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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 September, 2003, 21:37 GMT 22:37 UK
Roddick can set new level
Jonathan Overend
By Jonathan Overend
BBC Sport tennis commentator

One day during the 1992 US Open, a nosy nine-year-old slipped past security and gatecrashed the players' lounge.

"There was tons of tennis going on but I was having too much fun just watching people go by. I just kind of sat there."

Andy Roddick
Roddick is being widely tipped for greatness
Andy Roddick was hooked on tennis.

He is now at the forefront of a new generation of players waiting to take the sport into the post-Sampras era.

"This is a great moment for tennis," enthused leading coach Bob Brett. "You might find that Roddick provides the new benchmark for the game."

The standards he has set over the past three months suggest that benchmark is already in place.

The American has won three of his last four tournaments and four of his last six.

All under the charge of enigmatic new coach Brad Gilbert, who was hired as Roddick arrived in London for the grass court season.

Gilbert, having served his time on tour as mentor to Andre Agassi, would have been tempted back by only two players; the often injured, but hugely talented, Marat Safin and the man he's now working for.

Andy is great for the game, he is one of the superstars
Bob Brett
When the call came - Roddick, incidentally, using David Felgate's Queen's Club phone - Gilbert was on the first plane to London.

"I have never seen Brad so uptight," said Brett, former coach to Boris Becker.

"With Andre, he knew what was going to happen but this is about managing expectations. Nobody knows how good Andy can actually be."

Gilbert, when he took the job, believed he could improve every aspect of Roddick's game.

Bob Brett, a dinner guest of "Team Roddick" last week here in New York, also sees the potential.

"He's got a competitive advantage at the moment, with his serve and his forehand, but that sustainable advantage is what champions have," he said.

"That's when he is able to combine the serve with a volley. Or the big forehand with a volley. I would even like to see him hitting a drive backhand and coming into the net behind it.

"He's not that physically strong with his upper body at this stage in time. He'll surely attain added strength in the next few years which is exciting."

Brett, in the process of setting up a new academy for promising youngsters in San Remo, northern Italy, seems genuinely excited.

He believes older players will have to change their game to cope with the Roddick revolution.

"It is great to be a part of this because there are a few young guys around who are going to push him and there are older guys who are going to have to reinvent themselves," he said.

Roddick turned 21 during the course of his emotion-packed, four-set match with Ivan Ljubicic on Saturday night.

The Croatian was unhappy about the crowd being whipped up into an all-American frenzy by their local hero.

"What we're seeing here is some emotion from the players, something I feel we've been missing from the past couple of years," said Brett.

"The American players have led this. It is about having a relationship with the spectator. Andy is great for the game, he is one of the superstars."





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