Something popped in Robin Haase’s ankle and eventually something similar happened to his brain. The result was a victory for Andy Roddick in the third round of the Australian Open — one of those matches a top player likes to get through and put behind him.
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Haase, a 23-year-old Dutchman who is considered one of the most talented of the younger generation, played a superb first set, a very poor second-set tiebreak and then could do nothing to prevent Roddick winning 2-6, 7-6, 6-2, 6-2.
"I twisted my ankle quite early, I heard something pop," said Haase afterwards. "It was a pity because I played an amazing first set. But then I lost concentration in the tie break. I was already thinking, if I win this set, how can I win another one because the ankle was, well, not exactly painful, but throbbing. Maybe I should have walked off but it was a big arena and I was playing Roddick in a Grand Slam — you don’t want to do that."
Roddick felt he played well enough after one poor service game early on. "He played a great first two sets. Once I was able to get some momentum on my side, I felt he was thinking about each shot a little bit more instead of free-wheeling."
Roddick was his usual sardonic self when asked if he thought Haase was going to come down to earth after his great start. "You hope. I mean, listen, I think more often than not, if a guy is ranked 65 in the world and is coming out of his shoes, you’re trying to figure out during the match why he’s 65 in the world."
Haase’s mental breakdown in the tie break provided the answer and Roddick was able to hammer down enough first serves to dominate the rest of the match.
Roddick was also asked for his reaction to the announcement that Andre Agassi has been voted into the International Hall of Fame. "It’s about as surprising as the sun coming up in the morning," Roddick replied with a smile. "He’s definitely one of the biggest cross over stars we’ve had in this game. He was probably the most relateable superstar we’ve had because of his pitfalls and then successes. But overall I think it was a success story."
In November they were team matches, celebrating one of the great sporting moments in their country’s history on the Serbian Davis Cup team. But, here at Melbourne Park it was a very different story as Novak Djokovic faced Victor Troicki. Unhappily, it did not end up as much of a success story for either man because Djokovic advanced on a default after winning the first set 6-2.
"I heard he had some struggles with his stomach muscle before the match," Djokovic. "Afterwards he told me he could not make a full movement on the serve. I could see that because he usually serves well over 200 kph on the first serve and he couldn’t do that today. You know, it’s sad for him. But I have to move on."