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By Barry Wood
DUBAI, March 6 (Reuters) - Andy Roddick has split from his coach Jimmy Connors by mutual agreement.
“Jimmy resigned, probably about a week ago,” Roddick told reporters on Thursday after reaching the semi-finals of the Dubai Championships.
“I still have the utmost respect for Jimmy and thank him for his time. I think it was tough for him to do it part-time and maybe not getting exactly the results we wanted, but at the same time he was retired before we got together.
“We’re amicable, we’re friends. I have so much respect for him as a person. I’m sad but I’m thankful for what he was able to give to me and the fact that he was able to take some time out of his retirement and spend it with me.”
The 25-year-old American, who linked up with the eight-times grand slam champion in July 2006, said he did not have any immediate plans to replace Connors.
Connors was credited for reviving Roddick’s career after the former world number one dropped out of the top 10 following a third-round defeat at Wimbledon 20 months ago.
Just a few weeks after securing the services of Connors, Roddick won the Cincinnati Masters and was runner-up to Roger Federer at the U.S. Open.
“He’s helped my backhand a ton,” said Roddick, who beat second seed Rafael Nadal in Dubai quarter-finals on Thursday.
“It’s a different shot to when we got together. It’s a lot more solid. And that fighting spirit.
“When we got together I was as close to down and out as I’ve been. I spent the week after Wimbledon just as close to depressed as I’ve been as far as my career goes. I really credit him for that spark and getting me back to the top five and in a slam final pretty close there afterwards.”
Connors was the one who walked away, but Roddick felt it was coming.
“Communication’s tough when you come off the court and maybe it’s not on TV and you try to explain where your head’s at. I think we did the mentor role as well as you can from a distance.
“But when I’m going from Australia to Austria to California to Memphis to Dubai, it becomes difficult. It was a matter of logistics as anything.
“He ended it officially but it was something we both might have been feeling. It’s tough to ask him to come on the road for two, three, four weeks at a time. He’s got a great family and he likes walking his dogs every morning, and I’m keeping him away from the golf course a little too much.
“I understand that. I’m just happy I was able to spend a little bit of time with such a legend. I don’t see him hanging up the phone if I ask him a question. I don’t see that being a problem.
“I’m sad about it, as much from a personal standpoint. I really enjoyed my time with him. The thing about Jimmy is you don’t just learn stuff about tennis.
“As much as the way he was on the court sometimes, he was that much of a gentleman off of it as far as treating my mother with respect and my sister-in-law with respect, opening doors and pulling out chairs. He’s a true gentleman away from the court, so I try to take note of that also.”
Editing by Pritha Sarkar