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Top-Seeded Roddick Forced to Retire With Ankle Injury

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DELRAY BEACH, Fla. (March 4) -- Andy Roddick's first-round match at the International Tennis Championship took a couple of cruel twists.

The top-seeded Roddick blew a big lead Tuesday as he wasted three set points before retiring with an ankle injury against fellow American Mardy Fish.

One of the hardest servers in tennis, Roddick powered his way to a 5-2, 40-love lead in the opening set. But Fish, a friend and occasional doubles partner of Roddick's, turned the momentum and eventually forced a tiebreaker, which he won, 7-4.

In the second set, Fish was serving at 4-3, 15-love when Roddick went down with a twisted ankle. He is still receiving treatment and there has been no official diagnosis.

Roddick came in fourth in the ATP Champions Race. The 20-year-old was the runner-up here last year and also was a finalist three weeks ago in Memphis, where he came up short against Taylor Dent.

This was Fish's first career meeting with Roddick. They won a doubles title last year in Houston.

This $380,000 hard-court event features a rare appearance by Guillermo Coria of Argentina, the second seed who takes on Sargis Sargsian of Armenia.

This is Coria's first hard-court event since a fourth-round loss to Andre Agassi at the Australian Open. Coria beat Sargsian in three sets at the 2002 French Open -- on clay, his specialty -- in their previous meeting.

Frenchman Arnaud Clement, seeded fifth, will try to beat Switzerland's Michel Kratochvil for the first time in three meetings.

Seventh-seeded Stefan Koubek of Austria, a winner at Doha this year, takes the court against 23-year-old American qualifier Robert Kendrick.

Also, Fernando Meligeni of Brazil battles Attila Savolt of Hungary.

In earlier matches, No. 8 Vincent Spadea of the United States rolled past Michael Llodra 6-3, 6-0; Alberto Martin of Spain outlasted American Brian Vahaly 6-4, 3-6, 6-3; Flavio Saretta of Brazil bounced American qualifier Paul Goldstein 6-4, 6-4; and Dutchman Martin Verkerk beat Brazilian qualifier Ricardo Mello 7-6 (7-5), 6-4.

Verkerk won last month's Milan Indoors, defeating Yevgeny Kafelnikov.

First prize is $52,000.

03-04-03 21:10 ET

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