Andy Roddick came to the Winston-Salem Open to get his game – and his legs – ready for next week’s US Open.
He took the first step toward that goal on Tuesday night with a solid, workmanlike 6-2, 6-4 win over Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
That moves Roddick into a third-round matchup on Wednesday night against Santiago Giraldo.
Roddick was playing in just his second match since suffering a strained abdomen in early July. He lost to Philipp Kolhschreiber in the first round last week in Cincinnati, when he lost his tennis legs in the third set.
He said he is taking a different approach this week, and admitted he played a bit conservative against Roger-Vasselin.
"It’s tough coming off an injury," Roddick said. "I feel like at times last week I tried to overplay, and I overcompensated. This week in practice I’ve really tried to get back to low unforced error counts, kinda get my legs back under me, get into a flow of rallies, serving well and not giving away anything. Hopefully that will parlay itself into, well, it’s a thing where you crawl before you walk. I feel like I did that OK tonight."
The tournament’s top seed said that he was feeling fine physically, with no abdominal pain. He took a couple of spills on the court Tuesday night, but never flinched.
"Haven’t felt it in five or six days now," he said. "So that’s a good thing."
Roddick broke Roger-Vasselin, ranked No. 107 in the latest South African Airways ATP rankings, in the fifth game of the first set, and his emotions showed for the first time. Then he broke again and closed out the first set 6-2. He broke Roger-Vasselin again in the third game of the second set, and relied on his serve – 11 aces, 66 percent on first serves – the rest of the way.
Roger-Vasselin got into the Main Draw as a lucky loser and advanced to the second round with a 7-6, 2-6, 7-6 victory over Lukas Rosol on Monday, and Roddick was well aware of that match.
"I was trying to make him be aggressive from tough positions on the court," Roddick said. "If he wanted to shorten the point he was having to go for a winner from further back on the court, or from low or high. I was rarely putting the ball in his pocket. He had the choice to make either that or he was going to be out there a long time and it was going to be a battle of legs. I know he was out there for a little while last night, so even if we’re even from the baseline, I feel like my serve is better in that matchup. I liked the way the points were developing."
The victory was Roddick’s first since the second round at Wimbledon, but he scoffed at the significance of it.
"It’s also the second match I’ve played since Wimbledon," he said. "I’ve read a lot and heard a lot about a slump, but this is my third event in six months or five months. It’s hard to win an event when you’re not playing. But I felt good out there today. I didn’t feel like an injured guy. Everything felt good. My focus was on competing tonight as opposed to compensating for something. So that is a good feeling."
He said he expected to get into more of a rhythm as the week progresses.
"It’s just a matter of getting into a rhythm of points, which is tough when you haven’t played in a while," he said. "So that’s the biggest thing for me, not to be scared of extended rallies. You have to get your legs back and there’s only one way, and that’s jumping in."
In the only other singles matches of the night, Jarkko Nieminen beat Denis Istomin 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, and Giraldo beat Blaz Kavcic 6-2, 6-3.