Federer express package for Mr. Roddick ...
By STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun
MONTREAL -- The tennis world awaits the coronation of Andy Roddick, but somehow Roger Federer keeps getting in the way.
Roddick is the chosen one, everyone's all-American, young, handsome, with the perfect teeth and the hardest serve in the game to match. He is a tennis promoter's dream -- the likely heir apparent to Andre Agassi in the sexy and very American category who, like Agassi once did, comes equipped with the actress girlfriend.
Playing the part of Brooke Shields this week is Mandy Moore, actress and singer, someone your kids will know about if you do not.
Now all Roddick has to do is start winning the Grand Slam tournaments or any big tournaments, like the Tennis Canada Masters for that matter.
The talent is there for the still 20-year-old. It's just a matter of when.
Enter Roger Federer, surprising champion of Wimbledon, born in Basel, Switzerland, who would rank amongst the most cultured of today's athletes if he didn't list watching pro wrestling as one of his favourite activities.
His game is compact, precise and superb, as witnessed yesterday on his 22nd birthday by his dismantling of close friend Max Mirnyi in the men's quarter-finals. Star appeal doesn't seem his goal: Winning after Wimbledon seems his sole motivation now.
No matter how you say his name, Federer sounds like a typo. You can't pronounce it -- unless it's spoken with a French accent -- without it sounding like you've had too much to drink.
If he is to become the next name and next face of men's tennis, then men's tennis indeed will be fortunate. But somehow one of them -- if this is to be a first among equals scenario -- is going to have to develop an edge.
One of them -- to use Federer's favourite pastime as an example -- has to play the part of heel.
So far, it is good guy versus good guy, great young player versus great young player.
Roddick can be a bit of a whiner as witnessed occasionally on court in his straight-set victory over Karol Kucera yesterday. The other day, when Roddick didn't like some of the questions a CBC reporter asked during post-match news conferences, he complained to the ATP about her. That he'll have to learn to live with.
Federer, who was once a racquet thrower and on-court maniac, is now composed and controlled. He has everything one would want in an athlete except widespread acceptance. That will come.
They met in the semi-finals at Wimbledon, and Federer advanced before winning that incredible championship. And today they will meet in the semi-finals here.
Roddick versus Federer. Get used to it.
Over time, this will be the tennis matchup of this decade. The feature match almost every tournament will desire. They have met four times to date, with four wins for Federer.
"The more I play him," Roddick said, "the better the odds are with me."
How different are they as people?
After winning a title in Gstaad, Federer was stunned when tournament organizers presented him with a cow. A real cow. A cow now living in the Alps, "where," Federer said, "she belongs."
He smiles as he relates the story.
Roddick's response to the gift of a cow: "I don't know if I've won livestock before.
"Can you trade it in for a car?"
Yesterday on centre court there was a different kind of presentation for Federer. Tournament organizers didn't bring him a cow, they brought him a birthday cake in the shape of a tennis racquet and the crowd at Stade du Maurier sang Happy Birthday in French.
Today isn't Roddick's birthday, but it's the birthday of his coach, Tarik Benhabiles. "If I don't win, it's going to be an expensive night, believe me," he said.
The winner was in all likelihood to face Andre Agassi in the finals until Agassi disappointed tennis fans here by losing in the quarter-finals last night.
It could have been a Grand Slam of a final in a tournament not of Grand Slam proportions.
Somehow it seems Canadian tournaments, hard as they try, never get that lucky.