x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Roddick admits there is room for improvement

The American goes into the second week of the championships in great heart with high hopes of appearing on the final day for the third time.

Andy Roddick, above, needed four sets to beat the Austrian Jurgen Melzer.
Andy Roddick, above, needed four sets to beat the Austrian Jurgen Melzer.

LONDON // Andy Roddick has dropped a set in each of his three matches in the first week of Wimbledon but the American goes into the second week of the championships in great heart with high hopes of appearing on the final day for the third time. Roddick, who endorsed his liking for grass by claiming four titles at neighbouring Queen's Club, got the better of resolute Austrian Jurgen Melzer in a tight Centre Court tussle.

Roddick had beaten Melzer in all eight of their previous meetings but pushed Roddick all the way this time and Roddick admitted he was lucky to come through in four sets. "There is room for improvement," he said in advance of a last 16 encounter with the Czech Tomas Berdych, "I need to break serve a little more than I have been doing." Lleyton Hewitt's Wimbledon renaissance continues. The Australian, on top of the world when he triumphed here seven years ago, dropped out of the top 100 earlier this year as he struggled to re-establish himself after a hip operation but is now climbing the ladder again.

Fresh from his outstanding conquest of fifth-seeded Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro on Thursday, Hewitt was rewarded with a more routine assignment yesterday against Germany's Philipp Petzchner, who at 55 on the computer is rated at one place higher than Hewitt. Hewitt was rarely threatened as he secured a fourth round date with Radek Stepanek, the 23rd-seeded Czech who pulled off a minor surprise by overcoming Spain's David Ferrer in a marathon tussle.

Hewitt's serve, though considerably slower than Petzchner's held firm throughout the 2hr 37min contest and he broke the German three times to seal his 7-5, 7-6, 6-3 victory. "I played a great tie-break and that was the key to the match," said a highly satisfied Hewitt. "He's a tough opponent. "He's very flashy and it's hard to get a read on him." Hewitt's prospects of reaching a fifth Wimbledon quarter-final improved considerably when his next opponent Stepanek reported himself to be a fitness doubt after battling his way to a 7-5, 7-5, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4 win over the 16th-seeded Ferrer.

Stepanek was close to defaulting when his knee buckled underneath him in the act of serving midway through the fourth set. The problem arose in Madrid last month and Stepanek remarked: "I couldn't even stand on the leg, so I had to stop and call the physio. It has happened to me already - I think twice - so I knew where the problem was. "The question was 'would the pain go away if they were going to tape my knee'?

"So I decided to finish the set in pain if necessary and then retire," said Stepanek who is confident of recovering in time to take on Hewitt. There was a seeding upset on Court One when Berdych overcame Nikolay Davydenko in straight sets but the Czech's game has always been better suited to grass than that of the Russian who has lost in the first round on five occasions here. The 20th-seeded Berdych will be a tough test for Roddick tomorrow.

Stanlislas Wawrinka defeated Jesse Levine 5-7, 7-5, 6-3, 6-3. wjohnson@thenational.ae