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Andy Roddick: My cat could probably coach Novak

04 Apr | BY Andy Roddick | MIN READ TIME |
Andy Roddick: My cat could probably coach Novak
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The Betway ambassador reacts to Sinner and Collins' wins at Miami and discusses the switch to clay at Monte Carlo - with all eyes on Novak and Rafa.

It’s safe to say that Jannik Sinner has been the best player on Earth during the last six months. He was so dominant in Miami – beating Daniil Medvedev 6-1, 6-2 in the semis and then Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 6-1 in the final – it was absurd.

To find a statistical equivalent at a Masters 1000, you have to go all the way back to Rafael Nadal winning Monte Carlo in 2010. If your nearest comparison for any given achievement is Rafa in his prime on clay, then that’s pretty heady stuff.

He’s now up to No. 2 in the world and is probably the odds-on favourite to finish the year as No. 1 given Novak Djokovic’s more inconsistent schedule.

Having said that – and I say this cautiously – clay is going to be Sinner’s most challenging surface. What he does naturally well, bullying off the baseline, is thwarted by clay more than anything else, so he’s not going to be one of the top two favourites heading to Roland Garros and his rivals are probably welcoming the change.

I still like Novak and I love what Carlos does on clay. I think he’s going to win a lot of French Open titles. We’ll see if that starts this year or not, but I certainly like that transition for him. Alex Zverev is another who has always performed really well on clay and is underserved in that conversation that is largely dominated by four names.

Uncertainty around Novak and Rafa

Who knows whether Rafa will feature at Monte Carlo. I’ve heard reports that his back is rough and he can’t serve, and I’ve heard other reports saying he was on a plane heading to Monaco.

What I will say is, if he is able to pull together a few weeks of health then I don’t think he’s going into this thinking it is just going to be a nice pat-on-the-back goodbye at Roland Garros. If he can get it right, then bet against him at your own peril, but that relies on him having a run of health that he hasn’t had in a couple of years, so it’s assuming a lot.

Novak’s decision to split with coach Goran Ivanisevic was surprising. They’ve had an incredible run and you don’t split easily with someone with whom you’ve won 12 Slams. Breaking up in April is not a plan that would have been put forward at the beginning of the year, so it will be interesting to see what he does.

He’s mentioned maybe going along without a coach, so I guess we’ll see. I don’t know what someone could tell him that he doesn’t already know. It’s just a question of how much he values that feedback cycle along the way. There’s certainly some uncertainty there, but if anyone can deal with those ebbs and flows then it’s Novak. My cat could probably coach him and it would be fine.

Danielle Collins is box-office

Danielle Collins winning her first WTA 1000 title at Miami in her final year on tour was a great story. To put it into context, she was playing the fourth final of her career up against Elena Rybakina who was playing in her fourth of the year.

I don’t know if there’s any mental clarity afforded from the fact that you’re not going to have to defend that title next year and this is all just icing on the cake, but it’s the freest I’ve seen her play. She lost the first set of her first match and then no one even got to a breaker.

I love watching her because of her ability to emote. You can feel when she’s tense, you can feel when she’s excited and you can feel when she’s bothered, and that makes for great theatre on television.

Swiatek out on her own on clay

I was impressed with Rybakina’s performance in Miami. She’s usually one of those players that’s form-dependent: when she’s hot and playing well she wins tournaments, and when she’s not she loses early.

But, having pulled out of Indian Wells with sickness and apparently not played tennis for eight days in between the two events, this time she was significantly undercooked and still found a way to work her way through to the final without playing her best stuff.

We have a million miles between now and the French Open and it’s going to be based on form going in, but Iga Swiatek is 1A and 1B as far as favourites go on this surface. Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka are both players that can bother her with pace and speed, but someone is going to have to put together a massive clay-court season to even enter the conversation with Iga on clay.

Andy Roddick

Andy Roddick

A US Open champion and former world No. 1 who won 32 ATP Tour titles.

Andy Roddick

Andy Roddick

A US Open champion and former world No. 1 who won 32 ATP Tour titles.

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