May 22, 2013
Djokovic eases through, Roddick parties on
Novak Djokovic continued his stroll through the US Open draw while former champion Andy Roddick staved off retirement by winning in front of 20,000 of his new-found best friends at raucous Arthur Ashe Stadium.
While Djokovic had a workmanlike 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory over Frenchman Julien Benneteau to reach the fourth round, the stadium turned rowdy watching Roddick's 7-5 7-6 4-6 6-4 triumph over Italy's Fabio Fognini.
Third seed Maria Sharapova survived a scare against Russian compatriot Nadia Petrova to reach the quarter-finals, having trailed 2-0 in the deciding set before a 73-minute rain delay allowed her to regroup and march to a 6-1 4-6 6-4 victory.
Other winners included top-seeded Belarusian Victoria Azarenka and defending champion Sam Stosur of Australia on the women's draw and David Ferrer of Spain and Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka on the men's side.
The party continued at Flushing Meadows for Roddick, who has become a rock star since announcing on Thursday he would retire after the U.S. Open.
New York fans always enjoyed watching Roddick but it has been raised several notches. Fans in Ashe Stadium cheered the 30-year-old American's every move and repeatedly broke into chants of "Let's go An-dy, let's go, An-dy."
When Fognini's service return slammed into the net on match-point, the crowd, including Roddick's model/actress wife Brooklyn Decker, erupted.
"I'm comfortable out there," Roddick told reporters. "I'd be an idiot not to use the crowd right now. It's a huge advantage. Each match is almost like it's another memory. I'm certainly going to use them."
Roddick, whose 2003 title at Flushing Meadows was the only grand slam he ever won, blasted 10 aces and struck 39 winners in the three-hour match.
"I've been surprised by the support," said Roddick. "I thought inside our world (my retirement) would be something, but I don't know that I expected all of this and the crowd to react the way it has.
"It's been a special experience for me. It's been a lot of fun."
Roddick will next play seventh seed Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open winner, who beat Argentine compatriot Leonardo Mayer 6-3 7-5 7-6.
"We've had really close matches," Roddick said of his fourth-round match-up. "I was 0-3 against him. I beat him the last time we played. I think of the 0-3, two of them I had match points in.
"He's a tough matchup for anybody because he hits such a big ball. I'm going to have to serve well, kind of try to rush him a little bit. When he gets into a groove and has time, he'll put a hurt on the ball."