From the Baseline: Andy Roddick's Self-Help Move
Andy Roddick shook the tennis world, especially those of us in Atlanta, on Thursday by announcing that he would play in the Atlanta Tennis Championships beginning on July 19. Tournament officials have been dead-set on getting Roddick to sign on as a wild-card entrant for many weeks. The hard work finally paid off.
"This helps with our credibility and shows the level of commitment that the players are showing to the city of Atlanta," said tournament director Bill Oakes.
But it's not just that. Roddick deciding to play in Atlanta sends ripple marks through the tennis community for many reasons.
Here are five:
1. Roddick in Atlanta is great for the Atlanta Tennis Championships
Not only will the tournament in Atlanta be big news because it's the first event in the U.S. Open Series, but Roddick accepting a wild-card invitation will attract a ton of eyeballs that wouldn't normally tune in for a few more weeks. Tournament officials commented via twitter on Thursday that their numbers began exploding shortly after Roddick was announced as a participant and ATC Ticket Manager Katy Roland spoke about the excitement at the box office. "It's already had a major impact on ticket sales and the tournament in general. Our daily tickets sales have doubled since the announcement that Roddick is returning to the site of his first career win."
2. History buffs have an outlet besides The History Channel next week
The Atlanta Tennis Championships will always be historic, even for Roddick. As mentioned above, Roddick won his first ATP tour event in Atlanta, way back when the tournament was a clay-court event. It was April 29, 2001 and Roddick was just 18 years old and ranked 89th in the world. By a score of 6-2, 6-4, Roddick defeated Belgian Xavier Malisse and became the first American teenager to win an ATP event since Michael Chang in 1992.
3. Roddick could use the U.S. Open warm-up
Last week I spoke about the lack of warm-up events Roddick has played this year. He didn't play a clay event prior to the French Open and was bounced in the third round. He only played one grass-court warm-up and exited in the fourth round of Wimbledon. Roddick's announcement to play in Atlanta marks four U.S. Series events in which he'll participate.
Names higher in the rankings like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray are only playing two preparatory U.S. Open events and, if you're wondering if Roddick may burn himself out, don't. He's already shown that taking time off prior to a Grand Slam isn't working. It's time to mix things up and play as much as possible. Rolling into the U.S. Open with locomotive-style momentum may just work.
4. There could be a big pay day involved for Roddick
Forget about the purse at each U.S. Open Series event, that's just icing on a small piece of a big cake. The ultimate reward lays at the end of the U.S. Open in the form of a $1 million check. The player that accumulates the most points throughout the U.S. Open Series events will be in line for a huge pay day. If Roddick can win the Open Series and win the U.S. Open, he'll take home that extra $1 million on top of the $1.7 million award for winning the Open.
5. This won't hurt Roddick's current ranking
Roddick is currently the ninth-ranked player in the world, but his hold on that spot is minimal. His lead over 10th-place Fernando Verdasco is only 15 points. The margin between he and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who currently sits in 11th place, is only 35 points. With those two nipping at his heels, entering the Atlanta Tennis Championships may give Roddick some breathing room in the rankings. An active U.S. Open Series may keep the chasers at bay even longer.