Andy Roddick was hoping Nicolas Mahut would be the first to flinch in a first-set tiebreaker.
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It didn’t take long for Roddick to get his wish.
”He missed a pretty easy to ball in the tiebreaker to make it 3-all,” Roddick said. ”From there, I played pretty solid.”
Roddick beat the Frenchman 7-6 (4), 6-3 in the second round of the Atlanta Open on Wednesday night after rain delayed the tournament 4½ hours.
Roddick, who will play Michael Russell in the quarterfinals, broke Mahut in the ninth point of the tiebreaker and held serve to take a tough first set.
”The first tiebreaker is so big,” Roddick said. ”There’s not much between you, and whoever loses it has a long road (back). I was fortunate to get up on that one.”
Russell, at 34, is the oldest player in the main draw, but he outlasted No. 5 seed Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4 to reach his first ATP World Tour hard-court quarterfinals since February 2011.
No. 8 seed Go Soeda of Japan beat Russia’s Igor Kunitsyn 6-1, 7-5. Their match began at 4 p.m., but when the rain hit 25 minutes later, the order of play was changed. Soeda and Kunitsyn had to wait 7½ hours for Russell and Anderson to finish before their match could restart.
Soeda led the first set 3-0 before play was stopped. The match, which lasted 1 hour, 31 minutes, ended at 1:28 a.m.
No. 3 seed Kei Nishikori of Japan held off Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis 6-4, 6-7 (7), 6-4 in a match that ended at 1:47 a.m.
Roddick’s victory avenged a four-set loss to Mahut at the French Open on May 27. It was Roddick’s earliest exit from a Grand Slam tournament since 2007 and his first loss to Mahut in five career matches.
”I thought about it a little bit, but the conditions are so different,” Roddick said. ”I’m not real comfortable on clay. I don’t think that’s a secret. Obviously coming back here on home turf on a surface I’m very comfortable on is just a different scenario.”
No. 1 seed John Isner and No. 2 seed Mardy Fish, Atlanta’s two-time defending champion, will play their second-round matches on Thursday.
Though Roddick didn’t have to wait nearly as long as some of the players to get on the court, the damp conditions were hardly to his liking. He and Mahut occasionally slipped as they tried to reach for shots.
”I expressed my concern,” Roddick said. ”It was heard by the supervisor. He agreed with my sentiment and told me to play on.”
Russell and Anderson began their match at 4 p.m., but they had to wait nearly five hours before resuming.
In the tiebreaker, Anderson held serve to take the 11th point and broke Russell to win the first set. Russell, though, held his composure to avenge a loss to Anderson in Atlanta last year.
Isner will face Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium in the last singles match on Thursday. Fish will play Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller in the second afternoon match.
The other two matches will feature James Blake against Matthew Ebden of Australia and Steve Johnson against Jack Sock. Both were both wild-card entries.