Sat, Sep 11, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Agassi and Roddick get sent packing

US OPEN Joachim Johansson of Sweden stunned the top-ranked American just after Roger Federer finished off aging tennis star and crowd favorite Andre Agassi


Andy Roddick ran into a bold, bigger version of himself at the US Open, and 2m Joachim Johansson sent the defending champion home.

Roddick was upset 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 6-4 Thursday night by another 22-year-old brandishing a powerful serve and forehand, but also someone who's won just one title, was playing in his first major quarterfinal, and who started the year ranked 113th.

Not only that, but Johansson never had played a five-set match before. Yet there he was, smacking serves at 141mph, outslugging the American from the baseline during extended exchanges, saving two break points late, and ending the match by breaking Roddick.

Far less surprising was Andre Agassi's exit earlier Thursday. That's because he was up against No. 1 Roger Federer of Switzerland, who won 6-3, 2-6, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 in a quarterfinal suspended by rain early in the fourth set the night before and wrapped up in the worst of swirling winds.

It's the first time since 1986 that no American man reached the Open semifinals.

Federer will face No. 5 Tim Henman of Britain, while Johansson, having eliminated the 2003 Open winner, goes up against the 2001 champion, Lleyton Hewitt of Australia -- whose sister Jaslyn just happens to be the 28th-seeded Swede's girlfriend.

That should make for interesting dinner conversation.

Johansson played pretty much perfectly for the first two sets and threw Roddick off his game. Twice, Johansson held serve after being down love-40; once, he broke Roddick after trailing 40-love.

In the final game of the match, No. 2 Roddick fell behind love-40 with a double-fault, saved two match points thanks to big serves, then sailed a backhand long on the third. Up at the net for a postmatch handshake, the 6-2 Roddick reached up to tap Johansson on the chest.

Roddick found himself playing the way opponents try to negate his power-packed game, standing way behind the baseline, resorting to guesswork on returns, and hitting to the backhand. After dumping one return into the net, Roddick flipped his racket in the air and lamented, "Oh, my God!"

And Roddick seemed generally uncomfortable, arguing the occasional call, questioning a line judge's positioning, and standing with hands on hips as if he didn't want to leave the court for what turned out to be a 55-minute rain delay right after being broken to 3-2 in the first set.

When they returned to action, Roddick missed a backhand on the first point, then pointed and snapped "Sit down!" at spectators slow getting to their seats. Johansson went on to win the first set with a running forehand winner down the line.

At one moment in the fifth set, while Roddick was needling the chair umpire, his coach, Brad Gilbert, pointed both index fingers to his temples. The message was clear: "Keep your head in the game."

Johansson was flawless in the first two sets. In the third and fourth sets, it was Roddick's turn to be brilliant, with a total of three unforced errors. Yes, three. Actually, Roddick won far more points: 152 to 128. But he converted only three of 15 break chances.

Both pounded aces, with Johansson finishing with 30 to raise his tournament-leading total to 109, while Roddick had 34.

The players know each other and each other's games well. While this was just their second meeting as pros, they met three times as juniors, and reached the 18-and-under doubles final together at the 2000 French Open.

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