Paradorn, Hewitt come to Roddick's defense
Turns out Andy Roddick is not such a bad guy after all, at least according to Australia's Lleyton Hewitt and Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan.
Hours after the American's crowd-inciting antics were ripped by Croatian Ivan Ljubicic following a loss to Roddick, Hewitt and Paradorn came to the defense of the US star on his 21st birthday.
"Andy seems fine with me," Hewitt said. "I've never had a problem with him. He hangs around with most of the young American guys anyway. I don't know him that well. I've never had a problem with anything he's done on the court."
Ljubicic said most ATP players detest Roddick's antics in trying to arouse the passions of American crowds, saying his fourth seed position here is a function of such dubious moves and the fact so many events are in US cities.
"Every single player said to me, 'Good luck. Kick his ass,'" Ljubicic said. "I don't like him. Nobody in the locker room likes his acting on the court."
But Paradorn disagreed, saying he gets along quite well with the ATP Champions Race leader.
"I would say Andy and I are good friends," Paradorn said. "I'm a friend of Ljubicic, too. Andy's all right. Most of the people like him."
Ljubicic claimed Roddick's antics, including calling shots in his favor before a ball lands, intimidates linesmen and umpires once a crowd is incited.
"I didn't see anything," Hewitt said. "I can't say I've felt that way in my matches. I've seen some times on TV where that might have happened. I never felt an action by a player turned a call in one of my matches."
Hewitt was the center of a controversy here two years ago when he pointed to a black linesman and black US foe James Blake and told an umpire "Look at him, look at him and you tell me what the similarity is."
Known for his passions on the court, Hewitt can relate to Roddick's bids to raise his game with aid from spectators when on US soil.
"Andy likes to play with a lot of emotion and get the crowd involved. When he is playing in America, the crowd is going to get behind him. It's the same if we're playing in France against the French guys.
"Maybe Ivan was just disappointed at how the crowd was for Andy and against him."
Both Hewitt and Paradorn have cheering groups here from their homelands.