- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 5, 2007

Andy Roddick felt he was in a lose-lose situation. Before every return, the No. 1 seed at the Legg Mason Classic stood about 10 feet behind the baseline.

Roddick wanted enough time to chase the ball given the height of his opponent — the 6-foot-10 Ivo Karlovic — and the potential trajectory of his serve. But Roddick knew his decision sacrificed court position.

“You’re that far back and you still have to guess,” he said. “Even when you have to do that, [sometimes] you still don’t get there. It’s discouraging.”

Yet the 6-foot-2 Roddick was able to overcome the height disadvantage and get past seventh-seeded Karlovic in two tiebreaking sets 7-6 (7), 7-6 (5).

Roddick had only 12 aces but won 98 percent of his points on the first serve. After trailing 4-1 in the first-set tiebreaker, Roddick rallied and won 9-7. He clinched the set after Karlovic’s forehand went out past the baseline.

Roddick clinched the second-set tiebreaker, thanks to a backhand down the line to make it 6-5, followed by Karlovic’s forehand that hit the net.

Karlovic had 19 aces.

Roddick’s opponent in today’s Legg Mason Classic is another tall player, the 6-foot-9 John Isner. The first-year professional beat Gael Monfils 6-7 (4), 7-6(1), 7-6 (2) in yesterday’s second semifinal match.

Roddick will have to win against another dominant serve to win his third Legg Mason title. He won the tournament in 2001 and 2005.

“Obviously I don”t think it”s going to hurt already seeing that ball come from that trajectory,” Roddick said. “Who knows how much it will help. A lot of times when guys serve like that, you”re out at their mercy. I feel like I serve OK, too. But it”s certainly not going to hurt [having already faced Karlovic].”

Karlovic could have won the first set after he forced Roddick to use a forehand volley to save a set point when he served at 4-5. Karlovic also held a 4-1 lead in the first set tiebreaker and another set point when Roddick served at 6-7. But his backhand return went long. Roddick won the next two points to end the first set.

“Karlovic goes open court on most of his volleys,” Roddick said. “I actually thought, ‘If I can get this return, I’ll sprint to the other side.’ You also know if you’re that far out of position, you can’t get it back. You have to pull the trigger sometimes.”

Both players had little success with the other’s serve. Roddick drew loud applause when he held for 4-4 in the first set after a 151-mph ace.

“I wish you got bonus points for hitting over a certain number,” Roddick said. “But it’s no better than a serve at 75 [mph] and you win the point. I hadn’t hit that in a while. So it’s nice to know I can still do it. It’s been a couple years.”

Roddick knows holding his serve, at any speed, alone can”t defeat Isner.

Isner has overpowered Tim Henman, Benjamin Becker, Wayne Odesnik and Tommy Haas. The athletic Monfils had better luck moving Isner around, but Isner still controlled the match with 23 aces.

“It’s like me standing another four feet inside the court,” Roddick said of the tall servers. “You can get angles a lot more. That’s the biggest difference. They can get more of an angle on a serve and they basically hit it straight down. It’s like spiking a serve.”

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