Paris: Sometimes you have to stop beating yourself up about losing and accept that the better man won, and Andy Roddick was the first to admit on Saturday he had been a comfortable second best.
The American sixth seed was on the receiving end of a barrage of fizzing winners flying from the racket of Teimuraz Gabashvili as the Russian qualifier made a mockery of the 106 places separating the two on the world rankings.
“I got outplayed from the first ball,” Roddick told reporters after a 6-4 6-4 6-2 demolition in the French Open third-round match on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
“You know, it was a tough match-up for me in these conditions. He was getting in control of the rallies most of the day.
“Today he definitely had plenty of time to take swings at the ball so it was tough for me to penetrate him. He was similar to (finalist Robin) Soderling last year. His swings are big enough to where he can create length even when it is heavy.”
Roddick, never past the fourth round here and clearly no lover of clay, struggled to come to terms with the cooler, breezy conditions and knew it was not going to be his day as early as the seventh game.
He slapped his racket into the floor after spooning a forehand wide, went to his chair for a new weapon but was broken the next point as Gabashvili seized the initiative with a delightful drop shot to go 4-3 ahead.
When Roddick returned to his chair he furiously extracted his rackets from his bag, tossed them disdainfully towards his entourage and barked orders for new string tensions.
“They were just tight. I felt like I wasn’t getting much on the ball, and so I kind of threw them in and wanted some looser tensions.
“By the time I got them in I think I was down two breaks in the third. Little too late to experiment.”
In fact it was an irritable performance all round from the American, who later became engaged in a running debate with the chair umpire about the balls getting wet when they were hit onto the tarpaulins still damp from Thursday’s downpours.
“If a ball rolls through a puddle enough times, can you tell me what happens to it? Then when clay attaches to it, it doesn’t get lighter!
“It’s something that I’ve been pretty adamant about complaining about behind closed doors for a long time.”
But the 27-year-old accepted the defeat with good grace and his attention inevitably switched to grass, and Wimbledon, where he came as close as it is possible to winning the title 12 months ago when he lost out 16-14 in the fifth set of the final to Roger Federer.
“I don’t go in with any sense of entitlement or any sense of anything like that. I’m excited to get onto a surface that I actually feel that I can impose my game on a little bit more,” said Roddick, a three-time finalist at the All England Club.
“I don’t feel like there’s that many holes (in my game). I feel like my game automatically kind of translates well to that surface.”