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Roddick overcomes struggles for victory

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It took Andy Roddick a little more than 20 minutes to ring in his SAP Open debut Wednesday, but when the top-ranked American broke free from his opening-round doldrums, he certainly made his presence felt in the tournament he’s favored to win.

Unable to win a return point against for the match’s first five games, Roddick finally broke first-round opponent Frank Dancevic in the opening set’s 12th game, sending him on to a tougher-than-expected 7-5, 6-1 victory.

Perhaps feeling jet lag courtesy of a return trip from the Czech Republic for Davis Cup play over the weekend, Roddick had trouble dealing with his Canadian opponent and the new court at HP Pavilion.

Both players took advantage of the quicker playing surface, with the two players surrendering just four service points (all Roddick’s) in first 11 games, which took just 22 minutes to play.

Ahead 6-5 in the first set, Roddick finally made progress in his return game, winning two points to even the score at 30-30, before converting a powerful forehand winner and a carefully placed backhander to capture the first set 7-5.

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From there, Roddick rode the momentum of the dramatic first-set victory into a dominating second-set triumph. A clearly disappointed Dancevic could only sit and watch helplessly as Roddick piled up aces (13 on the night) in taking the second set 6-1.

“I was a little sluggish in the first set, but I didn’t see a whole lot of balls to hit,” said Roddick, the tournament’s No. 1 seed. “I don’t know how much of that was first round, new court or the travel.”

The nightcap featured second-seeded James Blake, one of Roddick’s Davis Cup teammates. Blake beat Igor Kunitsyn of Russia 6-3, 6-2 in his first singles match.

In the early session of Wednesday’s action, defending champion Andy Murray survived a tough three-set match against Kristian Pless, as the 19-year-old Scotsman eked out a 6-0, 6-7 (5), 6-4, to advance to the quarterfinals.

Playing in a quick turnaround after defeating American Kevin Kim the previous night, Murray jumped all over Pless in the opening set, winning 6-0, to appear easily on his way to his seventh straight win at the SAP Open.

However, in the next set Murray was broken in the first game, giving Pless the opening to a 7-6 second-set win. Murray rebounded in the match’s final set, breaking Pless in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead before eventually capturing the match with a 6-4 third-set triumph.

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