Andy Roddick kicked the red powder off his shoes one last time yesterday, happy to be done with European clay and ready to return to the hardcourts back home for the Davis Cup quarterfinals.
Roddick beat Tomas Berdych, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4), to lead the United States to a 4-1 victory over the Czech Republic in Ostrava in the first round of the World Group.
"As far as the weight of the situation goes," Roddick said, "It definitely could be one of my best matches on clay."
The victory gave the Americans an insurmountable lead in the five-match format, and Roddick ran his record to 8-0 in Davis Cup matches with victory on the line. In the final match, which had no bearing on the outcome, Bob Bryan beat Lukas Dlouhy, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4.
The US will next play Spain in Winston-Salem, N.C., in April. It will be a rematch of the 2004 final in Seville, when the Spanish hosts beat the Americans on clay spread so thick it took any sting out of the US game.
"It was similar to a sandbox," Roddick recalled.
Now the Spaniards, likely led by Rafael Nadal, can expect something faster.
"I'm sure we will return the favor, and I'm sure the court probably won't be too slow," Roddick said.
Other World Group winners in the first round, all determined yesterday, were: defending champion Russia (at Chile), Sweden (at Belarus), Germany (home against Croatia), Spain (at Switzerland), France (home against Romania), Argentina (at Austria), and Belgium (at home against Australia).
The other pairings for the April 6 quarterfinals are: France-Russia, Germany-Belgium, and Sweden-Argentina.
Roddick, ranked No. 4 and winner of the 2003 US Open, displayed an overpowering serve and a solid baseline game. He mastered not only the clay but a partisan crowd and one of the game's rising stars to raise his Davis Cup record to 22-9.
"It is one of his biggest wins, certainly in Davis Cup -- one of his most impressive wins," captain Patrick McEnroe. said
The Americans had not won a Davis Cup World Group series on clay in a decade.
The US leads all nations with 31 Davis Cup titles. But the Americans are looking to end their longest Davis Cup drought, which dates to 1995.