Hold The Retirement For Another Day

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – And he lives on. Andy Roddick delayed his retirement by at least another two days by beating Fabio Fognini of Italy in a hard fought 7-5, 7-6, 4-6 and 6-4 match before a very highly partisan Roddick crowd.

The match featured many entertaining rallies and a between the legs shot by Fognini which almost passed Roddick at net.

There is no doubt that Roddick is suffering from a hurt right shoulder, but he is deriving energy from the crowd. He noted that, “it was loud out there, about as loud as I remember.”

Roddick will have a much harder time Tuesday night as a decided underdog against Juan Martin Del Potro, like Roddick also a US Open winner and the only player besides Federer, Djokovic and Nadal to win a major in the last 30.

Roddick is 1-3 all-time against Del Potro, winning their last contest in Memphis in 2011. All of Roddick’s losses have been close.

Fognini called Del Potro a slight favorite but would not be surprised with a win by Roddick.

Roddick feels that he has an edge in serve but that Del Potro has an edge in his return game.

Rafa Adjusts To Life at No. 1

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – The US Open is the only Grand Slam title trophy missing from Rafael Nadal’s major trophy collection and the two-time semifinalist is trying to make necessary adjustments to acquire it. The top-seeded Spaniard didn’t completely find his comfort zone in Tuesday night’s 7-6(4), 7-6(4), 6-3 win over Teymuraz Gabashvili, but played the pivotal points with purpose. Nadal is trying to adapt his heavy topspin game to the faster speed and lower bounce of the ball off the blue Deco Turf courts.

“(The US Open) Is the more difficult for me, especially I think because the ball,” Nadal said.  “The ball is the more difficult thing for me because the ball I think is more easy to play that ball for the players when they have the flat shots, no?  That’s much easier for them than for the topspin players.  That’s the only thing. But I won Olympics with this ball.  I won in Beijing in 2005 with this ball.  I can do it.”

Nadal’s history in Flushing Meadows is littered with losses to players who hit flat, including Juan Martin del Potro last year and James Blake, and players with the ability to flatten out the ball, including Andy Murray, who knocked Nadal out of the 2008 semifinals, David Ferrer and Mikhail Youzhny.

The eight-time Grand Slam champion is trying to play a bit flatter when he draws the mid-court ball but said he’s trying to use his topspin to dictate play.

“The thing is play with topspin, but play very aggressive all the time, play with very high rhythm.  That’s the way,” Nadal said.

The Nadal backhand return was an issue in Cincinnati where he seemingly had so little confidence in his two-handed backhand, he resorted to chipping back his return in his matches against Julien Benneteau, where hs saved a match point and his quarterfinal loss to Marcos Baghdatis.

Practicing with his coach, Uncle Toni Nadal, who was not in Cincinnati but made the trip to New York, Nadal has consistently worked on driving through the backhand and finishing that stroke, but concedes it’s still a work in progress.

“The forehand is working well.  The backhand is not that bad that I had last weeks,” Nadal said.  “So improves a little bit.  Just remains a little bit of this confidence to have a little bit more, you know, to improve a little bit that level, to go to the next step.”

The next step could be a slightly tricky one as Denis Istomin awaits. The 39th-ranked Istomin is coming off the New Haven finals and pushed Nadal to three sets on the grass of Queen’s Club, 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-4.

“He’s playing well.  He had a very good tournament in New Haven.  Yeah, sure is difficult opponent, good player,” Nadal said. “I played against him in the second round of Queen’s.  I had a very difficult match…He plays a little bit more calm than Gabashvili.  So, I don’t know, I just have to keep playing like I did today, a little bit more aggressive, a little bit more confidence.”

Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.