Andy Roddick easily extends career
NEW YORK -- Andy Roddick is not ready for retirement just yet.
A day after surprisingly announcing the U.S. Open will be the last tournament of his career, Roddick dominated Australian teenager Bernard Tomic from start to finish Friday night in Arthur Ashe Stadium and reached the third round with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 victory.
Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion and former No. 1-ranked player, will get to play at least one more time before walking away from professional tennis. It'll be against 59th-ranked Fabio Fognini of Italy.
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"I look forward to it," Roddick said during an on-court interview with one of his former coaches, Brad Gilbert, "and I'm going to try to stick around a little longer."
By the sound of their repeated ovations, and the sight of all their camera flashes, the supportive crowd of about 23,000 or so would love to see that.
Roddick turned 30 on Thursday, and held a news conference to say he would quit after a season of injuries and poor results at Grand Slam tournaments. But he sure looked good against the 43rd-ranked Tomic, hitting 13 aces, including on the final point.
With that, Roddick flashed a smile as wide as can be.
"Oh, man. That was so much fun. I really appreciate that," Roddick told the crowd. "Thank you, guys."
Asked whether he got emotional while preparing for what could have been his final appearance as a professional tennis player, Roddick said: "I've been trying to be good all day. Had a rough patch there, about 15 minutes before the match. Made the mistake of walking by one of the TVs while they were doing slow, dramatic things. I assume it was set to an `80s ballad. It got me a little bit."
Perhaps it was just a coincidence, but one such song, Journey's "Don't Stop Believin" from 1981, was ringing through the arena as Roddick left for the locker room.
That's the sort of wit Roddick became as known for as his big, big serve -- he used to hold the record of 155 mph -- and his superb forehand, along with an unbending competitive streak. In addition to his U.S. Open trophy, the last Grand Slam singles title for an American man, Roddick lost four major finals, all against Roger Federer.
While warming up on court with Tomic before the match, the stadium announcer noted that Roddick was "competing in his final U.S. Open," and so he let out a deep exhale, then lifted his racket to acknowledge the fans' applause.
That this was not going to be a final farewell became clear right away. Roddick hit three aces in the very first game -- two at 136 mph, another at 138 mph -- and added two more -- at 125 mph, then 134 mph -- while moving out to a 3-0 lead. And he enjoyed himself out there, skipping back to the baseline after one early overhead smash, and looking up to his mother and brother and coach after capping the opening set with a 136 mph ace.
After a sliding, stretching volley winner early in the third set, part of a run of eight games to end things, Roddick threw his arms overhead and waved them as some spectators leaped to their feet.
Not only was Tomic outclassed, but by the late stages, TV commentator and seven-time major champion John McEnroe was telling ESPN2 viewers that the Australian maybe should be fined for lack of effort. The 19-year-old Tomic is not a nobody; at Wimbledon last year, he became the youngest quarterfinalist since Boris Becker in 1986, and then he finished the season as the youngest member of the top 100 in the ATP rankings.
But this was Roddick's night, a celebration of his career and a chance to extend it.
Shortly after the match, a TV interview with Roddick was interrupted by a group of fans chanting, "One more year! One more year!"
That's probably not going to happen.
But there will be at least one more match for Roddick.
Aside from one long, long game, Novak Djokovic kept things quick on a 90-degree afternoon.
The defending champion at Flushing Meadows dropped a 24-point, 15-minute game early in the second set, a tiny blip along the way to wrapping up another easy victory to reach the third round. He beat 112th-ranked Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil 6-2, 6-1, 6-2.
"Definitely doesn't feel great, spending 15 minutes for one game in this heat," Djokovic said.
Nevertheless, Djokovic finished with more than twice as many winners (29) as unforced errors (14). He needed a little more than 90 minutes all told to make sure he would keep intact his record of never having lost to a player ranked outside the top 100 at a major tournament.
"I didn't know much about my opponent. Never saw him play. So that could have been, you know, a difficulty at the start in order to figure out what his game plan is," Djokovic said. "But I have played well from the start to the end."
The second-seeded Serb has lost a total of seven games through two matches this year at the U.S. Open.
"Obviously, I want to spend (as little) time as possible on the court," Djokovic said. "I have played a lot of tennis, a lot of matches, through the course of this summer."
That includes a runner-up finish to Rafael Nadal at the French Open, and a semifinal loss to eventual champion Federer at Wimbledon, following a title at the Australian Open in January.
Dutra Silva, who never has reached the third round at a Grand Slam tournament, was impressed by Djokovic's play in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"It's tough to hurt him. I tried, many ways, to hurt him. And actually I can't do that," Dutra Silva said with a smile. "I tried to play baseline. I tried to hit and hit the ball. I tried to play fast. It's so tough."
Djokovic won 37 of 41 points on first serves and never faced a break point all match.
Dutra Silva said that while Djokovic's first serves were hard to handle -- the Serb did hit six aces -- it was what happened once the ball was in play that was more problematic.
"When I put the ball in the court," Dutra Silva said, "I was in big trouble, you know?"
Isner was frustrated by a late let call he thought was incorrect that cost him a point while serving with a 5-4 lead in the second-set tiebreaker. Nieminen went on to win the last three points.
But Isner broke the 42nd-ranked Nieminen four times to reach the third round at the U.S. Open for the fourth straight year.
The seventh-seeded Argentine won 6-2, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2. The 20-year-old Harrison, ranked 61st, was seeking to reach the third round at a Grand Slam event for the first time.
Each player faced 10 break points, but del Potro converted seven to three for Harrison.
Harrison had 42 unforced errors.
Ferrer defeated the 78th-ranked qualifier 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (12).
In a year in which Spain's top player, Nadal, is absent because of injury, Ferrer was still the fourth man from that country to advance to the third round, with two others -- Tommy Robredo and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez -- playing their second-round matches later Friday.
Ferrer saved three set points in the third to get off the court in 2 hours, 7 minutes on an 88-degree afternoon in the Grandstand stadium.
The 30-year-old Spaniard made the third round at Flushing Meadows for the eighth straight year.
Lleyton Hewitt is back in the third round of the U.S. Open at age 31 -- 11 years after his title at Flushing Meadows.
The Australian two-time Grand Slam champion beat Gilles Muller 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4 in 4 hours, 35 minutes. Hewitt needed a wild card to get in because his ranking had fallen outside the top 100 as he struggled with injuries.
In earlier men's action, NCAA champ Steve Johnson, who had played in just one Grand Slam match before this year's Open, reached the third round with a four-set win over 145th-ranked Ernests Gulbis.
The 22-year-old Johnson, ranked 245th, went undefeated this season for Southern Cal to win his second straight NCAA title and earn a wild card into the Open.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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