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Thursday, Sep. 6, 2012
Roddick interrupted by rain; Azarenka into semifinals
NEW YORK — His match, and his retirement, put off for at least another day, Andy Roddick stepped out of Arthur Ashe Stadium and into the drizzly night, a black jacket's hood pulled overhead, a bag of ice soothing his right shoulder.
He'll try to prolong his U.S. Open — and his professional tennis career — on Wednesday.
Roddick's fourth-round showdown against another past champion at Flushing Meadows, Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, was suspended because of rain Tuesday night, with the American leading 1-0 in a first-set tiebreaker.
A little more than a half-hour later, the players were told they could head to their hotels.
They were scheduled to resume Wednesday as the second match in Ashe, after four-time major champion Maria Sharapova's quarterfinal against 2007 Wimbledon runnerup Marion Bartoli. That was halted Tuesday with Bartoli ahead 4-0.
Other matches stopped in progress, also in the first set, included defending champion Novak Djokovic against No. 18 Stanislas Wawrinka, and No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic against No. 19 Philipp Kohlschreiber.
On a day of off-and-on action because of intermittent showers, only two singles matches were completed: Top-seeded Victoria Azarenka reached her first U.S. Open semifinal by cobbling together a 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5) victory over defending champion Sam Stosur, and No. 4 David Ferrer reached the quarterfinals by beating No. 13 Richard Gasquet 7-5, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4.
So, Victoria, what went through your mind as your high-tension, high-quality match stretched into that third-set tiebreaker?
"You don't want to know what I kept telling myself," Azarenka deadpanned. "I would have to beep that, I think."
She went on to offer a cleaned-up version of what her thoughts had been — "Don't be a chicken" — while assuring herself of retaining the No. 1 ranking no matter what happens the rest of this week.
"Definitely I don't want to stop. I really want it bad," Azarenka said about the prospect of adding a second Grand Slam trophy to the one she earned in January at the Australian Open. "I'm going to do absolutely everything I have, you know, to give it all here."
Her match, like most at Flushing Meadows so far, took second billing to one involving the 20th-seeded Roddick, who surprisingly announced last week that this tournament would be the last of his career.
Since then, he picked up victories over players ranked 43rd and 59th, but the No. 7-seeded del Potro figured to provide more of a challenge. Del Potro is the only man other than Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Djokovic to win any of the past 30 Grand Slam titles.
There were thousands of empty blue seats when Roddick and del Potro took to the court, probably owing to the showers that led to about an hour's delay at the start of the marquee match. It was hardly the full house of rowdy, partisan fans that Roddick might have hoped for.
More spectators filed in as things progressed, and those who were there certainly grabbed each and every opportunity to cheer for their man.
They even gave del Potro a bit of a hard time when he had a couple of ball boys go wipe a wet spot near the baseline with white towels.
It was misty at the outset, and the humidity topped 80 percent, leaving both men's shirts sopped with sweat.
Roddick came out the aggressor, looking for any opportunity to get to the net, and the volley he smacked to end the third game glanced off del Potro's right shoulder.
Not much later, Roddick nosed ahead, breaking for a 4-2 lead and shaking his right fist vigorously when del Potro flubbed a backhand into the net.
Roddick held for 5-2, saving a break point along the way and showing off quite a varied repertoire: an ace, a drop-shot winner, a backhand winner down the line and an inside-out forehand passing shot.
Seemingly in control, Roddick suddenly slowed, and del Potro finally began showing off the big, flat forehand that carried him past Federer in the 2009 U.S. Open final.