Roddick Prolongs Career at U.S. Open; Azarenka, Djokovic Advance
Andy Roddick brought a crowd of 24,674 to its feet for two standing ovations at the National Tennis Center in New York, prolonging his career with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 defeat of Australia’s Bernard Tomic at the U.S. Open.
Under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium, where he has played more night matches than anyone else in the past 16 years, the 30-year-old American fired 13 aces and 33 winners last night without facing a break point.
Roddick, playing in what he has said will be his final tournament, wore red, white and blue shoes featuring stars and stripes, a tribute to the country whose men’s tennis success rested largely on his shoulders for the past 10 years. He received a standing ovation from the crowd before and after the match.
“I had no idea what was going to happen out there, honestly,” Roddick told reporters after the victory. “An outpouring of support from inside the tennis world and outside the tennis world in the past 24 hours is certainly not something that I expected.”
Top women’s seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia also won yesterday. Djokovic, seeded second, defeated Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 to advance to the third round, winning 90 percent of his first serve points.
Azarenka advanced to the fourth round with a 6-0, 6-1 victory against Zheng Jie of China. Winner of the Australian Open this year, her first and only Grand Slam title, Azarenka never has advanced past the fourth round of the U.S. Open.
Defending woman’s champion Samantha Stosur of Australia defeated American Varvara Lepchenko 7-6 (7-5), 6-2. Third-seeded Maria Sharapova of Russia won 6-1, 6-1 against 21-year-old Mallory Burdette, an American amateur who plays for Stanford University.
Winner of the French Open earlier this year, Sharapova has won all six sets she has played so far in the tournament by a combined 36-7 in games.
Five U.S. men 22 or younger had won first-round matches this year, providing what might be a glimpse into the future of American tennis without Roddick. Three of those players lost yesterday in the second round, with 22-year-old Bradley Klahn losing to France’s Richard Gasquet; 20-year Ryan Harrison falling to seventh-seeded Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina, and 18-year-old Dennis Novikov losing to France’s Julien Benneteau.
The lone young American to advance yesterday was Steve Johnson, the two-time defending National Collegiate Athletic Association champion at the University of Southern California. Johnson, 22, defeated Ernests Gulbis of Latvia becoming the first reigning NCAA singles champion to advance to the third round in New York since Sargis Sargsian in 1995.
“There’s a ton of Americans that are going to come up and do big things,” Johnson said in a news conference. “Shouldn’t fall on any one person’s shoulders. Andy had to deal with it for so long, this is too bad this is going to be his last week.”
Johnson is joined in the third round by 19-year-old American Jack Sock, who today plays Nicolas Almagro of Spain. Serena Williams, a three-time champion, plays Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova this afternoon in Arthur Ashe Stadium, followed by top- seeded Roger Federer of Switzerland against Spain’s Fernando Verdasco.
Roddick announced two nights ago that he was retiring from tennis after the tournament. Roddick won the U.S. Open in 2003, the last Grand Slam title by an American man. He was the face of American men’s tennis after eight-time Grand Slam champion Andre Agassi retired in 2006, winning more than $20.5 million and 32 tournament titles.
Roddick said he became nervous about 15 minutes before the match against Tomic when he walked past a television showing a montage of his U.S. Open highlights.
“I assume it was set to an 80s ballad,” said Roddick, who will face Italy’s Fabio Fognini in the third round. “It got me a little bit.”
In keeping with the theme of the night, he walked off the court to Journey’s 1981 hit “Don’t Stop Believin’” blasting through the stadium speakers.
-- Editor: Rob Gloster
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