- The Washington Times - Friday, August 5, 2005

Andy Roddick’s so-so performance last night didn’t cost him a spot in the Legg Mason Tennis Classic quarterfinals.

Playing in sticky conditions that remained sultry even after sunset, the top-seeded Roddick held off No.14 Juan Ignacio Chela’s upset bid 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-4 at William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center.

It wasn’t easy for Roddick, who advanced mostly on the merit of his powerful serve. Roddick did little at several points to mask his frustration with his own play, which was not as crisp as it had been in his second-round defeat of Giovanni Lapentti on Tuesday.

“In a tournament, you pretty much always have a match like this where it’s a seesaw and you kind of fight through and win with stuff that’s maybe not your best, but feel you like you’re playing pretty well,” said Roddick, who is one of three seeds remaining in the draw.

In the final singles match of the night, 2002 Legg Mason champ James Blake advanced to his first quarterfinal in four months with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over 16th-seeded Tomas Zib.

“I played a match where I didn’t feel like I put myself in too much jeopardy to lose,” said Blake, who will meet Arnaud Clement tonight. “If you can do that against a player that’s [52nd] in the world, you know you’re at a pretty good level.”

In other notable matches, No.10 Tomas Berdych ousted No.8 Sebastien Grosjean 7-5, 6-2; No.13 Paradorn Srichaphan swept past Wesley Moodie 6-3, 7-6 (1); and 23-year-old wild card Bobby Reynolds reached the quarterfinals of an ATP Tour event for the first time by defeating Jan Hernych 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Roddick, who broke Chela to cap the first set, had a chance to remove much of the night’s drama when he went up a mini-break with an underhand lob down the left side early in the second-set tiebreaker. However, he squandered the lead and whiffed on a Chela return at 4-4 en route to losing the set.

He wasn’t so sloppy in the third set, following Chela’s double fault on game point with two nice efforts to go up a break. That was enough for Roddick, who won 16 of the final 18 points on his serve. After capturing the final point, he raised his hands to salute the crowd and then wiped his face, no doubt a bit relieved his 2 hour, 8 minute match had ended at last.

“I felt like I was kind of getting the better of him all night, and he kind of snuck out that second set,” said Roddick, the 2001 Legg Mason champ. “I felt like I hit the ball a lot better in the third set and broke. I’m happy to get through.”

To continue his march toward a second Legg Mason title, Roddick will have to handle Ivo Karlovic’s serve better than 11th-seeded Greg Rusedski did. The 6-foot-10 Croat dominated Rusedski 7-6 (4), 6-2 to reach only his third quarterfinal of the year.

Karlovic and Rusedski held throughout the first set, and neither could muster a mini-break in the tiebreaker before Rusedski sent a shot long at 4-5. Karlovic won the next point to clinch the set against an increasingly weary Rusedski.

That was apparent in the next game, as Karlovic broke Rusedski in six points. The Brit, meanwhile, was in the midst of losing 20 straight points on Karlovic serve and had no reply.

Karlovic earned another break in the seventh game when Rusedski committed three of his eight double faults. He then punctuated the match four points later with the last of his 14 aces, a 139mph blast.

Meanwhile, Blake continued his impressive play on the court where he won his only career title. He broke Zib in the opening game in five points before holding him at love in his first service game. That presaged a fairly easy night for Blake, who broke Zib four times in nine attempts.

“From the start I felt aggressive,” said Blake, who needed only 58 minutes to close out the Czech. “Those first two games really gave me a lot of confidence where I was going after my forehand. That’s a big key to my game. I don’t think it’s a secret that my forehand is what I look to close points and to set up points. When that was working, I felt great, and it continued most of the match.”

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