It won't make up for his crushing defeat in the 2009 Wimbledon final or the 21 previous losses, but Andy Roddick finally getting the upper hand on Roger Federer night has to feel like sweet redemption.
The 29-year-old American defeated his longtime nemesis 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-4 in a third-round thriller Monday night at the Sony Open. Roddick's victory was just his third over Federer in 24 career meetings and his first since he did it on the same court four years ago.
When his final serve slid by Federer's racquet, Roddick raised his arms in the air and pointed to the sky, a tribute to his late agent, Ken Meyerson.
He looked to be in classic form, attacking confidently with his forehand on returns, rocketing serves with speed and accuracy and showing few signs of the sluggishness that has crept into his game over the past 24 months.
Roddick is down to No.34 in the ATP rankings, hasn't won a tournament in over a year and made his last Grand Slam semifinals appearance at that memorable Wimbledon three years ago. So far this year, he had yet to defeat a player in the top 50 prior to his win over Federer. The fact that he was seeded in Miami was by virtue of injury withdrawals of players ahead of him.
"I played a great game to break in the fourth, that's one of the best games I've ever played on return," he told The Tennis Channel after the match, referring to his lone break of Federer's serve midway through the third set.
The two played an exhibition match earlier this month at Madison Square Garden and Roddick was the victor there. Such meaningless results rarely foreshadow future events. Indeed, the next week, Roddick was ousted in the third round at Indian Wells while Federer won his fourth tournament of the year.
Federer hadn't lost to a player outside the top 20 in 77-straight matches. He didn't see things that way on Monday night.
"I feel like I lost like a former No. 1 in the world, not a No. 30 in the world," he told reporters after the match.
Roddick also looked to the past in his post-match remarks.
"Any time you beat someone who's the best ever at what they do, it's a big deal," he told The Tennis Channel.