- The Washington Times - Monday, August 20, 2001

It has taken a year for Andy Roddick to rise meteorically through the men's tennis rankings and into the top 20. His powerful game has received an immense amount of attention and accolades, and justifiably so.
The young American's stock and potential continues to soar, especially following his latest feat, winning the Legg Mason Tennis Classic yesterday with a 6-2, 6-3 pasting of Sjeng Schalken.
Roddick overwhelmed No. 10 seed Schalken with his trademark blazing serve and penetrating groundstrokes, looking as strong as ever. He'll take a week off before heading to the U.S. Open brimming with confidence.
With a Waterford Crystal trophy under one arm and an oversized $115,600 champion's check in the other, ninth-seeded Roddick walked off the stadium court at Rock Creek Park with his first hardcourt singles championship and the best title of the three he has won.
Forget that a half hour before the match, Roddick was playing video games and eating french fries in the player's lounge, "a little unprepared," in his words, for the final. Forget that on Friday and Saturday nights, he was at Janet Jackson concerts. He simply steps on the court and as he says, "serve big and go for my shots." Very little fazes Roddick.
Roddick, whose parents flew up from Florida yesterday morning for the match, has a level of focus during a match that is unparalleled. He said he "gets mellow" five to 10 minutes before a match and is "zoned in" when he is on the court. "It's not a conscious thing, it's just I know when I get on the court, I don't have to concentrate on focusing, it just happens," he said.
Roddick's focus broke following match point, when he broke into a huge smile, feigned as if he was going to fall to his knees and swatted a ball into the second deck of bleachers.
Roddick held control of the match from the beginning and never let the Dutchman get into the groove he found in upsetting Andre Agassi in the semifinals. Schalken said he felt good in the early portions of yesterday's match, but gradually felt the effects of his three-set struggle with Agassi in his legs, which went past 11:30 p.m. Saturday night.
Schalken staged his biggest threat when he broke Roddick in the seventh game of the second set to get back on serve with Roddick leading 4-3. Then came a 40-minute rain delay, and in the first game after the delay, Roddick broke Schalken and served out the match.
"I knew one of us was going to come out after the rain delay and not play as well as they were and I was hoping it wasn't going to be me," Roddick said.
With Roddick, the first weapon his opponents identify is his blazing serve. Roddick had that on display yesterday cracking nine aces and winning 15 of his 17 first-serve, second-set points but also accurate groundstrokes, particularly his backhand. Roddick's game became more consistent and his confidence has grown with every victory this week.
"During the first set of [his third-round match] I started hitting my groundies real well," said Roddick, who needed three sets to win his first-round match against Wayne Arthurs, but did not drop a set since. "I was hitting them hard, I have confidence in them."
Schalken managed to create break points in three separate Roddick first-set service games, but twice, the young American came through with serves of more than 130 mph to erase the chances. Schalken could return Agassi's serve with reasonable consistency, but Roddick's is a different story.
"He aced me all the time when he needed to," Schalken said. "He's confident, you can see that… . Mentally, he's very good. You don't see that too much" from an 18-year-old.
Roddick said at the beginning of the year his goal was to finish the year in the top 60. Two months ago, he and coach Tarik Benhabiles adjusted the goal to top 20. With yesterday's victory, he's No. 19.
So, Roddick has won three tournaments this year, he's in the top 20 and he's heading to the U.S. Open a week from today with a full head of steam. In a post-match interview yesterday, Roddick was asked how far he could go at the Open. "I don't know," he said.
Maybe no one knows. But everyone can't wait to find out.
Martin Damm and David Prinosil defeated top-seed Mike and Bob Bryan 7-6 (5), 6-3 for the doubles title.


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