NEW YORK (Reuters) - Some billed the match as a passing of the torch in American tennis, but 2003 U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick refused to hand it over in posting an emphatic 6-3 6-3 6-4 win over compatriot Jack Sock on Friday.
The 18-year-old Sock showed off a sizzling 134 mph serve and booming forehand in the second-round encounter but Roddick, 29, took charge with his mature talents on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court that has become his second home in New York.
“Tonight I felt like the ball was doing whatever I wanted it to do for the most part,” said Roddick, who has played more night matches at Ashe Stadium than any other player.
“I was able to control it.”
Roddick’s confident display spelled trouble for the young American playing his first match on center court up against his boyhood idol, a tennis star from his own home state of Nebraska, who made good on the world stage.
“I didn’t think I’d ever play another guy from Nebraska in my career,” added the three-time Wimbledon finalist, who has endured a sub-par season due to a shoulder injury and abdominal tear.
“You know, it was just cool. I could draw so many parallels to what he was going through. But also I could draw on my experience a little bit. I had a good time.”
Sock, Ryan Harrison and Donald Young, who scored a five-set win over 14th seed Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland to advance on Friday, form the vanguard of young American players the nation’s tennis officials are banking on to emerge.
Going up against Roddick was something special for Sock.
“He was the guy to watch for guys my age growing up. He was the up-and-comer, doing really well on tour. Obviously, being from Nebraska, that was more incentive for me to watch him,” he said.
“To be able to play him was the best tennis experience of my life.”
After the match, Roddick invited Sock to his Austin, Texas home in the off-season to practice with him.
Roddick said Andre Agassi took him under his wing as a young emerging player, and that he tried to do the same.
“Andre was probably my mentor when I came out. I didn’t go to his home, but we were in Florida the off-season in 2000 before he won the Australian Open 2001,” Roddick said.
”We were together pretty much every day.
”I certainly benefited from it, but I’ve had 25 up-and-coming prospects at my house. We’ll see how many get through,“ he said. ”Just because they come and visit for a little while doesn’t mean they’ll automatically make it.
“I don’t know how much I know about anything, but I‘m certainly happy to share what I do if they want to listen.”
Roddick said he has seen improvement already in Sock, who is a two-time U.S. Tennis Association boys’ champion.
”His serve’s gotten a lot better,“ Roddick noted. ”His forehand’s got some serious RPMs on it. You can’t teach that. You can’t teach 135 (mph serves) in your arm. You can’t teach the ball jumping off the court. So that’s good.
“He’s going to have to learn some of the subtleties in the game.”
Editing by John O'Brien