May 29th, 2009 14:44 EST
Roddick Is The Last American Man Standing In The French Open
By Friday, Andy Roddick, the highest rated American male on the tour, also became the only American male left standing after eight of his compatriots were eliminated from the French Open, and a long shot by his own estimation in prevailing at the claycourt open, which has not been won by an American man since Andre Agassi accomplished the feat in 1999: the last piece to a career Grand Slam for the eight-time Grand Slam singles champion.
The current world number six bested Czech Republic`s Ivo Minar in straight sets 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (7/2) on Thursday, securing him a place amid the last 32 remaining in the third round of the competition: tying a career-best showing back in 2001 when he also made it to the third round before he was forced to forfeit due to a hamstring injury endured during that round`s match against Lleyton Hewitt. Roddick`s next opponent will be the experienced Marc Gicquel from France, whom Roddick has beaten in their last two matchups.
On what he considers his least favorite court, Roddick has maintained that he takes every match in stride and hopes for the best but doesn`t want to be cast as a shoo-in for the next round.
"I`m not going to sit here and jump up on a soap box like I`m really good on this stuff now because I won two matches," Roddick said. "I think that`s what you need to guard against. I think I have improved physically from the past times I`ve been here, and I think that lends itself to having some more options out there."
In a career that has underwent many highs and lows, Roddick won`t jump on the band wagon quite yet given his lack of success on the turf at Roland Garros.
"But if you are asking me if I`ve come here thinking I can win this tournament then the honest answer would be no," he admitted. "Do I feel like I can make a run and then see where that takes me? Yes, I think it would be extremely presumptuous of me with my record here to come in and say I think I`m going to win this tournament. Right now I`m going to go match by match, and I think I have a shot to win my next match. We`ll go from there."
But the former world number one firmly believes his confidence on his worst playing surface comes from his weight loss tantamount to his nuptials to swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker in April. Whether his newfound self esteem can translate to Andy`s second career Grand Slam championship is yet to be seen.
When asked his thoughts on facing Gicquel in the next round, Roddick answered "Obviously it`s going to be a challenging atmosphere whatever court we get put on. He`s certainly talented, certainly comfortable here. He moves real well. I`m sure he`s very comfortable moving on this surface (and) I think we`re both pretty familiar with each other`s games. We`ve played a couple times. Obviously it doesn`t get easier."
Though a win in the third round for Roddick may help his self-thinking, U.S. men have not fared well at the French Open since Agassi triumphed in 1999, or in the finals of any Grand Slam tournament for that matter after Roddick won the U.S. Open in 2003. In fact, no U.S. male has won a Grand Slam since Roddick`s sole Grand Slam title, making the Americans` winless streak 21 straight: the United States` longest dry spell in the Open era since 1968.
Aggravating the issue is the lackluster pedigree of newcomers that may assume the mantle of representing the United States in professional tennis some day. American players who have recently turned pro, like Sam Querrey, John Isner and Donald Young, are having difficulties winning matches against other rookies from elsewhere in the world. And to make the matter even worse, tennis scouts have nothing to rave about over the talent coming out of the junior circuit ranks.