Roddick works quickly; Safin exits early

Updated: September 1, 2004, 12:36 AM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Now that's the way to begin defending your first Grand Slam title: a U.S. Open-record 152 mph serve and a straight-sets victory.

Andy Roddick overwhelmed 17-year-old Scoville Jenkins of Atlanta 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 Tuesday night to reach the second round at the year's last major.

Roddick hit 12 aces and he ended the second game of the match with one at 152 mph -- just 1 mph slower than his tour record. He eclipsed the tournament mark of 143 mph registered by Greg Rusedski in 1997 and 1999.

"I just wanted to welcome him to the court," Roddick said with a laugh. "I knew he was a little bit nervous, so I thought that I'd go at him and show him something early on."

When Jenkins won his first game -- after trailing 6-0, 2-0 -- his father jumped out of his seat and pumped his fist. Here's how lopsided the first set was: Roddick won 24 of 29 points, and he needed just 16 minutes to wrap it up.

Two weeks ago, Jenkins became the first black player to win the USTA Boys' 18s National Championship. Winning that title earned him a wild card from the U.S. Tennis Association.

"I didn't play too bad. That's probably the best player I've played in my life: No. 2 in the world, defending champion," Jenkins said. "I've never seen a serve like that before."

Asked what it was like to return a 152 mph serve, Jenkins smiled.

"I don't know," he said. "I didn't return it."

Jenkins, who'll play in the U.S. Open junior tournament next week, is ranked No. 1,441 -- a mere 1,439 spots below Roddick. Before playing his first tour-level match Tuesday night at Arthur Ashe Stadium, he never had faced anyone ranked higher than 347th.

"All is fair: He took the wild card, he came here to play. Once you get out there, it's business," Roddick said. "I knew it was going to be a pretty daunting experience for him, especially early on. He'll be fine. Every other stadium will feel like nothing after playing out there."

He plays another teen next, albeit a far more accomplished one: Rafael Nadal, an 18-year-old Spaniard who won his first ATP Tour title at Sopot, Poland, just over two weeks ago.

Nadal, a left-hander ranked 49th, advanced at the U.S. Open by edging Ivo Heuberger of Switzerland 6-0, 6-3, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3.

Other top players in Roddick's quarter of the draw had a rough time Tuesday, too.

Just like at Wimbledon two months ago, Marat Safin exited at the earliest stage in the year's last Grand Slam, bowing meekly to Thomas Enqvist 7-6 (5), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

` "Believe me, I'm trying," Safin said, a grin creeping across his face. "If I would lie to myself, I would say it's Thomas' fault. But I don't want to lie to myself. A huge part of it is my fault, because I let him play well."

The 13th-seeded Russian was broken twice while serving for the first set, waved lazily at shots down the stretch and kept his usual muttering to a minimum.

Compare that effort to No. 5 Tim Henman's. His poorest Slam results have come at the Open, so he can't call on past success to help, the way Safin could if he wanted.

But battling a bad back that kept him off the practice courts for three days, Henman withstood 6-foot-10 Ivo Karlovic's 39 aces and toughed it out for more than 3½ hours in a 7-6 (3), 6-7 (7), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory.

"It really just made me sort of very, very clear in my mind that I wasn't going to get frustrated if he was going to serve aces or stuff, because it saved me doing the running," Henman said. "I felt like I kept my head about me pretty well throughout the whole match."

A sentiment Safin isn't ever likely to express, although you never know what he'll come up with.

At the French Open, he caused a stir by dropping his shorts to celebrate a terrific point. At Wimbledon, he said he was fed up with trying to win there and took the time to point out that tennis doesn't belong in the Olympics.

He's been fined for all sorts of things, on and off the court: swearing at a chair umpire, berating a tournament sponsor for not replacing the courtesy car he crashed, failing to show enough effort in a first-round loss to a qualifier at the 2000 Australian Open.

John McEnroe is a big fan of Safin's, which should surprise no one, praising him for expressing whatever he feels or thinks. Yet McEnroe was critical of the former No. 1's showing Tuesday.

"An unbelievably disappointing result for Safin. Very disappointing to watch that effort," McEnroe said, calling the match on USA Network. "To go out and seemingly not be into it at the U.S. Open doesn't speak well for the sport -- someone who really could have made a mark at the Open.''

Safin was the biggest name to fall through Tuesday afternoon's action. Indeed, other than Henman, few seeded players were troubled at all, though No. 11 Rainer Schuettler blew a 2-0 lead in sets and lost in five to Italian qualifier Andreas Seppi, while No. 24 Ivan Ljubicic quit with an injury.

Last year's runner-up, Juan Carlos Ferrero, had an even longer day, playing 4½ hours to cobble together a 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 6-3 win over Tomas Zib, a Czech qualifier who's never won a Grand Slam match.

No. 10 Nicolas Massu, a double gold medalist at the Olympics, advanced, as did No. 15 Paradorn Srichaphan, No. 18 Tommy Robredo, and No. 22 Dominik Hrbaty.

Safin's year began so promisingly, with victories over Roddick and Andre Agassi en route to the Australian Open final.

But he's rarely allowed his immense talent to shine through since, and he didn't sound all that heartbroken when discussing his latest loss.

"I am terribly disappointed. I really am," Safin said in a monotone, as though he were trying to convince himself. 'I had a lot of expectations for the tournament. I feel bad, yeah. To be honest, I'm feeling not really happy with myself. But it's already past, so I cannot change it."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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