Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Roddick running out of time in London
By Ravi Ubha, ESPN.com
LONDON -- Andy Roddick, a popular face in England given his success at Queen's and Wimbledon, wasn't entirely the crowd favorite Monday. That was understandable, since he faced world No. 1 and nine-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal.
Wednesday afternoon against slumping Czech Tomas Berdych, fans clearly sided with the Nebraska native. Cries of, "Come on, Andy!" reverberated around the expansive O2 Arena in London's East End prior to the first ball being struck at the World Tour Finals.
Unfortunately for Roddick, he couldn't give them a W. In a match that turned around entirely late in the first set, Roddick fell 7-5, 6-3 to slip to 0-2 in Group A. He lost to Berdych for the first time in their past five encounters.
Roddick came out flying against Nadal a couple days ago, pummeling balls from the back of the court, including the backhand, serving and volleying on second serve and running around to hit the forehand off the Spaniard's second serve.
He reverted to the Roddick of old against Berdych, mostly toiling behind the baseline and failing to mix it up. Hard to argue with that, though, taking into account his head-to-head record against the 25-year-old, and it looked like the strategy would pay off since he cruised on serve early and held two set points at 5-4 on the Berdych serve. Berdych, shaky to start the 10th game, saved those points with gutsy play -- digging up a low forehand to force an error, then thumping a deep forehand to set up the ensuing point.
At 5-5, Roddick blew a 40-15 advantage, allowing Berdych back into the game when he double-faulted for 40-30.
Berdych, overmatched and overawed in his opener against Djokovic, suddenly turned into the guy who reached the French Open semifinals and Wimbledon final. His body language changed completely.
His effortless groundstrokes began firing, and he found a way into Roddick's service games. Roddick won 83 percent of points behind his first serve in the first set, with the figure dipping to 53 in the second. Roddick struck three baseline winners overall.
"I started this week nervously, nothing special, but today went better, and I started to play better and better," Berdych told the crowd.
A few points here and there, and Roddick might well be 2-0. Instead, in an extension of the type of season it's been for the 28-year-old, his stay in London looks to be shorter than planned. If Djokovic tops Nadal Wednesday evening in a repeat of their thrilling U.S. Open final, Roddick is officially eliminated.