Roddick added to long list of casualties

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The Independent Online

Once again, Andy Roddick was rolling on the ground, clutching his ankle. He sprained it during his first-round tie, and he sprained it again during his match against Ivan Ljubicic, of Croatia, yesterday. The No 13 seed retired, joining the crazily long list of injured players making an early exit from the Australian Open.

Great things had been expected of the young American, particularly after the upset of so many top-ranked men. But while chasing a ball in the first- set tie-break – when set point up at 8-7 – he tumbled awkwardly and grimaced in pain. Ljubicic took the tie-break 13-11 and was 3-2 up in the second set when Roddick gave up and limped off court.

"It's pretty crushing for me," said the 19-year-old Roddick, who was drawn to meet Pete Sampras in the quarter-finals. "I was really looking forward to this because I had worked really hard in the off-season on getting in shape and building up my body to avoid injuries." Roddick has earned many admiring superlatives since he erupted on to the senior circuit last year, but concerns surround his high injury rate and some cynics have accused him of being a drama queen. He slapped his towel on the ground with theatrical petulance yesterday after receiving a trainer's assessment.

The manner of his departure was reminiscent of Roland Garros last year, when he retired tearfully from a third-round match against Lleyton Hewitt after twisting an ankle and rolling in the red clay. He had previously defeated Michael Chang while fighting cramps in his groin, calf and hand.

The other seeds in Roddick's half of the draw had more luck yesterday. Sampras, the No 8, dropped a set en route to his 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 defeat of the Chilean Juan Ignacio Chela.

The No 9, Marat Safin of Russia, beat the Belgian Christophe Rochus 6-2, 7-6, 6-1, while the German Tommy Haas, the No 7, overcame Jean-François Bachelot, of France, and Roger Federer, the No 11, of Switzerland, swept aside Attila Savolt, of Hungary, in straight sets. But the 15th-seeded Arnaud Clement, the Frenchman who reached last year's final, was knocked out by Gaston Gaudio of Argentina.

Safin was fined for "tanking" – not trying – in the first round here two years ago, but yesterday claimed to be a reformed character. "I'm a different guy, a different player, and I'm ready to win this year," he said.

With the tournament wide open, Safin – the 2000 US Open champion – has a fighting chance. "I think I'm the only one in the draw who is healthy," he said. "I'm ready to play and I'm ready to make good results. It's a huge opportunity." In the women's competition, Venus Williams remains on course to win her third successive Grand Slam after an injury scare. Williams, who plays Daniela Hantuchova in the third round today, was given the all-clear after being treated for tendinitis in her left knee.

The defending champion, Jennifer Capriati, dropped serve in the third game of the second set and then won five straight games to beat Meilen Tu 6-1, 6-3. She said she was still having problems with a hip injury. "It's not 100 per cent," she said. "I'll just keep resting it and getting lots of treatment and it'll be OK." The No 4 and No 6 Belgian seeds, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, are still headed for a quarter-final meeting after Clijsters defeated Barbara Schwartz, of Austria, 6-1, 6-1 and Henin beat the Spaniard Marta Marrero 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. Also through are Amelie Mauresmo, the No 7 seed, Meghann Shaughnessy, the No 10, and Elena Dementieva, the No 12.

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