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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Powerful Roddick too strong for Kunitsyn

Photo Titled Andy Roddick
Andy Roddick

There were no fancy jackets, no monogrammed shirts or waistcoats and very little by way of fanfare but nevertheless, Andy Roddick has stated his intent at The Championships with a 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 win over Igor Kunitsyn to reach the third round.

Kunitsyn is what you might term one of nature’s triers. He is 27-years-old and has been plugging away at the Grand Slam circuit for six years. In all that time, he has won just three matches at the major events – and one of them was two days ago here against Grigor Dimitrov, last year’s Wimbledon Junior Champion. Admittedly, Dimitrov retired hurt with a gammy knee but, at this stage in his career, Kunitsyn will take a win however it is packaged.

Away from the Grand Slam scene, wins have been pretty thin on the ground, too. The only time he managed to win two matches or more in a row was back in February when he got to the quarter-finals in the Memphis event. Since then, it has been pretty thin pickings, with seven first round defeats.

With that sort of background, it was asking a lot to expect Kunitsyn to turn his form around on a sixpence and suddenly start knocking holes in Roddick’s defences. The American is flying a little under the radar here this year but, no matter, he is still a former finalist on the Wimbledon grass (twice, with two losses to Federer) and a former world number one.

Sure enough, Roddick seemed to be his usual powerful self. The serve was working well as he thumped down 18 aces and 39 unreturnable serves and kept his serving statistics at a healthy 71% accuracy. The ground strokes seemed to be a hefty as ever as he cracked in 35 winners and, more importantly, the error count was kept to a minimum at 22 – and half of them were committed in the third set. After feeling his way for the first few games, Roddick broke for a 3-2 lead in the first set and set off towards the finish line at a canter.

Kunitsyn was trying his best to compete. He, too, has a vicious serve on him and, for the first few games, was keeping pace on the thunderbolt tally with his opponent. But the Russian was always punching above his weight and forced to play eyeballs-out at all times if he was to make any headway. He was always going to be dragged into errors. In all, he racked up 78 of them, both forced and unforced, and that was never going to win him a place in the next round.

His only hope was that Roddick would take his eye off the ball for a few moments and allow the Russian back into the match. That duly happened in the third set when, after throwing in only five unforced errors until that point, the American reached double figures for the third set alone.

And at the very moment that Roddick starting fluffing the shots he had previously been planting as winners, Kunitsyn started attacking the net. The combination was enough to cost Roddick the third set but once he had stamped his authority on the fourth, breaking in the second game, he was back on track.

After the match, Roddick was not concerned about being broken in the third set. "A win is a win.The set I got broken, I had numerous break chances and [he] got the one that [he] had.

"I knew I was getting the better of him. I knew I was getting a lot more looks at his serve than he was at mine. I probably played my best set by far in the fourth set. It was comfortable most of the time."

Court 1 - Gentlemen's Singles - 2nd Round
Igor Kunitsyn RUS 4262
Andy Roddick USA (6)Winner6636

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