Widdle Andy Woddick has Another Tantrum. But this one had a Twist

Andy Roddick had another embarrassing tantrum

I don’t dance unless there’s music playing.

That’s what Widdle Andy Woddick said to the chair umpire during his latest itty bitty temper tantrum Monday night in Cincinnati. He had blown the second set, broken his racquet and then, a little later, angrily drilled a ball into the stands.

He didn’t think the chair umpire should have done anything, I guess, much less give him a point penalty, as the rules called for. From there, Roddick fell apart. Time spent on the court during play was sort of the filler for Roddick until he could get on with his main objective, which was to sit down during changeovers and argue some more.

We’ve seen plenty of tantrums from Roddick before. He once spent endless time arguing with a line judge who had said he foot-faulted with his right foot. Actually, it had been his left, as if that mattered.

Roddick is great when he gets ahead. But any speck of trouble, and he falls apart. That’s not new. What is new is this:

Roddick gave up. He stopped running for balls. His comfort wasn’t in winning, but in whining. That was pretty stunning, as he took a 7-6, 4-2 lead over Phillip Kohlschreiber, and then lost 6-7, (7-5), 7-5, 6-1.

He just quit trying. Why? I think it’s starting to hit him that he isn’t going to win another major, that his time as a top tier player has passed, that his career isn’t going to end up the way he expected.

He can’t deal with that, so he finds something else to focus his frustration on.

Roddick has lost eight of his past nine sets and, thanks to the losses and to an injury, is going to fall out of the top 20. He’s about to turn 29. And with all of that, he can allow himself to lose focus so dramatically?

This was defeat. Roddick looks defeated, and not just for a match but for the end of his career. Sure, he whined and lost his head before, but underneath that, he was always still fighting.

In tennis, you must fight to the death. Last week Jo-Wilfried Tsonga just walked off the court in the middle of the second set when he was losing to Novak Djokovic. He said his arm was hurting and that he knew he couldn’t beat Djokovic with one arm.

Probably not, but how could he just give up? That’s not what a tennis player is supposed to do, but it seems to happen so often. In no other sport do you see athletes just patently give up as much as they do in tennis.

Once you give up in a fight, it gets easier and easier to do it again and again. Roddick has too many problems and too little time to become a quitter now.

His tantrums have never been pretty, and always a sign of his weakness and lack of courage. But temper doesn’t automatically signal defeat. In fact, Ryan Harrison, the 19-year old American, has been known to throw a racquet into a tree in anger (French Open qualifying). And while his handlers would like him to get control of himself, he’s using the intensity and passion as energy for the fight.

Roddick is using it for desperate escape.

He doesn’t have time for this messing around anymore. His clock is ticking, and frankly, I think the alarm has already gone off. But if he thinks he has hope at another major, and his preparation time is short going into the U.S. Open, he can’t just give up because a chair umpire correctly punished him.

You should have heard Roddick in this argument. He drilled the ball into the stands, and just kept looking for another angle to argue. He had to be right about something.

“Have some common sense, will you?’’ Roddick said. “You guys getting involved is not what (fans) want to see.’’

“If you don’t hit the ball as hard as you can. . .’’ the chair ump said.

“If I hit the ball as hard as I could, we would not be having (this discussion),’’ Roddick said. “At least, at the bare minimum, let’s deal with the facts.’’

Bingo. It was just like the right foot/left foot argument. Did he hit it as hard as he could into the stands, or just very hard?

Who. Cares?

“Don’t give me that crap of `You hit the ball as hard as you can,’ ’’ Roddick said, unable to fight Kohlschreiber anymore, and instead choosing to fight a guy who is paid to keep sitting in a chair.

Roddick said something about the dumbest rules in sport, and then the thing about not dancing unless there’s music.

I can just hear Roddick arguing when he was a 6-year old. His teacher tells him that he added 2 plus 2 wrong, and that he just needs to take his No. 2 pencil and re-figure the problem.

“Hold on a minute. This is a No. 3 pencil. What makes you think it’s No. 2? At least know what you’re talking about.’’

OK, fine. It’s a No. 3 pencil.

That doesn’t change the fact: Roddick still can’t add two and two. But at least he would have tried to get the rest of the test right. Silly as he has looked at times, there had always been pride in his fight.



About gregcouch

I can talk tennis all day long, and often do. And yet some of the people I talk to about it might rather I talk about something else. Or with someone else. That’s how it is with tennis, right? Sort of an addiction. Sort of a high. I am a national columnist at FoxSports.com and a FoxSports1 TV insider, and have been a columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times. In 2010, I was the only American sports writer to cover the full two weeks of all four majors, and also to cover each of the U.S. Masters series events. I’ve seen a lot of tennis, talked with a lot of players, coaches, agents. I watched from a few rows behind the line judge as Serena rolled her foot onto the baseline for the footfault, a good call, at the 2009 U.S. Open. I sat forever watching a John Isner marathon, leaving for Wimbledon village to watch an England World Cup soccer game at a pub and then returning for hours of Isner, sitting a few feet from his wrecked coach. I got to see Novak Djokovic and Robin Soderling joke around on a practice court on the middle Sunday at Wimbledon, placing a small wager on a tiebreaker. Djokovic won, and Soderling pulled a bill out of his wallet, crumpled it into his fist and threw it at Djokovic, who unwadded it, kissed it, and told me, “My work is done here.’’ And when Rafael Nadal won the French Open in 2010, I finished my column, walked back out onto the court, and filled an empty tic tac container with the red clay. I’m looking at it right now. Well, I don’t always see the game the same way others do. I can be hard on tennis, particularly on the characters in suits running it. Tennis has no less scandal and dirt than any other game. Yet somehow, it seems to be covered up, usually from an incredible web of conflicts of interest. I promise to always tell the truth as I see it. Of course, I would appreciate it if you’d let me know when I’m wrong. I love sports arguments and hope to be in a few of them with you here. Personal info: One-handed backhand, serve-and-volleyer. View all posts by gregcouch

