I don’t believe what I just saw. Andy Roddick was up two sets to love, and four games to two in the third set, against mildly regarded Richard Gasquet. Gasquet, played really, really well from there on in… but still, it took Roddick to find a way to lose. And he did. He lost a third-set tie-breaker, and a fourth-set tie-breaker, and then lost 8-6 in the fifth set. What blew my mind is that Gasquet was hitting great backhand winners again and again and again and again and again and (you get the picture)…and Roddick kept hitting to Gasquet’s backhand. I am willing to bet that he hit at least three shots to Gasquet’s backhand for every two he hit to the Frenchman’s forehand. In short, the loss was due to poor thinking. I mean, it was mind-boggling, to me at least, that Roddick wouldn’t learn. Give all the credit to Gasquet for playing well. Give credit to Roddick for playing pretty well, too. But where were his brains?
Sadly, I fear this is more evidence that my column last year might have been correct, namely that we are becoming a nation of losers. Granted, the Williams sisters are winners, through and through. Venus ought to win Wimbledon tomorrow, and she and her sister Serena have become not just good players but good sports with good attitudes. But without them, American tennis is terrible, on both the men’s and women’s sides. In golf, only Tiger Woods holds up his end consistently — and even he is decidedly mediocre when representing his country in the Ryder Cup. And so on… just read my column from last year.
This Roddick loss was hard to watch, because it was so avoidable. And I like Roddick, a lot. But if I could have pulled his coach Jimmy Connors from the stands, I would have. Even at age 55, I think Connors would have figured out a way to win today. In sports and, more important, in world affairs, Americans need to rediscover the winning age we clearly, so clearly, have lost.