shot.

I think Roddick should have gambled at 15:40 and should have tried to guess a side on which Federer was about to serve, as he he didn’t have much chances when he was totally stretched on a good first serve.

Both players held and at 9:9 Roddick threatened again with two good shots but again Federer held for 10:9. At 11:10 both players have played almost 400 points, but made only around 50 unforced errors – so only each 8th point was decided by an unforced error.

Picture courtesy of LIFE.com – Follow the links for more photos from the Wimbledon 2009 final…

Roger again experimented with another tactic at 11:10 on Roddick’s serve and that was to play more drive and top spin backhands even on the returns of serve. Roger reached 40:40 but Andy gave him no more chances and leveled at 11 all.

This was now really becoming a mental and physical battle as the the key to winning was holding the serve and waiting for the opponent to break down. The end didn’t seem near though…

Small window of chance for Roddick happened at 12:12 when Federer made two unforced errors with his forehand but about 1 minute later Federer held to 13:12.

I think both players should have attempted to gamble and guess the direction of the first serve of their opponent so that they would move early and have a reasonable chance of returning well. But they didn’t except that Federer still read Roddick’s serve well on the advantage side and not so well on the deuce side.

Federer returned well and managed to outplay Roddick from the baseline at 13:12 and reached 40:40 but again Andy served well and held for 13:13.

Two very good returns from Federer at 15:14 made 0:30 on Roddick’s serve, but Andy again served well and the score was eventually leveled at 40:40. Roger was just 2 points away from winning…

An unforced error from Roddick on a mishit from Roger gave Federer his first match point. Andy couldn’t find his first serve and another missed forehand gave Federer the match and his 15th Grand Slam title.

Why did Federer win?

Andy had his chance in the second set on a high backhand volley at 6:5 and missed it. He also made an unforced error at 7:6 in that same tie-break and allowed Federer back in the match.

The next 2 sets went to each player and in the fifth set it was more of who could keep his concentration better.

The deciding break of serve was a combination of lack of first serves from Andy (which can suggest loss of focus), great reading of serve from Federer and the ability to keep the ball deep and accurate on the return and the next few shots and of course some luck because at least one of not two balls didn’t bounce correctly on Andy’s side in the last game and he mishit them.

Your thoughts are welcome!

Related posts:

Andy Roddick – Roger Federer US Open 2007 QF Match
Thoughts On Roddick – Murray Semi-Final Wimbledon 2009 Match
Roger Federer – Andy Murray Australian Open 2010 Final Analysis
Thoughts On Federer – Haas Wimbledon 2009 Semi-Final
Roger Federer Keeps His Hopes Alive

Essential Tennis Instruction – FREE Video Lessons on How to Improve Your Serve

This entry was posted on Sunday, July 5th, 2009 at 1:05 pm and is filed under Andy Roddick, Roger Federer. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

13 Responses to “The Epic Story Of The Roger Federer – Andy Roddick Wimbledon 2009 Final”
Indra Says:
July 6th, 2009 at 1:59 am
Yes, I agree with you. Maybe Roddick have some bad luck. Second set determine the rest of the game… If Roddick grab second set, maybe it will be different story.

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Federer Vs. Sampras Grand Slam Comparison – Who Had a Tougher Job? | How To Play Better Tennis – Tips From A Professional Tennis Coach Says:
July 6th, 2009 at 9:02 am
[…] Federer has just surpassed Pete Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slams with his 15th win at Wimbledon but one common argument that keeps repeating is that Federer had easier opponents than Sampras. […]

David Says:
July 6th, 2009 at 10:59 am
Great re-telling of the match Tomaz. I watched the whole thing on the telly start to finish and you picked up all the pertinent moments. I am sure there will be many folks (Federer critics? Roddick fans?) out there that will say Roger was “lucky” to have won, Roddick should have won this match, he had in his hand during that 6:5 moment in the second set tie-break.

However, not sure if any of you quite remember the moment in the Federer vs Nadal 2008 Wimby final in one of the sets (that Federer eventually lost) when Federer had break point on Nadal’s serve and just very slightly overhit a forehand drive volley (it was probably not more than an inch long) to let Nadal back in that game.

One could point to that one missed shot and say had Federer made that shot, he would (likely) have won that set and match and hence, Nadal got “lucky”. But no one really talks about such things now do they?

So back to Federer / Roddick and that high backhand volley at 6:5, isn’t that really what winning these big matches at this top level often comes down to: that 1 or 2 pivotal points where 1 player holds his nerve and the other flinches. Do you call that luck or do you call that what makes one player great and the other (just merely) very very good, at least on that day when they played?

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Tomaz Reply:
July 6th, 2009 at 11:30 am

Yes, it comes down to just a few critical points. Came across a story here:

http://www.atpworldtour.com/News/Tennis/2009/06/Wimbledon-Final-Set-By-Set.aspx

Where Roddick says about that missed backhand volley:

“There was a pretty significant wind behind him at that side. It was gusting pretty good at that time. When he first hit it, I thought I wasn’t going to play it. Last minute, it looked like it started dropping. I couldn’t get my racquet around on it. I don’t know if it would have dropped or not.”

