Tennis: Olympic Absentee Roddick Makes Winning ATP Start In LA

LOS ANGELES : Andy Roddick stepped up his US Open preparation while his rivals got in final training for the Olympics as the Beijing absentee advanced at the Los Angeles Classic late Thursday.

The top seed player defeated Serb Dusan Vemic 6-2, 6-2 little more than six hours before the opening ceremonies for the Olympic Games were due to begin halfway around the world.

Roddick has been troubled by a shoulder injury and was unable to play last week in Cincinnati due to a neck spasm. The top seed won his 29th match of the season as he tunes up for his home grand slam in lieu of travelling to China.

Roddick will play on Friday for a place in his first semi-final in nearly two months against Marc Gicquel. The Frenchman improved his record against American players to 2-4 with a win over Donald Young 6-3, 6-3.

Young, 19, had stunned two-time champion Tommy Haas in the first round but could go no fourth against another veteran in 31-year-old Gicquel, playing in his third quarter-final of the year.

Former number one Carlos Moya believes that Roger Federer’s spirit will not be crushed when he officially loses the top ATP ranking a week from Monday to Rafael Nadal.

Moya, 31, the longtime mentor of his fellow player from the island of Mallorca, exited the event 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/5) in the second round.

“I don’t think Roger will have any problems staying motivated,” said the 31-year-old Moya, who held the top spot briefly in March, 1999. “He will keep fighting and move forward.

“He knows he has chances to get it back.”

Moya is pleased that Nadal has made his move to the top.

“This had to be the year that he did it, in a few years there could be a lot more good young players coming up.”

“I think he got the ranking at just the right moment. Rafa can stay long at the top ranking – maybe not as long as Roger (since February 2003) but a long time.”

Third-seeded Argentine Juan del Potro stretched his summer win streak to a dozen matches with a 6-4, 6-2 defeat of Andrea Stoppini.

Del Potro went through to the quarter-finals in 71 minutes, with Stoppini saving seven of the 11 break points he faced in the rout as the pair met for the first time.

– AFP/vm

Channel News Asia

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