MELBOURNE, Australia – Andy Roddick didn’t like being the fall guy again. The facts, however, were unmistakable: All the Americans were gone from the Australian Open.
Roddick lost to 19th-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka on a cool Sunday night at Melbourne Park.
Roddick saw 24 aces whip past him, barely got a look at a break-point chance and didn’t get his own big serve firing in a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 fourth-round defeat.
Roddick, seeded eighth, had been the last American man standing in the singles field. The women were out before the third round ended. Venus Williams lasted seven only points before she hobbled off with an ailing hip muscle.
“Obviously I’m not going to sit here and …” Roddick checked himself and then switched gears, saying the stories were already written and it didn’t really matter what he said. “Obviously wasn’t the showing that we wanted, you know, but I’m doing what I can.”
Roddick’s ouster came on a day when Francesca Schiavone won the longest women’s match in Grand Slam history – a 6-4, 1-6, 16-14 victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova that took 4 hours, 44 minutes.
No. 3 Novak Djokovic and No. 6 Tomas Berdych also won in the fourth round. Among the women, No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki advanced, while No. 14 Maria Sharapova lost to No. 30 Andrea Petkovic.
Since Roddick’s 2003 U.S. Open victory, no American man has won a major. Venus and sister Serena Williams have won 10 majors between them in the interim, and 20 between them overall. Serena was the 2010 champion in Australia, but couldn’t defend her title because of a foot injury.
“Not having the best player in the world at a major would be … be tough for any country. Obviously we want her healthy as much as possible,” Roddick said. “You know, she’s instantly the best player in the game when she comes back.”
Roddick’s career was starting in the days when Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi were winding down. Since they retired, no American man has regularly kept him company in the late stages of majors.
“It’s tough,” he said. “I remember last summer when I was catching all the heat for not having an American guy in the top 10 for the first time in 15 years. Didn’t really make sense to me that I was the one taking heat when I was the only guy that had been there for the last six years.
“It’s a responsibility that has great benefits, and it’s hard sometimes as well. … For many reasons, I would love to have guys there with me all the time.”
Roddick’s departure leaves 2010 finalist Andy Murray as the only player from any of the Grand Slam host countries in the tournament. All the French and the Australian players were already beaten by the end of the third round. There’s two Swiss, but only one can reach the semifinals.
Wawrinka advanced to the first all-Swiss quarterfinal at a major in the Open era, where he’ll run into Federer, the defending champion.
Schiavone, the French Open champion, saved six match points, then converted on her third match point in the longest women’s match at a major in terms of time in the Open era. The longest previous record was set in Australia last year when Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova beat Regina Kulikova 7-6 (5), 6-7 (10), 6-3 in 4:19.
Said a spent Schiavone: “At the end, you have something more, always.”
Kuznetsova said the match was so long she was forgetting the score or who should serve. Schiavone said it wasn’t quite that bad for her.
“But I was watching the clock, and I say, ‘Brava, Francesca, you are tough!’ ” she said.
The 30-year-old Italian will next meet Wozniacki, who reached the quarterfinals in Australia for the first time with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Anastasija Sevastova. She then caused a bit of stir at her news conference with a tale about being scratched by a kangaroo.
She later returned to Melbourne Park to clarify she’d made up the story and to apologize, saying she didn’t think anyone would believe it.
Petkovic topped Sharapova, the 2008 champion, 6-2, 6-3. She will next play Li, the 2010 semifinalist from China who advanced with a 6-3, 6-3 decision over No. 8 Victoria Azarenka.
It was Petkovic who needed only four minutes and seven points before Venus Williams retired from their third-round match.
It was only the third time since 2003 that Roddick didn’t reach at least the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park. He’s planning to leave today.
Former U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe told ESPN that Roddick needed to retool his game to have any chance of winning a second major, but may be reluctant to do so because it might expose him to losses to lesser players. Roddick said he wouldn’t answer that question until he spoke to his coach, Larry Stefanki.
“I’m sure he has his thoughts; I certainly have mine,” he said. “There’s certainly some work to be done. I got to figure out in kind of slower conditions how I can impose myself on some of those guys.”