Tue, Feb 24, 2009 - Page 18 News List

Roddick earns 27th career title win

MEMPHIS MIX-UP: Andy Roddick was initially given the wrong trophy, while in Marseille, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga dedicated his Open 13 victory to his sick father Didier

AP , MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE

A composite picture shows a tournament official taking the second place trophy away from Andy Roddick, left, and Roddick holding the winner’s trophy after the mix-up at the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis, Tennessee, on Sunday.

PHOTO: EPA

Andy Roddick won his first title of the year and the 27th of his career on Sunday, beating Czech Radek Stepanek 7-5, 7-5 in the finals of the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships.

Only Roger Federer (57) and Rafael Nadal (32) have won more titles among active players. Roddick confirmed on Friday that he wouldn’t defend his title at Dubai. He said he wasn’t happy about the denial of a visa to Israeli player Shahar Peer by the United Arab Emirates for the women’s event this week.

But Roddick read a report that a hernia was his reason for withdrawing.

“There’s no other reason. Obviously, I don’t have a hernia. I probably wouldn’t have played too well today. I would ask you guys to check but that might be inappropriate. I’m 100 percent healthy,” Roddick said.

Roddick got a bit of revenge for losing to Stepanek in the semi-finals in San Jose last week.

The American survived a tight match on Sunday by breaking Stepanek in the 12th game of each set to extend his streak of years with at least one title to nine.

Stepanek had won nine consecutive matches but struggled with unforced errors.

“Obviously, he’s been playing his best tennis of his career probably this year and especially the past couple weeks. I knew what it was going to take, and I was able to get there,” Roddick said.

The world’s sixth-ranked player improved to 17 wins against three losses in match play this year. Of his 27 titles, 19 have come in North America, and this was Roddick’s second at Memphis.

“We have a long year ahead of us,” Roddick said. “We always do, but this is the best start I’ve had in a long time. Possibly ever, actually, if you just look at the first two months of the year.”

Roddick broke Stepanek in the second game to go up 2-0. The Czech trailed 3-1 when he broke Roddick and then held serve to even the first set at 3-3.

They appeared headed toward a tiebreaker when Stepanek trailed 30-40 and hit a forehand long to give Roddick the first set.

Tied at 4-4 in the second set, Stepanek had a chance to break Roddick at 15-40. The American fought back to force deuce, served up an ace, before Stepanek hit a forehand wide after a long rally.

Stepanek was entertaining, at one point using his head to knock a ball back to a ball girl and then hitting a ball over to a ball boy through his legs. After the match, Stepanek noticed he had been given the winner’s trophy and presented it to Roddick.

When needing to hold serve to force a second-set tiebreaker, Stepanek won only one point off a forehand Roddick hit long up 0-40.

Roddick then closed out the title with a forehand passing shot.

■OPEN 13

AFP, MARSEILLE, FRANCE

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the French fourth seed, won the Open 13 ATP tournament on Sunday, defeating compatriot Michael Llodra 7-5, 7-6 (7/3) for his fourth career title, which he dedicated to his sick father.

World No. 12 Tsonga added the win a fortnight after his success in the South African Open, living up to his pre-match status as favorite on the heels of his fine win over top-seeded world No. 3 Novak Djokovic in the semis.

He finished Llodra off with his 11th ace before explaining his thoughts were with his father, former handballer Didier, who had surgery during the week.

“I almost didn’t come here. I couldn’t tell you that my father was operated on this week. Today, I dedicate this win to him,” Tsonga said.

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