Roddick was beaten in straight sets by a top of the line Marat Safin on the opening day before Blake bowed in four sets against U.S. Open semifinalist Mikhail Youzhny. But then the Bryan brothers kept the Americans in contention, closing the gap to 2-1 in the best of five match series between the two nations.And so Roddick faced the gifted Dmitry Tursunov on the final day. Tursunov has been one of the game’s most improved players in 2006, surging into the world’s top 30, demonstrating that he has the tools to bother anyone in his trade. Tursunov was much too solid for Roddick in building a two sets to love lead, displaying time and again better ball control from the backcourt. But Roddick was not going to surrender, and he came back with gusto to take the next two sets.
The two players battled gamely through a compelling and hard fought fifth set. Roddick broke for 6-5, and served for the match in the following game. Here, he let himself down considerably with the match well within his grasp. On the first point of the crucial twelfth game, he ran round his backhand to play an inside-in forehand, but he did not do enough with that shot as Tursunov connected cleanly with a running forehand crosscourt winner into a vacant court. Roddick got back to 15-15 but was caught on his heels by a deep forehand crosscourt return from the Russian. The American netted a forehand half volley from not far inside the baseline. Then Roddick attempted to exploit his big inside-out forehand but he committed a glaring mistake into the net. Down 15-40 he released an unreturnable first serve wide to the forehand. Three points away from victory at 30-40, he made another unprovoked error, taking Tursunov’s mediocre return of serve and pulling a forehand wide crosscourt.
Tursunov was back to 6-6. Roddick battled gamely and gallantly until he lost his serve at 15-16, displaying much grace under pressure during that stretch. He made a remarkable comeback, but he should have served out the match at 6-5 and been victorious. Had Boris Becker been serving for the match under similar circumstances, would he have come through? If Pete Sampras been placed in Roddick’s shoes, would he have served out the match? The answer to both questions is clearly yes. He competed honorably, but Roddick did not exploit his most formidable weapon when he really needed it.