Haas starts successful Memphis defense; Blake out with sore knee

Updated: February 25, 2008, 11:33 PM ET
Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Defending champion Tommy Haas won his opening match in the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships, defeating Diego Hartfield 6-3, 6-2 on Monday night.

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Haas, a three-time winner of the tournament and the No. 3 seed, served out the match after gaining his third break of the second set.

Hartfield, who defeated Haas two weeks ago in the first round of the Delray Beach International Championships, couldn't overcome a balky backhand, and Haas concentrated on that aspect of Hartfield's game.

"It's a different ballgame when you go out there and play in front of a crowd and the nerves play a role. It's not the same as practice," Haas said. "It was a tight match against him [at Delray Beach]. I did have my chances, I just couldn't utilize them. I was still a step too slow, and I made a lot of unforced errors.

"[Monday night] was different, and it was a great chance to redeem yourself right away."

Earlier Monday, second-seeded James Blake withdrew due to a right knee problem that has bothered him the past few weeks. Blake, who also withdrew from last year's tournament here, said he didn't believe he could play a competitive match and plans to rest for the next week or two.

"I was hopeful it would get better with treatment. It's pretty frustrating, but I need to get passed this and healthy for the rest of the year," Blake said in a statement released by tournament sponsors.

Earlier in Monday's play, seventh-seeded Jurgen Melzer was taken to three sets before defeating American John Isner, who was fighting the flu, 6-7 (8), 6-3, 7-6 (4).

Top-seeded Andy Roddick, coming off his win last weekend at San Jose, will play his first match Wednesday.

In the Cellular South Cup, the women's side of the tournament, Olga Govortsova of Belarus, the fifth seed, defeated Mashona Washington of the United States, 6-4, 6-2.

Fourth-seeded Lindsay Davenport won her opening match 7-5, 6-3 over qualifier Sabine Lisicki of Germany. Like Haas, it was a bit of revenge. Lisicki defeated Davenport 6-1, 7-5 earlier this month when the United States defeated Germany in the first round of the Fed Cup at La Jolla, Calif.

"It was one of those weird things where playing her in Fed Cup helped me so much," Davenport said. " ... This is just one of those luck of the draw things. There were four qualifiers, and I feel like I got the best one out of them."

The women's defending champion Venus Williams opens play Tuesday against Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press