Roddick, Blake Lead American Charge in San Jose

Posted on February 22, 2008

Five Americans are featured in quarterfinal action on Friday at the SAP Open in San Jose, California as Andy Roddick, James Blake, Robby Ginepri, Mardy Fish and John Isner all bid for semifinal spots.

The first of the singles quarterfinal of the afternoon has unseeded Yen-Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei challenging fourth-seeded Czech Radek Stepanek. Stepanek won their one previous meeting four years ago in straight sets at Queen’s Club. The 24-year-old Lu is contesting his first quarterfinal at the SAP Open, having never been past the second round in his previous two appearances. The World No. 115 is appearing in just his second ATP tournament of the season and has recorded his first two wins with his victories over Max Mirnyi and Wayne Odesnik in the opening rounds this week. World No. 34 Stepanek will be making his second appearance in an ATP quarterfinal in 2008 after reaching the semifinals in Sydney (l. to Guccione) at the beginning of the season. The 29-year-old Czech has defeated Paul Capdeville and Bobby Reynolds on his debut in San Jose.

Finishing the day session on Centre Court towering American John Isner faces Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in a first time meeting. The 6’9’’ Isner is appearing in just his second career ATP quarterfinal; the Tampa resident had a breakthrough last season when he reached his maiden ATP final in Washington (l. to Roddick) and finished inside the Top 125 of the South African Airways ATP Rankings. Having lost first round in Melbourne (l. to Santoro), Isner has chalked up his first two wins of the season with victories over Florent Serra and No. 3 seed Tommy Haas on his debut in San Jose this week. World No. 75 Garcia-Lopez is contesting his second ATP quarterfinal of the season, having reached the last eight in Chennai (l. to Nadal). The 24-year-old Spaniard is enjoying his best run in San Jose, he lost first round on his previous two visits. He has battled through this week with three set victories over No. 6 seed Jurgen Melzer and Benjamin Becker.

Beginning the evening session from 7pm is an all-American clash between wild card Robby Ginepri and No. 2 seed James Blake. The pair has met six times before (five times on hard court), Blake has won their past three meetings and leads the head-to-head 4-2. The 25-year-old Ginepri is appearing in San Jose for the fifth time and is contesting the quarterfinals for the first time. The World No. 138 (former No. 15) has chalked up a 5-1 season so far, reaching the semifinals in his first event of the season last week in Delray Beach (l. to Blake) and defeating Jesse Witten and No. 8 seed Kristof Vliegen in the opening two rounds this week. Against Top 10 players, Ginepri has a 9-32 record and has lost the past eight matches. On his eighth visit to San Jose, World No. 9 Blake is figuring in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2003 when he reached the semifinals (l. to Agassi). The 28-year-old has had an impressive start to the season, reaching his first Australian Open quarterfinal (l. to Federer) and making the final in Delray Beach last week (l. to Nishikori). Wins over compatriots Sam Warburg and Jesse Levine this week have taken his season total to 11-3.

Rounding up the evening’s play is a second all-American clash between top seed Andy Roddick and unseeded Mardy Fish. Roddick leads the head-to-head 5-1 (all on hard court), having won their past five encounters, including the 2004 San Jose final. Roddick came through a tight first round encounter against lucky loser Chris Guccione, but had a smoother ride against Delray Beach champion Kei Nishikori in the second round yesterday. The 25-year-old is bidding for his third San Jose crown after lifting the trophy in 2004 (d. Fish) and 2005 (d. Saulnier); his tournament record stands at 22-4. The World No. 6 is contesting just his first ATP quarterfinal of the season; having suffered a surprise five set loss to Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round in Melbourne. World No. 77 (former No. 17) Fish is making his seventh appearance in San Jose and is a former runner-up, falling to Andy Roddick in the 2004 final; last year he reached the quarterfinals (l. to Karlovic). Last week, the 26-year-old Fish reached his first quarterfinal of the season in Delray Beach (l. to Ginepri) having lost third round at the Australian Open (l. to Nieminen). He has defeated American qualifier Tim Smyczek and German qualifier Denis Gremelmayr this week. (ATP Digital Services)