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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Roddick too good for Melzer

Photo Titled Roddick drive
American No. 1 Andy Roddick keeps his eye on the ball to drive a forehand past his third round opponent Jurgen Melzer.
Jurgen Melzer must have felt somewhat glum when he realised he was facing Andy Roddick in the third round. Eight times before today they have met, and eight times the American has triumphed. Today was no exception to the rule, the number six seed securing his place in Monday’s last 16 with a 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-2), 4-6, 6-3 win over the Austrian.

For the first two sets, this was the very definition of a tight match. Just as well (as Roddick posted on Twitter the night before this match) that he chose to go to bed early in order to be well rested, rather than do what he really wanted, which was go to a gig with the doubles-playing Bryan brothers.

The first set offered no openings at all and Roddick – twice a finalist here – was frequently on the defensive. But come the tiebreak the American lifted his game and a couple of sloppy errors from 28-year-old Melzer tipped the balance. Roddick took it 7-2.

If Melzer was to halt his losing record against 26-year-old Roddick, the likelihood of him doing it here always seemed remote – after all, the American is second only to Federer with the most grasscourt wins among current players. But in this match both players produced some high-class tennis in the second set, with Roddick applauding a beautifully judged lob from Melzer at 4-4. But he, too, was putting together some lovely rallies and in that same game had three separate chances to break. He just could not convert them.

Again the set went to the tiebreak. Again Roddick raised his game when it mattered. Again Melzer did not play the important points as well as he might, and when he sent a forehand long it meant even the tiebreak score mirrored the first set – 7-2. Melzer, who had never in his career come back from two sets down in a five-set match, trudged to his chair looking resigned to his fate.

Wouldn’t you know, that was just when he began to turn things around. At 2-2 in the third Roddick came to the net to volley – not his strong point in this match – and completely fluffed it to give Melzer the break. The Austrian’s confidence grew almost visibly and he closed out the set 6-4 with a backhand pass.

Early in the fourth set Roddick seemed in charge, with break points here and there. At 2-1 Melzer sent an easy winner wide and Roddick led 3-1. Perhaps the American was distracted by the sight of gathering rainclouds overhead, because he lost concentration and Melzer got the set back on serve. But he could not make it stick and Roddick broke right back. This time his focus did not waver and he got the job done.

He will face Tomas Berdych in the last 16.

Centre Court - Gentlemen's Singles - 3rd Round
Jurgen Melzer AUT (26)626263
Andy Roddick USA (6)Winner777746

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