Injured Roddick out, Hewitt through
By Matthew Cronin
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
It was a bad and anxious day for the Andys.
After British hopeful Andy Murray and his bad back went down in five sets to France's Gael Monfils, American and fifth seed Andy Roddick withdrew from his first round match against Spaniard Alberto Martin because of a recurrence of an ankle injury. Roddick was trailing 4-6 5-7 0-1.
It was the third time that the American has fallen in the first round here and he has only advanced to the third round once, in his 2001 debut.
Roddick tried vainly to hang in long backcourt rallies with the quick and intelligent Martin, but had trouble sliding and tweaked his ankle a number of times.
Roddick first suffered the injury last week at the World Team Cup and said the ankle never felt 100 percent.
He fought off a break in the second set, but late in the set, he twisted his ankle again. Martin did a terrific job on moving Roddick around and the American was only in control when his serve was cranking, which wasn't often enough.
"At 5-all when I tried to go back for an overhead, I kind of caught it the wrong way again," Roddick said. "It started affecting the way I landed on my serve. Not much else was working besides my serve. It was a lost cause, I think. I didn't think it was going to be a hundred per cent. Maybe I was stupidly optimistic last week. But I was definitely tentative sliding around out there."
Roddick requested a trainer to re-tape his ankle down 0-1 in the third set, but the rulebook no longer allows players to re-tape injuries once a new set has begun. Had Roddick asked for the re-taping after the second set, he would have had his wish granted, but it's unlikely it would have affected the outcome of the match.
"Right now I just want to get healthy,' said Roddick who also suffered an injury in Rome and hasn't won a title this year.
"It's been an extremely annoying the last month or so. It's frustrating. You feel kind of helpless because mentally you're one way, then physically you're another."
With Roddick's exit and Robby Ginepri's loss today, only two American men remain: eighth seed James Blake, who faces red hot Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, and lucky loser Kevin Kim, who has the Herculean task of facing defending champion Rafael Nadal.
The U.S. - which saw three men win four Roland Garros titles between 1989 and 1999 - hasn't seen one of its men reach the second week since Michael Russell in 2001.
"Obviously, we're not in a dominating position," Roddick said. "We're playing a 7 2 off suit against pocket aces right now. I'll pull for James as much as possible. I really hope he does it. Having said that, it's a pretty tough draw, as well."
Two-time Grand Slam champion Lleyton Hewitt came through, besting Jan Henrych 7-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-0.
Hewitt, who like Roddick has been struggling with injuries and had played only one clay court match coming into Roland Garros, was fairly consistent on the day and never got rattled.
"I haven't played, apart from one match, on clay for two years," Hewitt said. "It's obviously tough to come out here and expect to be playing at your best the whole time. But I felt like there were patches today where I played extremely well. He's not an easy player to play against. So it was a good one to get under my belt."
Hewitt said his sore calf has healed but his ankle is still not 100 percent. He's in Nadal's quadrant and knows he'll have to be in top shape if he's to go far.
"It's obviously pretty tough coming into such a big tournament and not having as many matches, let alone this year but last year as well," he said. " That obviously makes things pretty tough. Hopefully I can get better and better with each match."