By Chris Starrs, special to EmiratesUSOpenSeries.com
ATLANTA – As has been the case for the last several days at the BB&T Atlanta Open, inclement weather played havoc with Wednesday’s schedule, and the rain didn’t do a whole lot for Andy Roddick’s nerves, either.
The fourth-seeded Roddick was originally scheduled to play his second-round match against France’s Nicolas Mahut on the Stadium Court at the conclusion of the Kevin Anderson-Michael Russell match, which was set for 4 p.m.
After thinking he might not even play Wednesday, Roddick learned the Anderson-Russell battle would be moved from the main court, leaving him little time to prepare before his meeting with Mahut.
"I kept looking out the window, watching the raindrops fall in the pool," said Roddick. "It was weird because at 7:45 or 8, I still had a match in front of me. We were told (the match before ours) wasn’t going to be moved, so I’m thinking I’ll either be canceled or we’ll be tipping off at 11 at the earliest, and then all of a sudden, we’re getting the call that says they’re bumped and we might be on in 40 minutes.
"So I’m sitting around all day with nothing to do, and then all of a sudden, it’s, ‘You’ve got to go.’ It was a little alarming and surprising, but I’m glad we got it in tonight."
Roddick was able to make the adequate physical and mental adjustments and, even after an admittedly "average" first set, was able to dispatch Mahut, 7-6 (4), 6-3, in a little more than 90 minutes. After exchanging the advantage several times in the first set, Roddick and Mahut went into a tiebreaker, the turning point coming with Roddick down 3-2.
"(Mahut) missed a pretty easy volley in the tiebreaker to make it 3-all, and from there I played pretty solid," said Roddick, who lost to Mahut on May 27 at the French Open. "The first tiebreaker is so big. There’s not a lot between it, and whoever loses it has a long ride home, so I was fortunate to get up on that one."
Roddick, who withstood 14 first-set aces, broke Mahut – who is perhaps best known for his participation in the world’s longest tennis match against John Isner at Wimbledon in 2010 -- to take a 5-3 lead in the tiebreaker and cruised to victory from that point.
"First rounds, when you’ve been off for a couple of weeks, are always a little dicey, and the tennis in the first set was average at best from both sides," said Roddick. "I played a lot better in the second set. I think (the tiebreaker) provided a little momentum."
Roddick will face the unseeded Russell on Thursday in the quarterfinals. Russell defeated fifth-seeded Kevin Anderson, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4, for his second victory in as many days. Russell beat Alex Kuznetsov 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4) on Tuesday evening.
Late Wednesday evening, No. 3 seed Kei Nishikori faced Dmitry Tursunov and No. 8 seed Go Soeda opposed Igor Kunitsyn for quarterfinal berths.
In today’s singles matches, top-seeded John Isner will face Ruben Bemelmans; two-time defending Atlanta Open champion and second-seeded Mardy Fish will meet Gilles Muller; James Blake – who eliminated No. 6 seed and Olympian Ryan Harrison on Tuesday – will oppose Matthew Ebden; and former Southern California standout (and two-time NCAA singles champion) Steve Johnson will battle Jack Sock, who eliminated No. 7 seed Alex Bogomolov Jr. on Monday.