Roddick's first match is crucial

Originally Published: November 15, 2004
By Malivai Washington | ESPN.com
Though both the red and blue groups at the ATP Masters Cup this week have the best players in the world, there is no question that the blue group is the weaker of the two -- if there is such a thing. Still, that doesn't mean it will be easy for Andy Roddick to hang onto his No. 2 ranking.

The weakest player in the blue group is Guillermo Coria, playing in his second Masters Cup after going 1-2 last year, because he has not played a match since July due to a shoulder injury. The fact that he qualified is amazing. He won two titles in six finals this year, including a runner-up finish at Roland Garros, but that was all in the first seven months of the year. He won't be anywhere near the top of his game, and it will be surprising if he wins a match in the blue group.

Coria takes on Marat Safin in Tuesday's day match. Safin is the hottest player right now behind Roger Federer. He is playing the type of tennis that won him the U.S. Open in 2000 and the final two Tennis Masters Series events of this year.

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