NEW YORK (AP) — Andy Roddick found it infuriating that a lineswoman who called him for a foot fault was wrong about which of his shoes touched the line.
The 2003 U.S. Open champion had much bigger problems Wednesday night at Flushing Meadows, though, and bowed out in the second round with a 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (4) loss to 44th-ranked Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia, whose go-for-broke style paid off with 66 winners.
“He played very high-risk and executed for four sets,” said the ninth-seeded Roddick, whose exit leaves Roger Federer as the only past champion in the men’s field. “I kept telling myself, ‘You know, this has to have an expiration date on it.’ Unfortunately, I needed another set for that.”
Already trailing 5-2 in the third, Roddick wound up in an argument over a foot-fault call on a first serve. He turned to the official and asked, “What foot?”
When she told him it was his right foot, he replied, “That’s impossible.” Roddick then turned to chair umpire Enric Molina and, pointing first to his right foot, then his left, asked, “Has THIS foot gone in front of THAT foot ever in my career?”
Molina replied: “Not in my matches.”
A TV replay showed Roddick did commit a foot fault – but with his left toes. And what really bothered Roddick, he said afterward, was that the official would not acknowledge that she was mistaken when she blamed his right foot for the ruling.
“I was just stupefied,” he said.
Indeed, asked later what might have happened if the lineswoman said the call was made because his left sneaker was on the baseline, he replied: “There would have been no discussion.”
But Roddick did berate the lineswoman – although without the threatening or colorful language that Serena Williams used when she launched a tirade at a line judge over a foot call at the end of her semifinal loss to Kim Clijsters in last year’s semifinals.
“Not once in my entire career does my right foot go in front of my left foot,” Roddick said. “Not once. Ever.”
He missed his second serve for a double-fault, then continued to harangue the official, at one point jokingly making a reference to “1-800-Rent-a-Ref.”
“In hindsight, did I let it go too far?” Roddick said at his news conference, repeating a reporter’s question. “Probably.”
The lineswoman was not on court at the start of the fourth set, when Roddick was called twice more for foot faults. He did not put up a fight at all on those, and at his news conference made clear that he wasn’t upset by the initial call – just the right-vs.-left issue.
“I just expect my umpires to know the left foot from the right foot,” he said.
All in all, however, Roddick said the whole episode “had zero impact on the match.”
No, it was Tipsarevic who determined the outcome with his terrific play. This is a guy who has a losing record in Grand Slam matches (23-26) and overall (130-133) yet is now 2-1 against Roddick, having beaten the American in the second round at Wimbledon in 2008, too.
Roddick carried out the game plan he wanted to Wednesday, limiting his own mistakes and keeping Tipsarevic on the move. But Tipsarevic served well, hitting 16 aces – only one fewer than the hard-hitting Roddick – and saved three of five break points he faced.
Plus, Tipsarevic repeatedly won lengthy rallies and found angles to rip down-the-line and cross-court winners.
“I didn’t feel I played too risky,” Tipsarevic said. “I was just playing good.”
He never before had reached the third round at the U.S. Open, and now will play No. 17 Gael Monfils.
Roddick won his only Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows, and he also was the runner-up in 2006. This early exit follows a fourth-round loss for Roddick at Wimbledon and some poor results on the summer hard-court circuit, usually his best time of year. He revealed recently that he had a mild case of mononucleosis and said he did not come to New York feeling 100 percent ready.
Still, Roddick was not willing to make any excuses.
“We’re not talking about it if I win a match,” he said of his fitness level. “I’m not going to talk about it because I lost.”
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