By Brad Hunter
MEMPHIS, Tennessee (February 22, 2012) – In the first match of the night session on stadium court on Wednesday night at theÂ The Regions Morgan Keegan Championships, defending Memphis champion American Andy Roddick faced off against Belgian Xavier Malisse.
From the beginning of the match, Roddickâ€™s gameplan was to attack short balls and move into the net: this was successful for him early, as he immediately broke Malisse for a 2-0 lead.Â Malisse broke Roddick straight back in the next game, and then the set continued on serve thru the tiebreak.Â Roddick held several set points in the tiebreak, but Malisse was able to force Roddick into errors by playing his best and most creative tennis to take the set 10-8 in the tiebreak.
Roddick seemed to realize the importance of losing that first set and he responded by breaking his racquet against his left foot directly after, earning himself a racquet abuse warning from the chair.Â At the beginning of the second set, Roddick had some words with the chair after questioning him about a close call that he successfully challenged by saying â€œthatâ€™s the single most annoying thing you guys sayâ€¦ it was closeâ€¦ closeâ€¦ it was closeâ€.
The 2 men continued on serve until Roddick was serving at 5-6 in the second set, when Malisse was able to come up with two of his best forehands of the evening to go up 30-0 on Roddickâ€™s serve.Â Another couple of errors by Roddick, and Malisse was the jumping, celebrating winner of the first match in 10 matches between the 2 men.Â Roddick didnâ€™t play badly by any means, and he was often successful with his attacking style but he struggled to finish points easily and dominate on his serve and Malisse had a night where he was able to summon his his best brand of talented ball-striking ability.Â Malisse ended the match with 12 aces, to Roddickâ€™s 6.Â Immediately afterwards a smiling Malisse said â€œI just played solid tennis and got a lot of his first serves back.â€
Earlier on stadium court, 33-year old and 28th ranked Czech Radek Stepanek met 29-year old and 117th ranked American qualifier Bobby Reynolds.Â The two men held serve and traded long probing baseline rallies up to 3-all in the first set, until Stepanek broke Reynolds in a long service game.Â This break was the turning point of momentum, and Reynolds began showing signs of frustration while Stepanek grew more confident and creative in his shotmaking.Â Stepanek saved all four break points against his own serve and took the set 6-3.Â Stepanek was more dominant on serve in the second set, not facing any break points, and he broke Reynolds one time and took the set 6-2 and the match.Â Stepanek next faces Ryan Sweeting.
On the Grandstand court at The Regions Morgan Keegan Championships, Ukranian Lesia Tsurenko defeated Czech Lucie Hradecka, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3).Â Hradecka, seminfinalist in Memphis in 2011, started well by using her powerful 2-fisted groundstrokes and aggressive returning to take the first set and build a break lead early in the second set.Â At this point in the match, Tsurenko found herself in a similar situation as she had been in against Alexa Glatch in the previous round: she was having some physical trouble breathing between points, and she was getting hit off the court by a more powerful player.Â Tsurenko responded by playing with more margin by hitting deep groundstrokes and extending rallies by using her excellent retrieving skills.Â Hradecka became rattled, and began misfiring her laser groundstrokes and throwing in double faults.Â In the third set tiebreak, Tsurenko closed out the match on her first match point and she plays Sofia Arvidsson next in the quarterfinals.
Brad Hunter is covering theÂ Regions Morgan Keegan Championships and the Memphis International as media for Tennis Panorama News this week. Follow his reports here and live updates on our twitter account @TennisNewsTPN. Follow his personal twitter account @BradHunter.