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U.S. OPEN: Roddick wins second-round match, delays impending retirement

Andy Roddick of the U.S. returns a shot against Australia's Bernard Tomic on Friday night during their second-round match at the U.S. Open.

Andy Roddick of the U.S. returns a shot against Australia's Bernard Tomic on Friday night during their second-round match at the U.S. Open.

NEW YORK — Andy Roddick is not ready for retirement just yet.

A day after surprisingly announcing the U.S. Open will be the last tournament of his career, Roddick dominated Australian teenager Bernard Tomic from start to finish Friday night in Arthur Ashe Stadium and reached the third round with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 victory.

Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion and former No. 1-ranked player, will get to play at least one more time before walking away from professional tennis. It’ll be against 59th-ranked Fabio Fognini of Italy.

“I look forward to it,” Roddick said during an on-court interview with one of his former coaches, Brad Gilbert, “and I’m going to try to stick around a little longer.”

By the sound of their repeated ovations, and the sight of all their camera flashes, the supportive crowd of about 23,000 or so would love to see that.

Roddick turned 30 on Thursday, and held a news conference to say he would quit after a season of injuries and poor results at Grand Slam tournaments. But he sure looked good against the 43rd-ranked Tomic, hitting 13 aces, including on the final point.

With that, Roddick flashed a smile as wide as can be.

“Oh, man. That was so much fun. I really appreciate that,” Roddick told the crowd. “Thank you, guys.”

Asked whether he got emotional while preparing for what could have been his final appearance as a professional tennis player, Roddick said: “I’ve been trying to be good all day. Had a rough patch there, about 15 minutes before the match. Made the mistake of walking by one of the TVs while they were doing slow, dramatic things. I assume it was set to an ’80s ballad. It got me a little bit.”

Perhaps it was just a coincidence, but one such song, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” from 1981, was ringing through the arena as Roddick left for the locker room.

That’s the sort of wit Roddick became as known for as his big, big serve — he used to hold the record of 155 mph — and his superb forehand, along with an unbending competitive streak. In addition to his U.S. Open trophy, the last Grand Slam singles title for an American man, Roddick lost four major finals, all against Roger Federer.

While warming up on court with Tomic before the match, the stadium announcer noted that Roddick was “competing in his final U.S. Open,” and so he let out a deep exhale, then lifted his racket to acknowledge the fans’ applause.

That this was not going to be a final farewell became clear right away. Roddick hit three aces in the very first game — two at 136 mph, another at 138 mph — and added two more — at 125 mph, then 134 mph — while moving out to a 3-0 lead. And he enjoyed himself out there, skipping back to the baseline after one early overhead smash, and looking up to his mother and brother and coach after capping the opening set with a 136 mph ace.

After a sliding, stretching volley winner early in the third set, part of a run of eight games to end things, Roddick threw his arms overhead and waved them as some spectators leaped to their feet.

Not only was Tomic outclassed, but by the late stages, TV commentator and seven-time major champion John McEnroe was telling ESPN2 viewers that the Australian maybe should be fined for lack of effort. The 19-year-old Tomic is not a nobody; at Wimbledon last year, he became the youngest quarterfinalist since Boris Becker in 1986, and then he finished the season as the youngest member of the top 100 in the ATP rankings.

But this was Roddick’s night, a celebration of his career and a chance to extend it.

Shortly after the match, a TV interview with Roddick was interrupted by a group of fans chanting, “One more year! One more year!”

That’s probably not going to happen.

But there will be at least one more match for Roddick.


ROBSON, 18, STORMING THROUGH WOMEN'S DRAW; UGA'S ISNER ADVANCES:

NEW YORK — Laura Robson dissolved into giggles at a reference to British boy band One Direction.

Yes, she’s definitely 18. She also has beaten two former Grand Slam champions at the U.S. Open, and will face another in her next match.

The British teen beat 2011 French Open winner Li Na in the third round Friday, two days after she ended the career of four-time major champ Kim Clijsters. Next up: Sam Stosur, who happens to be the defending champion.

“I have had a fairly tough draw, haven’t I?” Robson said with the smile of a player racking up confidence.

Ranked 89th, Robson had never been past the second round of a major tournament or knocked off a top 10 opponent before this year’s Open. Now she’s done both, after eliminating the ninth-seeded Li 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2.

