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April 9, 2007, 3:34PM
Injury forces Roddick out of Westside's Clay Courts event
By DALE ROBERTSON
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle
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Andy Roddick, the top seed and a three-time former champion, pulled out of the final U.S. Men's Clay Court Championsh ips at Westside Tennis and Fitness Club Monday because of a pulled left hamstring suffered in a match against Andy Murray 12 days ago in Florida.
Roddick played and won a Davis Cup match against Spain's Fernando Verdasco Friday in Winston-Salem, N.C., but admitted he "tweaked" the muscle early and got through "only on my adrenalin." Doctors have advised him to take a week to 10 days completely off from tennis.
"The unfortunat e thing about a hamstring injury is that it's one of the most susceptibl e to re-injury over and over," Roddick said. "At this point, instead of changing surfaces – you know how natural my movement is on clay in the first place – it would probably be best to make sure I get healthy."
He said his decision, although prudent medically, was especially disappoint ing because it's the last time the tournament will be played at Westside and he has developed a close friendship with the club's owners, Jim and Linda McIngvale.
"On a personal note, I'm not happy that I don't get to participat e in the last year," he said. "I've sort of grown up here. I've got a lot of good memories at this tournament and this club. It's been great. I'm just thankful I've had an opportunit y to play here a lot and thankful to the McIngvales for putting up with us for as long as they have."
Roddick flew into Houston from North Carolina Sunday night and will stay maybe through Tuesday, "doing whatever Linda (the tournament director) wants me to do." He'll then return to his home in Austin.
It's unclear when he'll play again – the Masters Series tournament in Rome the week of May 7 was his next scheduled event after Houston - but he said he's not yet prepared to concede the entire clay-court season, which culminates with Roland Garros at the end of May.
"I hope not," he said.
With the third-ranked Roddick out, second-seeded James Blake becomes the top player in the field at No. 9. Tommy Haas, who beat Roddick for the 2004 title, is No. 10.
Alexander Peya of Austria, Monday's "lucky loser" – the highest-ranked player not to advance from qualifying – will replace Roddick in the draw against Spaniard Albert Montañes Tuesday.
The 24-year-old Roddick won the Clay Courts the first two years it was held here, in 2001 and 2002, then won again in 2004. Last spring was the only time he didn't reach the final, losing to Haas in the quarterfin als.
He also reached the semifinals of both Masters Cup tournament s at Westside, in 2003 and 2004