Thursday, February 16, 2012

Monfils withdraws from SAP Open; Roddick survives

   SAN JOSE -- First, it appeared that the SAP Open's second seed would quit with an injury.
   Minutes later, its top seed did.
   On a bizarre night at HP Pavilion, Andy Roddick overcame a sprained ankle to beat qualifier Denis Kudla 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-4 Wednesday in the second round, and Gael Monfils withdrew during the tournament for the second straight year.   
   Third seed and defending champion Milos Raonic, who pulled out of his Davis Cup singles match Sunday with a knee injury, defeated Tobias Kamke 6-2, 7-6 (7) late Wednesday night in a matchup of the last two ATP World Tour Newcomers of the Year. Raonic, 21, of Canada won the award last year. 
   Monfils, a 25-year-old Frenchman considered the best athlete in men's professional tennis, announced at a news conference that he had withdrawn with patellar inflammation in his right knee. After drawing a first-round bye, he had been scheduled to play qualifier Dimitar Kutrovsky of Bulgaria on Thursday night.
   Kutrovsky, a 5-foot-9 former Texas All-American who uses two hands on both sides, instead will face lucky loser Blake Strode, who has deferred his acceptance to Harvard Law School to play pro tennis.  
   Last year, Monfils withdrew before his semifinal in the SAP Open with a wrist injury.
   Roddick, 29, was playing in his first match since retiring from his second-round match in the Australian Open on Jan. 19 with a partially torn tendon in his right hamstring.
   With Kudla, a 19-year-old Ukrainian-born American serving at 7-6 (5), 4-5, 15-0, Roddick twisted his right ankle while going wide for a forehand, went down in a heap and briefly lay motionless on his side.
   Worried that he might have suffered another serious injury, the three-time SAP Open champion yelled in frustration, then sat up and pounded his fist on the court. But after getting the ankle taped during a medical timeout and donning a brace, he decided to continue.
   "When you first go down, you don't know how it feels until you take the first few steps," he said. "It was all too familiar. I didn't want to stop. I'm sick of that."
   Kudla proceeded to win the game at love to even the second set 5-5 and take the first three points on Roddick's serve. Roddick, though, managed to hold serve, pull out the tiebreaker with the help of a Kudla double fault at 4-5 and overcome a 2-0 deficit in the third set.
   "It got away from me," said the 5-foot-11 Kudla, who had frustrated Roddick before the injury with laser forehands and two-handed backhands. "I pressed a little on a couple of shots. I lost a great opportunity to win a match like that, but I'll try to take the positives from it and move on."
   Roddick advanced to Friday's quarterfinals against either Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin, an SAP Open semifinalist in 2010 and quarterfinalist last year, or 33-year-old American Michael Russell.
   As for his hamstring, Roddick said: "It's not going to be perfect for a while, but I'm not going to get into a day-by-day analysis. I don't like it when other guys do that. It's good enough. I'm going to play on it."
   Earlier Wednesday, 19-year-old wild card Ryan Harrison of Bradenton, Fla., knocked off eighth-seeded Olivier Rochus of Belgium 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the first round.
   Harrison, who won his Davis Cup debut Sunday after the United States had clinched its series against host Switzerland on indoor clay, won the last four games of the second set and last five games of the third set. The 6-foot-1 rising star blasted 27 aces to none for Rochus, the shortest man in the top 100 at 5-6 and the 2004 French Open men's doubles champion with countryman Xavier Malisse.
   Harrison, the second-youngest man in the top 100 at No. 94 behind fellow 19-year-old Bernard Tomic (No. 36) of Australia, will meet American veteran Robby Ginepri in the second round.
   Istomin outlasted San Francisco native Sam Querrey 5-7, 6-3, 7-5.The right-handed Querrey, who has fallen from a career-high No. 17 in January 2011 to No. 85 after undergoing surgery on his right elbow last June, pounded 15 aces to Istomin's six but committed eight double faults to his opponent's none.
    It was Querrey's second consecutive first-round loss in the SAP Open after appearances in the 2010 semifinals and 2009 quarterfinals. Istomin led Uzbekistan to a 3-2 victory over host New Zealand in the Davis Cup last weekend.
   For full SAP Open results and Thursday's schedule, go to www.sapopentennis.com.

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