American hopes in tatters as Roddick and Blake fall

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The Independent Online

The Stars and Stripes were flying at half mast here last night as the United States were left with just one player in the men's singles following the second-round defeats of Andy Roddick and James Blake. The last American standing is Bobby Reynolds, the world No 102.

Roddick, the No 6 seed and twice a beaten finalist here, was beaten 6-7, 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 by Janko Tipsarevic, who made up for Serbia's disappointment at seeing Novak Djokovic lose to Marat Safin 24 hours earlier. Blake, who has never gone beyond the third round at the All England Club, was beaten 6-3, 6-7, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 by the veteran German Rainer Schüttler.

Although Roddick had been troubled by a shoulder injury in the build-up to the grass-court season, his defeat is a surprise. Since parting company with Jimmy Connors, his coach, he had beaten Rafael Nadal and Djokovic on the way to the title in Dubai and knocked out Roger Federer, ending a run of 11 successive defeats to the world No 1, en route to the semi-finals in Miami "I pretty much just choked it," Roddick said. "It's like you want something so bad you squeeze too tight."

The match was close throughout, but Tipsarevic took a crucial advantage when he broke serve in the fifth game of the third set. The American wasted eight break points in the fourth set, which was settled by a tie-break. Tipsarevic's mini-break to lead 5-4, secured with a fine backhand winner down the line, proved crucial and the world No 40 converted his first match point with a service winner.

Tipsarevic, who said the Centre Court and Wimbledon were his favourite court and favourite tournament, often saves his best for the Grand Slam events. He beat Fernando Gonzalez at Wimbledon last year and took Federer to five sets at the Australian Open in January.