Update 1:55 am. In a quarterfinal showdown fit for the latter rounds of a Grand Slam, men’s defending champion Andy Roddick has cut the smiling Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis down to size with a comprehensive 6-2 6-3 win at the Brisbane International on Thursday night.
The second-seeded American booked a semifinal clash with South African surprise packet Kevin Anderson and said he was hitting the ball “as well as you’d expect after a little bit of a layoff”, despite the heavy conditions taking some of the sting out of his serve.
“I felt good about pretty much everything tonight,” Roddick said.
“The conditions were a little bit heavier, maybe part of the reason why you saw a lot of break-point opportunities, but on the flipside my slice was staying low and made it tough to create off of that and I think that shot actually won me a lot of baseline rallies.”
The Texan started the quicker of the two, breaking in the opening game with Baghdatis responding in the best possible manner, passing Roddick with a backhand down the line to bring up three break points the following game. He needed only one to level at 1-1 but the joy was short-lived.
Loose errors from Baghdatis’s racquet threw away another service game and after saving a break point to hold for 5-2, Roddick broke for a third time to close out the first set 6-2.
The fifth seed failed to hurt Roddick with his serve in the first set, landing only 36 per cent of first serves while he struggled to create opportunities against a barrage of slice backhands.
Baghdatis’s unforced error count continued to mount in the second set despite fleeting success catching his opponent out with deft drop shots.
Up 4-3 Roddick landed the crucial break, pumping himself up and gesturing towards his camp with a clenched fist.
The constant looks of despondence from Baghdatis towards his corner said it all with the American in control for much of the match, closing it out after one hour and 14 minutes.
“I don’t know that I gave away too many free points,” Roddick said.
“I hit my second serve pretty well, made my returns and second serves and put the basics together pretty well.”
Roddick’s $100-per-ace pledge for Queensland’s flood victims continued to rise. He sent down seven against Baghdatis to take his tally for the tournament to 27 ($2700).
Anderson, his semifinal opponent, continued his big-serving run through the draw, defeating Colombian Santiago Giraldo in today’s other men’s quarterfinal match.
Anderson struck 12 aces and recovered from a set down to post a 2-6 6-3 6-4 win having already accounted for sixth seed Feliciano Lopez in the second round.
Roddick clearly wasn’t about to take an opponent ranked 53 places below him lightly.
“Certainly I think someone like Marcos is probably a little bit better off the baseline but I think a serve like that [Anderson’s], you could go games without seeing the ball so it does affect rhythm a little bit,” he said.
“I don’t think it’ll be as much about form as opposed to who takes their opportunities when they present themselves and I’m guessing there probably won’t be a lot.”