Roddick tops Muller for Atlanta title
"I've always appreciated it,'' he said. "I've never thought it was easy.''
After the match ended, Roddick celebrated by gently tossing his racquet into the stands. A few minutes later, he handed the trophy to a random fan who seemed surprised.
"I've won 32 times and in every one of them I've never assumed I was going to win again,'' he said. "I just kind of go about the process of playing, work hard and hope I can put myself in position enough times where you kind of create some success for yourself.''
Roddick, 29, ranks third among active players in career titles behind Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
After taking the Eastbourne title before Wimbledon, Roddick has won two of his past three events and 11 of 12 matches. He will play for the U.S. team when the Olympics begin next week at Wimbledon.
A sore right shoulder caused Roddick to struggle with Muller's serve in the first set. Before the changeover, he called a medical timeout to see a trainer. He said the shoulder felt pinched, and there was a dull pain.
Roddick was concerned. A right shoulder injury last year had forced him to withdraw before the French Open, but the trainer all but assured him there was nothing structurally wrong.
"I felt like I could hit it straight ahead OK,'' he said. "I was just lacking movement and wasn't able to snap the ball off too well. I don't feel like I had my best serve today. It was just a little dead for whatever reason, but hopefully with a couple of days off it will be OK.''
Muller, 29, was denied his first tour victory in three tries. His last appearance in a final was seven years ago when Andre Agassi beat him in Los Angeles.
Despite winning all but six of his first-serve points, Muller double-faulted 10 times and lost 21 of 36 points on his second serve. The left-handed Muller had 20 aces to Roddick's 18.
Muller acknowledged feeling nervous as Roddick took charge of the match by winning five of the first six points in the second-set tiebreaker.
"It was a long time since I've been in position to win a tournament like that,'' Muller said. "I did very well until the middle of the second set, but then when it got closer to end of that set, I suddenly started to feel like I can win this maybe. That's when I got maybe a little bit more tight, and Andy started to play better.''
Muller was helped on his way to Sunday when No. 2 seed and two-time defending champion Mardy Fish had to withdraw with a right ankle injury in the second round. Fish was leading Muller in the second set.
Roddick advanced to the final with a 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-4 victory over No. 1 seed John Isner in a muggy Saturday night match that lasted 2 hours, 28 minutes.
On Sunday, the temperature was 91 degrees with a 98-degree heat index at mid-afternoon, but Roddick didn't think fatigue affected him early on.
"Honestly, it was probably good for me that it got away so fast,'' Roddick said. "I could just let it go. It was over so fast I certainly didn't have time to dwell on it.''
Roddick had not won in Atlanta since 2001, when he was 18 and the event was held on clay at a different venue. This year, he's had to overcome a right hamstring tear that he suffered in the second round of the Australian Open.
"I was able to kind of turn the corner at Eastbourne,'' he said. "I thought I played pretty well at Wimbledon. I had a real good look at making a run there and obviously played well here. Things are back on track, and I feel relatively healthy. Hopefully it was a blip on radar as opposed to that's just the way things are.''
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