Roddick knocked out of Legg Mason

Friday, August 16th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Fernando Meligeni had a little help from the audience and beat Andy Roddick in the Legg Mason Tennis tournament.

In a match of sportsmanship and controversy, Meligeni knocked out the second-seeded and defending champion Roddick 6-4, 6-4 Thursday night to reach the quarterfinals of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic.

Meligeni, with the help of a noisy fan, saved five break points serving with the second set tied 4-all. After a long rally, Meligeni lunged to his forehand side and hit a volley past Roddick to win the game and a high-five from Roddick.

``I don't think I've ever high-fived someone before,'' Roddick said. ``Kudos to his reflex volleys for tonight.''

Earlier in the match came the controversy.

On the fifth break point a fan made an 'out' call during the point, which prompted both players to pause despite the ball being called good. Meligeni even walked toward the changeover area thinking his serve had been broken, and Roddick wasn't far behind.

``I heard an out call and it was from a fan,'' Roddick said. ``I was walking back and regrouping towards the changeover.

``I talked to the umpire, but he said that there was nothing he could do for fan interference and that was just kind of a raw deal.''

Not surprisingly, Meligeni had a different take on the fan's opinion.

``It sometimes happens when people are talking during the match,'' Meligeni said. ``At this point you cannot start thinking about it. You have to play and whatever the umpire says is OK for us.''

Roddick, who squandered an early break in the first set, saw the set unfold in an unlikely fashion against the 16th-seeded Meligeni. Roddick, who was clocked at 132 mph yesterday, couldn't hold a 40-15 lead when serving with a 5-4 deficit. An unforced forehand error in the game's second deuce gave Meligeni the first set.

``I think I played one of my best matches on hard courts,'' Meligeni said. ``It's the only way to play to beat a guy like him.''

Serving to stay in the match, Roddick saved one match point at 30-40, but he double-faulted later in the game to end it.

Top-seeded Andre Agassi also advanced to the quarterfinals, but had trouble, beating Brian Vahaly 6-1, 7-6 (3).

Agassi overpowered Vahaly in the first set, but in the second Vahaly started making him work harder.

Agassi was forced to serve his way into a tiebreaker, but then Agassi's experience began to show. He won the first four points of the tiebreaker, capped by a big forehand return. Vahaly closed the gap to 4-2, but another service winner from Agassi and a double fault from Vahaly ended Vahaly's chance for an upset.

``He gave them a really good show, too,'' Agassi said. ``He had to really hang in there, with the way I came out of the blocks and he did that well.''

Vahaly, who came up with 13 winners in the second set, was impressed with Agassi.

``He hits the ball just so hard and so precise,'' Vahaly said. ``After that first set I don't know how anyone in the world beats him.''

Joining Agassi in the quarterfinals is Alex Corretja, who upset Agassi in the 2000 final. The fourth-seeded Corretja beat Karol Kucera 6-1, 6-1.

The 2000 tournament champion set the tone early, taking a 3-0 lead before Kucera won his first game. Corretja ran off three more games to close out the first set.

Fourteenth-seeded Paradorn Srichaphan knocked out last year's finalist, third-seeded Sjeng Schalken, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. Srichaphan was serving at 4-2 in the final set when he missed an overhead to allow the match to get back on serve.

Also making the quarterfinals was Marcelo Rios, who knocked off Jerome Golmard 6-3, 6-1. The No. 6 seed James Blake beat Guillermo Coria 6-4, 7-5. The No. 7 seed Thomas Enqvist will play Agassi next after he beat Lars Burgsmuller 6-3, 7-5, and Jarkko Nieminen advanced with a 0-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over American Alex Kim.