Simon Reed

Is A-Rod a spent force?

Simon Reed

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Whilst I do think it's too early to say that Andy Roddick is in terminal decline, a lot has changed for the former world number one in the last few years.

He's not been the same since he decided to change his forehand and become a more percentage-based tennis player. From that moment on, four years ago, he's never really carried the same threat.

I was amazed he did so well at Wimbledon a couple of years ago, and I was bitterly disappointed for him that he didn't win that blockbuster final against Roger Federer.

It was an astonishing performance from someone who, even when he started out playing, had limited skill - something he readily admits himself.

But then, for some inexplicable reason, he just decided not to hit the forehand like he used to.

He'll point to some of the successes he's had over recent years, and say that's why he did it.

I just think that if he hadn't changed the way he plays, he might have sacrificed consistency but there would certainly have been more highs along the way - possibly even another Slam.

When he won the US Open and was number one in the world in 2003, it was exactly the right time - after Lleyton Hewitt's reign at the top but before Federer then Rafael Nadal hit their peaks.

He was a massive server with a huge forehand, and it was so inspiring to watch him play.

Once he made this decision to be more tactical and more passive on the forehand, however, he became less inspiring, and less easy to watch. He became merely another player with a good serve (well, a great serve!)

Perhaps it was his coach Larry Stefanki - who has always been a percentage man - who encouraged Roddick to head in that direction.

He told him to lose weight and work on his quickness, when what he really needed to be told was to pop that forehand like he used to.

That's why - apart from that glorious Wimbledon run in 2009 - he's not really been a threat at Grand Slams; he's simply been a pale imitation of the old A-Rod.

When he changed the forehand he lost his main weapon, and he doesn't have enough left in the locker to make up for it.

Players aren't afraid of taking on Roddick any more - they might get beaten, but they know they're not going to get killed.

He won in Memphis this year - beating Juan Martin Del Potro and Milos Raonic along the way - so he is still capable of getting some results.

Furthermore, he's still a terrific competitor, and an honest analyst of himself.

His first-round defeat against Italian qualifier Flavio Cipolla yesterday won't actually hurt him too much - clay's not his favourite surface after all.

But his second-round loss to Uruguay's Pablo Cuevas in Miami - that really hurt.

I think that Roddick can still compete with the elite of men's tennis, but it all depends on his motivation.

He's earned over $19 million on the court (and you can more than double that figure off it!) so conservatively he's worth a good $50m. The question, then, is can he keep taking the knocks?

Ultimately, if Roddick wants to reverse his fortunes, he's got to revert to his old style.

As a tennis fan, of course I want to see Andy Roddick rolling back the years to what he was when he came on the scene as a 19-year-old, but that's not going to happen.

In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if he calls it quits and retires this year.

I don't think he's capable of winning another Grand Slam, but he has to believe he is or else he really is finished.

It would be sad to see Roddick carry on getting picked off by lesser players, but I'm sure that won't happen - he wouldn't let it!

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