After the first four tournaments of the 12-city PowerShares Tennis Series, the big question is can anyone catch Andy Roddick?
The 32-year-old Austin resident, who finished among the top 10 on the ATP Tour for nine consecutive years and won 36 career titles, including the 2003 U.S. Open, has quickly become the dominant player in the PowerShares Series for legendary players over 30.
Despite retiring after the 2012 U.S. Open, Roddick apparently hasn’t been sitting in his rocker on the porch down in Austin.
Roddick, the face of American men’s tennis for more than a decade, is still capable of serving above 130 mph and headed into Thursday night’s Champions Shootout in Austin having won three PowerShares events in three tries this season.
The series began a three-night southern swing in Austin, before heading to Little Rock, Friday night and wrapping up with the Champions Showdown at Moody Coliseum in Dallas on Saturday night. The Dallas event will feature Roddick, four-time Grand Slam champion Jim Courier, seven-time Grand Slam champion John McEnroe and former Wimbledon finalist Mark Philippoussis of Australia.
The three victories have given Roddick 1,200 points in the series standings, 600 better than Philippoussis in second. James Blake, who is taking off the Dallas event, is third with 500, followed by Courier (400) and McEnroe (300).
“[Roddick] has a live arm and he’s still in great shape,” said the 44-year-old Courier. “If I had to put a bet on where he’d be if he went back out of the ATP Tour, I’d say give him six months and he’d be in the top 50 again.”
The 12-year age difference is also a challenge for Courier when he lines up across the net from Roddick, but Courier isn’t throwing in the towel just yet.
“It’s a great challenge,” Courier said. “I really enjoyed playing him the other night in Lincoln [Neb.]. I think it’s going to be difficult for anyone to catch him. He’s certainly the marker right night, but you never know. We have Mark Philippoussis and James Blake [in the series]. Those guys are young and can give Andy a run in the age department and I’d like to think that give me a few more matches and getting used to his speed and I can push him and edge out a win.”
To get a possible shot at Roddick in Saturday’s Champions Showdown on the SMU campus, Courier will first have to get past a 56-year-old McEnroe, the defending series champion, in the first one-set semifinal, scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Roddick will take on Philippoussis in the second semifinal. The winners will square off in a one-set final.
Roddick has won three PowerShares titles this season, picking up wins in Los Angeles, Lincoln and Chicago, where he hit a serve of 132 mph and had nine aces in a 6-3 victory over McEnroe in the final. Philippoussis defeated Andre Agassi 7-6 (4) in the series opener in Salt Lake City, but lost to Roddick 6-4 in the final in Los Angeles.
“Andy gets a huge roar of a applause for being the top American player for more than a decade,” Courier said. “He still plays an exciting brand of tennis. People are still gasping when they see Andy hit his serve.”
Rusty Hall, 817-390-7816
7 p.m., Saturday, Moody Coliseum, Dallas
Featuring: Jim Courier, John McEnroe, Andy Roddick and Mark Philippoussis
Tickets: $35-$250 ($13.75 children 12-under) at Ticketmaster. VIP upgrades at www.powersharesseries.com.