Andy Roddick regains his rhythm

A relieved Andy Roddick re-established his hardcourt game with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Austrian Jurgen Melzer on Monday, finally getting in the win column in the summer Masters Series.

The fifth seed, who lost in his opening match a week ago in Montreal to eventual semifinalist Paul-Henri Mathieu, returned to form in the familiar surrounds of an event he won in 2003.

Roddick improved to a 14-4 record in Cincinnati after reaching the semifinals here last year before falling to eventual champion Andre Agassi.

The win at the $2,45-million touranment was his 45th of the season against ten defeats.

After his Canadian embarrassment, the American was making sure that upset lightning didn’t strike twice with the US Open starting in a fortnight.

“I’ve been here since Wednesday getting used to the conditions,” said Roddick, who has voiced complaints over adjusting to the brand of balls used in the Masters Series versus those played at the US Open in New York and those used at other ATP events.

He also said that his fitness has vastly improved from a week ago, admitting: “at Montreal, I just felt ill-prepared”.

Another early Montreal victim, British 12th seed Tim Henman, also found satisfaction in a 6-2, 6-1 win over Chile’s Nicolas Massu.

The victory was the first for the 30-year-old since the first round at Wimbledon.

Henman prefers the US hardcourt season, played on one of his favourite surfaces and perhaps more importantly, far away from the hysteria of home.

“It hasn’t been easy the last couple of weeks, but an important factor is I’ve actually been hitting the ball well,” said the 2000 Cincinnati finalist who has yet to reach a semifinal this year.

“I knew if I kept doing the right things, as I’ve done on the practice court, then the results would come. It’s only one win, but it definitely means a lot to me,” said Henman, who next faces Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Chela, who advanced 6-6 when Spaniard Alberto Martin retired with a back injury.

France’s Fabrice Santoro worked his magic on 14th seed Ivan Ljubicic, ousting the Croatian 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (9/7), 7-5.

French teenage wild-card Gael Monfils notched an upset as he put out Czech 15th seed Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-2.

Montreal runner-up Agassi showed up in Cincinnati as a goodwill gesture the day after withdrawing as seventh seed in order to give his chronic back problem a bit of rest before the August 29 start of the US Open.

Agassi was beaten in three sets Sunday by Spain’s teenage talent Rafael Nadal, winner of an ATP-leading nine trophies this season including the French Open and three Masters Series crowns.

“Ten weeks ago when I wasn’t sure of the state of my health, I made a commitment to not just myself but also to those around me that I would only play under the terms of being 100% physically,” Agassi said of his decision to withdraw. “For me,

that’s the only way I can be out there anymore, and I’m not 100% now.”

Top seed Roger Federer, returning to action for the first time since winning Wimbledon, faced American wild card James Blake on Monday night.
- Sapa

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