NEW YORK - As a kid, Andy Roddick was hard-pressed to come up with a better birthday treat than going to the U.S. Open with his mom. At 9, he was thrilled to be on the scene while Jimmy Connors made a stirring run to the semifinals.
'I'd get here for the first match and I wouldn't leave till it was over. Those are probably my fondest memories, just sneaking into the nosebleed sections,' Roddick recalled Thursday. 'I actually snuck into the players' lounge one time and stole a cheesecake.'
He still comes to Flushing Meadows at birthday time, nowadays as a competitor - and with a certain James Scott Connors tagging along as his coach.
Roddick turned 25 on Thursday and marked the occasion by reaching the U.S. Open's third round, although not before losing the opening set and moving on when his opponent, Jose Acasuso of Argentina, quit after the third because of a left knee injury.
The score was 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 when Acasuso decided he couldn't continue.
'That's the good thing about Grand Slams - you get in the grind, and whoever doesn't mind the grind wins,' Connors said after watching the match through silver wraparound sunglasses. 'The way Andy played today, especially in the second and third sets, is always good.
'As long as he's playing the right kind of tennis, that's all that counts.'
Maria Sharapova sure played the right way Thursday night, overwhelming 90th-ranked Casey Dellacqua of Australia 6-1, 6-0 in 51 minutes.
'I think she'll most definitely go all the way,' Dellacqua said.
The second-seeded Sharapova already had won seven of the first eight games when she disagreed with an official's ruling and argued a bit with the chair umpire. The defending champion's dad was even more agitated in the stands, holding an animated conversation with her agent, who shook his head and covered his face with his hand.
'It's only going to get tougher from here,' Sharapova said, 'so I'm looking forward to the challenge.'
One of her second serves showed up at 129 mph, which would tie Venus Williams' Grand Slam record - but the company that oversees the serve-speed system at the U.S. Open called it a glitch.
'It was definitely a mistake, because, one, I've never hit a 129 in my life, let alone a second serve, and, two, it definitely didn't feel like a 129,' she said. 'So definitely wishful thinking.'
No. 6 James Blake of Tampa was playing French veteran Fabrice Santoro in the night's final match.
Earlier in Arthur Ashe Stadium, a trainer came out to wrap white tape above Acasuso's left knee after the second set, then added another bandage below the knee at the next changeover. By the end, he was as stiff and creaky as the Tin Man in 'The Wizard of Oz,' barely bending or moving.
'I don't think you like winning matches like that,' the No. 5-seeded Roddick said. 'But at the end of the day, your goal is to get through.'
In other words: no complaints. Same for Donald Young, the 18-year-old Chicago native who was 0-11 in tour-level matches until last week and never had won a Grand Slam match until this week.
Now he's in the Open's third round, and he didn't have to lift a racket Thursday. His scheduled opponent, No. 13 Richard Gasquet, withdrew, citing a viral infection.