Roddick nets Valentine's love

He serves up a treat at Legends Tennis

Former world No. 1 Andy Roddick treated the Camana Bay crowd to an exhibition of his finest attributes Saturday as Legends Tennis returned to Grand Cayman. 

The recently retired Roddick showed he had lost little of his sharpness with some trademark blistering forehands and a series of rocket-speed serves that had the lines judge jumping for cover. 

Roddick triumphed in a friendly but feisty encounter with multiple major winner Jim Courier, a crowd favorite among the 1,500 spectators at the new court on Festival Green. 

Proceeds went to the Special Olympics athletes preparing to compete at the World Summer Games in Los Angeles in July. 

The previous night billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson was the special guest. He teamed up with Anna Kournikova and entertained the crowd with bizarre costumes and antics throughout in between some serious play when he displayed an all-round tennis talent.  

Lindsay Davenport teamed up with Mikael Pernfors against Branson and Kournikova on Friday.  

Courier, 12 years Roddick’s senior, rolled back the years with some of his signature inside-out forehands. But Roddick, who at 32 is still younger than some of the top players in the world – including perennial champ Roger Federer – was simply too good. 

“What better way to spend Valentine’s Day than with 1,500 people?” Roddick joked after the match in an on-court interview with Murphy Jensen, who earlier played a starring role in a mixed-doubles match involving Davenport, Courier and Kournikova. 

“I hope I can come back,” said Roddick, who was visiting the Cayman Islands for the first time. “But it is a little cold for me down here.” 

The breezes which blew across the Camana Bay court were a running joke all night between Roddick and the crowd, with the Texas-based star amused that anyone could find the balmy 70 degree temperatures, “chilly.” 

Roddick was not the only legend to sing the praises of the Cayman Islands and the Legends tournament.  

Kournikova – the Russian ace as famous for her beauty and off-court celebrity as for her playing exploits – said she has visited the island since the ‘90s and is impressed with its progress. 

Kournikova teamed up with Courier against Jensen and Davenport – a triple Grand Slam winner and Olympic gold medalist – to triumph in the mixed-doubles match. 

The lively Jensen, a doubles French Open champion with his brother Luke, was, on paper, the least famous of the five legends to take to the court on Saturday. 

But his colorful personality and flamboyant on-court style, including some preposterous trick shots, instantly endeared him to the crowd. 

Jensen and Courier traded crushing cross-court forehands, while volleys fizzed across the net at lightning speed as the quartet showed the touch of class that had made them all champions. 

At one point, Kournikova called on one of Cayman’s junior players to take her place for a point. 

Courier and Jensen both played up to the crowd, calling for support amid the party atmosphere at the new court and they emerged victorious. 

But it was left to Roddick, at the end of the night, to sum things up. 

“I’ve had a blast,” he said. 

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Andy Roddick’s forehand still packs a punch. – PHOTOS: JAMES WHITTAKER
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