Triumphant return for Roddick after heartbreak

WASHINGTON: US top seed Andy Roddick made a triumphant return in his first match since a heartbreaking Wimbledon final loss, defeating Germany's Benjamin Becker 6-3, 6-2 at the ATP Washington Classic.

Fifth-ranked Roddick fired eight aces and overpowered his 47th-ranked rival in 55 minutes to reach a third-round match against countryman Sam Querrey, who beat Russian Igor Kunitsyn 6-3, 6-4 at the 1.4 million-dollar hardcourt event.

"I learned what I wanted out there. I wasn't going to get too creative," Roddick said. "I wanted to get my feet under me and not come out firing from all the gates, just try and do the basics well.

"I did all right. All in all it was a good first match."

Swiss superstar Roger Federer outlasted Roddick in a five-set thriller at the All-England Club a month ago to claim his record 15th Grand Slam title, but not before Roddick pushed him through the longest fifth set in Slam history.

"I was certainly eager to get back out there," Roddick said. "I'm glad to be getting into the swing of it."

Roddick, a three-time champion at Washington, broke Becker's first service game in each set. Roddick lost only three points on his serve in the opening set, ending it on an ace, and broke at love in the fifth game of the last set.

"I did a good job of putting returns in the court," Roddick said.

Roddick, whose only Grand Slam title came at the 2003 US Open, felt the rust of a month-long layoff most in his serve, even though he connected on 58 percent of first serves.

"I didn't serve that well. It wasn't where it normally is," Roddick said. "If I have to have one thing rusty that I don't worry about coming around, it's my serve."

Querrey has been on a roll in the past month, reaching the finals at Newport and Indianapolis and winning last week's title at Los Angeles.

"He's in form. It's certainly not going to be easy for me," Roddick said. "He has a full month of matches behind him. It's probably going to come down to a few points here or there."

Querrey expects to letdown from Roddick despite the layoff.

"It's going to be a tough match," Querrey said. "If you want to be in the top 10, you've got to beat guys in the top 10. It's a good test to see where I'm at."

Former world number ones Lleyton Hewitt of Australia and Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain reached the third round. Hewitt defeated Israel's Dudi Sela 6-3, 2-6, 6-2. Ferrero ousted seventh-seeded Davis Cup teammate Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-2.

"I've had to get better every match," Hewitt said. "For me it's about building up match practice going into the Masters Series and the US Open."

Hewitt will next meet defending champion and second seed Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina.

Ferrero, who snapped a five-year win drought in April at Casablanca and won the deciding match in Spain's Davis Cup quarter-final tie against Germany last month, will next play Germany's Tommy Haas for a quarter-final spot.

"I was a little bit surprised. I expected a tougher match," said Ferrero, the 2003 French Open champion who lost a clay final Sunday in Croatia.

Big-serving Croatian Ivo Karlovic fired 18 aces to defeat Germany's Rainer Schuettler 6-4, 7-5 and book a third-round match against India qualifier Somdev Devvarman, who upset Croatian sixth seed Marin Cilic in the second round.

"If Ivo is serving well, it's hard to even get a look," Devvarman said.

Devvarman downed lanky Karlovic in January at Chennai in a run to the final in his hometown but lost the championship match to Cilic.

"He's extremely fast," Karlovic said of Devvarman. "In India, it was the first week of the year so I was not into it. Now it will be a different match and hopefully I will win."

Serbian Viktor Troicki, last year's Washington runner-up, retired with a right foot injury after losing his first three games to France's Marc Gicquel.