When No. 1 seed Andy Roddick saw the draw for the Legg Mason Classic, he knew one player who would pose a problem: Radek Stepanek, who had upset James Blake in Los Angeles last month.
"You don't win the first tournament of the U.S. Open series by accident," Roddick said.
Last night, Roddick saw Stepanek's talent up close.
Roddick overcame Stepanek's 20 aces and saved three points in the final set to win 6-3, 1-6, 7-5 to reach the quarterfinals. Roddick, a Legg Mason champion in 2001 and 2005, will play No. 5 seed Hyung-Taik Lee today at center court.
"A lot of times when someone else is serving like that, you don't have a lot of choice in the matter," Roddick said. "You just hang around long enough where something good might happen. He served great and a pretty high percentage. He was getting through his [serves] without me being able to get into them."
Early on, it appeared Roddick could be headed for another quick exit, such as in Indianapolis and at Wimbledon. After winning the first set, Roddick hit a backhand long, allowing Stepanek to take a 3-1 lead in the second.
"To be honest with you, getting beat 6-1 in a set is probably a lot easier than losing a tie-breaker or it getting broken in the last game," Roddick said. "Not to sound terrible, but to be 5-1 down you come to terms with the fact the set is not looking too good. If anything, it's probably easier to handle."
Haas not looking back
Tommy Haas admits he has a bad memory. After the No. 2 seed coasted to a 6-3, 6-4 win over Michael Russell, Haas was unaware he is one win shy of his 400th career victory.
He also couldn't recall the last time he advanced to the quarterfinals here (1997). Nor could he remember the last time he played in the tournament (2001).
"I don't remember too much," Haas said. "I don't remember the last time I was here. I don't have too many great memories here to be honest."
Still, this is Haas' first tournament since Wimbledon, where he withdrew before his fourth-round match with Roger Federer because of a torn stomach muscle.
"Due to my injuries, the tournament was nice enough to give me a wild card," Haas said. "Every tournament you play now that I'm older, I tend to appreciate it more. I want to get as far as I possibly can."
Haas, who said he took an MRI eight to nine days ago, wore an ice pack after his match, something he said is a routine procedure.
After he saw positive results, Haas started practicing again. He has been trying to establish a comfort level, which is important because Haas said he did nothing for three weeks after Wimbledon.
He faces John Isner today.