Roddick crowned king of Queen's
The world number five levels the record for most singles crowns jointly held by Lleyton Hewitt, Boris Becker and John McEnroe.india Updated: Jun 17, 2007 22:59 IST
Andy Roddick won a record equalling fourth Queen's title with a hard-fought three-set victory over unseeded Nicolas Mahut on Sunday.
Roddick, the second seed, will never have worked harder to win any of his titles at the Wimbledon warm-up event as France's Mahut pushed him all the way before the American finally won 4-6, 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/2).
The world number five, who had won the title three times between 2003 and 2005, has tied the record for most singles crowns jointly held by Lleyton Hewitt, Boris Becker and John McEnroe.
Roddick, who has lost only twice in 25 matches at Queen's, collected a cheque for 80,500 euros but more importantly claimed his first tour title of the season.
He is moving into ominous form just in time for Wimbledon, where he has twice lost to Roger Federer in the final, and will believe he can go one better at the All-England club this year.
Roddick was delighted to have passed his coach Jimmy Connors' total of three Queen's titles and jokingly taunted the legendary American, who was courtside in west London.
"I had to win this one because for the only time in all the places we go, I've won a tournament more times than him," Roddick said. "That doesn't happen very often.
"This was by far the toughest match I've ever played here and I feel pretty lucky to be standing in the winners circle. Hopefully I can carry that over to Wimbledon."
Mahut, ranked 106th in the world, covered his head in a towel at the end of the match to hide a few tears of disappointment, but as he prepares to qualify for Wimbledon next week he can look back at a tournament to remember.
He had beaten four seeds, French Open champion Rafael Nadal, Ivan Ljubicic, Jonas Bjorkman and Arnaud Clement, en route to the final.
Mahut said, "I will remember this forever. It was like a dream. I just needed one for a point.
"I did my best but Andy was just too good. He is a great player and a great champion."
A powerful overhead smash on the first point showed Mahut wasn't going to be overawed by the occasion. Roddick had admitted on Saturday that he feared Mahut's go-for-broke approach would make him a tough proposition and he was proved exactly right.
Mahut, who gave a glimpse of his grass court potential when he won Junior Wimbledon in 2000, has a big enough serve but concentrates more on placement and then coming in to volley than blowing opponents off court.
Roddick managed to earn just one break point in the first set, at 4-4, when Mahut showed a rare moment of hesitancy at the net and put a volley long.
The danger was quickly snuffed out by a more accurate Mahut volley and, with Roddick visibly becoming frustrated by his failure to break, the Frenchman made him pay in the next game.
Mahut had been unable to put Roddick's serve under threat in the early stages, but with the American serving to stay in the set, Mahut was presented with his first break point after a wild forehand.
He gratefully seized it to clinch the set thanks to another unforced error from Roddick, this time an overhit backhand, and pumped his fists in triumph.
Both players were serving well enough that the second set was a no-thrills affair with no break points. It went to a breaker and Mahut moved to match-point on Roddick's serve, but netted with his opponent out of position. Roddick pounced immediately. He won a set point and Mahut cracked, putting a volley into the net to give the American the set.
Mahut's deft use of angles kept Roddick off-balance and he won one point he had no right to reach thanks to an acrobatic dive in the 10th game of the final set.
With the combined ace count reaching 43, Roddick hitting 22, by late in the final set, a tie-break was inevitable.
It was Roddick who got the decisive break when his forehand hit the net and bounced in over Mahut's racket. That was all the encouragement Roddick needed and he clinically closed out the match.
First Published: Jun 17, 2007 22:37 IST