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Monday, August 24, 2009
Reason No. 5 to watch the U.S. Open

Editor's note: On Aug. 17, Ravi Ubha began unveiling the top 10 reasons to watch the 2009 U.S. Open. Check back each weekday until Aug. 28 as we count down to No. 1.

No. 5: A rejuvenated Roddick

A bit of the pre-Wimbledon Andy Roddick surfaced at the Cincinnati Masters.

Roddick smashed his racket in disgust after handing a break to the increasingly impressive Sam Querrey, having just broken the latter's serve. And some poor volleying in a first-set tiebreaker allowed the 6-foot-6 Californian to uncork perhaps the shot of the match: a running forehand down the line. Roddick exited 7-6 (11), 7-6 (3) in the second round, blowing a 5-2 lead in the opening 'breaker.

The undisputed U.S. No. 1 was a picture of calm on the pristine lawns of the All England Club, and his transition game, along with those volleys, looked better than ever.

Which Roddick will show up in New York?

He might go deep, perhaps reaching his first final in Flushing Meadows since 2006, the year that man Roger Federer got him again. The days of Gilles Muller (who beat Roddick in the first round of the U.S. Open in 2005) are long gone.

Roddick excelled at the Legg Mason Classic in Washington, D.C., and the Montreal Masters in consecutive weeks, so fatigue might have played a role in the Querrey defeat. Roddick lost to Juan Martin del Potro in Washington and Montreal, scrapping his way past hard-court threats Fernando Verdasco (yes, he's still mentally suspect) and Novak Djokovic in Quebec.

Mentally, the soon-to-be 27-year-old appears to have recovered from his agonizing loss to Federer at Wimbledon; Roddick's not into self-pity. Let's see how the hip holds up over two weeks in best-of-five-sets encounters.

Wouldn't it be something to witness a Roddick-Andy Murray rematch?

Sure, hard courts favor Murray more than grass (and vice versa for Roddick). Yet for all his plaudits, the Scot has reached only a solitary Grand Slam semifinal in 2009. Through three majors, how many would have predicted that?

With the crowd behind Roddick and using his Wimbledon game plan, that's a 50-50 tilt, assuming injuries aren't a factor. Similarly, that support might finally give Roddick the edge over Del Potro, who is still suspect on the fitness front over five sets. Rafa's knees mean he'll be shy of match practice, which leaves … Federer.

A few things have to fall into place for Roddick to get to final No. 3 in New York, no doubt. But unlike last year at this time, when Roddick had no coach and overachieved by reaching the quarters, it's a possibility.