INDIAN WELLS, California Outplayed by Richard Gasquet early on, eighth seed Andy Roddick exited Indian Wells on Wednesday after partially recovering from a slow start and losing control of his temper in the second set.
The big-serving American was upset 6-3 7-6 by the Frenchman in the fourth round of the elite Masters Series event, having reached the final here a year ago when he was broken only four times in six matches.
"He played really well," Roddick told reporters after his own impressive win-loss record for this year slipped to 16-3. "He outplayed me from the first ball. He was obviously very confident.
"When he was downhill with the wind it was tough for me to get into a point. He was getting a lot of action on the ball. I don't think he missed a first ball until we were six games in.
"And then the game that he broke me in the second set was one of the best return games someone's played. He hit a couple winners off returns and hit some great passing shots. I put him in a commanding position where I was uphill after that."
Eighteenth-seeded Gasquet is blessed with one of the most enviable backhands on the ATP Tour and he used it to devastating effect as he broke Roddick in the fourth game to take the first set in 32 minutes.
The Frenchman, who reached a career-high seventh in the rankings in 2007, then raced into a 3-1 lead in the second set before the American was warned for racket abuse by chair umpire Fergus Murphy.
"I give you a warning," the petulant Roddick immediately shouted back to Murphy.
Asked after the match why he had issued a warning to Murphy, Roddick replied: "Because he gave me a warning. I feel like with the mistakes he made, it's only fair that I would give him a warning as well.
"I only made one mistake. I only broke one racket. He missed a couple of calls, so I feel like it was a little presumptuous of him to give me a warning off one broken racket."
Roddick's heated on-court exchange with the chair umpire seemed to inspire the American as he came from 4-2 down in the second set to force a thrilling tiebreak.
With the set on the line, Gasquet charged 5-2 up after hitting a backhand winner as he approached the net, immediately prompting a frustrated Roddick to hurl his racket across the court.
However, the American then clawed his way back to 5-5, drawing level with the Frenchman after miraculously conjuring a forehand winner on the run that landed in the corner.
Gasquet edged ahead 6-5 when a Roddick backhand sailed long and he sealed victory on the first match point with a stunning backhand service return down the line.
"I tried to force it and be more aggressive in the second (set), but when you play that way, it starts coming in bunches," Roddick said. "You win in bunches and you lose in bunches.
"I think it caught up to me a little bit in the tiebreaker. He played very well. He's certainly capable. He's always been capable. Whenever you talk about the talented guys, he's always one of them."
(Editing by John O'Brien)