Roddick hits Legg semifinals

Top seed outlasts Karlovic in 3 sets

Blake, Berdych, Srichaphan also advance

Tennis

August 06, 2005|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - Under the blazing sun, No. 1 seed Andy Roddick was looking for help from any quarter when he looked to his left and saw already ousted No. 9 seed Nicolas Massu in the Stadium Court grandstand.

"Are you getting a read on his serve? Because I'm not," Roddick said in the midst of the first set of his Legg Mason Tennis Classic quarterfinal match at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center. "I asked him where the serve was going and he said, `Wide' and it came down the T. I said, `Thanks a lot.' "

Together, Roddick and Ivo Karlovic combined for 48 aces and an afternoon of drama.

One mistake, one bad service game or even one bad serve, as both men discovered, could mean the difference between victory and defeat.

But eventually, it was Roddick who proved to be the stronger player, as Karlovic melted away, 6-7 (7), 7-5, 6-4.

Roddick now will face No. 13 seed Paradorn Srichaphan in today's first semifinal at 2 p.m. Srichaphan earned his place by defeating Luis Horna, 6-4, 7-6 (1).

The second semifinal features James Blake, who moved into his first semifinal in two years by beating Arnaud Clement, 6-3, 6-2. He faces No. 10 seed Tomas Berdych. Berdych advanced by holding off Bobby Reynolds, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (9).

For the third straight day on-court temperatures soared well over 100 degrees. Though tournament officials moved the thermometer to the shady side of the umpire's chair for a little psychological lift, set up electric fans to blow air on the players and again provided iced towels and cold water on every change over, the heat and humidity were oppressive.

Roddick said he was virtually unaffected by the conditions, but thought they took a toll on Karlovic, as his first-serve rate dropped from 75 in the first set to 52 percent in both the second and third. His ace count also fell from 15 in the first to six in the third.

"There's not a whole lot you can do when he's making serves the way he was [in the first set]," said Roddick, whose serve rate rose from 69 in the first set to 83 in the second and 68 in the third. "But his service percentage dropped a lot ... and I was getting chances. You'll have to ask him, [but] he seemed more sluggish in that final set."

Karlovic did feel the heat.

"It was hot," he said. "In the second set, around the time he broke me, I had problems with my breathing and also with my legs moving and it got worse. But after winning the first set, I was hoping for me ... at least it was more difficult for him than last time."

Last time, Karlovic lost to Roddick in the Queen's Club final in two tiebreaker sets in which neither player broke the other. Yesterday, Karlovic fought off a break point to take Roddick to a tiebreaker in the first set and fought off a set point in the tiebreaker to be in position to win the set when Roddick double-faulted.

"I don't say this often," said Roddick, "but I don't think my serve compares to his - you can get a racket on my serve."

A perfect example of how difficult it was for Roddick to handle Karlovic's serve came in the fourth game of the first set.

First, he used a big serve to set up a sizzling forehand behind Roddick to make the break opportunity disappear. Then, he followed it with a 135 mph ace to the body which forced Roddick to move quickly to avoid having his head taken off.

"It was close," Roddick said. "[The ball] started here [to his right], then it was here [to his left] and all of a sudden it was coming at my head. I ducked."

It was about that time, before Karlovic began to fade, that Roddick started asking Massu for help.

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