Roddick finds positives in defeat

Andy Roddick tried to remain upbeat despite becoming the highest-profile casualty of the 2007 French Open following a four-set defeat to an inspired Igor Andreev.

Andy Roddick tried to remain upbeat despite becoming the highest-profile casualty of the 2007 French Open following a four-set defeat to an inspired Igor Andreev.

The American, seeded third at Roland Garros, was well beaten by Andreev, who claimed a 3-6 6-4 6-3 6-4 defeat on the Suzanne Lenglen court mainly thanks to a dazzling array of groundstrokes.

Roddick is far from at home on the clay but he did not play badly against the Russian, the last player to defeat Rafael Nadal on the dirt – in April 2005 - before Roger Federer beat the Spaniard two weekends ago at the Masters event in Hamburg.

“I’ve had some disappointing losses here, but I actually felt like I played okay, considering,” said Roddick, who is yet to progress past the third round at Roland Garros.

“I felt like I hit the ball all right. I think a lot of credit has to go to him.

“He was impressive. He hit some pretty good forehands, not only when he was set but when he was running.

“There are some positives for me. I feel a little better coming out of this than I have in the past.

“But, at the same time, it’s the same result.”

Andreev was happy to take his opportunity against a player who is more comfortable on the grass and the hard courts.

“Andy Roddick is a great player, but he doesn’t play his best tennis on clay,” said the modest 23-year-old.

“I knew that I was going to have chances. I just had to keep my focus, concentrate and give 100%.”

Fernando Gonzalez, the fifth seed, was another major name to tumble today.

The Chilean was routed 6-2 6-2 6-4 by Radek Stepanek, the Czech Republic player who is attempting to make his way back into the top echelons after a long spell out through injury.

Elsewhere, Croatia’s Ivan Ljubicic, looking to at least repeat his heroics of last year when he made the semi-finals, sealed a 6-1 7-5 7-6 (7/2) win over Frenchman Arnaud Clement.

The seventh seed had resumed the match a set ahead after it was halted for rain yesterday.

Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt, one of the dark horses this year, was particularly impressive in dismantling Max Mirnyi 6-3 6-1 6-3 on Court 2.

“I’d like to think I can have a crack at the it this year,” said the 14th seed.

“I’ve been putting in the hard yards over the last few weeks. But I still think Roger [Federer] is the guy to beat.”

Hewitt will play Gaston Gaudio next, and he feels the Argentinian – who claimed the Roland Garros title in 2004 – will provide a major test.

“Out of all the unseeded guys, he’s probably as tough as it gets,” the former world number one said.

“He’s obviously a great clay-court player and I lost to him the year he won here.”

Tommy Robredo wasted no time in wrapping up his first-round clash with Sergio Roitman.

The Spaniard, seeded nine, was two sets up when the match was suspended yesterday because of the weather.

Second on Court 2, 24 hours later, Robredo finished Roitman off in double-quick time, completing a 6-3 6-4 6-2 win to set up a second round match-up against Greece’s Konstantinos Economidis.

Argentina’s Guillermo Canas, the 19th seed, is a two-time quarter-finalist here and he was a comfortable 6-3 6-1 6-4 winner over Victor Hanescu on Court 16.

Meanwhile, Mikhail Youzhny, the 13th seed, was handed a walkover victory against Jan Hernych, who lasted just nine points before retiring with a back injury.

The 2003 champion Juan Carlos Ferrero lost the first set in his clash with American Amer Delic before rallying to claim a 6-7 (2/7) 6-3 6-3 6-4 victory.

And it was much the same for 18th seed Juan Ignacio Chela as he also lost the first set against Fabrice Santoro, only to recover to win 6-7 (5/7) 6-0 6-3 6-3.

Chela will now meet highly-rated Frenchman Gael Monfils, who beat Olivier Rochus, in one of the top ties of the second round.

Rafael Nadal got his French Open title defence off to a winning start – but the king of clay from Spain admitted he did not have one of his better days.

Nadal, who has won the singles title at Roland Garros for the past two years, struggled at first but finally got into the groove to seal a 7-5 6-3 6-2 victory over Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina on the Philippe Chatrier court.

Nadal, the second seed, is bidding to become the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1980 – and just the second in the last 93 years – to win three successive French Open titles.

But he knows he will have to improve if he is to raise the Musketeers Cup aloft once again.

“I did not play well,” admitted a frank Nadal, who had to battle to claim a tight first set.

“He had a big chance at 5-3 and 30-0 up to win that first set but he didn’t [take it]. But it’s the first round, and it is always difficult here in the first round.

“The court seems big and there is obviously more pressure early on. You don’t know how you are playing, and the balls are different. But I am through. And I have never played well in the first round. In fact, I have never played well in the second round or even in the third round.

“I’m not just saying that because I want to seem bigger than I am. I am being humble. But it is difficult being champion, I can tell you.”

Del Potro, an 18-year-old, is seen as one of the finest talents to come out of Argentina in a while and is tipped to be a future grand-slam champion.

He raced out of the blocks against his Spanish opponent, but could not keep it going.

Nadal added: “He is a great player with a very good future. He played tough and aggressively but it is easy to play like that when you are young and not the favourite.

“He has a lot of potential and it was a hard match for me.”

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