Nadal Beats Fish, Roddick Shaky at ATP Queens

Posted on June 15, 2006

Three players suffering through lackluster seasons turned their fortunes around Wednesday at the ATP grasscourt stop in Queen's, winning two matches on the day in the midst of a rain-backed-up schedule at The Stella Artois Championships.

Aussie Mark Philippoussis, who hadn't put together back-to-back wins on tour all year, led the way Wednesday with wins over South African Weslie Moodie and No. 11 seed Sebastien Grosjean in three sets.

"For me, I just need to play matches," said Philippoussis, who has been snubbed for a Wimbledon wildcard this year and will have to play the qualifying. "I just want to concentrate on this tournament and take it a match at a time. Whatever I have to do, whether I have to go out there and play qualies, win three matches, I've got to do that. It doesn't matter. It has to be done."

Also double-dipping were Max "The Beast" Mirnyi (d. (10) T.Johansson 7-6 in the third and Bracciali) and Taipei's Yeu-Tzuoo Wang (d. Bjorkman, (4) Davydenko 6-1 in the third).

Three-time defending champ Andy Roddick received a scare when the No. 3-seeded American was forced to battle back from a set down to defeat Canadian qualifier Frank Dancevic 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.

"I felt like I struggled a little bit early and I wasn't totally comfortable. Let's give credit to him because in the first set he played unbelievable," Roddick said. "But as the match went on I played better and better. I knew the beginning of the second set was going to be crucial, so it was nice to get the early break and go on from there."

Roddick's countryman Mardy Fish didn't have such a fight-back in him, going down meekly as the favorite against top seed Rafael Nadal 7-6(1), 6-1. Fish, who put on a brilliant display in his first-round win, tightened up against the French Open champion Spaniard, getting in well under 50 percent of his first serves and averaging almost one double fault every service game. At one point the gasping Fish offered up four double faults in a row.

"Seriously, this is a very important victory for me," Nadal said. "A very good surprise. I had only played 2-1/2 hours on grass since arriving here and it is a tough surface to change to. But I like to play here, it has a silence. It is a different sport."

Another American, No. 9 seed Robby Ginepri, continued his turn-around play with a straight-set win over Janko Tipsarevic, who earlier in the day beat Andy Murray to the dismay of British fans.

After a slow-motion meltdown that included mutterings, audible obscenities and whacking various things with his racquet, Murray in his post-match conference went to his familiar "I'm only 19" card.

"I'm ranked in the world Top 50 and I'm only 19 so I'm not worrying about things right now," said Murray, who is has won five of 15 matches since winning his first career title in February at San Jose. "I just have to win some tighter matches and play more consistently...I am obviously still looking for (a coach) and it is not the easiest to find. I think after Wimbledon and before Cincinnati and Toronto I should have found a coach by then."

Other seeded winners Wednesday were (2) Ivan Ljubicic (d. Sabau), (6) Fernando Gonzalez (d. Dupuis), (8) Lleyton Hewitt (d. Vicente from a set down), (13) Gael Monfils (d. Reynolds), (15) Dmitry Tursunov (d. Udomchoke in three), and (16) Paradorn Srichaphan (d. Y.-H. Lu in three).

Frenchman Nicolas Mahut turned up a turf upset with a three-set win over (7) Radek Stepanek.

Tim Henman (d. Delgado) advanced to the delight of British fans, joined by another un-seed in Spaniard Fernando Verdasco (d. H.-T. Lee in three).

"For the first time in a couple of years I feel comfortable with my style of play and I thought I played very, very well," said Henman, who says he is no longer bothered by back pain. "I would be the first to admit I have not enjoyed the last few of years on grass because I was not comfortable and was not playing in the way I felt I could or should. Probably 2002 was when the conditions changed and it has taken a long time to be able to adjust. But today was a different story and I feel if I keep playing this kind of tennis things are looking good."

On court Thursday at Queen's is Henman vs. Mahut, (1) Nadal vs. (Q) Verdasco in an all-Spanish, (13) Monfils vs. (2) Ljubicic, (16) Srichaphan vs. (3) Roddick, (6) Gonzalez vs. (WC) Philippoussis, Mirnyi vs. (8) Hewitt, (5) Blake vs. (9) Ginepri in an all-American, and Wang vs. (15) Tursunov.