Stymied most of his career in Grand Slam matches, Andy Roddick seems to have cracked the code to winning on the PowerShares Tennis Series.
Roddick won a series record-setting sixth consecutive championship in the Champions Showdown Saturday at SMU’s Moody Coliseum with a 6-3 victory over John McEnroe, who made his age 56 appear far closer to 36.
Roddick eclipsed the single-season record set by Pete Sampras in 2011.
In semifinals matches, McEnroe defeated Jim Courier 6-3 and Roddick topped Mark Philippoussis 6-4 in the one-set format that was more interactive than an Internet chat room. Players interfaced with the more than 3,800 on hand, giving the event the feel of a Harlem Globetrotters basketball game.
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Except that the competition was real. Roddick’s power ultimately ruled the day in defeating a man 24 years his senior.
“I’m sure Pete’s not worrying about it too much,” joked Roddick, 32, the 2003 U.S. Open champion and runner-up to Roger Federer in four other Grand Slam finals.
“Your ego still needs to know you can play a little bit. You never get match conditions when you’re retired, but this allows me to get in a groove and to play 12 sets … it’s fun. It is enjoyable and I’m having fun with it.”
Roddick ran his record this season to 12-0. Dallas was the seventh stop on the 12-city tour for the PowerShares Series.
Far from ageless — his gray head of hair as evidence (though still styled as if he just woke up in the morning) — McEnroe looked nothing like a man only a lob shot shy of his first Social Security check while playing the role of crowd favorite.
He can still bring a first serve and get around the court and to the net — though certainly not in the manner of the player who won 77 singles title and seven Grand Slam championships in his prime in the 1980s — and he’s as savvy as he ever was.
McEnroe also hasn’t lost much of his spunk, as he displayed on shots he thought he should have made. Down 5-2 in the final, he tossed his racket in disgust when he hit a forehand into the net.
All that was missing was Queen Elizabeth.
“I’m definitely not as quick as I used to be, but I keep myself fit and ready,” McEnroe said. “This format [one set] is good for me.”
Up 2-1 in the semifinals against Courier, McEnroe sprinted to the net to reciprocate Courier’s drop shot with a winning dink, which elicited a roar that he more than encouraged with a conductor’s wave. He lost the point, but held serve on the next point to take a 3-2 lead.
McEnroe then broke Courier to take a two-game lead. Up 5-3, McEnroe served out four straight points to win the match.
“He’s unbelievable,” said Roddick, while asserting his power game is not conducive to him playing at 56. “The only thing comparable I can think of is what Tom Watson does on the PGA Tour.
“Their skill set never ages. The feel, the shots, the IQ. That’s stuff he’ll have his whole life. My game is based on power and speed and that’s more a recessing asset than what he has he.”
Roddick, who retired from competitive play only three years ago, finds himself facing high expectations playing seniors such as McEnroe or Courier, who is 44.
“It’s not a news story if I win, but it is if I lose,” Roddick said. “It’s a tough situation to be in, but I love it.”