Dent Downs Grosjean To Set Up Showdown With Roddick
By Tennis Week
The City Of Light had cast a curtain of loss on Taylor Dent throughout his career. Dent's serve-and-volley style has been about as conducive to the red clay of Roland Garros as a kite-flying contest conducted beneath the Arc de Triomphe.
Winless in his career appearances at both Roland Garros and the Paris Indoors, Dent took the court today and crafted a Bercy breakthrough, beating France's Sebastien Grosjean, 6-4, 7-6(4), to set up a second-round showdown with top-seeded Andy Roddick at the BNP Paribas Masters.
Dent withstood both Grosjean and the vocal French fans.
"You get those matchups every so often. I played Lleyton earlier this year in Adelaide," Dent said. "You know, you just got to embrace the crowd; they're out there having a good time and you just have to kind of understand that you're not their favorite that day; maybe it will change in the future. It was fun. Any time you play with a crowd that animated, it makes it enjoyable."
The 34th-ranked Dent snapped a streak of three straight opening-round losses. He succumbed to Davide Sanguinetti in Stockholm, lost to Tim Henman in Madrid and fell to Fabrice Santoro in Lyon.
In his first career clash with 2001 Paris champion Grosjean, Dent scored the lone break of the opening set in the seventh game. A Grosjean mis-hit gave Dent double break point. On the next point, Dent put his body weight behind a backhand and blasted a backhand winner to break for 4-3. Dent consolidated the break on the strength of a series of strong first serves to stretch the lead to 5-3. Two games later, Dent closed out the set with a convincing service game.
Grosjean found himself under immediate pressure at the start of the second set when his forehand strayed beyond the line to give Dent break point at 30-40. Grosjean saved the break point, but Dent continued to press forward to earn two more break-point opportunities. Exhorted on by the partisan Parisian crowd, the former French Open semifinalist fought off a total of three break points and finally held serve with a superb backhand pass. Seizing the momentum, Grosjean struck a sneaky volley winner to break for a 2-0 lead.
The break proved to be short-lived, however, as Grosjean misfired wide on a forehand pass allowing Dent to break back for 1-2. The set stayed on serve into the tiebreak.
A daring drop shot from Grosjean forged a 4-4 tie and brought the crowd to its feet, but Grosjean missed a forehand long on the next point and Dent delivered an ace to earn double match point before closing out the victory.
The Dent-Roddick match is a showdown of two of tennis' top servers. Since suffering a 1-6, 4-6 loss to Dent in the 2003 Memphis final, Roddick has scored three straight victories over Dent, including a 6-2, 6-0, 6-2, thrashing in the 2004 Australian Open followed by a 6-3, 7-6, 7-6, victory at the 2004 Wimbledon. Dent has typically played his best tennis indoors, winning three of his four career tournament titles — Memphis, Bangkok and Moscow — beneath a closed roof.
The third-ranked Roddick did not drop serve the entire week — holding serve in 51 straight games — and cracked a total of 70 aces en route to collecting his fifth championship of the season in Lyon last week. In his recent matches with Dent, Roddick's superior second serve has been a key component to his success.