x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Roddick bullish after confident start as Del Potro gears up for Hewitt

Andy Roddick serves notice that he intends to capitalise on the withdrawal of defending champion Rafael Nadal from his quarter of the draw.

LONDON // Andy Roddick, twice a Wimbledon finalist and four times the champion at neighbouring Queen's Club, served notice yesterday that he intends to capitalise on the withdrawal of defending champion Rafael Nadal from his quarter of the draw. The big-serving American turned in an impressive Centre Court display to get the better of an awkward French opponent Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 4-6, 6-3 to earn a second round encounter with Russia's Igor Kunitsyn.

Roddick, 26, came off court to declare dismissively that he no longer listens to how people rate his chances in big tournaments. "At this stage of my career that kind of thing doesn't matter any more," he said. "Sometimes when people say I'm favourite to win, I have problems and when they expect me to struggle, I do well, so we'll just see what happens here." Juan Martin Del Potro has replaced Nadal at the top of the draw and is now Roddick's prospective quarter-final opponent. Suggestions that the Argentine's ungainly 6ft 5in frame was not suited to grass were firmly dispelled for the time being as the fifth seed cruised to a 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 win.

That victory sets up an attractive confrontation with the 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt in the second round. The Australian dealt efficiently with what was expected to be a tough challenge from American Robby Ginepri and, like Del Potro, expended minimal energy in going through 6-4, 6-1, 6-1. The same cannot be said of Victor Hanescu who was forced to battle it out for more than four hours in the sun before being able to celebrate a 6-3, 6-7, 6-4, 6-7, 12-10 Court Five verdict over Spain's Ivan Navarro.

French Open semi-finalist Fernando Gonzalez for through his first round match after defeating Teimuraz Gabashvili 7-5, 7-5, 6-3. Tommy Haas, winner at Halle, struggled to beat Alexander Peya 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-0), 6-3, 6-4. Nikolay Davydenko got the better of British player Daniel Evans 6-2, 6-3, 6-3. wjohnson@thenational.ae