Sat, Sep 01, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Roddick plans his exit, Tsonga doesn’t

OF MICE AND MEN:While Andy Roddick announced his retirement, fifth seed Jo-Wilfired Tsonga made a very unplanned departure to Slovakia’s No. 52 Martin Klizan


Taiwan’s Jimmy Wang returns to Gilles Simon of France in their US Open men’s singles match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on Thursday.

Photo: AFP

As Andy Roddick announced his planned retirement from tennis, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made a very unplanned departure at the US Open on Thursday.

After three days of the top players winning decisively, fifth-seeded Tsonga was upset by Martin Klizan of Slovakia in the second round in the first shock of this year’s Open.

The 52nd-ranked Klizan won 6-4, 1-6, 6-1, 6-3.

Roddick, on his 30th birthday, announced that the tournament would be his last, saying he no longer felt the drive to compete at the highest level and did not want his career to peter out.

“I don’t know that I’m healthy enough or committed enough to go another year,” Roddick said. “I’ve always wanted to, in a perfect world, finish at this event. I have a lot of family and friends here. I’ve thought all year that I would know when I got to this tournament. When I was playing my first round, I knew.”

Roger Federer breezed past 83rd-ranked Bjorn Phau of Germany 6-2, 6-3, 6-2, then paid tribute to Roddick’s contribution to tennis.

“I’ve had some great battles with him for a long, long time,” Federer said. “The Wimbledon finals come to mind, the ones we played together. He’s a great, great competitor and a great champion, really.”

Serena Williams, after beating Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain 6-2, 6-4, said she knew it was coming.

“He told me a while ago — last year — that this would be it,” she said. “We were talking about it. I was just thinking: ‘Change your mind, Andy, change your mind,’ but I guess he didn’t.”

Venus Williams came within two points of winning, but dropped five of the last six games and ended up exiting early at a tournament she’s won twice, beaten 6-2, 5-7, 7-5 by sixth-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany in a match that lasted almost three hours.

Before Tsonga’s loss, top-five seeds on the men’s and women’s sides had played 14 matches and won all 14 in straight sets.

Tsonga was the runner-up at the 2008 Australian Open and a semi-finalist at Wimbledon this year. He had reached at least the third round in 18 straight Grand Slams.

“Today, I was not in a good shape,” Tsonga said. “I didn’t play good tennis. It seemed like I couldn’t hit the ball enough hard to put my opponent out of position. I don’t really know why it was like this today, but sometimes it happens with me.”

The 23-year-old Klizan, meanwhile, had failed to make it past the second round in three previous Grand Slam appearances. He had never defeated an opponent ranked better than No. 49.

“I had no pressure,” Klizan said. “If I lose, then I lose. I lose with [a] good player, but I won and I’m very happy. It means for me more that I beat finally a guy from top 10.”

This year’s Open has generated plenty of drama in one area — comebacks from two sets down.

Mardy Fish of the US rallied to beat Nikolay Davydenko 4-6, 6-7 (4/7), 6-2, 6-1, 6-2, the 10th time in this tournament a man has won after losing the first two sets — already a US Open record.

The 30-year-old Fish, seeded 23rd, missed two months of the season because of an accelerated heartbeat, but showed few signs of fatigue in playing nearly three-and-a-half hours.

Davydenko had an interesting take on the match, suggesting men should only play best-of-three sets, rather than five.

“Why [do] girls play best-of-three sets, and we should play best-of-five sets and have the same prize money?” Davydenko asked, reviving a familiar debate. “Why are we playing five-set matches? We need to play best of three in Grand Slams. Everybody will support [that idea, even Roger] Federer. For Federer, it’s easy to win in one hour, two sets. No need to run [for] a third set.”

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