CINCINNATI -- American No. 2 Andy Roddick lost his first match of the US Open Series Monday night in Cincinnati, falling to Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-1 at the Western & Southern Open in Mason, Ohio.
Since he made it to the semifinals in Cincinnati last year, the loss will drop Roddick's ranking outside the top 20, where it has not resided since 2002.
The match was Roddick's first in over a month due to an oblique injury suffered in practice after Davis Cup, an injury that forced him to pull out of tournaments the previous two weeks in Washington and Montreal.
Roddick's bursts of frustration as the match turned in Kohlschreiber's favor played a more important role in the match than it has in most any other match. After blowing his break advantage in the second set and being broken twice to eventually lose the set 7-5, Roddick cracked a racquet in frustration, and received a receiving a code violation warning for racquet abuse. After going down 30-40 on his serve in the second game of the third set, Roddick sent a ball flying into the stands, and was given second code violation (for ball abuse), one that carried with it a point penalty that cost him another break.
Roddick was furious, and berated chair umpire Carlos Bernardes. His game fell off even further from that point, broken another time in the third set, eventually losing it 6-1.
After the match, Roddick showed moments of contrition.
"Soon as I did it I want it back," Roddick began.
But then he retreated somewhat.
"I can't blame him, but I'm sitting here turning a six week injury into a three week injury, rehabbing eight hours a day, and a split second decision he interjects himself and it's done. It's so frustrating."
But then he took the blame again.
"I certainly accept what I did. I put him in a bad situation out there."
But then Roddick compared tennis unfavorably to pro wrestling.
"But I do think it's stupid in tennis that I mean, in football if someone throws a helmet on the sideline, it's there helmet. We wonder why we lose our ratings battles to the WWF, Monday Night Raw."
But more than angry at the umpire, it was clear in the end that Roddick was annoyed at himself most of all.
I was just disappointed. Equal parts mad and also disappointed in myself. My team also, we've been trying to get back and I do that. You know, it's essentially a long uphill battle from there. So I was pretty mad at myself.
With his ranking dropping so far so fast, questions about his potential to ever regain the position he held in the past are sure to get louder . Things could turn around for Roddick next week in Winston-Salem or the week after that at the US Open. But if he continues to fall, if he finds himself in unseeded territory at the Australian Open, you have to wonder if he'll even show up.
Mardy Fish said in Washington last week that he still considers Roddick to be the "alpha male" of American tennis. But with so many other men clearly exerting their dominance while Roddick falters, it's hard to know how much longer that feeling will last.
Stay tuned to SB Nation's coverage of the 2011 US Open Series at SBNation.com as well as on Twitter, @DailyForehand .