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US Open: Roddick delights home crowd with winning show

For an American there is no place like the US Open at which to say farewell. Ten years ago Pete Sampras won his 14th Grand Slam title at his home Grand Slam tournament in what proved to be the last appearance of his career.

Andy Roddick was among the players Sampras beat en route to that triumph and this year it is the turn of the 30-year-old from Nebraska to take his bow. Roddick announced on Friday that he would be retiring at the end of this tournament and would love nothing more than to leave in a blaze of glory.

It is hard to imagine that winning the title would be within Roddick's fading powers, but the 2003 champion booked his place in the last 16 yesterday with a resounding 7-5, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4 victory over Italy's Fabio Fognini. Forty-eight hours after demolishing Bernard Tomic in front of a raucous night crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium, Roddick had a Labor Day weekend audience jumping out of their seats at regular intervals with a true showman's performance.

The excitement reached a peak in the tie-break at the end of the second set. At 1-1 Roddick produced a superb forehand winner down the line, upon which he raised his arms in the air in celebration. With the crowd going wild, the American followed up with two successive aces and went on to win the tie-break 7-1.

Roddick thanked the crowd for their support afterwards: "The last couple of days since I said what I was going to do has been very humbling. I really appreciate all of the support." He added: "I love this place and I love all of you. I'm having a blast."

If Roddick is to make further progress, nevertheless, he will need to do so at the expense of the 2009 champion here. His next opponent will be Juan Martin del Potro, who beat his fellow Argentine, Leonardo Mayer, 6-3, 7-5, 7-6.

Another old stager, Lleyton Hewitt, was unable to repeat his five-set heroics against Gilles Muller in the previous round and was beaten 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 by David Ferrer, the world No 5, after a match that lasted more than three hours. Ferrer saved five set points in the tie-break at the end of the first set and recovered well after Hewitt had levelled the match by taking the second set.

Novak Djokovic reached the last 16 with a crushing 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory over France's Julien Benneteau and has yet to drop a set here this year.

Belfast Telegraph


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