These are tough things that we don’t even notice and yet players have to deal with them all the time…

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K Says:
July 6th, 2009 at 11:49 am
Sometimes Federer has looked passive when things aren’t going his way – almost never in Slams – but last year against Nada in Wimbeldonl, he looked beaten before the ned, even though he took it into a fifth set – & in Paris he has often appeared to be uncomfortable (again) against Nadal. Whatever it looks like, however, you don’t win as many matches as Fed without being psychologically tough & against Andy Rodick he was very tough. A Rod could have grabbed it – all but for a whisker – but Fed held on to the whisker until he had the whole cat!

No, I don’t think Fed has had easier oponents than Sampras. Its a bit abstract to argue that any way becasue each player exists in the context of his/her own generation. It’s like saying that Laver was better than either because he playing with smaller, less advanced rackets. That is also true, but ignores how people & their technology “progress” together. Players have to be fitter, stronger &c. Film of matches from the past, including Borg, Mac shows the game played at a comparatively leiisurely pace. Sampras was great, but never won the French Open, Fed is more of an all-round player, but he is a man of his time, just as Sampras, Borg, Laver were of theirs.

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Mike Boysen Says:
July 6th, 2009 at 1:17 pm
“Roger fought well though and came to 5:6 but then Roddick had a set point on his serve. Andy approached the net but had to deal with an awkward high backhand volley and missed it.”

Tomaz, pretty sure Roddick was up 6-2 in the tie break and had 4 set points and lost the last of them on the high backhand. Maybe I just misread you.

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Tomaz Reply:
July 6th, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Hi Mike,

Yes, Andy was 6-2 up but 2 of those were on Roger’s serve and there was not much he could do. The point where had was most in control and had the best chances of winning was at 5:6.

But that still didn’t lose him the set. He made an unforced error at 6:6 (was it 6:7?) which actually lost the set for him…

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Thomas Hoeg-Jensen Says:
July 6th, 2009 at 5:13 pm
I am quite sure Federer had two crucial frame hits in the 2nd set tie break: First at 2-6 he hits a serve return in the left corner 1 meter from the net, I think it was a miss hit. Also, the loop at 5-6 was a frame hit and took a wicked path. Very lucky Federer. I sort of wanted both to win, and agree Federer now seen as the best ever – but in this match Roddick deserved the win and was very unlucky.

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Andrew Says:
July 6th, 2009 at 9:10 pm
Roddick’s missed volley stands out more, but Federer’s missed forehand an inch long into an open court on break point at 5-all in the first set was just as “lucky” for Roddick. Federer would have served next, most likely have held, to take the first set, and he’s such a strong front-runner that the course of rest of the match would have been changed.

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Larry Says:
July 6th, 2009 at 11:28 pm
Great anaysis, Tomaz, as always. One thing I would add about that critical 2nd set tiebreak. Roddick served at 6-2, during the rally he hit a very sharp slice that bounced short and stayed low, a good shot but it was to the forehand side of Fed who ripped it into the forehand corner of Roddick who couldn’t recover. The shot seemed to inspire Fed who had been looking lost at the time. Had Andy played that shot to the backhand of Fed he may not have ever have had to face that high backhand volley that he botched. As far as the Fed- Sampras debate, Sampras was killer on fast courts but never made it out of the semis at the French. Sampras had a better serve, forehands equal, Fed’s got a better backhand, Fed’s maybe a better volley though he doesn’t go to the net as much as Pete did. Fed’s in better physical shape, doesn’t throw up on court, Pete had a medical condition that limited how much training he could do. I feel like athletes keep getting better as time goes on–Lendl was better than Borg ( I consider McEnroe more an artist than athlete), Sampras and Agassi were better than Lendl, Fed’s better than Sampras and if Nadal can recover and stay healthy he could be better than Fed.

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Nick Says:
July 9th, 2009 at 4:33 pm
Quick response to what Larry said about Mac.

I saw John play Sampras in the senior tour finals last February.
He’s still quite fit and played a good match even though he was 50.
He had to do a good deal of scrambling from the back court.

Furthermore, Sampras said after the match that he now trains maybe 15% as much as he did on the ATP tour. Considering the Mac probably trains that much less now it would have been interesting to watch him play live in his prime.

To be in the top of the game, in whatever generation, the players had to be in very good shape. Although I do agree that each generation pushes the level a bit higher.

Also I don’t think that players necassarily get “better” but each generation comes out with their response to the older generation’s style.

Connor: Aggresive baseliner, flat hitter
-Response-
Borg: Very fit retriever, played with heavy topspin
-Response-
Sampras: Serve and volley
-Response-
Agassi: Aggresive baseliner with excellent aim

-Nick

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Tomaz Says:
July 20th, 2009 at 11:38 am
Found an interesting analysis of the final:

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Sri Says:
July 21st, 2009 at 11:04 am
Excellent analysis. Certainly luck plays a factor. But Federer can only be considered lucky if Roddick did something off court that helped him. Or Roddict unlucky if something off court affected him (like Monica Seles getting stabbed).

Unlucky because ball did not bounce correctly? These guys were playing a very long 5th set. They had better read the court by then. Don’t forget Federer was on that side of the court half the times, including the previous game which put him up 15-14. If Federer could get the ball exactly to the spot it bounces bad, then that’s part of the strategy.

That said, it will be interesting to see if Roddick can maintain this level of game. He still relies heavily on his serve.