Sun, Jul 18, 2004 - Page 23 News List

Mardy Fish fails to advance upstream

PROFESSIONAL TENNIS The third seed was beaten by Cyril Saulnier of France in the quarterfinals of the Mercedes-Benz Cup in LA


Mardy Fish returns to Cyril Saulnier of France during their quarterfinals match during Mercedes-Benz Cup at the Los Angeles Tennis Center in Los Angeles, Friday.


Mardy Fish became the latest seeded player to lose at the Mercedes-Benz Cup on Friday, leaving Andre Agassi as the only seed remaining in the tournament.

Fish, the third seed, was beaten 7-6 (6), 7-6 (7) by Cyril Saulnier of France in the quarterfinals. The American is 0-2 in his career against Saulnier, who reached the semifinals for the second consecutive week.

"He played the big points well," said Fish, who had won all three of his previous quarterfinals this year. "I felt if I could just get it to a third set, I would be in control. I thought I was going to with seven or eight set points I had. For you not to win one of these points is unlucky."

Saulnier said, "I tried to stay focused, fight, play my game and be aggressive."

Fish will play for the US team in the Olympics next month.

Saulnier advanced to a Saturday semifinal against either the top-seeded Agassi or Tommy Haas of Germany, who were to play Friday night at UCLA.

Jeff Morrison, a wild card entrant, defeated Wesley Moodie of South Africa 6-3, 6-4 to reach his first ATP Tour career semifinal. He will play Nicolas Kiefer of Germany, who beat Greg Rusedski of Britain 6-1, 6-4.

Coming off a tournament win last week in Newport, Rhode Island, Rusedski ran out of gas.

"It was one match too many," he said. "I was just tired. I just couldn't do any more and he's playing well. I've done a lot of weeks in a row."

Morrison's victory did more than just advance him in the tournament. It earned him a spot in the main draw of next week's RCA Championships in Indianapolis, and most importantly, put him into the main draw of the US Open beginning Aug. 30.

"I feel pretty good about my game," Morrison said. "I didn't play as well as I did yesterday, but I competed hard. He broke me once and I broke him right back and broke his spirit a little bit."

Morrison has slipped a notch since making his pro debut four years ago. He is No. 107 in the tour's entry ranking system, which isn't high enough to consistently get into tour-level tournaments without playing the qualifying. When he doesn't qualify, he's relegated to the minor league Challenger events.

Bank of the West Classic

Top-seeded Venus Williams dominated play early en route to a 6-0, 6-3 victory Friday over fifth-seeded Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi of Israel in the quarterfinals of the Bank of the West Classic.

Williams needed just 15 minutes to complete the first set, in which she won 24 of the 28 points. Smashnova-Pistolesi led once -- at 30-0 in the third game.

"I couldn't miss a ball," Williams said. "The pace of my ball put a lot of pressure on her."

Second-seeded Lindsay Davenport fell behind early but rallied to beat fellow American Mashona Washington 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 in another quarterfinal.

Williams, making her second-round loss at Wimbledon two weeks ago look more like a fluke, meets Amy Frazier in one semifinal.

Sixth-seeded Frazier knocked off third-seeded Patty Schnyder of Switzerland 6-3, 7-6 (4) to reach her second Bank of the West semifinal.

Mercedes Cup

David Ferrer saved three match points Friday and went on to edge Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-7 (3), 7-5 for a place in the semifinals of the Mercedes Cup ATP clay-court tournament.

French Open champion Gaston Gaudio also advanced, beating fifth-seeded Jiri Novak 6-4, 6-3.

Guillermo Canas defeated Radek Stepanek 6-4, 6-4.

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