Roddick holds nerve to storm into last eight


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The Independent Online

Andy Roddick won a first-set tiebreak before completing a straight-sets 7-6, 6-3 win over the Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in the second round of the rain-delayed Atlanta Open yesterday. "He missed a pretty easy ball in the tiebreaker to make it three-all," Roddick said. "From there, I played pretty solid."

Roddick – who will play Michael Russell in the quarter-finals – broke Mahut in the ninth point of the tiebreak and held serve to take a tough first set. "The first tiebreaker is so big," Roddick said. "There's not much between you, and whoever loses it has a long road [back]. I was fortunate to get up on that one."

Russell, at 34, is the oldest player in the main draw, but he outlasted the No 5 seed, Kevin Anderson of South Africa, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4 to reach his first ATP hard-court quarter-final since February 2011.

Go Soeda of Japan beat Russia's Igor Kunitsyn 6-1, 7-5. Their match began at 4pm local time but, when the rain started 25 minutes later, the order of play was changed. Soeda and Kunitsyn had to wait seven hours for Russell and Anderson to finish before their match could restart.

Soeda led the first set 3-0 before play was stopped. Japan's Kei Nishikori, the No 3 seed, held off Lithuania's Ricardas Berankis 6-4, 6-7, 6-4. Soeda and Nishikori will clash in a rare all-Japanese quarter-final.

Roddick's victory avenged a four-set loss to Mahut at the French Open. It was Roddick's earliest exit from a Grand Slam tournament since 2007 and his first loss to Mahut in five career matches.

"I thought about it a little bit, but the conditions are so different," Roddick said. "I'm not real comfortable on clay; I don't think that's a secret. Coming back here on home turf on a surface I'm very comfortable on is just such a different scenario."

John Isner, the top seed, will meet the second-seeded Mardy Fish, Atlanta's two-time defending champion.

Although Roddick didn't have to wait nearly as long as some of the players to get on the court, the damp conditions were hardly to his liking. He and Mahut occasionally slipped as they tried to reach for shots.

"I expressed my concern," Roddick pointed out. "It was heard by the supervisor. He agreed with my sentiment and told me to play on."

Russell and Anderson began their match at 4pm, but they had to wait nearly five hours before resuming it. In the tiebreak, Anderson held serve to take the 11th point and broke Russell to win the first set. Russell, though, held his composure to avenge a loss to Anderson in Atlanta last year.

In the women's tour, the top-seeded Marion Bartoli overcame her often shaky serve to hold off her American opponent, Vania King, to record a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 second-round win in the Mercury Insurance Open.

France's Bartoli had 18 double faults and was successful on just 55 per cent of her first services in the match; she also had her serve broken eight times. King hit a higher percentage on her first serves (68 per cent) and had just three double faults, but had her serve broken nine times.

Bartoli was down 4-2 in the third set before she used a service break and held serve twice to take a 5-4 lead with her second ace, putting her on course for the quarter-finals.

Varvara Lepchenko, the US Olympian, posted a 6-4, 6-2 win over Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa in a second-round match. Lepchenko never faced a break point and won despite making only 55 per cent of her first serves.

"It was pretty difficult out there and I'm still trying to get used to the conditions and still trying to find my game," Lepchenko said. "I'm happy the way it ended up."