Roddick clinches Davis Cup semis for U.S.

Posted: Monday, April 08, 2002

HOUSTON -- Andy Roddick at last feels like he belongs on the U.S. Davis Cup team. And why shouldn't he?

Backed by a serve that reached 137 mph, Roddick overpower Alberto Martin 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 Sunday to clinch the Americans' quarterfinal against Spain.

The United States plays defending champ France in the semis.

''I wouldn't go so far as to say 'leader,' but I definitely feel like I'm part of the team now and not just visiting,'' Roddick said.

''I'm definitely familiar with the Davis Cup ropes now. I freak out a little bit during Davis Cup. It's just the emotion of playing for your country and the crowd going nuts and playing for your team, it's just a rush.''

Roddick improved to 7-0 in his brief Davis Cup career, equaling the best cup start for a U.S. player since Andre Agassi in 1988-89. Roddick gave the United States an insurmountable 3-1 lead in the best-of-five series and was his second of the quarterfinals without dropping a set.

France eliminated the Czech Republic 3-2 Sunday.

''I was returning better today and I started hitting my backhand well,'' Roddick said. ''That's the difference when I play well.''

Roddick got the first U.S. victory on Friday with a 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (7) victory over Tommy Robredo.

''Davis Cup is more important in my heart than a regular tour event,'' Roddick said. ''I wake up in the morning and the juices are flowing. I think this is the best I've played from start to finish and hopefully I can get a few more.''

American James Blake, a part of Saturday's winning U.S. doubles team, met Robredo in Sunday's final singles match, which was delayed by rain.

Martin filled in for Alex Corretja, who strained a ligament in his right hand while rallying from a two-set deficit to upset Pete Sampras in Friday's second singles match.

The Spaniard had trouble keeping up with Roddick's serve, finally breaking in the eighth game of the second set. But Roddick served out that set and broke Martin in the first game of the third.

''I was struggling out there today but Andy also was playing better than me and deserved the victory,'' Martin said. ''Yeah, I was a little nervous and when you have nerves and not playing on your best surface, that applied today.''

Roddick served out the match with two aces and a service winner clocked at 136 mph on the grass surface.

Roddick broke Martin in the first and third games of the opening set and lost only two points in his first two service games. Facing Roddick for the first time, Martin forced a second deuce in the sixth game before Roddick held.

Roddick zipped to a 4-1 lead in the second set before Martin forced him to seven deuces in the sixth game. Martin then broke Roddick for the only time in the match in the eighth game, hitting a strong shot that forced an error by the American.

Roddick regained the momentum by breaking Martin again in the first game of the third set.

''I thought I was getting back into it a little but then he broke my serve in the first game of the last set,'' Martin said. ''That was disappointing.''

In other quarterfinals, Russia eliminated Sweden 4-1 in Moscow to reach the semifinals for the first time since 1999. Argentina advanced by edging Croatia 3-2 in Buenos Aires when Gaston Gaudio topped Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 in the last match.



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