Roddick makes another early exit

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

PARIS -- As it is, the French Open is the cruelest Grand Slam tournament for Andy Roddick, the toughest for all U.S. men over the years, really. Toss in a bum ankle, and Roddick never really stood a chance this time.

He quit Tuesday because of his injury while trailing Alberto Martin of Spain 6-4, 7-5, 1-0 in the first round at Roland Garros, and the fifth-seeded American hobbled off the court to a chorus of full-throated boos and whistles.

His exit, combined with that of No. 17 Robby Ginepri, left the United States with only two men in the second round at the French Open for just the second time since 1967. It also happened two years ago; in 2005, a trio of Americans made it that far.

"It's like 'Groundhog Day,'" Roddick said. "Whatever I said last year, just copy it. Whatever I said last year, I'm sure it still fits."

For the record, Roddick's assessment in 2005: "We all have a lot of pride, and it has gotten taken down a lot in the last couple of years here."

Unlike the hard courts of the U.S. Open -- which he won in 2003 -- or the grass at Wimbledon -- where he's been the runner-up twice -- the red clay at the French Open hampers rather than helps Roddick's strengths: his serve and forehand.

Clay also makes for longer points and requires plenty of good footwork, and Roddick sprained ligaments in his left ankle last week. He tweaked it in the eighth game against Martin, who's ranked 68th, had lost his previous five matches at majors, and entered 0-4 vs. Roddick.

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