Roddick sweeps US to Davis Cup win

Published 6:11 pm Sunday, March 8, 2009

BIRMINGHAM — Andy Roddick again closed out a victory for the United States Davis Cup team.

Roddick swept past Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka in straight sets to give the U.S. an opening round victory Sunday in the best-of-five series.

Roddick, ranked sixth in the world, is now 11-0 with a chance to close out a Davis Cup series.

This one was emphatic: 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. Next up for the U.S. is Croatia in the quarterfinals on July 10-12. Roddick wasn’t overly impressed by his perfect record in this role.

“In order to clinch, your team has to put you up 2-1,” Roddick said. “I’ve always had a chance to play that fourth match. A lot of it is circumstantial and the way the schedule and draw plays out. I’ve gotten a lot of chances to do that.

“I’ve simplified the way I look at it. You come in and regardless of what the score is — everyone makes a big deal about it and obviously it’s extremely relevant, but at the same time I’ve got to come out and try to win a point each day I play.”

Roddick’s 31st Davis Cup win moved him past Andre Agassi into second place on the U.S. list, 10 behind John McEnroe.

“I’m kind of a nerd about the history of our sport,” he said. “It was kind of in the back of my mind. There’s probably a few moments in your career where you can sit back and be a little impressed.

“When you get mentioned with Andre, who I grew up watching … Andre was always the guy that every one leaned on to come through. To kind of surpass him now is extremely surreal, but it’s definitely one of those fun moments also.”

Dominating with his serve, he faced only one break point during the match and had 14 aces.

The U.S. has won 20 consecutive matches after taking a 2-1 lead. The Americans didn’t have to contend with an absent Roger Federer in this one, since the Swiss star was out with back problems.

James Blake then topped Marco Chiudinelli 6-4, 7-6 (6) in a best-of-three match to give the U.S. a 4-1 victory margin.

Roddick now has a 21-2 match record at home in the Davis Cup, including nine straight wins. He also breezed by Chiudinelli on Friday.

Mike Bryan had guaranteed a Roddick win after his doubles victory a day earlier, and his teammate never gave him cause to doubt the prediction. Roddick took control when he broke Wawrinka’s serve for a 4-3 lead in the opening set.

“I was sitting there putting my shoes on and he goes, ‘I guarantee a victory,'” Roddick said. “I kind of progressively got tighter and tighter as he was talking. I guess it would be easy to blame him if I had lost.

“But I guess he ended up looking smart.”

The only real drama in the third set came when Roddick was down 0-30 in the final game and it looked like Wawrinka might keep it going. Roddick won the last four points to complete the sweep.

“I made him play every point and he toughened up there from 30-all on on a couple of rallies,” he said. “Any time you’re serving a set out, you don’t want to be down love-30.”

The American foursome then took a celebratory jog with the flag around the court for the 15,118 fans.

Wawrinka, ranked No. 16, has lost each of his three matches with the Swiss trailing 1-2 and trying to stay alive.

“The strategy was to attack him,” Wawrinka said. “When he gives some short ball, you need to come to the net to take care of the ball, to push him a lot.

“He was playing too good for me to do that.”

In other first-round series, Israel, Czech Republic, Russia, Germany and Spain won Sunday to reach the quarterfinals. Croatia and Argentina advanced Saturday.

Israel made the quarters for the first time since 1987, winning both singles matches to oust seven-time champion Sweden 3-2 in Malmo. Harel Levy beat Andreas Vinciguerra 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 8-6 in a series overshadowed by political protests and played in a nearly empty arena. Earlier, Dudi Sela evened the score by edging Thomas Johansson 3-6, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Only about 300 guests were allowed to watch because city officials said they couldn’t guarantee security. On Saturday, rock-throwing protesters bent on stopping play clashed with police in an attempt to storm the arena.

The U.S. will visit Croatia, a 3-0 winner over Chile. Croatia has won both previous series with the U.S. and is the only nation with a winning record against the Americans.