Reuters - Tue, 08 Jun 21:43:00 2010
Andy Roddick got a taste of his increased popularity in Britain when hundreds of fans squeezed on to a narrow pathway just to watch him practise at Queen's Club.
The American, who was given a long standing ovation after losing an epic five-set final to Roger Federer at Wimbledon last July, arrived in London for the AEGON Championship feeling jaded after yet another woeful performance in the French Open, where he went out in the third round.
However, as Roddick stepped on to the slick grass of Queen's by clambering over the side hoardings, he was greeted by a female cry of: "We love you Andy, this will be your year".
Roddick acknowledged the fan by comically raising one eyebrow before getting down to business with his hitting partner, as the throng of spectators jostled for space on the pathway beside the practice court.
Residents of the houses surrounding the leafy tennis club made the most of their vantage points by leaning out of their first- and second-floor windows to catch a glimpse of the Wimbledon runner-up.
"A lot maybe changed after Wimbledon last year. Why? I don't know," Roddick said referring to the final where he was finally subdued 16-14 in the fifth set by Federer.
"I feel like I've worked hard at what I do for a long time. For some reason it hit home during that tournament for a lot of people last year. I certainly think the sentiment is maybe a little bit different now."
Despite the blustery wind swirling around the court, Roddick's black T-shirt was soon drenched in sweat as he fired down his thunderbolt serves before giving his hitting partner the run-around with ferocious groundstrokes.
After 30 minutes, the four-times Queen's champion signalled to his team that he had had enough and packed away his rackets in preparation for his opening match against Russian Igor Kunitsyn.
Five hours later, Roddick's work on Centre Court lasted little longer as he blew away Kunitsyn 6-2 6-1 and earned a standing ovation from the near 7,000-strong crowd.
Aegon Championship – Queen’s Club: Every day 12.15pm LIVE on British Eurosport (Sky 410 / Virgin 521) & on the Eurosport Player.