Roddick Holds On, Advances
American Tops Hard-Serving Karlovic in Straight Sets
Saturday, August 8, 2009
In their five previous meetings, Ivo Karlovic had never managed to break Andy Roddick's vaunted serve.
With the towering Croatian doing so twice Friday, their quarterfinal match at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic proved two things:
Roddick's serve isn't entirely where he'd like it to be following a month-long break. But the top-ranked American continues to show newfound poise on court, even when points don't unfold as scripted.
And that goes a long way in tennis, a sport in which forces beyond players' control -- whether a gust of wind, a cruel net cord or a 6-feet-10 ace-blasting machine like Karlovic -- often conspire against them.
To the delight of a wildly partisan crowd, Roddick broke back after falling behind to Karlovic in both sets to advance to Saturday's semifinals with a 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-5) victory.
The achievement embellishes his already impressive record in tiebreaks, tops among all players in the men's game this season, to 29-6.
He'll face fellow American John Isner, who, at 6-9, boasts a serve that rivals Karlovic's in its pace and peculiar trajectory, in a Saturday evening semifinal.
A former NCAA standout at Georgia, Isner blasted 17 aces en route to upsetting eighth-seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in Friday's last quarterfinal, 6-3, 6-7 (12-10), 6-2.
Saturday's other semifinal will pit the tournament's defending champion, Juan Martín del Potro of Argentina, against fourth-seeded Fernando González of Chile.
Del Potro, 20, advanced without picking up his racket after Sweden's Robin Soderling pulled out of their quarterfinal Friday with an ailing right elbow.
Afterward, del Potro spent about 90 minutes practicing at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center to fine-tune his strokes and rhythm and planned to spend the balance of the day resting.
González ousted Germany's Tommy Haas, who hurt his own cause with a self-defeating funk and fell, 7-5, 6-4.