Tennis: Andy Roddick wins Brisbane International
BRISBANE, Australia — Top-seeded Andy Roddick survived a second-set collapse Sunday to win the Brisbane International title, beating defending champion Radek Stepanek after the Czech player double-faulted on match point.
The American's 7-6 (2), 7-6 (7) victory in the final capped his first tournament in nearly three months since a season-ending knee injury in 2009.
"Radek, I know you won here last year and you were undefeated on this court and for a while I thought it might be your destiny," Roddick told the crowd at Pat Rafter Arena after his win.
"One thing about you, you get to every ball and never give up the fight — that's to be applauded."
Roddick nearly let the match slip away. He led 4-0 in the second set before Stepanek came back to take a 6-5 lead, with Roddick needing to hold service to force a tiebreaker.
The American dominated early in the tiebreaker, but Stepanek came from 6-1 down to make it close.
The Czech player held a set point at 7-6 in the second-set tiebreaker. Roddick won the next two points on serve, then watched Stepanek double-fault to hand him the title.
The lopsided tiebreaker loss in the first set seemed to deflate Stepanek. Serving to open the second set, the Czech hit a forehand into the net, double-faulted, flubbed a backhand and double-faulted again on break point to give Roddick a 1-0 lead.
Roddick led 4-0 before Stepanek broke the American's powerful serve twice to level the set at 5-5.
The 27-year-old Roddick injured his left knee in October, and the Australian Open warmup in Brisbane was his first tournament back.
Roddick's win ended Stepanek's nine-match winning streak at the Brisbane International.
Roddick won his first career title in Australia in his first final Down Under. He has had a frustrating time at the Australian Open, making the semifinal four times in the past seven years, only to be denied a shot at the title.
Roddick said he had to "hold on to the last shred of sanity" to win the match.
"I didn't expect to come in and win my first tournament after a pretty extended layoff," Roddick said. "You could focus on the last 20 minutes of stress or look at the whole week. ... Overall I feel pretty good about it."
Stepanek was happy with his ability to nearly turn the match around.
"To come back from 1-5 down (in the second set) against a player such as Andy with a tremendous serve, it was a great battle," Stepanek said.
"I never gave up. I was fighting until the last point. I said to myself 'you are in Brisbane, you won here last year, there is something special here', but in the end it wasn't good enough."
The Brisbane women's singles champion was decided Saturday when Kim Clijsters beat fellow Belgian Justine Henin 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (6) in a clash of two players back on tour after temporary retirements.
Clijsters, only five tournaments into a comeback that has already netted the U.S. Open title, saved two match points and then wasted three before clinching the win over Henin, a seven-time Grand Slam tournament title winner playing her first event back on tour.
Henin later pulled out of this week's Sydney International with an upper left leg injury, but expects to be fit for the Australian Open which starts on Jan. 18.