Painful exit for Roddick at Australian Open
Andy Roddick lunged for a shot by Lleyton Hewitt and felt a sharp pain in his right leg. He stayed down on his hands and one knee for a few seconds, wondering if his Australian Open was finished.
The American played the next two points, falling behind 3-0 in the second set, before taking a medical timeout for treatment on his hamstring.
Still, Roddick played on. Clearly restricted, he didn't bother to chase down some shots and walked slowly between points with his head hanging down.
Finally, after 16 more games, Roddick called it quits. He retired with Hewitt leading the second-round match 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
''It's a miserable, terrible thing being out there compromised like that,'' Roddick said.
The 29-year-old American knew he wouldn't be able to fool somebody he was playing for the 14th time, one of the few active players on the tour who was older than him, somebody who held the No. 1 ranking before he did, and owned one more Grand Slam title.
''He's a tough guy to play,'' said Roddick, who is now 7-7 with Hewitt in career matches. ''You can try to ham and egg it against a lot of guys. But he's really intelligent. He knew what was going on.''
Roddick was obviously restricted in the second and third sets. He threw his racket into the wall at one point and argued with the chair umpire over a line call.
He bristled noticeably when a woman shouted ''Come on Lleyton,'' just as Roddick was about to serve.
''It's frustrating. It's discouraging,'' he said of the hamstring tendon injury. ''You know, your sensible mind says to have a sense of perspective. You still have it pretty good. The competitor in you feels terrible and wants to break stuff.''
Roddick had his chances against Hewitt, converting the only breakpoint chance in the first set and even having chances after he injured his leg. But when he knew he needed to win two more sets to advance, he called the trainer, then walked over to shake Hewitt's hand.
''I was hitting the ball as well as I could from a compromised position and still felt like I was just hanging on,'' Roddick said. ''I don't know that it would have been smart to do that for two more sets.
''And if somehow you pull a rabbit out of the hat, I don't think you play in two days. If I'm looking at timelines, I think there's three weeks or so before I have to play again. I like those timelines a lot more than two days.''
It was Roddick's earliest exit from the Australian Open since he first entered in 2002. By not defending points he won at the start of last season, he'll drop in the rankings. He already dropped to No. 14 last year, losing his spot as the top American, after an injury-interrupted season.
For a player who hasn't been able to add another Grand Slam singles title since his only major victory at the 2003 U.S. Open, Roddick admits it's a physically and mentally painful experience.
He said he'd had treatment every day in the offseason to get prepared for 2012. He had entered in mixed doubles at the Australian Open with Serena Williams with the idea of competing at the London Olympics. Mixed doubles is off for now, as he concentrates on returning at San Jose next month.