| Andy Roddick is yet to come out of the shadow of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi
Paris: Andy Roddick was supposed to be the new torchbearer for American tennis as Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras headed towards the twilight of their illustrious careers.
More than two years after bursting on the scene, Roddick has not only failed to live up to the hype but remains firmly in the shadow of his 30-something American rivals.
Having won his first title outside US soil over the weekend in Austria, Roddick arrived at Roland Garros with high expectations. His hopes, however, were dashed on Tuesday when he suffered a demoralising four-set loss to Armenia’s Sargis Sargsian.
Roddick’s exit meant that out of the 13 United States citizens to have entered the French Open draw, only four managed to survive their first round ordeals. Tellingly, two of them were Agassi and Todd Martin — both members of the over 30s club.
“It’s weird going from feeling like you’re playing pretty well to not knowing what you are doing out there,” said Roddick, who lost in the first round here for the second successive year.
“I guess that’s what makes tennis unique. I just felt like I was fighting against my own game.”
If the 20-year-old wants to follow in the successful footsteps of Agassi and company, he needs to discover his winning touch as quickly as possible.
Over the past year, each time the Florida resident has run into Agassi, Sampras or Martin, the young pretender has emerged second best.
In the quarter finals of the 2002 US Open, Roddick had the best seat in town as he was handed a masterclass in tennis by 14-time Grand Slam champion Sampras.
Following that defeat, Roddick said: “I grew up idolising Pete and have a great respect for what he’s done.
“I watched and learned what I should be doing on all the big points because I was on the other side of it.”
Losses to Martin in Miami and Agassi in Houston this season have only compounded the fact that Roddick still has a way to go before he can take over the American crown of supremacy from his predecessors.
“The tricky thing about tennis is that you never know what’s going to happen,” said Roddick, whose best Grand Slam showing is a semi-final appearance at the Australian Open in January.
“I know I can play tennis. I know I have the ability to play really good tennis. You know, it’s just been peaks and valleys.
“All I can do is to try and prepare myself and work hard. Even the Lakers lose sometimes which means I definitely can lose a few times.”