June 26, 2010 in Sports

Toughened

Roddick continues to avoid frustration
Howard Fendrich Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Andy Roddick returns to Philipp Kohlschreiber during their match on Friday.
(Full-size photo)

WIMBLEDON, England – There were moments during Andy Roddick’s third-round match at Wimbledon when he could have allowed himself to get distracted by frustration.

Indeed, there was a time, not all that long ago, when he probably would have.

“You used to see,” said Roddick’s coach, Larry Stefanki, “negativity carry over and linger for a few games.”

Not anymore. The No. 5-seeded American let the second set slip away against No. 29 Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, then quickly regrouped Friday, finishing with 28 aces in a 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-3 victory to reach the second week at the All England Club.

“I’ve done a good job of not saying a word out there this whole tournament, just going about my business the right way,” Roddick said, “so I just tried to play the next point.”

Leading 5-4 in the second set, Roddick got to love-40 on Kohlschreiber’s serve. But Roddick frittered away all three of those set points, then lost the last three points of the tiebreaker, too. Did he let that bother him? No, he went out and broke to open the third set.

Then, still nursing that lead late in the third, Roddick badly missed a forehand wide, an unforced error he greeted with a growl. But that was it. Instead of losing his focus, he tightened it, winning 15 of the next 16 points. Later, on his first match point, Roddick sprinted forward and dived to try to reach a volley, but netted the shot. Five minutes later, he blew a second match point by missing a backhand. He didn’t flinch, though, and eventually ended things on match point No. 3 with an ace at 137 mph.

“He’s done such a better job over the last year of letting things go, and that’s what great players learn to do: They don’t let it bother them to the point of where it carries over. It’s a clean slate. It’s over. Nothing you can do about it,” Stefanki said. “Easier said than done.”

Seeking his first Wimbledon title at age 27, Roddick has lost three finals at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament to Roger Federer, and they are on track for a semifinal meeting next week.

After being taken to five sets in the first round, then four in the second, Federer was back to his best Friday, beating Arnaud Clement 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.

“Obviously,” Federer said, “this felt much better.”

John Isner, meanwhile, was feeling anything but good when he trudged on court at noon to play in the second round a day after finishing the longest match in tennis history. Understandably wiped out after his victory over Nicolas Mahut went to 70-68 in the fifth set and included 11 hours, 5 minutes of action spread over three days, the 23-seeded Isner, of Tampa, Fla., bowed out 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 to Thiemo de Bakker in 74 minutes – the shortest men’s match at Wimbledon so far this year.

“This is one type of loss that I can’t be too disappointed about, because I didn’t have a good chance to begin with,” said Isner, who was dealing with a “dead” right shoulder, a stiff neck and a painful blister on the little toe on his left foot.

Other winners included No. 3 Novak Djokovic, the 2008 Australian Open champion; No. 12 Tomas Berdych, a French Open semifinalist; and No. 15 Lleyton Hewitt, the 2002 Wimbledon champion, who eliminated No. 21 Gael Monfils.

The most intriguing matchup already set for Monday is in the women’s draw, where two Belgians who have been ranked No. 1, won major singles titles and recently took sabbaticals from the tour – Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters – will play each other for the 25th time. The series stands at 12-all.

No. 8 Clijsters defeated No. 27 Maria Kirilenko 6-3, 6-3, and No. 17 Henin eliminated No. 12 Nadia Petrova 6-1, 6-4.

Venus Williams overpowered No. 26 Alisa Kleybanova of Russia 6-4, 6-2.

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