Sunday, August 17, 2003
Perfection eludes Roddick in victory
American commits just one unforced error vs. Mirnyi
By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer
MASON - Andy Roddick was three games shy of what might be called a perfect match. Up a set and 3-1 Saturday over Max Mirnyi, Roddick was sitting on 28 winners and zero unforced errors.
Andy Roddick raises his arms in victory after beating Max Mirnyi, 7-6, 6-4.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
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Then at 15-all, Mirnyi followed his serve to the net, Roddick set up for a forehand passing shot, and ... ripped it into the net.
Was Roddick aware he was approaching history?
"Yes," he said with a smile. "And I wanted to fricking finish with no unforced errors, because I'll never do that again."
This is the nitpicking one must do these days with Roddick's game.
In his tough-but-efficient 7-6 (5), 6-4 victory in the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters semifinals, Roddick played the cleanest match of his career: 39 winners, one unforced error, 14 aces and no double faults, landing 73 percent of his first serves.
"... And I barely won that match," Roddick said. "That shows you how great Max was playing."
In fact, at the midpoint of the first-set tiebreak, Roddick had amassed 20 winners and nine aces - and was about to lose the set. He trailed 5-1 in the breaker.
"I was thinking, get one (point) on his serve, and if I could hold (service) out, I'll give myself a chance," Roddick said.
And he would. Roddick hit a passing shot off a Mirnyi second serve; Mirnyi had a volley pop off the top of the net and fall back; a Roddick backhand skipped high off the net and forced a Mirnyi mishit volley - three huge points on Mirnyi's serve.
"He certainly plays well right now in the critical moments," Mirnyi said. "... He's so confident."
Roddick is 29-2 since teaming with new coach Brad Gilbert and is aiming for his third title in four weeks.
Mirnyi, who with Monday's new rankings will improve on his career-high No. 26 position, was nearly as efficient as Roddick. The 6-foot-5 Mirnyi totaled 35 winners and just five unforced errors. He landed 69 percent of his first serves, totaling eight aces.
Yet there's little margin for error against Roddick. Serving in the opening game of the second set, Mirnyi had a double fault and missed an easy forehand volley - his lone unforced error of that set - to make it 30-all. Then Roddick nailed forehand passing shots on the next two points to gain the service break.
Roddick, who has won 46 of 47 service games this week, faced a break point when serving at 3-2. But he slammed a 131-mph ace, and Mirnyi never reached break point again.
"When two guys are serving like that, one break can make the match, and it did," Roddick said.
The big-serving ballet made for several easy points by both servers, contributing to Roddick's near-perfection. Greg Sharko, a communications director for the ATP, said he wasn't aware of a player ever finishing without an unforced error.
"I didn't think I'd ever play one with no unforced errors," Roddick said. "I don't know if I'll ever get another chance."
Season: 53-13, 4 titles, $1.3 million
Hard courts: 32-7
Tennis Masters Series: Won first title last week in Montreal
Career tournament finals: 9-4
Path to final
def. Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-2
def. Ivan Ljubicic 6-1, 6-4
def. James Blake 7-6 (2), 6-2
def. Mariano Zabaleta 6-1, 6-2
def. Max Mirnyi 7-6 (5), 6-4
Head to head
1-1 vs. Mardy Fish
Bengals 23, Lions 10
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Martin on a tight training leash
Sat. games: Dungy's defensive designs pay dividends
Tressel says Clarett decision imperative for opener status
AP voters like Oklahoma No. 1 over Ohio State
Astros 5, Reds 2
Reds rethinking how they develop pitchers
Thumb makes Dunn sit down
Flurry of call-ups has Louisville scrambling
Reds notebook: Prized lefty done for season
NL: Dodgers knock out Wood, Cubs
AL: Twins clobber KC, trail Royals by 2
Pirates send 1B Simon to Cubs
MLB power ratings
WESTERN & SOUTERN MASTERS TENNIS
Old pals new rivals for title
Perfection eludes Roddick in victory
Schuettler finds Fish too tough in semis
Bigger, faster, stronger ... and hurt
Familiarity helps Australians rule
Hornish keeps 3rd IRL title within reach
Consecutive-starts record is within Sharp's reach
Dow: Auto racing insider
Lepage happy to be a factor again
Sports finds its stars younger and younger
Groeschen: High school insider
Ernst: Kentucky high schools
Boys cross country preview
Girls cross country preview
Kentucky boys cross country preview
Kentucky girls cross country preview
Koch: College basketball insider
Secret tapes implicate Bliss in cover-up
Micheel falls into a tie for lead with Campbell
Thorpe ties senior tour record with 10-under 60
ENQUIRER PAGE TWO
The boys of summer
Page Two Power Rankings
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