Open not closed to U.S.

Fish, Blake carry flag to 3rd round without Roddick

September 03, 2010|By Diane Pucin, Tribune newspapers

NEW YORK — Andy Roddick is out of the U.S. Open, and lately when Roddick is eliminated from a major tournament, it's the end of American men in the draw.

But there was 19th-seeded Mardy Fish on Thursday, gliding around the Louis Armstrong Stadium court, using his sweet touch, able to time his volleys, willing to change the pace on his groundstrokes. Combined with a late-career decision to become supremely fit, the 28-year-old Fish looks rejuvenated, especially after his 7-5, 6-0, 6-2 victory over Pablo Cuevas in his second-round match.

In a much different way, 30-year-old James Blake, who thought about retiring after Wimbledon, feeling his sore knees and spirit were broken, also is making a mark. He moved into the third round with a 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Canadian qualifier Peter Polansky.

After the final point of his 2-hour, 29-minute match, Blake pointed to the court and shouted, "My house," as the crowd stood.

American men scheduled to play Friday are 18th-seeded John Isner and 20th-seeded Sam Querrey.

Fish, who lost 30 pounds over the last year, is pleased with his play.

"I was pretty solid throughout," he said. "Much more aggressive than the first round. Physically I feel great. This is the spot I want to be in."

Another American made a breakthrough on the women's side as 18-year-old Beatrice Capra, a student at the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, Fla., upset 18th-seeded Aravane Rezai 7-5, 2-6, 6-3. Capra, ranked 371st in the world, took down No. 95 Karolina Sprem in the first round.

A few weeks ago Capra thought she'd just be playing the juniors here and, in her words, "chilling out." She had been upset in the national 18-and-under tournament.

She got a wild-card entry from the USTA, then had to earn her spot in the main draw by winning a wild-card playoff. Now she is in the third round and will face 14th-seeded Maria Sharapova, who beat Iveta Benesova 6-1, 6-2 on Thursday.

Upset of the day: Sixth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko was eliminated by 38th-ranked Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

Friday's featured matches: Twelfth-seeded Elena Dementieva vs. No. 24 Daniela Hantuchova; defending champion and second-seeded Kim Clijsters vs. No. 27 Petra Kvitova; fourth-seeded Andy Murray vs. Jamaica's Dustin Brown; third-seeded Venus Williams vs. qualifier Mandy Minella of Luxembourg; top-seeded Rafael Nadal vs. Denis Istomin.

dpucin@tribune.com

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