By JOE KAY, AP Sports Writer
MASON, Ohio (AP) -- Andy Roddick threw his racket at the ground in a flash of anger, unable to accept what was happening. Only two weeks away from the US Open, the highest-ranked American was melting down.
Fellow American Sam Querrey matched him shot-for-shot and made the biggest ones during a pair of tiebreakers Wednesday night, setting up a 7-6 (11), 7-6 (3) victory at the Cincinnati Masters that left Roddick sapped and stunned.
“Just a bad night,” Roddick said.
Playing his first match of the tournament, Roddick blew a 5-2 lead in the first-set tiebreaker, then lost his cool during a back-and-forth second set on a humid night that left both players dripping all over the court. He slammed his racket after getting broken in the second set.
It was Querrey’s first victory in four career matches against Roddick, who didn’t want to be heading toward the Open with this in mind.
“I’ve played well,” said Roddick, who lost in the semifinals at Montreal last week. “I feel I’m prepared for the Open. That’s what you want to get out of this stretch. As far as the Open goes, I’m not too worried about the setback.”
When Roddick sat on his chair during a changeover, a steady drip of sweat fell from the bill of his baseball cap. Querrey sensed he was a little fresher on a night that left both of them reaching for a towel between points.
“Definitely one of my best wins ever, probably the best for me,” Querrey said.
The top four seeds—Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic—won their opening matches in straight sets earlier Wednesday.
Federer had the easiest time, holding serve throughout a 6-3, 7-5 win over Jose Acasuso. He faced only one break point, made 70 percent of his first serves and piled up 14 aces while getting accustomed to the tournament’s heat, humidity and famously fast courts.
“The transition to Cincy is always a difficult one,” Federer said. “I’ve had very up and down results here. But it just showed sort of how hard it is to get used to these kind of courts. We don’t usually play on these fast courts, you know.”
His accurate serve pushed the speed limit and carried him through a star-packed day at the $3 million Western & Southern Financial Group Masters. His afternoon match was the second of five in a row on center court involving the Top 5 players.
“That’s the sort of thing I would love if I were a tennis fan,” Federer said. “Just keep the same seat, you know. They come rolling in. It’s like going to the movie theaters and seeing five, six great movies.”
The 28-year-old Federer is the No. 1 feature.
After winning his record 15th Grand Slam at Wimbledon, Federer took time off and became the father of twin girls. He got back on court last week in Montreal and reached the quarterfinals. He’s getting his game in shape to defend his US Open title in two weeks.
Djokovic beat Croatia’s Ivan Ljubicic 7-6 (5), 6-4 by being accurate with his shots in the unaccustomed conditions—only seven unforced errors. By contrast, Ljubicic made mistakes at the worst time. He hit three shots long and dumped another into the net during the first-set tiebreaker.
Murray won his first match as the world’s No. 2 player, a ranking he reached for the first time after winning the title at Montreal last week. Rather than fly to Cincinnati, he decided to make a 13-hour drive for the fun of it.
His 7-6 (3), 6-2 win over Spain’s Nicolas Almagro wasn’t much fun. Rain delayed the first set and ratcheted up the humidity.
Murray took control by winning a 16-point game early in the second set, converting his first break opportunity of the match. Winning the long game seemed to give Murray a lift—he lost only two points off his serve all set.
“If you can get ahead early in the second, it makes a big difference to both players’ confidence,” said Murray, who won his first Masters title in Cincinnati last year. “I think his head went down a little bit after that. He struggled on his serve afterward, and he had been serving great up until then. It made a big difference.”
Nadal had rough time. The 23-year-old Spaniard took two months off to let tendinitis in both knees heal. In his second tournament back, he took another shaky step by beating Italy’s Andreas Seppi 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3) in a match twice delayed by rain.
Nadal was often on the defensive, surviving eight break points in the second set to hold serve. Rain moved in with the score tied at 4 and Nadal facing the eighth break point. After a 62-minute delay, Nadal saved the point and took the set to a tiebreaker.
Play was suspended again because of rain with Nadal up 3-2 in the tiebreaker. After a 15-minute delay, Nadal pulled off the next three points— one on an emphatic crosscourt backhand—to finally take control.
“I don’t know if I played very well, but I was there all the time,” Nadal said. “I was fighting every point.”