Thursday, July 19, 2012

BB&T Atlanta Open Day 3 - Roddick-Mahut match report w/pics

Wednesday started out much like the previous two days at the BB&T Atlanta Open: the tennis began on time, only to be interrupted by rain, and yesterday’s delay was longer than Monday’s or Tuesday’s. The scheduled match between 5’8” American Michael Russell and 6’8” South African Kevin Anderson – rematch of last year’s Atlanta Tennis Championships Round of 16 contest; Anderson won in straight sets – began a few minutes late at around 4:18 PM, but lasted just 2 games (tied 1 all, with Russell to serve) and 6 minutes before the rains came.

Wednesday's rain came earliest, lasted longest

Unfortunately Wednesday’s delay lasted over 4 hours, forcing tournament officials to scramble and drastically alter the schedule: to utilize all 3 courts and pushing the Russell-Anderson match to the Grandstand so that headliner Andy Roddick’s match against 2010 Wimbledon’s marathon man, France’s Nicolas Mahut, would be first up on Stadium Court for the evening’s docket, with Magdi Somat in the umpire chair. The match began at approximately 9 PM.

Andy Roddick is in the house

When last they’d met – on clay in May, in Paris at Roland Garros – Mahut beat Roddick in 4 sets. But last night’s affair would be different. The first set was close with the Frenchman actually out serving the American ‘gunslinger’ (10 aces to 4). In fact, Roddick was perturbed by the camera flashes of so many point-and-shoot cameras as he stepped up the line to serve, even during his ball toss (idiots!), and he also probed the court’s surface with his fingers, as if the weather had caused it to pucker. It appeared he was able to pick and peel up small pieces of it.

Roddick's backhand earns the first break

The contest was even until Roddick broke Mahut’s third service game to lead 3-2 before the changeover. His backhand down-the-line had been called out, but a successful challenge confirmed the break. After Roddick and Mahut both held, the Frenchman broke back to even it at 4-all. Both men were serving well and a first set tiebreaker seemed inevitable, but fans were clueless as to the velocity of their serves until the tenth game; the earlier weather had forced the serve speed radar offline, and it had to be rebooted.

Roddick's serve still has pop

Once the tiebreak began, both men continued to hold up their end serving until it was 4-all: Roddick earned the mini-break to lead 5-4 with two serves of his own coming, and he didn’t waste the opportunity. Two service winners and the set was his in 56 minutes.

Radar showed 130+ MPH on several of Roddick's serves

The second set was even until Mahut was serving to even it at 4 games each, but that’s when Roddick broke to lead 5-3, then held to take the second set 6-3 and the match even though Mahut had out-aced him 15-10 in the contest.

11Alive's Sam Crenshaw interviews Roddick after the match

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