Two power players moving in different directions were on display last night in Memphis. Defending champion Andy Roddick lost. Youngster and 2011 finalist Milos Roanic won.
Roddick suffered his first career loss to fellow vet Xavier Malisse 7-6, 7-5. Roddick had beaten the Belgian in all nine of their career meetings but this time around with all of Roddick’s health issues and poor form, X-Man had a real shot here and he made the best of it.
“I hit the ball okay, I just didn’t hit it well when I had to,” said Roddick.
Andy came into the match nursing a testy hamstring from the Australian Open and a bad right ankle he turned a week ago in San Jose. And at 29, Roddick’s more than aware that these niggling injuries are piling up and affecting his play.
“It’s frustrating, but at the same token, I had 9-10 years of pretty clean bill of health overall,” Roddick said. “I think for me to feel too sorry for myself now, it probably wouldn’t be okay. I know Mardy, for instance, had wrist surgeries in the middle of his career, 22, 23 years old, so I didn’t have that. It’s the first time I’m really dealing with anything significant.”
Roddick’s ranking is also No. 27 (his Memphis title points have already dropped) this week and likely won’t be much higher when Indian Wells and Miami rolls around next month. That means in all likelihood the former No. 1 won’t have it easy in terms of the draw at the bigger events and if he can’t get healthy – he’s scheduled to play Delray Beach next week – it’s tough to see him making a big move up in the rankings especially with the clay season approaching.
After Roddick’s loss, the new power broker in men’s tennis, Milos Raonic, once again didn’t dissapoint. The Canadian backed up his San Jose title by knocking out the explosive Ernests Gulbis 6-2, 7-6.
“I don’t feel I played my best,” Raonic said, “but as the match progressed I got better and better, and really everything just went my way. I played the big points well and built from there. I’m happy to be able to get through and have another chance to play better tomorrow.”
While the floundering Gulbis has lost seven straight tournament matches, Roanic has won 12 of his 13 matches this season, only losing to Lleyton Hewitt at the Australian Open. And with Roddick out of the way in his half he’s the easy favorite to reach the final, and if he wins the title he could rise from No. 25 to inside the Top 20.
Raonic plays Sergei Stakhovsky tonight. Top seed John Isner is also in action against Donald Young. Sam Querrey meets Kevin Anderson and Ryan Harrison has another date with Olivier Rochus.
In a few hours in Marseille, Juan Martin Del Potro and Nikolay Davydenko square off in a good one. Both players lost to Roger Federer last week, but they did play some good tennis. Mardy Fish, who curiously passed on Memphis for Marseille (France pays more money I guess), also plays later.
THURSDAY MEMPHIS SCHEDULE
STADIUM start 10:30 am
 M Erakovic (NZL) vs M Krajicek (NED) – WTA
S Arvidsson (SWE) vs L Tsurenko (UKR) – WTA
Not Before 3:00 PM
[WC] S Querrey (USA) vs  K Anderson (RSA) – ATP
O Rochus (BEL) vs [WC] R Harrison (USA) – ATP
Not Before 7:00 PM
 J Isner (USA) vs D Young (USA) – ATP
S Stakhovsky (UKR) vs  M Raonic (CAN) – ATP
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