washingtonpost.com  > Sports > Leagues and Sports > Tennis

Roddick Felled By His Own Bad Breaks

By Amalie Benjamin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 10, 2004; Page D01

FLUSHING MEADOWS, N.Y., Sept. 9 -- Matching Andy Roddick ace for ace for the better part of five sets, Joachim Johansson of Sweden was just looking for a service break late in the final set Thursday night. When it came -- after he had already squandered two match points at 5-4 -- it sent Johansson to the U.S. Open semifinals and Roddick, the No. 2 seed here, home to ponder missed opportunities.

Roddick, the defending champion, hit 58 winners and just 22 unforced errors, yet his final backhand of the night was beyond the baseline, securing a 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 6-4 win for Johansson, the No. 28 seed. The match lasted 2 hours 55 minutes. Roddick converted just 3 of 15 break chances; Johansson converted 3 of 5.

Andy Roddick bemoans his missed chances (3 of 15 on break points) in a five-set loss to Sweden's Joachim Johansson. (John Gress -- Reuters)

"Yeah, that's the stat. You don't really need to analyze the match any further than break points had and break points converted," Roddick said. "That's pretty much the whole match, you know."

Johansson advanced to meet No. 4 seed Lleyton Hewitt in the semifinals Saturday. Hewitt beat Tommy Haas, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2, in an earlier quarterfinal.

No. 1 Roger Federer and No. 5 Tim Henman make up the other members of the Open's final four after both won matches that had been postponed from Wednesday night because of rain. Federer took out Andre Agassi, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, and Henman finished off No. 22 Dominik Hrbaty, 6-1, 7-5, 5-7, 6-2.

With Roddick and Agassi losing in the quarterfinals, the men's U.S. Open semifinal will be played without an American for the first time since 1986.

Rain also had an affect on Roddick and Johansson's match, with a delay that came 19 minutes into the match -- though after Johansson's first break -- and stopped it for about an hour.

Johansson came out of the stoppage firing rocket serves of up to 141 mph, matching his opponent's 34 aces with 30 of his own and causing Roddick to drop his only sets of the tournament. The 23-year-old Swede, who has won just one title in his career, had been averaging 19 aces per match in the tournament, but stormed past that number in just the third set on Thursday.

Playing strong tennis throughout the first two sets, Johansson jumped on Roddick early, taking advantage of the only two break points he faced in those sets. Roddick, meantime, missed on all seven of the break chances he had in the first and second sets. Continuing his futility throughout the match, he failed on the two opportunities he had in the final set as well.

"I played well on the 50 break points he had," Johansson said, with a slight exaggeration. "I think someone told me he won like 150 points and I won like 120 points. That means I won the right points. I don't know how, but it was very good for me."

But Roddick also showed the form that enabled him to take last year's Open. From late in the second set until the beginning of the fourth set, Roddick won 29 straight points on his serve. Hitting 24 winners and just three unforced errors in the third and fourth, Roddick recovered to get back in a match that had been quickly slipping through his fingers.

In the end, however, Johansson simply came up bigger in the key moments.

"I lost a couple of heartbreakers in Slams this year," Roddick said. "But, you know, the losses like this, they make me hungrier."

The biggest match of the afternoon session was a wind-blown continuation of the Federer-Agassi battle that was suspended by rain Wednesday night.

CONTINUED    1 2    Next >

© 2004 The Washington Post Company