Continued from page 1

Standing 6-foot-6 and with a rangy, flat forehand, del Potro is the only man besides Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Djokovic to win any of the last 30 Grand Slam titles.

Roddick’s biggest test so far began in front of thousands of empty seats, certainly owing to the rainstorm that sent fans streaming toward the exit that leads to the 7 train back to Manhattan.

But if Roddick needed fans to pump him up, it didn’t show early.

Playing in muggy weather that had drops of moisture flowing off the brim of his cap, Roddick came out the aggressor, looking for any opportunity to get to the net, and the volley he smacked to end the third game glanced off del Potro’s right shoulder.

Later, Roddick broke for a 4-2 lead and pumped his right fist when del Potro flubbed a backhand into the net.

Roddick held for 5-2, saving a break point along the way and displaying a varied repertoire: an ace, a drop-shot winner, a backhand winner down the line and an inside-out forehand passing shot.

But Roddick couldn’t close out the set. Five times, he stood two points from wrapping it up, but couldn’t get closer. When Roddick served for it at 5-3, he played a loose game, rolling his eyes after putting one backhand into the net, then sailing an approach shot long and rushing a forehand long. Del Potro broke there and eventually, as drops began to fall, they headed to the tiebreaker.

After only one point, an inside-out forehand winner by Roddick, chair umpire Carlos Bernardes stepped down to inspect the wet court and declared it unplayable. A few spectators booed. Roddick and del Potro sat in their changeover chairs for a few minutes, until being told the delay would be substantial enough that they could wait it out in the locker room.

About 10 minutes later, Roddick was in the lobby, saying hello to Kim Clijsters, now retired, but at the stadium to watch Roddick play. Roddick stopped briefly to take a few pictures with a group gathered near Clijsters, then headed to the parking lot for his waiting ride.