Roddick Beats Becker in Straight Sets at Legg Mason Classic

By Liz Clarke
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 6, 2009

He was showered with applause before he even struck a ball.

Andy Roddick applauded in return, turning to all sides of the stadium court Wednesday night to salute the tennis fans who were saluting him as he strode out for his first match since the heart-rending loss to Roger Federer at Wimbledon last month.

Washingtonians will get another chance to cheer the top-ranked American, with Roddick sailing through his opening match at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in 55 minutes -- less time than it took him to play that arduous fifth and final set at Wimbledon.

After a four-week layoff to heal body and spirit, Roddick didn't expect to launch pursuit of a fourth Legg Mason title this week in top form. But he pronounced his game "fine" after utterly overwhelming 47th-ranked Benjamin Becker, 6-3, 6-2, to advance to the tournament's third round and a meeting Thursday night with fellow American Sam Querrey.

Just 24 hours earlier, Becker (no relation to his more accomplished countryman, Boris) had looked so imposing in bouncing American Robby Ginepri in the tournament's first round.

But whatever magic Becker had conjured against Ginepri was absent against Roddick, who broke the German to open the first set and did so again to set the tone in the second set.

Without doing anything particularly fancy, Roddick reduced Becker to a journeyman, unleashing far more power, pace and precision than his opponent could handle.

"I wanted to get out there and make him play a lot of balls and get my feet under me and not overplay out of the gates," Roddick said. "I wanted to work way into the match, get some rallies going and try to do the basics well."

Roddick stopped well short of proclaiming himself in peak form. While he blasted eight aces and didn't double-fault once, he said he was disappointed in his first-service percentage (58 percent, when he'd like to see about 70 percent).

But the serve is one aspect of the game that rarely lets Roddick down, and it's a safe bet that he'll shake off any residual rust in the matches to come.

Better still is the fact that his right hip, which he injured in a nasty tumble during the fourth set of the Wimbledon final, felt great. Roddick moved well through the match, struck the ball cleanly and cleverly placed it where he intended.

While Roddick would count his stay in Washington a success if he ends up hoisting another Legg Mason trophy after Sunday's final, his sights are on a far bigger prize: the U.S. Open championship, to date the only major he has won.

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