February 22, 2009

Roll Out the Red Carpet

The stars are out in Hollywood tonight as big names battle to take home their shiny gold Oscars. But elsewhere other trophies are being contested as well.

Earlier this week Andy Roddick made a political statement, withdrawing from next week's ATP World Tour 500 event in Dubai to protest the tournament's refusal of a visa to Shahar Peer. And today he made another statement on the tennis court, taking home the prize for Best Action Sequence -- or something like that.

Andy has re-emerged this year, stronger and fitter than he's been in quite some time. He made it to the finals in Doha and the semis at the Australian Open, upsetting Novak Djokovic. In Memphis he defeated 2008 champion Steve Darcis, compatriots Robby Ginepri and Sam Querrey, and former #1 Lleyton Hewitt for his right to play in the finals.

On the bottom half of the draw a surging Radek Stepanek was trying to maintain the momentum that's already won him two titles this year. On his path he hadn't lost a single set, even taking out second-seeded Juan Martin Del Potro with just one tight tiebreak. The final would be an almost-immediate rematch of the San Jose semis played barely a week ago, where Stepanek notched his first and only win over the world #6 after four straight losses.

But this week Andy was out for redemption.

He saved three break points late in the second set and finally broke Stepanek in the twelfth game, taking his first championship of the year, 7-5, 7-5. He didn't dominate in any major statistic, really only holding an advantage in first serve percentage, but that was apparently enough. And with such strong performances in every tournament he's played in 2009, Roddick is certainly -- and single-handedly -- making a case for the resurgence of U.S. men's tennis.

Also in Memphis, Victoria Azarenka won her second title of the short year, trouncing fellow teenager Caroline Wozniacki in the women's final, 6-1, 6-3. Tommy Robredo and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also won trophy number two in Buenos Aires and Marseille respectively.

And if these results are any indication, it looks like 2009 could be the year for a few new faces to shine. Can't wait to watch!

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