Qualifier Michael Russell took advantage of the ailing Mardy Fish for a 6-3, 6-1 victory on Thursday in the second round of the US Men’s Clay Court Championship.
Fish, the top seed in the tournament and ranked ninth in the world, was playing for the first time since pulling out of Davis Cup competition against France for what he called a health issue.
“What happened a couple of weeks ago scared me,” Fish said. “I’m not over it. Anyone could see I wasn’t myself.”
Fish’s elimination leaves No. 2 John Isner as the tournament favorite. The towering American sent down 16 aces in beating Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-2.
In other second-round results, South Africa’s Kevin Anderson beat the US’ Sam Querrey in three tight sets, Juan Monaco of Argentina was a straight-sets winner over Japan’s Tatsuma Ito and Ryan Sweeting won the all-American match against Bobby Reynolds.
The 136th-ranked, 33-year-old Russell knew he had a great opportunity against a struggling Fish and recorded his first ever win over a top-10 ranked player.
“In the beginning, I thought he was playing pretty well and it was neck and neck, and then his game definitely deteriorated big time,” Russell said. “I just tried to ride the wave.”
Fish hit only 52 percent of his first serves and had five double faults.
“I was trying to take advantage of my service game and I took advantage of his unforced errors,” Russell said. “It turned out great.”
Russell added he was surprised that Fish played so quickly.
“He was playing very quick between points,” Russell said. “It was unusual. When I’m up a break, usually you’ll take a little more time, but he was kind of rushing through. I wasn’t going to stop him. I wanted to keep the momentum going.”
Fish said he was not certain about his next move.
“I’ll get with family and try to sort some things out,” Fish said.
Isner won 76 percent of his first serves and his big serve got stronger as the match went along.
“It was difficult to lose that first set, but I told myself to keep on my serve and that’s what happened,” Isner said.
Anderson, seeded fifth, had 13 aces and saved eight of 10 break points to edge Querrey 7-6 (7/3), 3-6, 7-6 (7/2). After taking a 6-2 lead in the final tiebreaker, Anderson won it at the first match point.
“I had to dig deep to get through that first set,” Anderson said. “I played well in the tiebreaker. I played better than yesterday.”
Monaco, who beat Ito 6-3, 6-3, is 8-2 on clay this year and reached his third quarter-final of the season. He was scheduled to play Anderson in the quarter-finals yesterday.
GranD Prix Hassan II
AP, CASABLANCA, Morocco
Jeremy Chardy of France upset top-seeded Florian Mayer of Germany 6-3, 6-1 on Thursday in the second round of the Grand Prix Hassan II.
Mayer won just four of 19 points on his second serve and was broken six times by Chardy, who is scheduled to face Albert Ramos of Spain in the quarter-finals.
The seventh-seeded Ramos defeated Victor Hanescu of Romania 6-2, 6-4. Ramos saved the only break point he faced and broke Hanescu three times to wrap up the win in 1 hour, 22 minutes.