Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Who's better, Roddick or Chang?

Andy Roddick, above, turns 30 on Thursday. He figures
to join fellow American Michael Chang, below right, in the
International Tennis Hall of Fame. Photos by Paul Bauman
   The question is not whether Andy Roddick, who turns 30 on Thursday, eventually will be inducted in the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
   Considering the low standards of the Hall — like seemingly everywhere else in society — that's a given. If Michael Chang (a 2008 inductee) gets in, so does Roddick. Both are singles specialists with one Grand Slam title.
   So which player is better?
   Stylistically, Roddick and Chang hardly could be more different. Roddick, 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, relies on his punishing serve and forehand. Until last year, he had the world's fastest serve at 155 mph. The 5-9, 160-pound Chang, meanwhile, was renowned for his quickness and heart.
   Otherwise, Roddick and Chang, 40, are remarkably similar.
   Both, of course, are American. Although Roddick grew up in Omaha, Neb., and Florida, and Chang in the Los Angeles area, both have ties to Northern California.
   Roddick has won the San Francisco Bay Area stop on the ATP World Tour three times (2004, 2005 and 2008) and Chang twice (1988 and 1992). Chang, in fact, won his first career title there at 16 years old, and his wife, the former Amber Liu, won the 2003 and 2004 NCAA women's singles titles while attending Stanford. Chang also played part-time for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis in 2009 and 2010.
   Most significantly, Roddick and Chang won their Grand Slam titles early in their careers, and it seemed more would follow. Roddick captured the 2003 U.S. Open at 21. Chang took the 1989 French Open at 17 to become the youngest men's Grand Slam singles champion, a distinction he still holds.
   Roddick has played in five Grand Slam singles finals overall and Chang four.
   Roddick climbed to No. 1 in the world in 2003. Chang peaked at No. 2 in 1996, coming within one loss to Pete Sampras of attaining No. 1. Roddick also holds the edge in year-end top-10 singles rankings, nine (2002-10) to seven (1989 and 1992-97).   
   Chang won 34 ATP singles titles. Roddick is at 32 and, by the time he retires, could tie or surpass Chang.
   Roddick, with 610 ATP match victories, also could finish close to Chang's total of 662. The biggest statistical difference between the players is Roddick has exactly 100 fewer losses for a winning percentage of .742 to Chang's .680. 
   Both Chang and Roddick were overshadowed by the Big Three of their eras: Chang by Sampras, Andre Agassi and Jim Courier, and Roddick by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The difference there is that Chang's chief rivals were fellow Americans and Roddick's are foreigners.
   Both Chang and Roddick played on one Davis Cup championship team, Chang in 1990 and Roddick in 2007. Their winning percentages in Davis Cup singles — .733 for Roddick and .667 for Chang — almost duplicate their figures in ATP matches.
   Roddick has played far more Davis Cup matches because he has been the No. 1 American for most of his career and Chang was often squeezed out by his compatriots. Roddick has won 33 Davis Cup singles matches, second in U.S. history behind John McEnroe's 41, against 12 losses. Chang was 8-4.
   Neither Roddick nor Chang has won an Olympic medal.
   To summarize, Roddick and Chang are even in Grand Slam singles titles and Davis Cup championships. Roddick holds an edge in Grand Slam singles finals, highest singles ranking and year-end top-10 singles rankings, and he has a much better winning percentage in ATP and Davis Cup matches. Chang has won two more ATP singles crowns, but Roddick could equal or surpass him before retiring.
   Advantage: Roddick.


  1. Thank you for your thoughtful post. As long as folks like Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Nick Bolliettieri are not inducted into the Hall of Fame I think it is a joke. I agree with you about the low standards to get in the Hall.

  2. Yes, low standards everywhere. That said, when will Anastasia Myskina be inducted? Oh, and Guillermo Coria too.

    Ok = Roddick way more dominant even with only one slam. Besides the win at Roland Garros, did Chang do anything like that loss to Federer at Wimbledon....EVER....even once?