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Roddick Squeezes By Stepanek in Brisbane

img_9890With the Australian Open approximately one week away, in the finals of the Brisbane International Open, top seed Andy Roddick battled defending champion Radek Stepanek.  Roddick edged out Stepanek 7-6, 7-6 to capture his first 2010 title.

With Stepanek serving at 2-3 in the first set, Roddick had the chance to draw first blood when a forehand volley winner gave him break point.  However, with a good serve resulting in a return error, Stepanek got back on track.  Roddick manufactured another break point opportunity, but, with strategic volleying, Stepanek squared the set at 3 all.  The next game, as Roddick misfired on a backhand pass, Stepanek had his initial break point. Roddick dug himself out with a couple of service bombs. After Roddick failed to convert on two set points on Stepanek’s serve, the tiebreaker went into effect.  Once Stepanek double faulted to hand Roddick a 2-1mini-break advantage, his play deteriorated.  Thanks to a bunch of backhand errors from Stepanek, Roddick swiftly claimed the set.

As a result of four consecutive errors by Stepanek including two double faults, Roddick grabbed a break advantage.  After Roddick had no trouble consolidating, he crushed a backhand down the line for another break point.  With Stepanek bitten by the double fault bug again, Roddick jumped to a double break lead for 3-0. In no time, Roddick stretched his edge to 5-1.  But, with  Roddick serving for the championship at 5-2, Stepanek struck a forehand up the line pass for break point.  Then, with a stumbling Roddick unable to reach a spectacular lob, Stepanek wiped out one break.  Subsequent to an easy service game, Stepanek forced a couple of backhand errors from Roddick to level the set at 5 all.  Following an uneventful game, Stepanek took his first lead at 6-5.  Ultimately, Roddick steadied his play to push the set to a tiebreaker. In a charitable mood again, Stepanek started by donating a mini-break with a backhand crosscourt mistake.  As Stepanek’s backhand fell apart, Roddick built a 6-1 edge. Still, never one to fold, Stepanek raised his performance and expunged five championship points.  Moreover, Stepanek provoked a return error to obtain set point.  But, when Stepanek’s slice backhand sailed long, both players were knotted at 7. On his serve, Roddick arrived at another championship point with an overhead winner. When Stepanek double faulted,  Andy finally put his pesky opponent away.

It was a challenging week for Roddick despite being victorious in the end.  The American had a narrow escape in the semifinals against Tomas Berdych after dropping the first set.  Roddick’s break point conversion ratio was horrendous in the semis and carried over into the finals.  Andy will need to bulk up that area of his game if he plans to make a serious impression in Melbourne.

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