Robson put her hands to her head in I-can’t-believe-this joy after the Chinese star returned her serve long on the final point.

“I have had lots of tough matches against some very experienced opponents, so the way that I see it, it was time to start winning a few of them,” Robson said.

Stretching before the match, Robson noticed a tweet from English soccer star Wayne Rooney wishing her luck. Except he called her “Laura Robinson.” Rooney later faulted predictive text for the gaffe, which didn’t seem to dent Robson’s self-assurance.

“Can you blame that on predictive text, though?” she joked. “I’m not so sure.”

Following her from the stands Friday was British actor James Corden.

“I spotted him midway, like, first set, and then spent the rest of the time trying not to wave,” Robson said.

She also showed poise after failing to close out the match in the second-set tiebreaker, then overcoming two incorrect calls in the third set where she had to replay points she would’ve won if the initial ruling had been right.

With a break point on Li’s serve at 2-2 in the final set, Robson’s return clipped the baseline and Li hit the ball wide. But the line judge called Robson’s shot out and, after a review overturned it, Robson lost the replayed point. Li won the next point as well to earn game point. But with the Louis Armstrong Stadium crowd roaring its support, Robson rallied back to get the break.

“I was a little bit annoyed. But that’s what happens from time to time, so you’ve got to deal with it,” she said. “I think being a little bit annoyed seemed to help me, seeing as I broke the first game then I held serve the next time it happened.”

On Wednesday, Robson ended Clijsters’ career, winning both sets in tiebreakers in the second round against the 23rd-seeded Belgian. Robson’s career might now be really getting started.

She became the next great British hope when she captured the 2008 Wimbledon girls’ title at age 14. Four years later, injury-free for the first time in a while, she seems to be reaching that potential, the youngest woman ranked in the top 100.

“I’m only 18, so if I was that negative a year ago, then who knows what I’m going to be like in a few years,” Robson said, referring to whether she ever doubted her future. “But, no, I have always thought that I can play with the top girls. Whenever I’ve practiced with, you know, Caroline or Maria, I’ve always felt that the level was there. It was just taking that onto the match court and keeping the level up for the whole match.”

And she became the first British woman to make the fourth round at a Grand Slam event since Sam Smith at Wimbledon in 1998. Robson had 27 unforced errors to 34 by the 30-year-old Li.

“I was making a lot of mistakes in my whole match, so of course give a lot of free points to her,” Li said. “Made her like, ‘Oh, I got more confidence. Oh, I can beat her.’ “

The seventh-seeded Stosur was pushed for the first time in this year’s Open by No. 31 seed American Varvara Lepchenko, but dominated the second set after winning the first in a tiebreaker for a 7-6 (5), 6-2 victory.

Stosur has never faced Robson — or really watched her play for long.

“She’s obviously full of confidence and had two very, very good wins,” Stosur said.

Four-time major champ Maria Sharapova, the No. 3 seed, ended the surprise run of Stanford All-American Mallory Burdette, needing 58 minutes to win 6-1, 6-1. Fifth-seeded Petra Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champ, also advanced.

Friday night could be the farewell for 2003 champion Andy Roddick. A day earlier, he announced this would be the final tournament of his career.

The American was facing Bernard Tomic in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

In earlier men’s action, defending champ Novak Djokovic beat 112th-ranked Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil 6-2, 6-1, 6-2. Djokovic didn’t face any break points in winning in 1 hour, 39 minutes. Two other former champs also advanced: Juan Martin del Potro and Lleyton Hewitt.

John Isner, the top-ranked American man, overcame a rare tiebreaker loss to advance with a second straight four-set win. The ninth-seeded Isner beat Jarkko Nieminen 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-3. He came in 37-13 in tiebreakers this year.

Fourth-seeded David Ferrer and No.8-seeded Janko Tipsarevic also won. Tipsarevic beat American Brian Baker 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.

NCAA champ Steve Johnson, who had played in just one Grand Slam match before this year’s Open, reached the third round with a four-set win over No. 145-ranked Ernests Gulbis.

The 22-year-old Johnson, ranked No. 245, went undefeated this season for Southern California to win his second straight NCAA title and earn a wild card into the Open.