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Roddick seeks crumbs of comfort

July 06, 2009 11:47 IST

A new coach, a new work ethic and renewed belief in his game took Andy Roddick agonisingly close to a Wimbledon title on Sunday and while the experience left him utterly drained the American will not turn back the clock now.

Roddick made a mockery of all those who had predicted an easy win for Roger Federer by taking the Swiss to the wire.

For five sets he lived with the world's greatest player and showed immense strength of character to hold his serve 10 times at sudden death in the fifth before eventually succumbing 5-7 7-6 7-6 3-6 16-14.

"We're human, not cyborgs," Roddick said after the heartbreak of losing the longest grand slam final by games. "There are two options: you lay down or you keep going. The second option sounded better to me."

Roddick won his only grand slam to date aged 21 at the 2003 U.S. Open. The brash young kid they called "A-Rod" went on to make Wimbledon finals in 2004 and 05 and Flushing Meadow the following year, losing each time to Federer.

He failed to make it as far as a major final in 2007 and 08 and the realisation that he was no longer able to compete with Federer and Rafael Nadal persuaded him a change was needed.

Late last year he hired a new coach in Larry Stefanki and set about losing six kgs while working just as hard on his groundstrokes, particularly the backhand.

At Wimbledon, he survived a five-setter in the quarter-finals and recovered to beat home favourite Andy Murray in a classic semi-final.

He then surprised a lot of people with the quality of his all-round game in a final that was supposed to be about Roddick's immense serve and Federer's superior groundstrokes.

In the event, Roddick proved perfectly capable of competing with Federer on the ground, while the Swiss stayed alive by serving 50 aces.

The improvement in Roddick's all-round ability did give him some satisfaction, even as he struggled to give complete answers in a subdued news conference that ended with one journalist imploring the moderator to "liberate this man".

"I took some satisfaction in December and in November when we started to move forward," Roddick said of the work with his new coach.

"It was to give yourself an opportunity to win tournaments like this. I feel like I did give myself that opportunity today.

"It didn't work out, but, you know, I definitely gave myself a look."

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