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Roddick sees “conversation” of tennis union ahead

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Andy Roddick believes there's a conversation ahead among pro tennis players to consider whether forming a union would be the best way to tackle the sport's issues with a collective voice.

Prompted by weather issues that played havoc with the U.S. Open this month, Roddick suggested that the players should think about creating a union similar to those in other major pro sports. He even talked about being willing to lead the charge.

"We've always wanted a voice. Unfortunately it hasn't come," Roddick said Sunday night after playing exhibition matches in Oklahoma City. "We're not sure what we'd do. Whether it means a stoppage for a major tournament, that's something we've got to talk about.

"If we do that, I'm sure we'll all get together and play somewhere for a charity of some sort or to show people that it's more about a voice and not about dollars so much."

The idea of unionizing came front and center when the weather caused a condensed schedule and other problems in Flushing Meadows. One of Roddick's matches was forced to move to a tiny court when there were issues with water on the playing surface.

"We were at the Open and we didn't have a voice to not go on, and that kind of struck us as odd considering that we're the ones out there playing and risking and the whole deal," Roddick said.

Roddick said he wouldn't expect anything to happen until tour players reconvene in Shanghai next month

"I think if we are going to do something, it's going to be thoroughly thought out and it's not going to happen tomorrow," Roddick said. "But it's certainly a conversation at this point."

Otherwise, Roddick's evening was anything but serious. He teamed with his older brother, John, for a doubles match against Mardy Fish and David Martin. Then Roddick and Fish, America's two highest-ranked men, played a two-set singles match that Roddick won 10-7 in a tiebreaker.

The first pro tennis event in Oklahoma City since the 2002 Davis Cup brought out the showman in Roddick.

He provided a steady run of playful banter with the other players and the crowd throughout the night.

He dogged Fish and David Martin to take it easy on his brother, who's the head coach at the University of Oklahoma and not a tennis professional.

He played cat and mouse with a ball boy and a ball girl, rolling balls in different directions and playfully standing over a ball to tease whether he was going to pick it up on his own. Then he acted surprised when the chair umpire told him he was up for a second serve, not a first.

He even took requests from the audience on other players to imitate. He started out with Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, rolled up his sleeves to mimic Rafael Nadal and then capped it off by doing his best Serena Williams. He shoved two rolled-up towels in the back of his shorts, then acted as though he was berating a line judge.

"That's the cool thing about these exhibitions. It think you can be a little bit more interactive with the crowd, you can hit a couple more trick shots, some imitations and whatnots," Roddick said.

"But then at the end we still both wanted to win. It's a fun time and I'm glad we brought pro tennis back to this area."

Net cords played a role in deciding each of the sets. Roddick rallied back from down 40-15 to get to deuce twice, then clenched both of his fists and bent over to kiss the top of the net after getting one to go his way. He went up 5-4, then closed out by holding serve.

Fish got an early break in the second set when his shot on break point clipped the net and popped over Roddick's head before falling in to give him a 3-1 lead. He finished it out 6-3.

Roddick, the world's 14th-ranked player, fell behind 3-1 in the tiebreaker before winning the next four points _ three on errors by Fish. The eighth-ranked Fish was able to save Roddick's overhead on match point, but Roddick then put it away at the net.

"You're a little bit more relaxed than an actual match but we obviously wanted to win out there," Fish said. "You saw the last tiebreaker was pretty high quality.

"That's why we're here, to bring some big-time tennis into this area."

The exhibition reunited the two Roddick brothers with a pair of their longtime friends who once lived at their house in Florida. John Roddick formerly coached all three of the others, and traveled with them on junior tours.

"Having coached all those guys, and playing with them now as those guys are getting into the twilight of their career _ and I'm well past mine _ but it's just fun to come out and have a great tennis event for the Oklahoma City community," John Roddick said.

It was the first time in four years that the Roddick brothers played together. They started out by breaking Fish's serve to take a 2-0 lead, but Martin and Fish took over to win 8-5.

"Mardy was definitely picking on me," John Roddick said. "But it was fun. I was probably trying harder than anybody to try and not look like an idiot."

Andy Roddick called the event "an excuse to visit" and also a way to ignite some tennis interest in an area where the ATP Tour doesn't usually stop.

"It was great to get the four of us," Roddick said. "We didn't know if we'd ever play together again in an event, so it was a lot of fun to have Davey and John join us."

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