AP photo by David Vincent|
Andy Roddick of the United States was one of eight American men who lost in the first round of the French Open at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris on Tuesday. Roddick, the tournament's third seed, fell to 125th-ranked Igor Andreev of Russia.
Au revoir, Paris
American men make early
exits from French Open
By Howard Fendrich
Associated Press Writer
PARIS — Andy Roddick knows the story well, so he politely declined the official match DVD that players are offered at the French Open.
"No, thanks," the No. 3-seeded Roddick said. "I just don't want to see that ever again."
He had just exited in the first round at Roland Garros for the fourth time in six years, a four-set loss to 125th-ranked Igor Andreev of Russia that was part of an 0-8 showing by U.S. men Tuesday at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament.
The worst American performance at the French Open in at least 30 years began, understandably enough, at the hands of No. 1 Roger Federer. He started his quest for a fourth consecutive major title by finishing a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Michael Russell in a match suspended by rain during the second set Monday.
Then Justin Gimelstob lost to No. 32 Nicolas Almagro in straight sets. And Amer Delic was sent home by 2003 French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero. Roddick's 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 departure came next, followed in quick succession by those of Robert Kendrick, Sam Querrey, a racket-tossing Vince Spadea and No. 8 James Blake, who watched 22 aces zoom past in a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5 defeat against 6-foot-10 Ivo Karlovic near day's end.
Au revoir, mes amis! Two members of the Top 10 (Roddick and Blake), a 19-year-old up-and-comer (Querrey), a late bloomer (Delic), a handful of veterans — no matter the profile, the result was the same Tuesday.
One of their countrymen remained in the draw, at least until play resumes: The ninth and final U.S. representative, Robby Ginepri, split the first two sets against Diego Hartfield of Argentina before their match was suspended because of fading light.
"It's no secret we haven't done that great on clay this year," Blake said, "but I think we have the ability."
Granted, they're hardly the only American men who've found the red clay of Paris more troublesome than what's underfoot at other majors. No U.S. man won the French Open between Tony Trabert in 1955 and Michael Chang in 1989, and Andre Agassi was the last to do it, in 1999.
Such greats as Pete Sampras, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors never hoisted a French Open singles trophy. Connors is now Roddick's coach and had a front-row seat as Andreev accumulated a stunning 38-1 edge in forehand winners.
"A loss is never any good. But the good thing is, from my standpoint, I can understand," Connors said. "I can understand, because I had some tough times here myself."
Still, it's not as though Roddick, Blake and Co. are coming as close as McEnroe, who reached the final in Paris, or Sampras and Connors, who reached the semifinals.
And consider this: Austria, the Czech Republic and Italy all have three men in this French Open's second round. France has 11, Argentina nine.
"It's frustrating, but we'll hopefully get it back on grass," Blake said. "I promise we won't have all eight guys losing in the first round at Wimbledon."
Showers limited action on Days 1 and 2, creating a backlog of matches, but the clouds finally parted Tuesday. Fans swapped umbrellas for sunglasses, the better to catch glimpses of various story lines — including a French Open-record six men quitting first-round matches because of illness or injury.
Two-time defending champion Rafael Nadal, playing for the first time since his 81-match clay winning streak was stopped by Federer this month, began a fresh run. His opponent, Juan Martin del Potro, served for the first set at 5-3, but Nadal broke him, reeled off eight consecutive games and won in straight sets.
"I never played well in the first round here," said Nadal, who improved to 15-0 at Roland Garros.
"I never played well in the first round or the second round, and not very often in the third round. That's the truth."
A third highly seeded man joined Roddick and Blake on the way out when No. 5 Fernando Gonzalez, the runner-up to Federer at the Australian Open, lost to Radek Stepanek 6-2, 6-2, 6-4. Other results of note included wins by 2004 French Open champion Gaston Gaudio and two-time major champion Lleyton Hewitt, while No. 28 Philipp Kohlschreiber outlasted Lukas Dlouhy 17-15 in the fifth set.
Martin Verkerk, the Dutchman who made a surprising run to the 2003 French Open final then dropped off the tour entirely after injuries, lost his first Grand Slam match in three years.
The biggest upset in women's play came when No. 11 Nadia Petrova, a French Open semifinalist in 2005, lost to Kveta Peschke. No. 4 Jelena Jankovic, No. 6 Nicole Vaidisova and 2004 runner-up Elena Dementieva won in straight sets.
But the focus was sharply on the U.S. men, particularly Roddick, who won the 2003 U.S. Open and has played in three other Grand Slam finals. He's never fared better than the third round in France, however, in part because clay dulls his serve and forehand.
Despite that, he regarded reaching the second week of this French Open as "a realistic goal" — even after he knew he'd face Andreev, who upset Ferrero at Roland Garros in 2004 and was the last man to beat Nadal on clay before Federer.
Now Roddick once again will hop a plane home after one match.
"I feel a little bit better coming out of this than I have in the past. But at the same time, you know, same result," he said. "I'm not going to give up."
French Open at a glance
A look at the French Open on Tuesday:
Attendance: 35,551. Last year: 33,760.
Wednesdayís Forecast: Mostly cloudy, with rain expected in the afternoon. High of 61.
Menís Seeded Winners: No. 1 Roger Federer, No. 2 Rafael Nadal, No. 7 Ivan Ljubicic, No. 9 Tommy Robredo, No. 11 Richard Gasquet, No. 13 Mikhail Youzhny, No. 14 Lleyton Hewitt, No. 15 David Nalbandian, No. 16 Marcos Baghdatis, No. 17 Juan Carlos Ferrero, No. 18 Juan Ignacio Chela, No. 19 Guillermo Canas, No. 20 Jarkko Nieminen, No. 21 Dmitry Tursunov, No. 27 Jurgen Melzer, No. 28 Philipp Kohlschreiber, No. 29 Filippo Volandri, No. 32 Nicolas Almagro.
Menís Seeded Losers: No. 3 Andy Roddick, No. 5 Fernando Gonzalez, No. 8 James Blake, No. 24 Dominik Hrbaty, No. 25 Robin Soderling, No. 26 Agustin Calleri, No. 30 Julien Benneteau, No. 31 Florian Mayer.
Womenís Seeded Winners: No. 4 Jelena Jankovic, No. 6 Nicole Vaidisova, No. 13 Elena Dementieva, No. 18 Marion Bartoli, No. 20 Sybille Bammer, No. 23 Francesca Schiavone, No. 28 Mara Santangelo.
Womenís Seeded Losers: No. 11 Nadia Petrova.
Schedule: After two days of heavy rain caused a big backlong, 75 out of 82 scheduled matches were completed Tuesday. Of the 60 menís matches, 53 were finished and seven were suspended because of darkness. All 22 womenís matches were completed.
On Court Wednesday: No. 1 Roger Federer, No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko, No. 6 Novak Djokovic, No. 7 Ivan Ljubicic, No. 22 Marat Safin; No. 1 Justine Henin, No. 2 Maria Sharapova, No. 3 Svetlana Kuznetsova, No. 4 Jelena Jankovic, No. 5 Amelie Mauresmo, No. 6 Nicole Vaidisova, No. 8 Serena Williams, No. 13 Elena Dementieva, No. 26 Venus Williams.
Stat of the Day: 0-8 — Record for U.S. men who completed first-round matches Tuesday. The other American in the draw, Robby Ginepri, was tied at a set apiece when his match was suspended. At least two American men have reached the second round at every French Open after 1967.
- The Associated Press
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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