Hyper Roddick blazes past Spain

Teen-ager's 137-mph serve rockets U.S. to Davis semis

Roddick serves up U.S. spot in semis

Tennis

April 08, 2002|By Lisa Dillman | Lisa Dillman,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

HOUSTON - Andy Roddick was in fully animated character, which meant he was playing a crucial Davis Cup match. Hyper turned into super-hyper.

Roddick knew he could clinch the Davis Cup quarterfinal yesterday against Spain's Alberto Martin, who replaced an injured Alex Corretja, and his stomach started feeling it in the van ride more than two hours before their match at Westside Tennis Club.

Butterflies, he said. "I'm always nervous, man," Roddick said.

It only took 1 hour, 45 minutes on the court for butterflies to turn into a "snow angel" on the grass.

When he put the United States into the semifinals against France - after Martin hit a backhand return out -Roddick fell on his back and started waving his arms after his 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 victory.

Roddick always manages to do something creative when he wins a big match, or loses one, for that matter. "I was doing a snow angel," he said. "I did it when I first got here. The first one was on my face."

Roddick, 19, may have spent a lot of time tumbling on the grass, but he did not fall on his face when put in such a critical spot. Though he clinched the match against India in October, that was a relegation round, not in the World Group. He is 7-0 in Davis Cup play, equaling the best American start since Andre Agassi.

"I'm definitely familiar with the Davis Cup ropes now. I freak out a little bit during Davis Cup. It's just the emotion of playing for your country and the crowd going nuts and playing for your team; it's just a rush."

Backed by a serve that reached 137 mph, Roddick gave the United States a 3-1 win against Spain. The final reverse singles between James Blake and Tommy Robredo was washed out by rain in the second set with Robredo leading, 6-1, 5-4. It was not canceled until 6:15 p.m. because Spain apparently refused to concede and wanted Blake to retire.

"They're being babies," Davis Cup coach Jim Courier said of the Spaniards.

Martin filled in for Corretja, who strained a ligament in his right hand while rallying from a two-set deficit to upset Pete Sampras in Friday's second singles match.

The Spaniard had trouble keeping up with Roddick's serve, finally breaking in the eighth game of the second set. But Roddick served out that set and broke Martin in the first game of the third.

Roddick served out the match with two aces and a service winner clocked at 136 mph on the grass surface.

"Yeah, I was a little nervous, and when you have nerves and not playing on your best surface, that applied today," Martin said.

Next will be the semifinals against defending champion France in September, possibly at Roland Garros in Paris on clay. France eliminated the Czech Republic, 3-2, yesterday.

U.S. captain Patrick McEnroe said he spoke to Agassi about returning to the team during the recent tournament in Miami, and sensed a flicker of interest.

"Yeah, I've always sensed that it's possible he would come back, just as I did with Pete [Sampras], under the right circumstances," McEnroe said.

In other quarterfinals, Russia eliminated Sweden, 4-1, in Moscow to reach the semifinals for the first time since 1999. Argentina advanced by edging Croatia, 3-2, in Buenos Aires when Gaston Gaudio topped Ivo Karlovic, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2, in the last match.

Lisa Dillman is a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, a Tribune Publishing newspaper. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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