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Back to the start: Roddick granted WC

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Originally published on: 16/07/10 10:22

Nine years after claiming his first title on the ATP Tour, Andy Roddick returns to Georgia to ‘defend’ the crown he won as a teenager after accepting a wildcard into the Atlanta Tennis Championships.

The 27-year-old American, who took victory at the last ATP tournament held in Atlanta in 2001, will lead the field as top seed in the US Open Series’ curtain-raiser.

Fellow Americans John Isner, James Blake, Mardy Fish and Robby Ginepri are also in the mix, but the 2004 US Open champ, searching for his 30th career title in Atlanta, will be the tournament’s major draw.

“Bringing the best tennis player in America back to Atlanta, where he won his first ATP World Tour title, is extremely exciting,” said Tournament Director Bill Oakes. “In speaking with Andy, he expressed how happy he is to return to the site of his first victory, a city that is truly devoted to playing and watching tennis.”

An 18-year-old Roddick defeated Xavier Malisse (who also returns to Atlanta as seventh seed) 6-2 6-4 in April 2001 to become the first American teenage winner of an ATP title since Michael Chang in 1992. Not only was the tournament win Roddick’s first, but it was a rare clay triumph for the Texan, with just five of his 29 titles coming on dirt.

But with the Atlanta event back on hard courts for 2010, and with Roddick leading the tour with 26 wins and just four losses on the surface this year, the American will target a third title in 2010 to add to his victories in Miami and Brisbane.

Hoping to deny the two-time US Open Series champion the perfect start to this year’s challenge will be the in-form Mardy Fish, who took the title in Newport last week and will aim to upset Roddick’s charge in the singles before the pair team up for a stab at the doubles title.

Great Britain’s James Ward, who defeated Feliciano Lopez and Rainer Schuettler in his career-best quarter-final run at an ATP tour event in Eastbourne in June, will take up the tournament’s third wildcard spot.

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