Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish are skipping the Beijing Olympics this month to concentrate on collecting some US Open Series titles and making a run at the US Open. Next week in LA the two are the lone American seeds at the Countrywide Classic, where both players hope to rebound from recent misfortunes.
This week Roddick withdrew during the warm-up for his first-round match at the Masters Series-Cincinnati after earlier suffering a muscle spasm in his neck. That followed weeks earlier when the top-ranked American pulled from a World TeamTennis appearance with a shoulder injury, and at the Masters Series-Canada where he exited in the second round to unseeded Marin Cilic.
“I hate not playing and I hate withdrawing from tournaments,” said Roddick, chomping at the bit to take the court and gain some momentum entering Flushing Meadows. “It’s the most hollow feeling every when you have to walk off because you’re hurt and you know people have come to watch you play.”
Roddick started the year on an up note with tournament wins at San Jose and Dubai (where he defeated Rafael Nadal), but has since failed to reach a final. In May and June he displayed some surface versatility with a semifinal on clay at the Masters Series-Rome, and a semifinal on grass at Queen’s before making an uncharacteristic second-round exit at Wimbledon.
Fish seemed on the upswing in March when he rolled over world No. 1 Roger Federer in straight sets en route to a narrow loss in a three-set final to Novak Djokovic at the Masters Series-Indian Wells. Since then the Florida resident has posted a 6-10 win-loss record, losing first round at the Masters Series-Miami, Masters Series-Hamburg, Poertscharch, Wimbledon, Newport, and the Masters Series-Canada.
Roddick will have time to work himself into the event at LA, after a bye opening against either Taipei’s Yen-Hsun Lu or a qualifer. He will then likely face a tester against former world No. 2 and No. 8 seed Tommy Haas. Fish, the No. 6 seed, opens against Colombia’s Alejandro Falla, and is in No. 2 seed Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco’s section of the draw.
Other seeded players are Juan Martin del Potro at No. 3, No. 4 Feliciano “F-Lo” Lopez, former No. 1 Marat Safin, and former No. 1 Carlos Moya.
Haas will open against the struggling “future of American tennis,” Donald Young, who this week in Cincinnati was easily dismissed by an ailing Gael Monfils, who was suffering a reported stomach virus. Other opening-round matches of interest are Safin vs. American serving giant John Isner, and Moya against wildcard Xavier “X-Man” Malisse. Other Americans in the field are (WC) Zack Fleishman, Wayne Odesnik and Bobby Reynolds who face each other first round, and Vince “Ain’t Afraida Ya” Spadea.
Haas (2006,’04) is the lone returning champion in the field, and the Bryan brothers are two-time defending champions. Czech Radek “The Worm” Stepanek last year took a break from dating his multitude of WTA Tour stars to capture the title as an unseeded player, shocking No. 2 seed James Blake in three sets. Blake is missing LA this year in his preparations to represent the U.S. at the Beijing Olympics.
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