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Roddick’s withdrawal leaves Finals race wide open

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:47

Andy Roddick was forced to retire just seven games into his second-round match with Stanislas Wawrinka at the Shanghai Masters 1000 with a knee injury.

It was a concerning blow for the world No.6, who just a day earlier had criticised the ATP Tour calendar, branding the eleven-month season ‘ridiculous’ for the toll it takes on players.

Its ridiculous to think that you have a professional sport that doesnt have a legitimate off-season to rest, get healthy and then train, Roddick said on Monday.

We finish around November 30 and have to be pretty much grand slam-ready by January 4, year after year after year.

The American was leading 4-3 in the first set when he felt a pain in his left knee at deuce in game eight and immediately went to his chair.

The No.4 seed called for the tournament doctor, but after a short consultation and abdominal stretch, Roddick shook hands after just 36 minutes on court.

“The pain is at the back of the knee, and it’s enough to make me stop a tennis match,” said Roddick. “My concern now is to find out what we are dealing with. I’ll go back to the States and get it looked at.

Roddick is yet to mathematically ensure his qualification for the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, and his second straight defeat after losing in the first round of the China Open last week leaves him in a slightly precarious position.

Nevertheless, the Wimbledon finalist remains confident that he his performances this year – he also reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open in January and titled in Memphis – will be enough to book his spot in London.

“I suppose I’m lucky regarding qualifying, as I do have a bit of a cushion,” said Roddick. “But my main concern is dealing with this.”

Roddick was also forced to retire at the AEGON Championships in June with a twisted ankle in his semi-final against James Blake, but recovered in time to reach his third Wimbledon final, where he pushed champion Roger Federer to a marathon 16-14 fifth set.

Three other seeds on show in Shanghai all advanced after having enjoyed byes at the inaugural Asian Masters 1000 event.

Nikolay Davydenko advanced with a 6-4 6-2 victory over compatriot Igor Kunitsyn as hit late-season surge continues. The Russian claimed the Kuala Lumpur title and reached last week’s quarter-finals in Beijing.

Fernando Gonzalez, still chasing a potential World Tour Finals spot, beat Brazil’s Tomaz Bellucci 6-3 6-4, the same scoreline that fellow London hopeful Robin Soderling saw off Victor Hanescu.

Elsewhere, Radek Stepanek edged past Andreas Beck 7-5 6-4, while Gael Monfils set up a meeting with Lleyton Hewitt after beating compatriot Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2 6-2.

Hewitt advanced into the second round with a 6-2 6-4 win over John Isner with the Australian’s eyes firmly fixed three months into the future.

“This whole Asian swing is just about working on little areas of my game to try and make me as good a player for January as possible,” said Hewitt, competing in Shanghai for the first time since winning the season-ending Masters Cup there in 2002.

The 28-year-old has risen from outside the top 100 at the start of the year to No.23 in the world after undergoing hip surgery in 2008.

“I haven’t really focused a whole lot on the tournaments that I’m playing,” said the former world No.1. “It’s more a focus on little things I want to work on out there and improve on my game and try and become a better player for January, then have a real crack next year.

“I’ve gotten better as the year has gone on. My hip’s got a lot stronger and better as well, and that makes life a lot easier on the court,” he added.

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