Fifth seed Andy Roddick cruised into the third round at the US Open with another late-night show of strength.
Roddick, runner-up to Roger Federer in their epic Wimbledon men’s final eight weeks ago, put in a powerful performance under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium to suggest he is ready to vie with the world number one for the second grand slam in a row.
The American, champion here in 2003 before the Swiss began his five-year unbeaten run, moved a step closer to a potential semi-final date with Federer by blasting Frenchman Marc Gicquel away 6-1 6-4 6-4 and he will next face unseeded compatriot John Isner.
Roddick had been forced to wait until gone 11pm local time on Monday night before taking to the court to defeat Germany’s Bjorn Phau in straight sets and it was nearly 10.30pm in New York when he got to start taking apart 32-year-old Gicquel, the world number 81.
The omens had not been good for Gicquel, who in their three previous meetings had failed to even break Roddick’s serve, most recently on clay at the French Open when the world number five wrapped things up in 104 minutes.
Roddick took a little time to warm to his task at Flushing Meadows before breaking Gicquel for the first time in the fourth game to go 3-1 up and then delighted the crowd on his next service game when he hammered down a 138 miles per hour ace.
Roddick continued to gather momentum by breaking Gicquel once more and he wrapped up the set on his serve in the next game after just 25 minutes on court as the crowd sensed a rout was in the making.
The second set was Roddick’s in the third game when he broke Gicquel for the first time.
Gicquel held his next two service games, even wowing the fans with the splits mid-point, but in truth that was his most impressive feat of the evening.
Roddick served for the set at 5-4 but found himself uncharacteristically trailing at 15-30 having sent a backhand beyond the baseline. He was not behind for long, though, and the American got to set point at 40-30, then saw Gicquel net a backhand to send Roddick into a two-set lead.
Roddick was quickly up in the third set too, taking a 2-1 lead but this time Gicquel was not be rolled over quite as easily and the Frenchman raised his serve to hold the next three games.
He was still nowhere close to breaking Roddick’s serve however and the writing was on the wall at 5-4 as the game edged past midnight.
Roddick sealed victory but not before Gicquel had saved two match points to get to deuce and he actually earned his first break point of the night with a great forehand return down the line.
That prompted Roddick’s fifth ace of the night and the American duly closed out the game as Gicquel sent a cross-court forehand into the tram lines.