11 responses to “Widdle Andy Woddick has Another Tantrum. But this one had a Twist

  • Annie

    “…that his career isn’t going to end up the way he expected…”

    The way HE expected or the way the media, YOU, expected? Because frankly Roddick has had the kind of career most tennis players would kill for, and he’s achieved many of his dreams, the only one missing is Wimbledon. Nobody’s perfect. Even the GOAT Sampras had to live with the idea that he didn’t quite achieve all that he wanted.

    Andy Murray is still trying to nab his first slam title. If so-called gifted players like him are having a hard time in the Federer-Nadal era, then it’s even more impressive what so-called ‘one trick ponies’ like Roddick has managed to do in the same era.

    By the way, your entry is awfully petty-sounding. A shame you couldn’t rise above it all to give us a more professional viewpoint.

    • Anne

      Actually Roddick used to talk frequently about winning more grand slams, so yes, *he* did expect it to go a different way. Really, you think he’s satisfied? He wouldn’t be so frustrated if he were.

  • redredwein

    Well said, Annie. I don’t recall anyone else challenging a dominating Federer as consistently as Andy did, even if he did come up short. It was not the best way to cope with his frustration, but your mockery of him is what’s really childish.

  • Travis

    Couldn’t agree with you more, Greg. Roddick has been behaving like a jack-ass for a while now. I personally don’t care if he’s on the way up in his career or on the way down. What I can’t stand is watching some entitled tennis player complaining that it’s all the umpire’s fault and not taking responsibility for his own actions.

  • Fiona Lamb

    I agree with this article, too. Roddick has a great sense of humour outside the court but inside it he can often behave like a total diva. Inexcusable. The sport has given him so much. You never see Rafa Nadal behave in such a horrible way.

    Having said that, I do feel for him that his career hasn’t gone quite the way he wanted – the Wimbly loss in ’09 was heartbreaking. He should have won and he knows it. He should have won his Davis Cup matches last month and he knows it. Gotta be hard for him.

    But be a pro on the court and not a total eejit.

  • Steve

    If this post was a tennis ball and Greg Couch was Andy Roddick, I’d say you drilled it as hard as you could into the stands.

  • Noedee

    If Roddick was reading these comments, he might argue that Federer is the GOAT, not Sampras!

  • Kyle Hoegh

    “challenging a dominating Federer as consistently as Andy did” is a weak leg to stand on. It isn’t that Federer became less of a player, it is that other players rose to the occasion to make Federer less dominating, then eventually rose above him. That is something that Andy Roddick never did. Roddick has had a good career, but pointing to the fact that he lost to a guy over and over and couldn’t figure out a way is not an argument for him. Didn’t see the match, but it sounds like Roddick was more concerned with winning his argument with the chair umpire than winning the match.

  • Anne

    It’s nice to see someone who’s not afraid to take on Roddick. I was very disappointed to see Darren Cahill going overboard (http://straightsets.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/13/in-defense-of-roddick/?ref=tennis ) in support of a guy who wouldn’t play a 3-set dead rubber (likely a 2-set match) for his hometown fans.

  • Todd

    A baseball manager runs out of the dugout and has a 5-minute tirade with the ump over a perceived bad strike call, maybe even kicking some dirt on the plate. If it’s the home team manager, the stadium cheers in support. A football player gets in the ear of the ref, followed by a helmet throw on the sideline and knocking all the gatorade cups off the table. The fans in that section cheer and fistpump. A basketball player dramatically throws his hands up in disgust after being called for a foul, then stands even more dramatically with hands on hips for several drawn out seconds, posing for the t.v. cameras. The hometown fans show their support by booing the ref. Let’s be honest, tirades are a regularly accepted part of EVERY sport…EXCEPT tennis. None of the above tirades would earn any additional penalty (and don’t try to claim that they would, because we all know they wouldn’t). Writers pick on tennis players because they know that most readers will join in on the criticism…they’re basically giving the readers what they want to read. And most readers love the criticism because tennis is not respected as a “real” sport. We see just as many women on court as we do men, and that eats at certain people who can’t stand the idea that any one of those women could kick their *s* on the court. So they criticize tennis as an “entitled” or “country club” sport. Well, I just played five hours of hard-nosed tennis yesterday, and my body is screaming at me for it. I didn’t play at a country club, I yelled in frustration a few times, and I had to play my hardest to barely beat a woman. And I’m proud to call tennis my favorite sport, filled with skilled hardworking players who, yes, sometimes throw tantrums, just like any other sport.

  • Defending Andy Roddick « Querido Rafa

    […] but just in case your feeling in an especially self-eviscerating mood, you might start here https://gregcouch.com/2011/08/16/widdle-andy-woddick-has-another-tantrum-but-this-one-had-a-twist/  and here […]

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