American Tennis Crashes at French Open

Posted on May 30, 2007

Roddick, Blake Lead Bad-Record Breaking Day at French Open

The American men led by Andy Roddick and James Blake were looking to set records this year at the French Open, but after an American exodus Tuesday they are on the verge of an all-time record -- the first year that no American man makes it out of the first round at Roland Garros in the Open Era of professional tennis (since 1968).

Every remaining American man lost in first-round play Tuesday except Robby Ginepri, who was at one set all with Diego Hartfield when play was suspended due to darkness. If Ginepri loses Wednesday when play is resumed, it will be the first year that no American man progresses past the opening round.

Among the top Americans, No. 3-seeded Andy Roddick led by a set and a break before succumbing in four sets to Russian Igor Andreev in an outcome that wasn't a big surprise, but James Blake was more of a surprise in a four-set loss to unseeded grasscourt specialist "Dr." Ivo Karlovic.

"Up a set, 4-2 -- actually the game I got broken at 4-3, I didn't miss a ball, and he hit some pretty good shots," Roddick said. "Where it kind of got away from me was the last game of that second set. I played a little bit of a poor game. And then the third set, he just -- he played lights out. I didn't really get a chance to hit many balls. The fourth set, I feel like, you know, he had -- he took his opportunity and broke, and then I had a lot of chances to get it back. I feel like the fourth set was a little bit more even. But, you know, it didn't happen."

Roddick had one forehand winner throughout the four sets.

Other American losers Tuesday were unseeded Mike Russell who fell in straight set to world No. 1 Roger Federer in a match that was resumed from the previous day due to rain; unseeded Amer Delic who won the first set against No. 17 seed and former French Open champ Juan Carlos Ferrero before dropping the next three; unseeded Justin Gimelstob who fell in straight sets to No. 32 seed Nicolas Almagro; Sam Querrey who lost a heartbreaker in five sets to Laurent Recouderc; Vince Spadea who won the first set before dropping the next three to Gilles Simon; and Robert Kendrick who lost in four to Juan Pablo Brzezicki.

Seeded winners Tuesday were (2) Rafael Nadal (d. Del Potro), (7) Ivan Ljubicic (d. Clement), (9) Tommy Robredo (d. Roitman), (11) Richard Gasquet (d. French countryman Mahut), (13) Mikhail Youzhny (d. Hernych, walkover), (14) Lleyton Hewitt (d. Mirnyi), (15) David Nalbandian (d. H.-T. Lee in four), (16) Marcos Baghdatis (d. Grosjean), (18) Juan Ignacio Chela (d. Santoro in four), (19) Guillermo Canas (d. Hanescu), (20) Jarkko Nieminen (d. F.Lopez), (21) Dmitry Tursunov (d. Di Mauro in four), (27) Jurgen Melzer (d. Acasuso), (28) Philipp Kohlschreiber (d. Dlouhy 17-15 in the fifth), (29) Filippo Volandri (d. Capdeville).

Other upsets on the day were orchestrated by Czechs Radek Stepanek (d. (5) Gonzalez) and Bohdan Ulihrach (d. (24) Hrbaty in five), Spaniard Al Montanes (d. (25) Soderling who retired in the second with injury), Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu (d. (31) Mayer), and Argentines Mariano Zabaleta (d. (26) Calleri in four) and Carlos Berlocq (d. (30) Benneteau in four).

Other matches suspended due to darkness were (6) Novak Djokovic leading Santiago Giraldo 6-3, 7-6(3); (10) Tomas Berdych trailing Guillermo "G-Lo" Garcia-Lopez 5-7, 4-6, 2-2; (12) David Ferrer leading Daniele Bracciali 6-1, 6-1; and (23) Carlos Moya leading Andreas Seppi 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 0-4.

Winners in the mind-boggling slew of all-unseeded match-ups were Nicolas Lapentti (d. Peya who retired in the third), Jonas Bjorkman (d. Luczak coming from 0-2 sets down), Mathieu Montcourt (d. Becker), Konstantinos Economidis (d. Guccione in four), Kristian Pless (d. Y.-H. Lu), Juan Monaco (d. Fognini from 0-2 sets down), Martin Vassallo Arguello (d. Falla in four), Ernest Gulbis (d. Henman), Jan Hajek (d. T.Johansson), Stefan Koubek (d. C.Rochus who retired in the fourth), Therry Ascione (d. Cilic), Fernando Verdasco (d. Haehnel in four), Florent Serra (d. Kunitsyn), Edouard Roger-Vasselin (d. Daniel who retired in the second), former French champ/headcase Gaston Gaudio (d. Gicquel in five), Nicolas Massu (d. Horna in five), Kristof Vliegen (d. Udomchoke), Werner Eschauer (d. Sidorenko who retired in the fourth), Ivan Navarro Pastor (d. Pashanski), Gael "Force" Monfils (d. O.Rochus 6-1 in the fifth), Stan Wawrinka (d. Ramirez Hidalgo from two sets down), Olivier "All We Need is Just a Little" Patience (d. Eysseric in four), Michael Llodra (d. Devilder), and Simone Bolelli (d. Verkerk).

