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Roddick's antics at issue in US Open dispute

Andy Roddick's antics to arouse the passions of US Open spectators became the center of the first major controversy at the year's Slam.

india Updated: Aug 30, 2003 13:05 IST

Andy Roddick's antics to arouse the passions of US Open spectators became the center of the first major controversy here at the year's final Grand Slam tennis tournament.

The fourth-seeded American reversed his fortunes in a fourth-set tie-breaker early Saturday morning during the first minutes of his 21st birthday to defeat 43rd-ranked Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia 6-3, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 7-6 (10/8).

Roddick won eight of the last 11 points, including a controversial call on Ljubicic's third match point, to reach the third round, only to be blasted by his rival as an unsportsmanlike jerk that other ATP players despise.

"I'm just telling you the feeling of the guys in the locker room," Ljubicic said. "Every single player said to me, 'Good luck. Kick his ass.'"

"I don't like him. Nobody in the locker room likes his acting on the court. He's a good player. He's going to win a lot of matches. But not because he's like that. It's just we don't like it. Because nobody acts that way. He's the only one."

Ljubicic said Roddick lacks respect for fellow players and has been given a boost beyond his talents because he is able to intimidate linsemen and umpires in US venues, where he plays a large number of his ATP events.

"He doesn't respect the others," Ljubicic said. "In your face or not in your face, doesn't matter. What he's doing is just pumping up the crowd. In the United States he can do it. But everywhere else if he does it, people smile.

"Fortunately for him, there's like 70 percent of the big tournaments played in the United States. He's number four in the world for that."

Roddick's ranking and his lead in the ATP Champions Race comes from a 22-1 record on hardcourts since Wimbledon with titles at Indianapolis, Montreal and Cincinnati.

With emotional gestures and encouragement, Roddick took full advantage of vocal home-nation support during the match and later shrugged off Ljubicic's rebuke, saying no rival has ever come to him with complaints about behavoir.

"I don't really care," Roddick said. "I try to treat everybody with a lot of respect. I'm not mean to people. I'm very courteous to people. I'm not worried. I would be worried if I was doing things I thought were causing that."

"If they are talking about me, they're not talking to me about it, which would be the mature thing to do. I'm not concerned with it. I treat people as good as I can. There's nothing really I can do about it."

Ljubicic mentioned a thrown racket which did not bring a warning or penalty point against Roddick in the tie-break and complained over a line call that went Roddick's way to level the last tie-breaker at 7-7.

"Anywhere in the world, except in the United States, if we played this match, I won it," Ljubicic said.

Roddick had a quick response to claims that his screams of joy make linesmen and umpires too timid to go against him when a huge US crowd backs him.

"That's pretty much sour grapes," Roddick said. "That really doesn't deserve a response. I don't think that's very respectful. I definitely don't have anything bad to say about him. So it's disappointing."

Ljubicic said there Roddick is not breaking rules, but unfairly manipulates situations into his favor in ways that give him an edge when a match could tilt either way.

"There's nothing that can be done about it. It's not like breaking rules or something. It's part of the game," Ljubicic said. "It's just we don't like it. There's nothing to do about it. It's not like we don't like it so we have to change it. It's him. We don't like him. But who cares?

"Obviously we need some interesting guys out there. But you can be interesting also in a positive way. In the end he won. Well done. Doesn't matter what he did to do it."

Roddick hopes to have a private talk with Ljubicic to discuss the matter, saying he would consider making apologies to whoever's feelings have been offended.

"If it's a whole locker room full of people, maybe I have a lot of talking to do," Roddick said. "But you know, I don't hold any grudges.

"We're both adults. I might apologize for making him upset even though I don't agree with the whole thing. I don't want any hard feelings.

"I feel bad he was bothered by it. But that's the way it goes sometimes. You can't please everybody."

Roddick said Ljubicic gave no hint of his anger as the two crossed paths in a hallway after the Croatian was finished speaking with reporters and Roddick was on his way to talk with them.

"He wished me 'Happy Birthday' walking down the hall," Roddick said.

"I was thinking, 'That's pretty classy.'"

First Published: Aug 30, 2003 13:05 IST