Vol. 4 Num 94 Fri. August 29, 2003  

US Open
Gilbert's new pupil

Andy Roddick has dominated men's tennis since Brad Gilbert took over as his coach, rising to the top of the ATP Champions Race and rivaling Gilbert's former pupil, world number one Andre Agassi.

Roddick, who turns 21 on Saturday, is 31-2 since dumping French coach Tarik Benhabiles in June after four years together and turning to Gilbert, who split with eight-time Grand Slam champion Agassi early last year.

"The key is communication," Gilbert said.

"It's not my way or the highway."

Gilbert's guidance and Roddick's power have been a formidable combination at the US Open, where the fourth-seeded American will face Croatian Ivan Ljubicic here Friday for a berth in the third round at the year's last Grand Slam event.

"Obviously he is a huge part of it," Roddick said.

"He came on board. We clicked. I started playing confidently. Who knows what would have happened if Tarik had stayed on board. He's a great coach and took me very far."

The boyfriend of actress Mandy Moore made the coaching switch after a lackluster loss to Armenia's Sargis Sargsian in round one at the French Open.

"We became pretty tight quickly, which is nice," Roddick said.

"There wasn't this whole uncomfortable getting to know each other. He and Andre are pretty good friends and they were together a long time."

Roddick matched his best Slam showing by reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals, where he lost to eventual winner Roger Federer, and he could have a showdown with Agassi here in the US Open final.

Roddick is playing with greater confidence than ever before. He is on a 13-match win streak and has won titles at Queen's, Indianapolis, Montreal and Cincinnati under Gilbert.

"He's great. He brings a relaxed attitude to the table, but at the same time he's very big on Xs and Os," Roddick said.

"I have a great time hanging out with him. We're passionate about the same things. We have a lot in common.

"He's not so much dwelling on the fact 'You need to improve. Your game is missing this'. He says, 'This guy is weak here. Attack that.' That's a bit of a different theory. It's easier to work that way.