By Simon Evans
MASON, Ohio (Reuters) - Andy Roddick's U.S. Open preparations took a turn for the worst on Tuesday when he suffered a back injury in a 7-6 6-3 first round defeat by France's Jeremy Chardy at the Cincinnati Open.
Chardy, who took his place in the first round as a 'luck loser', triumphed 7-4 in a first set tie-break but Roddick struggled in the second set during which he had treatment for back spasms.
After receiving attention, Roddick's serve was noticeably slower and he was broken twice by the Frenchman who is ranked 38th in the world.
Tournament wins in Atlanta and Eastbourne had indicated an upturn in form for Roddick but now he has to see whether he will be fit to play at Winston-Salem next week or hold himself back for the Open.
"I don't know yet. You know, we're going to have to figure this thing out. I don't have all the answers for it yet," Roddick said after his loss.
The back injury came when the American went for a low shot, he said.
"I felt fine early on, and then I had one lunge forehand and, we have all had it, your back kind of goes out or spasms a little bit," Roddick explained. "It got progressively worse.
"In a perfect world I'd love to play next week. I feel like I'd benefit from that. That's what we're going to try to do," he said, adding he would evaluate the situation in three days.
Chardy will take on Russia's Denis Istomin in the second round.
There was better news, though, for another American with 10th seed Mardy Fish defeating Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-2 6-2 in their first round game.
German former world number two Tommy Haas saved one match point to beat Argentine David Nalbandian 6-7 7-6 6-3 and the 34-year-old will next face Argentine sixth seed Juan Martin del Potro.
Japan's Kei Nishikori cruised to a 6-1 6-2 win over Spaniard Marcel Granollers in a match that lasted just 65 minutes.
Russian-American Alex Bogomolov also wasted little time in beating Finn Jarkko Nieminen 6-4 6-3 to set up a clash with world number one Roger Federer, a four-time winner at Cincinnati.
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)
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