|Greg Rusedski of Great Britain© Getty Images|
INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) - Thomas Johansson of Sweden may have been a qualifier, but he gave Greg Rusedski of Great Britain all he could handle before finally falling in the first round of the $600,000 RCA Championships Rusedski outlasted Johansson on Monday night, 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (3-7), 6-4 to advance to the second round of the U.S. Open hardcourt warm-up event.
In the only other matches Monday, American wild card Rajeev Ram edged South African Wesley Moodie, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), and Jeff Salzenstein of the U.S. beat Thierry Ascione of France, 7-5, 7-6 (7-3). The top 16 seeds all received byes into the second round, including defending champion Andy Roddick, who begins his preparation for the U.S. Open this week. After losing in the Wimbledon final to world No. 1 Roger Federer of Switzerland two weeks ago, Roddick spent this past week in Los Angeles and presented and received an award at the ESPYs.
The reigning U.S. Open winner, Roddick was voted Best Male Tennis Player of the Year, beating out Federer, Andre Agassi and Juan Carlos Ferrero in voting by the fans. "It was a great room to be in with all the other athletes," Roddick said. "Those are guys who I love to watch compete, so to actually hang out with them was really cool." Roddick will not get to watch Federer or Agassi compete this week. Federer will rest before beginning his North American hardcourt campaign, and Agassi withdrew from the event on Saturday.
This was the first of three hardcourt tournaments that Roddick won last summer before capturing his first Grand Slam title. Roddick's main competition should come from third-seeded Sebastien Grosjean of France and fourth-seeded Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand, who lost to Roddick in last year's final. The tournament also features Roddick's teammates on the 2004 Olympic team - fifth-seeded Mardy Fish, No. 8 Vince Spadea and ninth-seeded Taylor Dent. Nicolas Kiefer of Germany, who lost to Tommy Haas in the Mercedes-Benz Cup final on Sunday, is the 12th seed.