KEY BISCAYNE (Florida): Todd Martin upset sixth seed Andy Roddick 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 in a third round match-up of Americans here on Sunday at the Nasdaq-100 Open while Serena and Venus Williams advanced with ease.
Top-ranked sisters Serena and Venus advanced in straight sets to the fourth round in the women’s portion of the US$6.2mil hard-court event while Thailand’s Paradorn Srichaphan battled past cramps to win as well.
Martin, 32, has barely played this year, staying at home in the first weeks of the season to attend the birth of son Jack, his first child. But he turned back the clock to oust young star Roddick, who was flat-footed by the last set.
“I thought the people over 72 were on my side and everybody else was on his,” cracked Martin.
Paradorn, meanwhile, fought off cramps to survive a heroic 3-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-3 battle over former world number one Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia.
Paradorn, the 13th seed, revealed that the cramps in his left thigh became really painful by the middle of the third set. The problem was most visible when the Thai star tried to serve and couldn’t go into a regular serve stance.
“You know when we’re both trying hard this happens because we’re getting tight and it’s a tough match,” said Paradorn. “It has not really happened to me often. The last time I had this pain was in Toronto (last summer) because it was really hot and humid.
“I just tried to hang in there and try to stay on the court. I’m glad I could pull it off,” added Paradorn, who hit 52 winners to 23 for Kafelnikov.
Martin said his stunning triumph in the twilight of his career ranks high among all he has had.
“They’re all pretty big right now,” Martin said. “I’m in an interesting position, trying to sort of earn my way into the French Open and into Wimbledon. So every win is helpful.
“I think this is encouraging because Andy’s beaten me a couple times in the past. He’s got enough game to sort of bully me around the court. I don’t really like that feeling too much, but I handled it well.”
At the end of the match, Roddick stood and stared at the final shot he hit – a backhand return barely wide – hoping that maybe someone would say the ball landed in the safe zone.
“He just played well,” said Roddick, who won their previous two meetings. “It’s not fun losing ever. I’m not sure (where my game is at). I think I can raise it to be better.”
Martin, ranked 114th, beat the previous top-10 player he faced, Tomas Johansson at Toronto last July. He posted 38 winners to Roddick’s 23 to reach a fourth-round date with Czech Radek Stepanek.
Defending champion Serena, showing absolutely no signs of the stomach virus that bothered her earlier in the tournament, dominated Tatiana Panova of Russia 6-2, 6-1.
“I’m getting better each day the tournament goes on,” said Serena, who plays Iroda Tulyaganova of Uzbekistan in the fourth round. “I’m not 100% yet, but maybe tomorrow I’ll be, hopefully.”
Second seed Venus, a champion here twice in the past, captured a 6-3, 6-2 third round victory over Emmanuelle Gagliardi of Switzerland. – AFP