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Roddick focus back on day-time job

Houston: After hosting ‘Saturday Night Live’ and negotiating a new reality television show about his life on Tour, Andy Roddick returns to his day job this week and the business of finishing the year ranked world No. 1.

Jetting in from New York early on Sunday, the US Open champion was back on a more familiar stage at the Westside Country Club preparing for his opening match at the season-ending Masters Cup against Spain’s Carlos Moya.

Since taking over the number one ranking in Paris last month, Roddick has spent more time practising his lines than hitting them.

But the 21-year-old top seed will have to quickly put the focus back on tennis if he is to hold off French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain or Swiss Wimbledon champion Roger Federer, both of whom have their eyes on the big prize.

“I know I can play tennis a little bit... but I didn’t really know what to expect, I was pretty nervous,” said Roddick, assessing his performance on the long-running television programme that has showcased film stars, athletes and politicians. It was a different sort of adrenaline rush but I don’t think you can compare it to a tennis court. It was a lot of fun, it kept me away from the craziness and getting to deep into all this stuff.

“I practised up there (New York), just kind of away from everything and everybody. I have a very fresh mental outlook on this week because of that, I think.”

Roddick is unlikely to experience any stage fright at the Westside Country Club, which has become like a second home. Last season, the hard-serving American captured what was then his second career title in Houston beating Pete Sampras in the final and then returned to the Westside Tennis Club in April to lead the US past Spain in a Davis Cup tie.

Roddick also advanced to the final of this year’s Houston event, losing to Andre Agassi, and has enjoyed his time in Texas so much that he spent some of the $2.89 million he has earned this season on a home in nearby Austin.

“I’ve been to Houston many times, I have nothing but good memories here,” said Roddick, appearing in his first year-end event.

“I’m excited, one of my goals at the start of the year was to make the Masters. I feel like I’ve gone above and beyond that this year. I’d like to come out of this ranked number one. I think that’s my immediate goal. Like I said in Paris, right now I feel like I’m just kind of renting the ranking until the Masters starts... it will be settled then.”

Trailing Roddick by just 26 points, Ferrero is well within striking range of his American rival with 20 points on offer for each of the three round-robin matches, 40 for a semi-final win and a further 50 for the title.

“I think it’s going to be a great week for all of us and tennis as a whole,” said Roddick. “I think it’s good for tennis that there’s something riding on it.”

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