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Tennis

Coria's back is cause of letdown

Andy Roddick wins the Nasdaq-100 Open when Guillermo Coria retires.

By KEITH NIEBUHR
Published April 5, 2004

KEY BISCAYNE - Guillermo Coria slouched in his chair with a towel wrapped around his head, his hands clutching his face.

He had wanted this one. Wanted it badly.

In the stands, hundreds of the Argentinean's supporters, many wearing his country's colors of powder blue and white, had looks of stunned disappointment.

They wanted it, too.

For three sets, Coria battled American Andy Roddick, but in the end it was a stinging lower back that got the better of him. With Roddick leading 6-7 (2-7), 6-3, 6-1 in the Nasdaq-100 Open final Sunday, Coria was forced to retire after playing three points in the fourth set, stopping what had been a thrilling back-and-force match before an announced 13,118 at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park.

"I felt burned out and very sad after all that I had to go through this week, the tough matches that I had to play," Coria said. "It was extremely hard for me, very disappointing. I was hoping the pain was going to go away, but I knew after a certain point it was not going to go away."

Roddick earned his first Nasdaq title and second of the season. He became the sixth American man to win here. Roddick is 3-0 against Coria and has won his past eight finals.

"It's not the picture-perfect ending, it's not the way you want to win a tournament," Roddick said. "But at the same time I'm here at the end of the day. That was my goal coming into the tournament."

Roddick also had issues. In the morning, he had trouble keeping food down, and his stomach still was sore during the match.

"I was battling," Roddick said. "I was trying to bluff my way through because I knew he was hurt. But I'd much rather play through an upset stomach where you know it's just a temporary thing as opposed to an injury. I was definitely working with the lesser of two evils there."

The final showcased the power of the 6-foot-2 Roddick against the skill of the 5-9 Coria. Roddick, ranked No.3 in the world, hit several serves of more than 130 mph and at times displayed a blistering forehand. Coria, ranked fourth, countered with splendid court movement, great net play and a series of delicate drop shots.

Roddick was raised in nearby Boca Raton, and though he had his share of fans, those rooting for Coria made the most noise. In the first set, with the players going back and forth, Coria fans danced after points and sang between games, giving the match a Davis Cup feel.

"I thought it was great," Roddick said. "I thought it was fantastic. The chants, they weren't for me, but I thought it was awesome. It creates a great atmosphere."

Late in the first set, Coria's back began to ache. He wasn't sure how the injury, which he said he should be recovered from in a few days, occurred. He speculated it might have been the result of hitting Roddick shots high off the bounce. Coria began stretching and holding his back between points. Trailing 6-5, he received a medical timeout.

Coria took off his shirt, lay flat on the ground and was given a massage to ease the pain. When play resumed, his serve took a significant dip in power, but he rallied to win the game. Coria then took advantage of several Roddick miscues to claim the tiebreaker.

After Roddick broke Coria's serve early in the second set, he took control. Ahead 5-3, Roddick broke Coria on set point No.3 when he double faulted. Coria never threatened after that.

"I probably should have retired after the first set, but nobody wants to retire in the final with all the people that paid the money to come see me play," Coria said.

[Last modified April 5, 2004, 01:20:27]


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