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U.S. OPEN

Roddick Gets Test in First Round

August 21, 2003|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

So much for that working theory about the first week of a Grand Slam tennis tournament being a virtual walkover for top players.

It landed in the paper shredder when Tim Henman's name settled in the space next to Andy Roddick's when Wednesday's draw ceremony for the U.S. Open was held at United Nations headquarters in New York. The Open starts Monday.

So, how does the last man to beat Roddick this summer end up playing him in the first round?

Though 32 players are seeded, Henman, of Britain, has slipped out of the elite group because of shoulder surgery last year. There is an outside chance the fourth-seeded Roddick still could avoid facing Henman if two seeded players drop out in the next few days because of injury or another reason. Henman would then move into the slot of a seeded player.

Henman defeated Roddick in the semifinals in Washington earlier this month, but the 20-year-old American has not lost since, taking successive Masters Series events in Montreal and Cincinnati.

Roddick isn't the only top male player to receive a potentially difficult hand. Andre Agassi, seeded first, is on the other side of the draw and will face Alex Corretja of Spain in the opening round. Agassi is 4-3 against Corretja but has lost their last three matches, though they haven't played since 2000.

Former Open champion and sixth-seeded Lleyton Hewitt of Australia is in Agassi's half of the draw. On the other side, along with Roddick, is Wimbledon champion and second-seeded Roger Federer of Switzerland. Federer could potentially face Wimbledon runner-up Mark Philippoussis of Australia or No. 13 David Nalbandian of Argentina in the fourth round. Federer is 0-4 against Nalbandian.

On the women's side, top-seeded Kim Clijsters of Belgium is in the same half of the draw as former Open champion and No. 3 Lindsay Davenport and No. 5 Amelie Mauresmo of France. On the opposite side are No. 2 Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium, two-time champion and No. 4 Venus Williams, who has not played since Wimbledon because of an abdominal injury, and No. 6 Jennifer Capriati. Capriati and Williams could meet in the quarterfinals.

Defending champions Serena Williams (knee injury) and Pete Sampras (virtual retirement) are not returning, the first time this has happened at the Open since 1971.

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