WASHINGTON -- Ivan Lendl received an American flag and a ticket into the quarterfinals of the NationsBank Classic last night at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center.
Lendl, who became a U.S. citizen on July 7, dispensed with Jim Grabb, 6-1, 7-6 (7-4), and then walked off the court with the flag in hand.
Lendl, seeded third, took control of the match early when he broke Grabb in the third game of the first set. Then, up 4-1, Lendl hit a rocketing forehand cross-court passing shot off a Grabb second serve and Grabb double faulted, giving Lendl his second break of the set.
"I think I hit the ball better today than yesterday, I had better timing and a crisper sound of the racket and therefore more power in the strokes," said Lendl.
In the tiebreaker, flashes of the Lendl who was ranked No. 1 for 156 straight weeks from 1985-88 came through. He jumped out to a 4-0 lead on a backhand cross-court passing shot, then hit a first-serve winner at 5-1. On his second match point at 6-2, Lendl hit a backhand bullet return of serve that hit the net and fell over.
In the second match of the night, qualifier Jimmy Arias lost to sixth seed MaliVai Washington, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Arias was up a set and a break in the second, but his concentration lagged and Washington won the next eight games.
"I'm disappointed because it was a total mental breakdown," Arias said. "I was in control but I was getting a tiny bit tired. . . . I sort of handed him the match."
After falling behind 3-love in the third, Arias pulled even at 3-3. There were few errors in the third set, as Arias used finesse and touch to pass Washington, and Washington used his strength and quickness to put away volleys.
Eventually, strength and quickness prevailed.
"I tried to cut down on my errors in the second set," said Washington, who is playing in his fourth quarterfinal on his fourth surface this year. "The guy who's in shape and who's ready to play is going to win this tournament. It's anyone's tournament now."
Earlier in the day, Jeremy Bates retired from his third-round match against Henrik Holm of Sweden. Bates, who upset fifth seed John McEnroe in the second round, was trailing Holm 5-7, 0-3 when he quit.
Bates, whose ailment was diagnosed as tendinitis and bursitis in his right wrist, said it hurt him every time he hit a forehand.
"Holm was serving bombs down to my forehand the whole time, and I kept getting later and later and later and more scared of hitting it. I wasn't doing myself any favors by staying out there," Bates said.
Holm will play Lendl today in the second match of the afternoon session.
Top-seed Petr Korda breezed by Austrian Alex Antonitsch, 6-3, 7-5, in 109-degree heat.