PARIS (AP) — On his way out of the French Open, Andy Roddick barked at the chair umpire about wet tarps lining the walls at his court. He groused about how his rackets were strung, even chucking a couple during a changeover. He wasn't too thrilled about his stadium assignment, either.
What the No. 6-seeded American did not complain about: his play Saturday, even if he departed in the third round with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 loss to 114th-ranked qualifier Teimuraz Gabashvili of Russia.
"He got the best of me, and he was getting the best of me in 70 percent of the points, as far as the way they were constructed," Roddick said. "He kept it from being a match that hinged on a couple of points."
Roddick's exit left one U.S. man around: unseeded Robby Ginepri of Kennesaw, Ga., who upset 2003 French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain 7-5, 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-4 later Saturday. The 98th-ranked Ginepri began the tournament with a 1-7 record this season, but he's beaten two seeded players en route to a meeting with No. 3 Novak Djokovic.
Roddick arrived in Paris without the benefit of a match on clay since his career-best run to the fourth-round at the French Open a year ago. And he hadn't competed at all, anywhere, in nearly two months, after taking time off to celebrate his first wedding anniversary, then getting a stomach virus.
So simply winning twice at his least-successful Grand Slam tournament was accomplishment enough. He generally finds it tougher to get around on clay than on grass or hard courts, and that again was the case on this day.
"When you don't get to a ball, it makes it real tough to hit it well," the 2003 U.S. Open champion said. "As far as timing and practice and stuff, I feel fine. It's just a matter of — when I was getting stretched here, I felt like my movement was horrendous."
The damp, cool conditions dulled Roddick's stinging serve. He had only four aces, five fewer than Gabashvili, lost serve four times and failed to convert any of his three break-point chances.
Gabashvili, never before past the second round at a Grand Slam tournament, compiled a whopping 58-14 edge in winners, while making the same number of unforced errors as Roddick, 20.
Roddick found other things to grumble about. About to serve while trailing 5-3 in the first set, he took three balls, inspected them, and said aloud, "No dry balls. So unprofessional."
The issue, he explained later, is one he's raised before with French Open officials: The tarps used to cover courts get rolled up and placed behind the baselines; sometimes those tarps are wet, and balls that hit them can become drenched themselves, affecting play.
During a changeover, Roddick engaged chair umpire Carlos Bernardes in a dialogue about the matter, saying: "Is there any conversation that takes place once we leave Roland Garros before I come back? All I can do is hold you accountable. Who do you talk to? Who's the supervisor? I want a name," Roddick said.
Moments later, Roddick concluded, "You guys just talk in circles."
The match was played on Court Suzanne Lenglen, site of several of Roddick's defeats at the French Open, a place where he lost in the first or second round every year from 2002-07. While hardly excited to be in that spot, Roddick said he understands why organizers keep putting him out there: He's not enough of a factor on clay to merit repeatedly playing in the main stadium, yet he's too big a name to put on a tiny court.
Gabashvili, on the other hand, is relatively unknown. He hadn't won consecutive matches at any tournament this season before the French Open.
He is quite a character, though.
"I'm really aggressive. I was born in (the former Soviet republic of) Georgia, so I have south blood mixed with north. They say it's very aggressive blood. Sometimes I go out of my mind even, in the match — start screaming, up-and-down always," Gabashvili said. "This (is) my biggest problem. ... I miss one crazy shot ... then I lose it. That's why they call me 'crazy.'"
He moved to Spain seven years ago to work on learning to construct points, because, he said, "I was hitting full power, every ball."
Asked if Saturday's victory represents the biggest of his career, the 25-year-old Gabishvili replied that it wasn't even his best match of this French Open.
Instead, he pointed to his second match of the qualifying rounds he went through because his ranking wasn't good enough to earn direct entry into the main event.
"It was unbelievable. ... It was (a) crazy match," Gabashvili said. "Today, I played very good. Very good. But not the best, really."
Roddick, for one, might disagree.