Tennis

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Roddick Retires in 3rd Set at French Open

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By HOWARD FENDRICH
The Associated Press
Tuesday, May 30, 2006; 5:41 PM

PARIS -- As it is, the French Open is the cruelest Grand Slam tournament for Andy Roddick, the toughest for all U.S. men over the years, really. Toss in a bum ankle, and Roddick never really stood a chance this time.

He quit Tuesday because of his injury while trailing Alberto Martin of Spain 6-4, 7-5, 1-0 in the first round at Roland Garros, and the fifth-seeded American hobbled off the court to a chorus of full-throated boos and whistles.

His exit, combined with that of No. 17 Robby Ginepri, left the United States with only two men in the second round at the French Open for just the second time since 1967. It also happened two years ago; in 2005, a trio of Americans made it that far.

"It's like 'Groundhog Day,'" Roddick said. "Whatever I said last year, just copy it. Whatever I said last year, I'm sure it still fits."

For the record, Roddick's assessment in 2005: "We all have a lot of pride, and it has gotten taken down a lot in the last couple of years here."

Unlike the hard courts at the U.S. Open _ which he won in 2003 _ or the grass at Wimbledon _ where he's been the runner-up twice _ the red clay at the French Open hampers rather than helps Roddick's strengths: his serve and forehand.

Clay also makes for longer points and requires plenty of good footwork, and Roddick sprained ligaments in his left ankle last week. He tweaked it in the eighth game against Martin, who's ranked 68th, had lost his previous five matches at majors, and entered 0-4 vs. Roddick.

The ankle got worse when Roddick tried to cut back for a lob in the second set's 11th game, which he closed with a double-fault to fall behind 6-5.

"I was definitely tentative sliding around out there," Roddick said. "It started affecting the way I landed on my serve. You know, not much else was working besides my serve. It was a lost cause, I think."

He double-faulted twice starting the third set, and cursed loudly. He also hit a ball into the 20th row of the stands. After losing the game at love on a forehand that sailed 5 feet long, Roddick sat in his sideline chair. He removed his left shoe, sock and ankle brace, and called for a trainer.

"What do you think?" Roddick asked. "Do you think it's dangerous?"

He decided to stop, the chair umpire informed the crowd, and Roddick walked off Court Suzanne Lenglen to a nasty serenade, his career mark at the French Open now 4-6, including three first-round departures.


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