Roddick Heads to RCA Tournament Quarters

Friday, July 23rd 2004, 5:58 am
By: News On 6

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Defending champion Andy Roddick overcame blisters on his right hand, a pair of tough challenges and his second rain delay in as many nights, Thursday then moved into the quarterfinals of the RCA tournament.

First, the world's second-ranked player got past qualifier Michel Kratochvil in a rain-suspended match that began Wednesday night. He then waited out a three-hour rain delay before defeating 15th-seeded Robby Ginepri, 7-6 (5), 6-4, in a night match.

The victory gave top-seeded Roddick a 46-9 mark in match competition this year as he seeks his fifth championship of 2004.

``I knew what I had to do today,'' said Roddick, who ended his first match at 3:23 p.m. and began playing Ginepri at 9:50.

Throughout the day he had to get treatment for a blister at the base of the index finger on his right hand.

``We kept icing it. We kept treating it as much as possible. It's the humidity and the constant rubbing. Like I said, it's there, and you deal with it,'' said Roddick, who needed just 70 minutes to oust Ginepri in the showdown between American tennis stars.

As usual, Roddick's big serve kept him out of trouble. He had only seven aces, but won 76 percent of his successful first serves against Ginepri.

``He was playing a lot better than me in the first set, but I felt pretty comfortable,'' Roddick said. ``I knew if I could get a couple of balls in on him in the tiebreaker, he might think a little bit, and he missed a couple of forehands.''

Roddick, playing in his first tournament since losing to Roger Federer in the championship match at Wimbledon, won the opening set 6-4 with Kratochvil and was trailing 2-5 when a heavy downpour halted play Wednesday night. Kratochvil quickly won the second set 6-2 Thursday, and Roddick's big serve produced a 6-4 victory in the third.

Even though Roddick had blister problems, he produced hard serves that reached 148 mph.

Before he took the court for the second time Thursday, Roddick had to sit through a rain delay and the end of a third-round match between third-seeded Sebastien Grosjean and No. 14 Xavier Malisse. Grosjean continued his mastery of Malisse with a 7-6 (4), 6-2 victory.

Grosjean, who reached the semifinals at Wimbledon for the second time this year, has dropped only one set in seven matches with Malisse since turning pro in 1996.

Earlier, Roddick recorded 23 aces to only five by Kratochvil. Roddick won 83 percent of the points when he got his first serve in (38 of 46). Nine of his aces came in the final set, many at crucial points.

``He has a big serve. I wish I could do more with it, but I couldn't,'' said Kratochvil, who fell behind 3-4 in the final set.

Roddick lost the first two points of the next game, but managed to hold on with the help of three consecutive aces clocked at 135 mph, 138 and 129. A 135-mph offering was returned wide.

Kratochvil used two aces to hold, then Roddick ended the match with the help of two more aces.

Next up for Roddick is sixth-seeded Dominik Hrbaty, who defeated No. 11 Joachim Johansson 7-6 (9), 4-6, 7-6 (1).

In other third-round matches, No. 4 Paradorn Schrichaphan continued his bid to reach the title match for the second straight year by defeating Alex Bogomolov Jr. 6-3, 6-0; No.10 Ivan Ljubicic eliminated Jan Hernych 6-3, 6-4, and No. 12 Nicolas Kiefer ousted qualifier Rik DeVoest 6-1, 6-4.

Qualifier Noam Okun defeated Karol Beck, 7-6 (2), 6-2 in another third-round match.