Sat, Nov 01, 2003 - Page 20 News List

No. 1 Roddick on top of the world

ASCENDING STARThe big-hitting American will take his place at the top of the ATP world rankings and will be a favorite for the Masters Cup

REUTERS , PARIS

Andy Roddick hits a return to Tommy Robredo at the Paris Open ATP tennis tournament on Thursday.

PHOTO: AP

American Andy Roddick took over as world No. 1 on Thursday after reaching the quarterfinals of the Paris Masters and said he felt "pretty cool."

The US Open champion is the 22nd player to top the rankings since they were introduced in 1973 and the sixth American-born player after Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors.

Roddick beat Spain's Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-4 in the last 16 to topple Juan Carlos Ferrero from the top spot but he was not aware the No. 1 ranking was in play until after the match.

"Pretty cool," he said when asked for his reaction. "I've got there and no one can take that away from me -- for ever.

"It never crossed my mind when I was a kid that I might be No. 1. It's definitely something I never thought would happen."

Roddick's elevation to the summit followed Ferrero's shock 7-5, 7-5 defeat by Czech Jiri Novak earlier on Thursday.

The American -- the fourth youngest No. 1 -- now leads the Champions Race and will be confirmed as No. 1 in the 12-month Entry System rankings next Monday.

Roddick's serve was too much for Robredo, seeded 16th, to handle as the 21-year-old's bullet deliveries repeatedly thwacked into the backboards on the center court in Paris.

The second seed kept the pressure on by hurrying through his serves and broke Robredo's delivery in the fourth game of the first set and the third of the second.

"I definitely cleaned up some things today. I was getting good heat on my serve and I played the big points pretty decently," he said.

After this tournament, Roddick and Ferrero travel to Houston for the season-ending Masters Cup, starting on Nov. 8, where the year-end No. 1 will be crowned.

Also still in with a chance is Wimbledon champion Roger Federer. The Swiss third seed saved four match points before overcoming Dutchman Martin Verkerk 6-7, 7-6, 7-6.

Federer will take on Britain's Tim Henman, who trounced Gustavo Kuerten 6-4, 6-2, for a place in the last four.

If the seedings work out, Federer and Roddick should meet in the semifinal.

Despite his achievement, Roddick said reaching No. 1 was not as important to him as winning in Paris and Houston.

"Every match win or lose could be the difference," said Roddick who will next play Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman, a 6-3, 7-6 winner over French qualifier Gregory Carraz.

"What's done is done but I'd like to be greedy and go for more."

Ferrero, who became No. 1 in September, was outplayed from the back of the court by 14th seed Novak.

His forehand, the weapon that won him the French Open this year, misfired throughout.

"I'm surprised but I was playing great tennis today," said Novak. "I had nothing to lose -- this is one of the best results of my life."

Before this tournament Ferrero led the year-long ATP Champions Race by four points from Roddick and he still hopes to end 2003 as top dog. The rankings and the Champions Race converge as the year nears its end.

"He [Roddick] has to play very well here and in Houston to take No. 1. I will fight with all my powers to get it," Ferrero said.

David Nalbandian of Argentina became the eighth and last player to qualify for the Masters Cup after Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan was beaten 7-6, 6-3 by qualifier Hicham Arazi of Morocco.

Arazi now plays Novak.

Fifth seed Rainer Schuettler beat Chile's Nicolas Massu 6-4, 7-5.

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