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TENNIS

Injury Keeps Roddick Off Davis Cup Team

January 29, 2003|Bill Dwyre | Times Staff Writer

The normally upbeat announcement of a United States Davis Cup team was, instead, overshadowed Tuesday by worries about the severity of an injury to the team's top player, Andy Roddick.

Patrick McEnroe, team captain, announced he would take a group, led by James Blake and also including Mardy Fish, Taylor Dent and Robby Ginepri, to Zagreb, Croatia, for a first-round match in the World Group Feb. 7-9.

Roddick, the 20-year-old who fought his way into the semifinals of last week's Australian Open, learned Monday in Los Angeles that he has tendinitis in his right wrist, an injury so severe that he won't pick up a racket for 10 days.

"The doctor said it was the most severe case of tendinitis he had ever seen," Roddick said.

The doctor, Norm Zemel of the Kerlan-Jobe group, would not comment on Roddick's injury.

Roddick, who played one of the classic matches in Australian Open history last week when he defeated Younes El Aynaoui of Morocco in a five-hour quarterfinal that ended in a 21-19 fifth set, fell and landed on the wrist near the end of that match.

"I didn't think anything about it then, and the wrist wasn't really sore after the match," he said.

"I packed up, went off, did my press, and then, when I went to leave, I picked up my big tennis bag and felt this huge pain in my wrist."

Roddick had played a 3 1/2-hour match Monday and the five-hour match against El Aynaoui on Wednesday and eventually lost in the semifinals Friday in a three-hour-plus match against Rainer Schuettler of Germany, the eventual runner-up to champion Andre Agassi.

"It was just too much, I guess," Roddick said. "Just too much court time."

Roddick, who wore a wrist brace Tuesday, said he had never had this sort of injury before, or any kind of tendinitis.

"I really didn't know what it was, how bad it was, until I saw the doctor yesterday," he said.

He said that, before his semifinal against Schuettler, he really wondered about the sensibility of playing and did so mostly because it was a Grand Slam event.

"I warmed up OK and thought I might be fine," Roddick said. "But it got worse as I went along.

"At the end, it hurt so much to hit my two-handed backhand that I was, pretty much, just releasing my right hand and hitting a left-handed forehand."

Roddick had set point to go up, two sets to one, but said that, even if he had won, he's not sure he could have played in the final.

"I was going to cross that bridge when I got to it."

His effort in the Australian brought him to No. 6 on the tour's entry system, the ATP's best measure of a world ranking, and made him the obvious top player for Davis Cup competition, now that No. 2 Agassi and No. 14 Pete Sampras have essentially retired from Davis Cup play.

Roddick said he wants to be the Davis Cup leader and is hoping Blake and Co. get through to the next round. He also said that, assuming quick healing of his injury, he hopes to return to defend his title in the Memphis tournament that begins the week of Feb. 17.

The next week has events in Europe that he would skip, hoping to heal his wrist more, and then, ideally, he would compete three weeks in a row, starting March 3, at Del Rey Beach, Fla., Indian Wells -- where he has not played before -- and Miami.

The U.S. Davis Cup team that will face Croatia is likely to be a two-man show, with Blake and Fish playing singles and doubles. Blake, 23, has played eight previous Davis Cup matches. Fish, 21, played doubles with Blake against Slovakia last February for his only Davis Cup experience.

Dent, 21, from Newport Beach, and Ginepri, 20, are Davis Cup rookies.

Croatia may have the services of veteran Goran Ivanisevic, who won the 2001 Wimbledon title but has been hampered because of a sore serving arm and shoulder ever since.

Like Roddick, Ivanisevic has been getting treatments in Los Angeles by Kerlan-Jobe.

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