LA JOLLA — It wasn't so long ago that the last Davis Cup match in Southern California brought on a sick feeling for the Americans.
Andy Roddick said he never felt quite like this on the court before, though.
Up two sets against Romania's Andrei Pavel, the world's No. 82-ranked player, Roddick grew ill and lost, 6-7 (2), 2-6, 7-6 (8), 6-2, 6-4, in an opening Davis Cup match that lasted more than 3 1/2 hours Friday at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club.
So visibly hampered that he didn't make much attempt to reach some balls, particularly in the fourth set, Roddick finished the match -- even rallying in the fifth -- before receiving intravenous fluids afterward.
"I felt fine physically, but then my stomach started giving me lots of problems," Roddick said. "Then I vomited, and I didn't have anything left for my body to use as fuel. ... I felt dead after that."
James Blake tied the best-of-five match against Romania, 1-1, by defeating Victor Hanescu in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-2, as the favored U.S. team tries to make a better Davis Cup showing than it did in its upset loss to Croatia at the Home Depot Center in Carson last year.
Roddick, the world's No. 3-ranked player, is coming off a fourth-round loss at the Australian Open and has failed to reach the quarterfinals in three of his last four Grand Slam tournaments, enduring disappointments in Davis Cup play as well.
He couldn't identify anything he ate or any medication that might have made him sick Friday.
"Eggs and potatoes, last night spaghetti and meatballs, no fish, no undercooked steak," he said.
Patrick McEnroe, the U.S. captain, suggested the possibility of competitor's nerves, but Roddick didn't put much stock in that.
"If it was nerves, I'd be puking during the Wimbledon finals," he said.
Roddick had an opportunity to put away Pavel during the third-set tiebreaker before he became ill. But Pavel saved a match point with a topspin lob that fell in behind Roddick after he came to the net.
"What possessed me?" Pavel said. "I guess my lucky angel."
Roddick, who called for a trainer at one point because of a hand cramp, first vomited during a changeover early in the fourth set, and again later.
"I wasn't looking at the scoreboard," he said. "I'm sure it's on tape somewhere."
Unlike Justine Henin-Hardenne in the Australian Open final last month, he was determined to finish the match and even thought he could come back in the fifth.
"You can't quit down 4-1 in the fifth," he said. "Worst-case scenario, you stick it out for two more games."
There was the also the matter of teammates and countrymen, he said.
"If I'm playing the first round in you-pick-a-city and I'm sick, it's just me. I can handle it. I have next week," he said. "But I almost felt mad at myself or my body. You want to finish it out because you're playing for your teammates and all you guys who are American. You know, there's a lot more responsibility in Davis Cup."
Pavel, 32, saw the distress that Roddick, 23, was feeling.
"I saw his body is not fit anymore. I said to myself, 'I have to keep playing my game.'
"But it's not easy sometimes. I guess it's like hunting. When somebody is injured, they are going to hit as hard as they can and try to shorten the points."
After conserving energy in the fourth set, Roddick fell behind, 5-1, in the fifth and then fought back to 5-4 largely on big serves. He had 22 aces and 11 double faults in the match.
"He started serving, like, without even moving, just from his arm. He started serving aces nonstop," Pavel said.
"Yeah, I got a little bit nervous there."
With Pavel serving for the match, Roddick saved two match points before losing when he netted a backhand on the third.
Pavel, scrambling to the net, did a somersault and came up grinning.
"It's not about the No. 3 player. It's about making the first point against the United States, one of the biggest nations in tennis," he said.
Blake's victory kept the U.S. from falling into a big hole, and the U.S.-Romania match continues today with Australian Open doubles champions Mike and Bob Bryan taking on a still-to-be-decided Romanian doubles team
"Yeah, Bryan brothers," Pavel said. "It doesn't matter who on our team is playing. We are going to have a tough, tough time."
The match concludes Sunday with reverse singles. Roddick dismissed any question Friday's illness would keep him out.
"I'm playing," he said.