Roddick climbs out of hole to win

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PARIS --- Andy Roddick's preparation for this French Open was hardly traditional. Or ideal, from a purely tennis perspective, anyway.

Andy Roddick, of the U.S., rallied to knock off Finland's Jarkko Nieminen in five sets in Roddick's first match on clay since the 2009 French Open.   Associated Press
Associated Press
Andy Roddick, of the U.S., rallied to knock off Finland's Jarkko Nieminen in five sets in Roddick's first match on clay since the 2009 French Open.

He skipped a clay court event in Rome so he could celebrate his wedding anniversary with his wife, Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model Brooklyn Decker. He missed another tune-up tournament in Madrid because of a stomach virus.

Scrambling to get set, Roddick played a couple of hastily arranged exhibitions and practiced a bunch at Roland Garros with fellow pro Mardy Fish, a pal since high school. If Roddick felt he needed more match time on his least favorite surface, he accumulated it in a hurry Tuesday, digging himself out of a hole and coming back to beat Jarkko Nieminen, of Finland, 6-2, 4-6, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3 in the first round.

"It's kind of like when you miss an assignment in school, and they give you a chance to get extra credit. I've been trying real hard to get extra credit ... and I definitely wasn't match-tough," the sixth-seeded Roddick said. "There was a lot of ugliness out there today. But at the end of it, I get to play again."

So does a group of other Americans: Roddick and Fish are among five U.S. men into the second round, equaling the largest contingent at this tournament since six made it in 1998. Robby Ginepri knocked off 18th-seeded Sam Querrey 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4, 6-2 in an all-American match Tuesday, while former Georgia standout John Isner and Taylor Dent won Monday.

Roddick hadn't competed on clay since last year's French Open, when he reached the fourth round -- and he hadn't played on tour anywhere since April 4.

Two U.S. women -- Jill Craybas and Bethanie Mattek-Sands -- won Tuesday, too, to join Serena and Venus Williams in the second round.

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