TENNIS: Roddick loses opener | NevadaAppeal.com

TENNIS: Roddick loses opener

STEVEN WINE
AP Sports Writer

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. – Facing match point on a steamy afternoon, Andy Roddick bent over behind the baseline with his hands on his thighs, looking like someone desperately needing to take a seat in the shade.

That’s where he was headed one point later. An ailing Roddick lost his opening match Saturday at the Sony Ericsson Open to Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay, 6-4, 7-6 (4).

Roddick, a two-time champion, needed three visits from a trainer in the second set. The nature of his problem wasn’t immediately disclosed, but sunny, 85-degree weather may have taken a toll.

He bent over several times after rallies, began limping at the end and became the first top-10 player to lose to Cuevas, a 25-year-old journeyman ranked 67th.

Another two-time champion, Roger Federer, beat Radek Stepanek to match Pete Sampras with 762 career match victories. Federer needed barely an hour to eliminate Stepanek, 6-3, 6-3 to tie Sampras for seventh place in the Open era.

“It’s nice tying Pete, but he could have played for many more years,” Federer said. “He could still win some matches on tour now if he wanted to.

“It’s a funny stat, but it shows how long I have been around already, how much I’ve won all around the world and all the different surfaces. I’ve never missed big chunks of seasons. That’s how you end up with so many wins, I guess.”

Federer, who won Key Biscayne in 2005 and 2006, faced only one break point against Stepanek and has won 18 consecutive sets from the Czech.

“I was able to play solid and keep him moving and serve at a high first-serve percentage,” Federer said. “All in all, I’m really pleased.”

Federer improved to 19-3 this year, with all three losses to Novak Djokovic. They could meet in the final next Sunday.

Five other seeded men lost: No. 10 Jurgen Melzer, No. 20 Albert Montanes, No. 22 Marcos Baghdatis, No. 26 Juan Ignacio Chela, and No. 28 Ernests Gulbis. Melzer lost to friend and doubles partner Philipp Petzschner, 6-3, 6-4.

No. 13-seeded Mikhail Youzhny drubbed Yen-hsun Lu 6-1, 6-0. No. 15 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-3.

In women’s play, 2006 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova lost to Peng Shuai 6-3, 6-1.

Roddick won Key Biscayne in 2004 and 2010, and he arrived with high hopes and seeded eighth. But he struggled from the start against Cuevas, overcoming four break points before losing serve to fall behind 4-3 in the first set

Roddick trailed the rest of the way. Cuevas never lost his serve and had 15 aces.

Big first serves kept Roddick in the match – he reached 142 mph, then hit three aces in the tiebreaker.