Mardy Fish advances to quarterfinals
HOUSTON -- Top-seeded Mardy Fish of the United States beat Albert Ramos of Spain 6-3, 6-4 on Thursday night to advance to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Clay Court Championships.
Fish dominated most of the match and was leading 5-1 in the second set when Ramos made a charge. Ramos held in the seventh and broke Fish in the eighth game on the fourth break point.
Ramos held in the ninth game after escaping one break point to pull to 5-4. However, Fish finally put the match away after escaping two break points in the 10th game.
"Naturally, you think 6-3, 5-1 and you figure the finish line is pretty close," he said. "You've got to keep your foot on the gas a little more. But he played better at the end. He has nothing to lose at that point. We've all be there."
Fish, who won the clay-court title in 2006, is the top-ranked American at No. 11 in the world. Fish saved eight of nine break points against Ramos, including six of seven in the second set.
It was Fish's first match on clay this year.
"You forget how physical it is and how patient you have to be and how points don't just end as quickly as they do on hard courts," he said. "You walk off any time with a win on clay court and you are pretty satisfied."
Third-seeded Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain also reached the quarterfinals, overcoming five double-faults and hitting only 38 percent of his first serves in a 6-4, 6-1 win over India's Somdev Devvarman.
"I played pretty consistent and it was a solid match for my first time on clay this year," Garcia-Lopez said after reaching the quarters for the third time this year. "Overall, I am happy with the start. I look forward to the quarterfinals."
Seventh seeded Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay cruised to a 7-5, 6-1 victory over James Blake of the U.S. after a hard first set. Cuevas, who defeated Andy Roddick at Miami, served six aces in the runaway second set and hit 14 of 15 first serves.
Blake battled to get through his first round match against Carlos Berlocq of Argentina before pulling out a 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-4 victory. In that match, he saved 18 of 20 break points.
He wasn't as lucky on Thursday.
"I didn't play too bad on my serve, I didn't think," Blake said. "I just couldn't make anything happen on his serve. I don't know if that was unusually good but it was pretty darn good."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press