Roddick finally finds feet to defeat Henman's conqueror

Victory over a qualifier ranked No 130 in the world would normally be regarded as routine for a player with one US Open title and two Wimbledon finals to his name. For Andy Roddick, it brought some light into what has been a gloomy start to the year.

Roddick beat Simon Greul, Tim Henman's conqueror, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in the fourth round of the Nasdaq-100 Open here last night. It was a patchy display, but after five defeats in 16 matches in 2006, Roddick had reason to be satisfied. His best performances this year have been a semi-final appearance in San Jose, where he was beaten by Andy Murray, and a quarter-final in Memphis, where he lost to France's Julien Benneteau.

When Greul took the second set and started returning serve with the power he had shown against Henman, Roddick might have feared the worst. The 24-year-old German, who had also accounted for Paradorn Srichaphan and Dominik Hrbaty during the best week of his professional life, is a bold and brave hitter, always ready to go for his shots.

Roddick, however, began the third set with the perfect statement of intent, serving powerfully to win the game to love. Three poor forehands by Greul in the next game handed Roddick a break, two aces helped him to 3-0 and victory was secured when the German dropped his serve again at 2-5. At least Greul had the satisfaction of successful challenges to line calls on two successive points. An appeal against an out call on his first serve on game point took the score to 4-2 in the final set and on the first point of the next game, Hawk-Eye's camera backed his contention that Roddick's first serve was out.

"I can still play better," Roddick said. "I played terribly at the start of the second set. I didn't put returns in the court, took my foot off the gas and he got back into it. But I'm playing a lot more calmly now and I'm serving 10 times better than I was earlier in the year."

Roger Federer, who had been in majestic form the previous evening with a gun-blazing victory over Tommy Haas, reached the quarter-finals after a routine 6-3, 6-3 win over Dmitry Tursunov, completing a mediocre tournament for Russian men. Earlier in the day, Nikolai Davydenko, the world No 5, was beaten 7-5, 6-4 by Croatia's Mario Ancic. Ivan Ljubicic, Ancic's Davis Cup colleague, advanced to the last eight at the expense of Christophe Rochus and will now play Agustin Calleri, who accounted for Nicolas Kiefer.

However, Russians continued to dominate the women's competition. Svetlana Kuznetsova was the first player to book her place in the last four, beating Japan's Ai Sugiyama 6-0, 7-6 to earn a semi-final against the winner of the match between Amélie Mauresmo and another Russian, Nadia Petrova.

Kuznetsova made 41 unforced errors to Sugiyama's 25 but hit 34 winners to Sugiyama's five.

Maria Sharapova, having disposed of Maria Kirilenko in the fourth round, faces another Russian in today's quarter-finals when she meets Anastasia Myskina, the 2004 French Open champion.

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