Andy Roddick beat Jurgen Melzer on the opening day of the $2.45 million Cincinnati Masters.
updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
Mason:Andy Roddick struggled with his serve Monday, but was solid in every other aspect of a rejuvenating 6-3, 6-4 win over Jurgen Melzer on the opening day of the $2.45 million Cincinnati Masters. A week earlier, Roddick was out of sorts during a first-round loss in Montreal, complaining about the brand of ball used for Masters events. The same brand of ball is used in Cincinnati, where Roddick was comfortable with everything but his first serve - only 56 percent went in. "It was kind of a weird match for me,'' he said. "I was putting a lot of returns in play. Once I was in the point, I felt like I was getting the better of it. But I didn't serve well, so it was kind of a backward match for me. But I think that's a good thing. I'm pretty confident my serve will come around.'' Andre Agassi, 35, hopes that his back will improve after two weeks away from competitive tennis, leaving him healthy for the US Open. An irritated nerve forced him to drop out of the Cincinnati tournament that he won last year. Agassi was considering another cortisone shot to calm the nerve and get him ready for the Open. "Unfortunately, I know this process all too well,'' said Agassi, bothered by back problems in recent years. "I know exactly what it needs.'' Two seeded players lost in the first round Monday - No. 14 Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia and No. 15 Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic. Top-seeded Roger Federer, who hadn't played in a tournament since he won at Wimbledon, was scheduled for an evening match against James Blake. Agassi's win at Cincinnati last year was a career highlight and a major step in his revival. The back flared up during a first-round loss at the French Open this year, forcing him to get treatment and miss Wimbledon for the second year in a row. Agassi returned and won the Mercedes-Benz Cup, his first ATP title in nearly a year. He made it to the final at Montreal on Sunday, losing a three-set match to Rafael Nadal. The back bothered him afterward, and he feared that playing in Cincinnati would make it worse. "Ten weeks ago, I didn't know where things were going to go,'' Agassi said. "I was home during the biggest tournaments of the year. So to be on the court healthy, being able to challenge myself with my game, feels great. "Now my hopes are for the US Open. I'm in a much better place right now than I was a few weeks ago.'' (AP)