ANDY RODDICK has been one of the most popular players at Wimbledon for the past decade but much more of this and the tournament will no longer rank among his favourites.
The 28-year-old from Austin, Texas, was knocked out in straight sets – 7-6 (2), 7-6 (2), 6-4 – by Feliciano Lopez of Spain yesterday, adding to a list of disappointments that have included being a losing finalist on three occasions and going out in the fourth round to Yen-Hsun Lu last year.
The world No.10 had prevailed in all seven of his previous meetings with Lopez, most recently at Queen’s Club a fortnight ago, but precedent counted for little over the course of two hours and 18 minutes on Centre Court yesterday. Lopez served 28 aces to Roddick’s 23 in a surprisingly straightforward victory. The two men may face each other again in a fortnight when USA take on Spain in a Davis Cup quarter- final in Roddick’s home town.
The American was philosophical about the defeat, even if it emphasised a thoroughly “average” year for him. He gave away his racquet rather than merely sign an autograph for a young fan as he left the court.
“This year is a lot easier to deal with than last year when I feel like I gave it away,” Roddick said. “He came out and served about as well as anyone has. The stuff that enabled me to beat him seven times, making passing shots under duress, making him play defence on his forehand – he did [them] well today. He played an outstanding match.”
A thrilled Lopez hailed the victory as his best in a grand slam tournament. He served 28 aces to Roddick’s 23 and hit 57 winners while making only seven unforced errors. “It is definitely a great win for me,” said the 29-year-old from Madrid, who will face Gael Monfils, the No.9 seed, or Poland’s Lukas Kubot in the next round. “I have beaten a couple of great players at Wimbledon in the last 10 years but to beat Andy on this court is very special.”
Rafael Nadal’s match against Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller was beaten by the weather last night and will resume today when play restarts at 1pm, with the world No.1 a set to the good, although he was taken to a tie-break by a man who defeated him here in 2005.
There were differing fortunes for two of the brightest young prospects in men’s tennis, with Ryan Harrison of the US defeated 6-7 (6), 6-1, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 David Ferrer, the No.7 seed, while Bernard Tomic fought back from two sets own to see off Igor Andreev 4-6, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.
Both matches were delayed second-round encounters. Tomic, an 18-year-old qualifier from Australia, said: “It’s the first time I’ve been down two sets to love and a break in my career. I think I gave it a shot. I tested myself to win that match, to get back in that third set, and I did.” Tomic next faces Robin Soderling, the No.5 seed, who himself fought back from two sets down yesterday to defeat another Australian, Lleyton Hewitt. Tomic said: “Hopefully he’s not going to like the way I play, but he can hit you off the court, as he has done the last few years. He has beaten a lot guys very easily.”
Jurgen Melzer, who is seeded 11, completed the third-round line-up by seeing off Dmitry Tursunov 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (1) while Richard Gasquet despatched Simone Bolelli 6-3, 6-2 6-4 to set up a fourth-round encounter with Andy Murray.
Aside from Nadal’s match, the others to be carried over to today because of the weather are those between Juan Martin del Potro and Gilles Simon; Monfils and Kubot; and Mardy Fish and Robin Haase. Del Potro was a set up but a break down against Simon and Monfils and Kubot were locked at 1-1, while Fish and Haase were unable even to start.