Friday, April 4, 2008
Roddick, Hansbrough have more in common than you think
By Bonnie D. Ford
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- Once again, the Sony Ericsson Open conflicts with the NCAA Final Four, so we figured if you can't beat 'em, copy 'em. Here are capsules for the men's bracket, which features only one previous winner of the event, Andy Roddick.
Player, country and seed: Rafael Nadal, Spain (2)
Listed at: 6-1
Coach: Toni Nadal
2008 record: 20-5
Road to the Miami Final Four: d. Benjamin Becker (unseeded), Nicolas Kiefer (unseeded), Paul-Henri Mathieu (16), James Blake (9).
Semifinal outlook: Hadn't dropped a set here until he met Blake in the quarters. His form looks like it did last year when he won Indian Wells -- but he's 0-3 against Berdych on hard court.
Most likely to be recruited by: UCLA
Why? Surfer hair, headband, bold fashion make him a natural for Venice Beach promenade; respect for family and tradition valued by John Wooden; muscles, charm would go over well in Hollywood.
Player, country and seed: Tomas Berdych, Czech Republic (10)
Listed at: 6-5
Coach: Jaroslav Navratil
2008 record: 12-5
Road to the Miami Final Four: d. Sam Querrey (unseeded), Juan Carlos Ferrero (22), Dmitri Tursunov (unseeded), Igor Andreev (31)
Semifinal outlook: Will have to have a great serving day and keep points short to overcome Nadal.
Most likely to be recruited by: Memphis
Why? Small-town guy; relatively unaccustomed to playing in high-profile final weekends; needs motivational push of John Calipari to overcome inconsistency.
Player, country and seed: Nikolay Davydenko, Russia (4)
Listed at: 5-10
Coach: Eduard Davydenko
2008 record: 17-5
Road to the Miami Final Four: d. Ernests Gulbis (unseeded), Simone Bolleli (unseeded), Mario Ancic (unseeded), Janko Tipsarevic (unseeded)
Semifinal outlook: Winless against Roddick but is the kind of player who digs for every ball and will try to lure him into long rallies.
Most likely to be recruited by: Kansas
Why? Frequently in the hunt but can't get over the hump; has a certain plain, humble Midwestern look; next title would be the Big 12th; can easily master "rock, chalk, Jayhawk'' chant despite language barrier.
Player, country and seed: Andy Roddick, United States (6)
Listed at: 6-2
Coach: John Roddick
2008 record: 19-3, two titles (San Jose, Dubai)
Road to the Miami Final Four: d. Viktor Troicki (qualifier), Ivo Minar (qualifier); Julien Benneteau (unseeded); Roger Federer (1).
Semifinal outlook: Has a perfect 5-0 record against opponent Nikolay Davydenko but must guard against emotional letdown after milestone win over Federer.
Most likely to be recruited by: North Carolina
Why? Recent history includes ups and downs, including last major title in 2003; played varsity basketball at Boca Raton Prep; work ethic and determination resembles Tyler Hansbrough, whose real first name is Andrew.
Bonnie D. Ford covers tennis and Olympic sports for ESPN.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.