Roddick mounts ace attack as US take 2-0 lead over France

April 12th, 2008 - 1:57 pm ICT by admin  

Winston-Salem (North Carolina), April 12 (DPA) A confident Andy Roddick rained down 29 aces to give the defending champion United States a 1-0 lead over France in the Davis Cup World Group quarter-finals. The world No.6 Roddick put the hosts in command 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-5) in just over two hours here Friday at the same stadium, where he led a victory over Spain at the same stage a year ago in the worldwide competition.

Llodra, substituting on a French team hit by the injury defections of Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet, put in his best effort - 25 aces - but it was not enough against the inspired local.

Roddick has now won his last eight Davis Cup matches as the US fields a team unchanged for a record 10th straight tie.

James Blake saved two fifth-set match points in a dogfight before finally prevailing over another French substitute in Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 after nearly four hours.

“His focus is on trying to get in on every ball,” Roddick said of Llodra, the Rotterdam champion two months ago. “He makes it as random and uncomfortable as possible.

“He relies a lot on his serve, holding and serving big.”

In Moscow, slumping Marat Safin produced a heroic win as he rallied from two sets to love down for a 6-7 (5-7), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 comeback over Czech player Tomas Berdych.

But former number one Safin - who won his only ATP match of the season last January in Australia - gave the hosts an early lead on indoor clay.

Radek Stepanek levelled to end opening day at 1-1 by defeating Igor Andreev 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

Safin, a two-time Grand Slam winner now standing 87th, struggled for the fightback over nearly four hours, firing 29 aces and breaking in the fifth game of the final set against Berdych.

The 28-year-old Russian was appearing on the squad for the second time in a year as he won his second Davis match in a row.

“This win means a lot for me,” said Safin. “It was so important since I’ve barely won anything the last few months. I didn’t expect to win against a Top-10 player on his best form.”

The marathon was an exercise in missed opportunities: Safin converted on four of 21 break points, while Berdych managed just one of 19.

Safin put his nation ahead with 43 winners, striking 61 unforced errors in the clay as he handed Berdych a first loss over five sets in the competition.

Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer sent Spain into 2-0 command over Germany in Bremen, with Ferrer defeating Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

Nadal spoiled the Davis Cup return of Nicolas Kiefer with a 7-6 (7-5), 6-0, 6-3 victory to open the account for the visitors indoors on hardcourt.

Nadal had complained of fatigue after losing last weekend’s Miami final. He said that he had to fight off jet-lag after coming in from Miami, where he lost the weekend final to Nikolay Davydenko.

“I think I played a complete game, but I just didn’t take all my chances. He made it tough by playing very well.”

Nadal struggled early on, missing nine of 10 break points in the opening set.

In Buenos Aires, David Nalbandian took a a win over Swede Thomas Johansson 6-2, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 but Robin Soderling promptly levelled to leave day one knotted 1-1 through his 6-0, 6-4, 6-1 victory over Jose Acasuso, with the Swede converting a mere eight of 28 break points.

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