May 26, 2010 in Sports

Rusty Roddick survives

American needs five sets to win first-round match
Howard Fendrich Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Andy Roddick returns against Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen on Tuesday.
(Full-size photo)

PARIS – Andy Roddick’s preparation for this French Open was hardly traditional. Or ideal, from a purely tennis perspective, anyway.

He skipped a clay-court event in Rome so he could celebrate his one-year wedding anniversary with his wife, Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model Brooklyn Decker. He missed another tuneup tournament in Madrid because of a stomach virus.

Scrambling to get set, Roddick played a couple of hastily arranged exhibitions and practiced a bunch at Roland Garros with fellow pro Mardy Fish, a pal since high school. If Roddick felt he needed more match time on his least favorite surface, he accumulated it in a hurry Monday, digging himself out of a hole and coming back to beat Jarkko Nieminen of Finland 6-2, 4-6, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3 in the French Open’s first round.

“It’s kind of like when you miss an assignment in school, and they give you a chance to get extra credit. I’ve been trying real hard to get extra credit … and I definitely wasn’t match-tough,” the sixth-seeded Roddick said. “There was a lot of ugliness out there today. But at the end of it, I get to play again.”

So does a group of other Americans: Roddick and Fish are among five U.S. men into the second round, equaling the largest contingent at this Grand Slam tournament since six made it in 1998. Robby Ginepri knocked off 18th-seeded Sam Querrey 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4, 6-2 in an all-American match Tuesday, while John Isner and Taylor Dent won Monday.

Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion, hadn’t competed on clay since last year’s French Open, when he reached the fourth round for the first time – and he hadn’t played on tour since April 4, when he won the hard-court title at Key Biscayne, Fla.

“Spending three days in bed in Madrid wasn’t the way we wrote it up,” he said. “That was bad.”

Other winners included four-time French Open champions Justine Henin and Rafael Nadal, as well as Maria Sharapova, who’s won the other three major tournaments.

Two U.S. women also won to join Serena and Venus Williams in the second round: Jill Craybas and Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

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