Coria injury hands Roddick local success

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The Independent Online

Andy Roddick won the 13th title of his career at the Nasdaq-100 Open here yesterday when his Argentinian opponent, Guillermo Coria, retired because of a back injury in the opening game of the fourth set, with the American leading, 6-7, 6-3, 6-1. The premature ending was disappointing for Coria and the crowd, a mixture of Amercans rooting for the big-serving US Open champion, who is based along the Florida Coast in Boca Raton, and flag-waving Argentinians roaring for Coria.

Tennis devotees regretted that the contest - a fascinating duel of contrasting baseline styles - could not go the five-set distance. But Coria, the third seed, who was in "excruciating pain" when he served after damaging his back in the seventh game of the opening set, did well to entertain with beautifully weighted angled drives, drop-shots and lobs for as long as two hours.

Coria recovered from 2-0 down in the first set to force a tie-break after taking an injury time-out at 5-6. The Argentinian won the shoot-out, 7-2, but lost his serve in the third game of the second set and thereafter was increasingly vulnerable under fire from Roddick, who also laboured against the effects of an upset stomach.

"It's not the picture-perfect ending," Roddick said. "But I'm here at the end of the tournament."

After Serena Williams had successfully defended the women's singles title on Saturday - her comeback tournament after being out for eight months - it was surprising and reassuring to hear her confess: "Outside of tennis, I'm terrible at sports. I'm not co-ordinated." Although the Wimbledon champion back-tracked by admitting she can "run pretty fast", the point she was making was that athleticism does not count for everything in tennis.

"I think if someone has desire, that means more than being athletic. If you have enough desire and heart to do well, you can be a champ."

A serve helps, too, but Elena Dementieva, whom Williams defeated in Saturday's final, 6-1, 6-1, after 50 minutes, might as well have used a feather duster. The tall, elegant Russian has splendid ground-strokes, but it bodes ill for the WTA Tour that a competitor who can barely hold serve is the eighth best player in the world.

Gabriela Sabatini and Anna Kournikova are called to mind in a catalogue of dodgy servers, but Dementieva's weakness against the power of Williams on the court was compounded by her reaction to the defeat. "It's good that she beat me so easily," she said, "because now I'm going to work harder on my serve and improve my game. I had nothing to lose and I was already satisfied with my results in the tournament. I was just a little upset that I was tired and couldn't play as good as I can."

Dementieva, who was fortunate to catch Venus Williams on a bad day in the quarter-finals, cannot use fatigue as an excuse for an alarming compilation of match statistics. In her six matches, the Russian hit three aces and double-faulted 57 times. She faced 69 break points and her serve was broken 30 times.

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