NEW YORK// Andy Roddick's straight sets win over 84th-ranked Bjorn Phau of Germany ended at 12.45 yesterday morning - and the only reason the players and crowd managed to get away at that hour was that he had taken only three sets and 95 minutes to dispatch his first-round opponent. The 2003 US Open champion loved every minute of it.
The stands were less than half-full by the end. Those fans who stayed were loud, though, roaring their support for the fifth-seeded American. "It is kind of unique and pretty cool," Roddick said. "You play in all sorts of atmospheres. There's not as many people, but the ones that are there sure are vocal. "I guarantee half the people out there were probably here all day, too. They have to be pretty passionate and really enjoy what they're seeing and the whole experience of it. It's all part of it. Kind of the crazies that stay until one in the morning - there's something fun about that. I guarantee you, they all have to work tomorrow. They certainly have to get up earlier than I do."
Because of an opening-night ceremony featuring Andre Agassi, followed by a victory by Venus Williams that lasted more than two and a half hours, Roddick was forced to wait until after 11pm on Monday to get on court at the Arthur Ashe Stadium for the last match of the tournament's opening day. He then made quick work of Phau, beating him 6-1, 6-4, 6-2. Pounding serves at up to 145 mph (233 kph), Roddick finished with 13 aces and put 81 per cent of his first serves in.
Roddick also said the special character of the different grand slams helped make tennis interesting. "It's all part of our game," he said. "We don't play on the same surface. We don't use the same balls. We don't play in the same place. It's all different all the time. "The thing that makes Wimbledon so cool is the tradition and the whites. I get into that when I'm there. I love it. I think it's great.
"I think the equivalent of that here is the night sessions and the craziness, the fact that it's a show and it's an event as well as a tennis tournament. "The more things that we have that make our events unique, I think the better our sport is for it." * With agencies