Eurosport - Mon, 26 Jul 16:07:00 2010
Little over a year ago, Andy Roddick seemed finally to be catching up with the current big guns on the ATP Tour.
The American had enjoyed his best-ever run at the French Open, despite playing only one warm-up tournament in the build-up, before reaching his third Wimbledon final.
Had he not come up against a similarly happy and healthy Roger Federer in the final, Roddick would surely have lifted his second Grand Slam title - especially after going four hours and 16 minutes and only dropping serve once.
At the time this was all put down to Roddick's relatively new coach Larry Stefanki, who, upon taking the job, tasked the American with getting back down to the weight he had been when he won his only Grand Slam - the 2003 US Open.
That goal achieved, Roddick looked fit, healthy and just as importantly happy - having taken some time out in spring 2009 to marry Brooklyn Dekker.
This season, however, Roddick has suffered a series of disheartening losses, particularly in big tournaments, and has slipped back down to number nine in the world after getting himself up to fifth midway through last year.
Now, some might not consider being the ninth-best tennis player in the world a bad thing. It's not - it's very impressive. But you can see in his body language that for a perfectionist like Roddick it simply isn't good enough.
You could argue that the 27-year-old (Roddick will be 28 on day one of the US Open in August) has been unlucky. Like Lleyton Hewitt he burst on to the scene as a youngster and seemed destined for multiple Grand Slam wins and a lengthy stay at the top.
But along came a couple of players that go by the names of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. You might have heard of them?
Federer in particular has been Roddick's nemesis. The American has a 19-2 losing record against the Swiss player, including all three of those Wimbledon finals, a US Open final and two Masters Series finals. 19-2. That's not unlucky. That's simply coming up against someone who is better than you.
Very early on this year, Roddick made himself unavailable for Davis Cup action for this season in a bid to prevent himself from suffering any further recurrences of a pesky knee injury.
But, despite winning in Brisbane and at the Miami Masters this year - not to be sniffed at - Roddick has racked up losses to Sam Querrey, Teimuraz Gabashvili, Dudi Sela, Lu Yen-Hsun and, last week, Mardy Fish.
Is the depth of men's tennis just getting much, much better? Is Roddick getting bored of having the same coach for more than a year? Are his priorities shifting to such an extent that he is no longer giving tennis the concentration required?
Or has he been so affected by that epic loss to Federer in last year's Wimbledon final that he simply can't get his confidence back in the tight matches, despite knowing he ought to win them?
Whatever the reason, being relatively newly married, with an appearance on Saturday Night Live already under his belt (he became just the second tennis player to host the show back in 2003 after Chris Evert) and with the Andy Roddick Foundation, you have to wonder how much longer a frustrated Roddick will continue to play if he can't start winning these matches.
Unsurprisingly on a week where not all that much was going on, there is absolutely no change in the top 20 for either the men or the women.
Mardy Fish moves 14 places up the rankings to 35th after his triumph in Atlanta while Andrey Golubev does likewise, leaping a whopping 45 positions in the right direction after lifting the title in Hamburg.
Over on the women's side, Russia's Anna Chakvetadze is the big mover, jumping from 103rd in the world to 74 after winning her first title in two years in Portoroz.
TWEETS OF THE WEEK
Winner: "Omgsh got some Crazzy hot bikinis .... I gotta get this foot better. Its killing my summer swag!!! :(" - A small plaster on her left foot is clearly not the fashion accessory Serena Williams was looking for this summer.
Runner-up: " Waaaaaaaaaahhhhhh Porto Cervooooo i m cominggggggggg!!!!" - Anyone else think Gael Monfils might be a little bit excited about his next destination?
Wooden Spoon: "why do I feel weird walking around the airport with crutches?? People stop staring!! I'll poke you in the eye" - Erm, pretty sure security will have something to say about that Ivo Karlovic. Maybe they're actually staring because they've never seen a man as tall as you before.
A-BOG v A-BOG
World number 243 Alex Bogolmolov Jr was in action in Lexington last week and recorded victories over two players inside the top 200 before losing to compatriot Jesse Levine, ranked 157.
World number 190 Alex Bogdanovic, however, did not compete last week.
Can you guess who the point goes to? Yep, that's right - A-Bog (US) edges ahead once again in our standings.
Standings: A-Bog (US) 11-10 A-Bog (GB)
The American hard-court season gets underway in earnest with seven of the women's top 20 in action in Stanford, including Sam Stosur (top seed), Elena Dementieva, Yanina Wickmayer and Victoria Azarenka.
The tournament is also notable for marking Dinara Safina's latest comeback from her troublesome back injury. Fingers crossed that this attempt can be somewhat more successful and she can get back to full fitness on the Tour.
On the men's side, Andy Murray returns to action for the first time since Wimbledon, headlining the action as top seed in Los Angeles, where in-form Mardy Fish is also playing.
Meanwhile Nikolay Davydenko continues along his comeback trail, tackling the delights of Umag, where he is also top seed.