- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 28, 2011

Andy Roddick’s matches have long been a prime attraction at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, but the three-time champion won’t make his usual appearance at Rock Creek Park next week.

Roddick on Thursday pulled out of this year’s Legg Mason with what organizers described as a Grade 2 strain of his oblique muscle on the right side, an injury suffered in practice this week.

The 28-year-old most recently played in a Davis Cup match in his hometown of Austin, Texas, three weeks ago, losing in straight sets to Spain’s David Ferrer. That came shortly after he was bounced from Wimbledon in the third round by another Spaniard, Feliciano Lopez.

If the oblique strain is serious, it could jeopardize Roddick’s chances of playing in the U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 29.

Roddick has played in the Legg Mason nine times, winning the title in 2001, 2005 and 2007. He fell to Gilles Simon in the third round last year.

“Make no mistake; it’s disappointing to lose a player of Andy’s caliber, especially in light of his success and many years of participation throughout his career here in D.C.,” tournament director Jeff Newman said in a statement. “He is a great competitor, and we hope he recovers quickly and is back competing very soon.”

The tournament begins Saturday at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center with 12 singles qualifying matches.

Main-draw play starts Sunday with two matches (along with the conclusion of qualifying) before a full slate of main-draw action Monday.

The draw will take place Friday, and Roddick wasn’t the only player to pull out with an injury. Lleyton Hewitt, Sam Querrey, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori also withdrew.

The remaining field is led by world No. 7 Gael Monfils of France. Ninth-ranked Mardy Fish leads a contingent of Americans that also includes John Isner and James Blake (the 2002 Legg Mason champ), along with the top-ranked doubles team Bob and Mike Bryan.

Defending champion David Nalbandian also returns, along with the man he defeated in the final, Marcos Baghdatis.