Friday 20 April 2018

Tennis: Rejuvenated Roddick digs deep to seal rare triumph Down Under

Nigel Whittaker

ANDY RODDICK survived a determined fight back from defending champion Radek Stepanek to win the Brisbane International yesterday.

Roddick was forced to dig deep after throwing away a substantial second-set lead before finally beating the Czech 7-6 7-6 in the Pat Rafter Arena.

Everything looked to be going smoothly for Roddick, playing his first tournament since a knee injury cut short his 2009 season last September. He won the opening set in a tie-break after all games had gone with serve and opened up a commanding 5-1 lead in the second before he suddenly got the wobbles.

The American twice failed to serve out the match as Stepanek forced a second tie-break and he faltered again as he neared the finish line.

Roddick made a great start in the tie-break and built a 6-1 lead but blew five match points before eventually winning 9-7.

The hard-earned win provided the world No 7 with his 28th career title and his first success Down Under since he won the Australian Open junior title a decade ago.

Meanwhile, Justine Henin has withdrawn from the Sydney International after suffering an injury as she lost to Kim Clijsters in the Brisbane women's final.

Clijsters won the battle of the 'comeback queens' with a closely-fought 6-3 4-6 7-6 (8-6) success over her Belgian compatriot.

Afterwards, Henin, who squandered two match points, confirmed that she suffered a left gluteal strain during the 150-minute marathon which could put her participation in the Australian Open in doubt.

Despite the injury and the agonising way she lost the final, Henin said she could not have been happier with her overall performance in her first tournament for 20 months.

"I can't be disappointed especially when you have match points. I can be proud of what I did," she said.

Federer to take stock after Qatar defeat

WORLD No 1 Roger Federer has decided not to participate in the Kooyong Classic this week, leaving the exhibition tournament in search of an eighth player ahead of Wednesday's first group matches.

Federer, who was defeated by Nikolay Davydenko in the semi-finals at the Qatar Open last week, will not play another competitive match before he begins his Australian Open campaign next Monday.

Irish Independent

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