Spain, Fernando Verdasco's match against Andy Roddick in the afternoon's second
match took on critical importance.
The 23-year-old left-hander from Madrid regularly tested Roddick's
questionable hamstring by regularly dominating points and making Andy move
back-and-forth behind the baseline. With Roddick looking rusty at the outset, Verdasco's
serve and forehand carried the visitor to a 52 lead in the first set. But two
double-faults early in game nine set the stage for two unforced errors by the
Spaniard to surrender his one-service-break advantage. Soon afterwards, the
American captured the set-ending tiebreaker when Verdasco committed an
inexplicable error in the twelfth point.
The pattern stayed the same--Verdasco dominating most points with forcing play
but committing mistakes, often on the easiest shots. His serve meanwhile lost
some of its effectiveness, and he ended the match having committed nine
double-faults to Roddick's none. Andy had trouble at the finish, losing four or
five match points before finally prevailing, score 76 61 64.
With the world-champion Bryan brothers scheduled for the Saturday doubles,
the Americans now breathed easier. The fine crowd of over 14,000 that packed the
arena could take satisfaction in its impassioned and overall excellent