Two all-unseeded matches were suspended due to darkness with Juan-Pablo Guzman trailing Oscar Hernandez 6-7(4), 0-6, 1-3; and Flavio Cipolla leading Teimuraz Gabashvili 7-6(6), 6-3.

It will be a physical test as many players immediately return to the court on Wednesday, with highlights including France's (11) Gasquet vs. Vliegen, (18) Chela vs. France's Monfils, (22) Marat Safin vs. Tipsarevic, (1) Federer vs. France's Ascione, and Ginepri vs. Hartfield (to finish).

Petrova Seeded Casualty Tuesday at French Open

No. 11 seed Nadia Petrova was the lone upset victim Tuesday at the French Open, with the back-injured Russian falling to Czech qualifier Kveta Peschke 6-0 in the third.

"Basically, all she had to do was just play into the side, so I couldn't get to the balls," Petrova said. "It's a very nasty feeling, and I do not know now what exactly it is. And I'm setting an appointment to make an MRI, so that we can really have a look deeper at what's going on with me. I just really hope at the moment that it's not that serious, and I'm able to play the grasscourt season, because I missed it last year, and I don't want to miss again."

Seeded winners on the day were (4) Jelena Jankovic (d. Foretz), (6) Nicole Vaidisova (d. Gagliardi), (13) Elena Dementieva (d. Kerber), (18) Marion Bartoli (d. Rezai), (20) Sybille Bammer (d. Vinci), (23) Francesca Schiavone (d. Meusburger), and (28) Mara Santangelo (d. Radwanska).

Unseeded winners Tuesday were Maria Kirilenko (d. Camerin, bagel in the second), Timea Bacsinszky (d. Zheng, bagel in the second), Tzipora Obziler (d. Czink), Olga Savchuk (d. Shvedova), Andrea Petkovic (d. Gajdosova from a set down), Tamarine Tanasgarn (d. Dellacqua in three), Shenay Perry (d. O.Sanchez from a set down), Stephanie Cohen Aloro (d. Yakimova), Akgul Amanmuradova (d. King in three), Milagros Sequera (d. Razzano from a set down), Nuria Llagostera Vives (d. Smashnova), Mathilde Johansson (d. Groenefeld), Catalina Castano (d. Laine from a set down), and Pauline Parmentier (d. Koryttseva in three).

Highlights of Wednesday matches at Roland Garros are (2) Maria Sharapova vs. Emilie Loit, (8) Serena Williams vs. Milagros Sequera, (5) Amelie Mauresmo vs. American Laura Granville, (1) Justine Henin vs. Tamira Paszek, (26) Venus Williams vs. Ashley Harkleroad in an all-American encounter, (7) Ana Ivanovic vs. Sofia Arvidsson, (27) Sam Stosur vs. Russian pin-up Maria Kirilenko, confidence-challenged former champ Anastasia Myskina vs. American Meghann Shaughnessy, and Alicia Molik vs. (9) Anna Chakvetadze.

Andy Roddick
on the changes in the modern tennis game: "I think a lot of it comes with the strings now. I mean, guys can hit as hard as they can they're still getting 10 feet of net clearance. It's just jumping. I think it's a difference. I don't know if back then you could hit a serve 135 and have someone completely top out on a ball, swing as hard as they can, and have it drop in. At least in the replays I see, I haven't noticed that. And I think that has a lot to do with how the game's changed on the surface."...What was better from ESPN's Tuesday coverage -- the shot of Jimmy Connors in the crowd imitating Andy Roddick's rusty-gate backhand swing, or courtside reporter Pam Shriver suggesting Roddick has such a poor chance of winning the French that he should blow off the claycourt season, to the derisive chuckles of the ESPN commentators?...From The Telegraph on Tim Henman's first-round loss: "And Henman, 32, was unable to cope with Gulbis, a kid who looked as though he was 14-years-old rather than the 18 it says on his passport, but who clumped the ball with an unholy, unrelenting violence all the way to his stunning, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory. "I got my arse kicked," Henman said. Gulbis, the first Latvian in history to break into the top 100, and one of the sport's emerging talents, won for just the sixth time in his career at tour level, and that meant that Henman has still not advanced on a draw-sheet since last October."...Richard Valvo, a spokesman for the parent company of Men's Fitness, America Media, speaking to the New York Times on Andy Roddick commenting that his Men's Fitness cover had been massively Photoshopped: "We wouldn't comment on any type of production issue. I don't see what the big issue is here."...Will Mats Wilander and his merry band of Swedish Davis Cup bad decision makers switch and put the U.S. on clay after their disastrous result at the French Open? Rather than INDOOR CARPET? Idiots...From tennis writer Matt Cronin: "[James Blake] really depressed me after his loss to Karlovic. He was about as glum as I've ever heard him in a press conference. He's played the Croat enough, so how come he can't read his serve any with more acuity, or find a better way to push him around from the backcourt? Why the heck can't a guy that fast improve his footwork on dirt? Okay, his backhand is a little weaker on the surface because he can't counterpunch, but it's not that bad. Not only am I sniffing a bull-headedness from Blake on dirt, but also I'm beginning to doubt Brian Barker's coaching. I realize that Blake thinks his longtime tutor is one of the greatest men who ever walked the earth -- and I do believe he's been a fine coach for him -- but maybe it's time for a change."