MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Andy Roddick wants to clear up any
misconceptions about why he's not going to Dubai. It has nothing to
do with his health, and he proved that Sunday on the court.
Roddick won his first title of 2009 and the 27th of his career,
beating Czech Radek Stepanek 7-5, 7-5 in the finals of the Regions
Morgan Keegan Championships.
Only Roger Federer (57) and Rafael Nadal (32) have won more
titles among active players. Roddick confirmed Friday that he
wouldn't defend his title at Dubai. He said he wasn't happy about
the denial of a visa to Israeli player Shahar Peer by the United
Arab Emirates for the women's event this week.
But Roddick read a report that a hernia was his reason for
"There's no other reason. Obviously, I don't have a hernia. I
probably wouldn't have played too well today. I would ask you guys
to check but that might be inappropriate. I'm 100 percent
healthy," Roddick said.
Now Roddick plans to work on his conditioning with his week off
and may arrive in Birmingham, Ala., a little early for Davis Cup
first-round play with Switzerland.
"I love the tournament in Dubai. The actual event that's put
on, they do a great job with this. I know a lot of this was out of
their hands, but it is what it is. You have a week off as opposed
to traveling there," Roddick said.
Being healthy is what Roddick worked so hard for during the
offseason with new coach Larry Stefanki. He lost 15 pounds.
On Sunday, Roddick got a bit of revenge for losing to Stepanek
in the semifinals in San Jose last week and improved to 5-1
all-time against the man trying to become the first Czech to win in
Memphis since Ivan Lendl in 1991. He called it satisfying to win a
tight match with lots of long rallies. Roddick won the key points
by breaking Stepanek in the 12th game of each set.
"Obviously, he's been playing his best tennis of his career
probably this year and especially the past couple weeks. I knew
what it was going to take, and I was able to get there," Roddick
Roddick extended his streak of years with at least one title to
nine, the longest current streak on tour, though Federer could
match him with a victory this year.
"We have a long year ahead of us," Roddick said. "We always
do, but this is the best start I've had in a long time. Possibly
ever, actually, if you just look at the first two months of the
The world's sixth-ranked player took home the $300,000 winner's
check and 500 ranking points for the ATP World Tour. He improved to
17-3 in match play this year. Of his 27 titles, 19 have come in
North America. This is Roddick's second at Memphis.
The American, with his fiancee, model Brooklyn Decker, cheering
him on at courtside, was coming into the final off the longest
match of the tournament. He needed two hours, 11 minutes to beat
Lleyton Hewitt compared to the 57 minutes Stepanek breezed past
qualifier Dudi Sela.
Stepanek came in enjoying the best start to a year in his career
with two titles already to his credit and trying to win for the
second straight week. He had won nine consecutive matches but
Roddick broke him in the second game to go up 2-0. Stepanek
trailed 3-1 when he broke Roddick and then held serve to even the
first set at 3-3.
"I had no doubts I wouldn't break him back," Stepanek said.
"I had a lot of chances today to break him and didn't convert
them. That was the biggest difference between the two of us."
They appeared headed toward a tiebreaker when Stepanek trailed
30-40 and hit a forehand long to give Roddick the first set.
Tied at 4 in the second set, Stepanek had a chance to break
Roddick at 15-40. The American fought back to force deuce, served
up one of his eight aces with a 130 mph, before Stepanek hit a
forehand wide after a long rally.
Stepanek kept the match entertaining, at one point using his
head to knock a ball back to a ball girl and then hitting a ball
over to a ball boy through his legs. After the match, Stepanek
noticed he had been given the winner's trophy and presented it to
"Since he said I was the best player throughout those two
weeks, I said, `OK, maybe I keep it maybe.' But no. He deserved
it," Stepanek said.
When needing to hold serve to force a second-set tiebreaker,
Stepanek won only one point off a forehand Roddick hit long up
0-40. Roddick then closed out the title with a forehand passing
shot, celebrating by raising both arms in the air.
"It was huge. You go into a third, it's a coin flip at best
because he probably has a little bit of momentum going," Roddick
said. "I feel like when I'm playing well I do a good job of
closing out. Even the two games before I broke him, I played pretty
good games and at least forced him to work a little bit."