Originally created 05/27/05

U.S. men bid Paris farewell

PARIS - First, the trainer massaged Andy Roddick's left calf, then the right one in the fifth set at the end of a sweltering day at the French Open that brought cramps to players and heatstroke to fans.

Roddick's problem, though, was in his head, not his legs.

He didn't know whether to come in or stay back, so he too often found himself in no man's land, passing shots whizzing by him on both sides.

He painted himself into a corner, running around backhands and leaving the right side of the court wide open.

After a strong start that put him ahead two sets to none, he got into long rallies with Jose Acasuso, only to fall one ball short when the Argentine went for broke with big backhands that caught the corners and lines.

On the final point, after blowing a 3-1 lead in the fifth set and getting broken a second time, Roddick fell victim to a final touch of brain sprain that did him in. He launched two lazy backhand moon balls and watched Acasuso whack the second for a winner into an open court to close out a 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 8-6 victory in three hours, 21 minutes.

"Early on I was doing a near perfect job of finding times to come in," Roddick said. "But to his credit, he hit a couple off of his shoelaces late in the (last) set. I definitely still wanted to force the issue a little bit. But it's tougher out here."

It was the end of another year of gloom in Paris for Roddick and the nine-man American contingent.

The last American man standing, and the highest-seeded player of either sex to fall in the first week, the No. 2 Roddick lost in the second round for the second year in a row. He lost in the first round twice before that. His best showing here was his first in 2001, when he reached the third round.

"I hate it," Roddick said of his record at the French. "I mean, it's terrible. That pretty much sums it up. I want to do well here so badly.

"I was about as prepared as I've ever been coming in here. Obviously I know, coming in, it's going to be the most challenging surface for my game. It takes away a lot of my strengths and plays into a lot of other guys' strengths."

Acasuso, ranked No. 62, said Roddick congratulated him and wished him good luck in his next match.

"He really knew how to lose," Acasuso said.

Roddick, of course, has a lot of experience with that here.

Like last year, and for only the second time at any Grand Slam event since the start of the Open era in 1968, no American men lasted past the second round.

"Right now it stings," Roddick said. "I don't think any of us are happy. We all have a lot of pride. It's gotten taken down a lot in the last couple years here."

Two days after an inflamed sciatic nerve led to Andre Agassi's departure in the first round, Vince Spadea had to quit his match against Tommy Haas because of a strained abdominal muscle, and James Blake saw the end of his 14-match winning streak.

Blake, out nine months last year when he fractured his neck after crashing into a net post and then had a bout of shingles, lost 6-7 (9), 5-7, 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 to Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka, the 2003 French Open junior champion.

A sinus condition exacerbated by the dusty clay forced Novak Djokovic to abandon his match against eighth-seeded Guillermo Coria. They had split the first two sets and Coria led 3-2 in the third when Djokovic had to quit.

No. 3 Marat Safin and No. 9 Guillermo Canas also advanced to the third round.

In women's matches, No. 2 Maria Sharapova, No. 3 Amelie Mauresmo and 2003 champion Justine Henin-Hardenne won in straight sets.

How they fared

Hugo Armando: Lost to Fernando Vicente in the first round

James Blake: Lost to Stanislas Wawrinka in the second round

Mardy Fish: Lost to Xavier Malisse in the first round

Robby Ginepri: Lost to Novak Djokovic in the first round

Kevin Kim: Lost to Robin Vik in the first round

Jeff Morrison: Lost to Tomas Berdych in the first round

Vince Spadea: Lost to Tommy Haas in the second round

- Associated Press


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