Roddick finds "balance" between passion and control

By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Andy Roddick is playing with a passion and trying not to let his emotions get out of control despite clashes with match officials at the Australian Open.

"Yeah, overall I'd say I've definitely learned the balance," he told reporters on Friday after grinding out a 6-7 6-4 6-4 7-6 win over Spain's Feliciano Lopez to reach the fourth round.

"As far as point to point, I think I approach matches maybe a lot more even keel than I used to. I kind of negotiate my way through the match."

The 27-year-old American has enjoyed a clinical, if occasionally combustible, start to the Australian grand slam with straight sets victories over Thiemo de Bakker and Thomaz Bellucci.

After admonishing a line judge after colliding into him during his first-round match Monday, Roddick engaged in a heated argument with the chair umpire over a Hawk-Eye review that overruled an ace he had served on match point.

"You know, obviously some things change in the heat of the moment," said Roddick, who will next face Chilean Fernando Gonzalez after the 11th seed defeated Kazakhstan's Evgeny Korolev in five sets.

"But what was a little bit lost the other day (on Wednesday) was the fact that, you know, it happened. I went and finished the match, then had my -- we'll call it an episode."

TIPPING POINT

Against Lopez, an opponent he has beaten in all six encounters, Roddick admitted his frustration levels were reaching tipping point, but said he "was not going to get into a jawing match with umpire."

They were more directed at himself and the Spaniard, who upset the American's perfect 5-0 tiebreak record this year in the first set, then hung in the match despite offering Roddick a myriad of chances to wrap up the match earlier.

"I needed to convert. You know, I had a lot of breakpoints there in that fourth set. And I needed to bear down on one of those," he said.

Although Roddick let his racket feel the brunt of his frustration, at one stage slamming it into Rod Laver Arena's court, his game would offer little to be upset about, with 29 aces and only 24 unforced errors against Lopez's 62.

Against Gonzalez, Roddick holds an 8-3 winning record.

"He's a very dangerous player. Some days he comes out, looks like he's playing ping pong the way he can sling the ball around."

"I think I'm going to have to keep serving the way that I have been, kind of try to control the pace of the match with my first serve. We'll see."

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Patrick Johnston)