Fish Leads Upset-Minded Americans at Aussie Open

Posted on January 15, 2007

Unseeded Americans were responsible for all three upsets on opening day Monday at the Australian Open, with Mardy Fish claiming the biggest scalp in No. 4-seeded Croat Ivan Ljubicic 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-4.

"It was a great opportunity to play someone like him, to show everyone I can play, that I'm back," said Fish, talking to reporters and commenting on his improved forehand. "I had no confidence whatsoever in it but now it feels like I can hit winners off it. If everything clicked I knew anything could happen today."

Ljubicic admitted the loss was a continuation of his big-match choking tendencies at the Grand Slam events.

"Fortunately I am used to disappointments in Grand Slams," Ljubicic told reporters. "Maybe I was putting too much pressure on myself. When I play ATP tournaments I feel like the world No. 4, but maybe in Grand Slams I put myself under too much pressure."

Other upset-minded American winners were Sam Querry, who likewise came from a set down to beat No. 27 Jose Acasuso, and journeyman Zack Fleishman who ousted No. 30 Agustin Calleri.

World No. 1 Roger Federer overcame a slow start, trailing 3-5 in the first before storming back to dismantle Bjorn Phau 7-5, 6-0, 6-4.

Andy Roddick received a scare from 21-year-old Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, advancing 6-7(18), 7-6(2), 6-3, 6-3 when the Frenchman faded in the hot Melbourne conditions.

Tsonga out-served the American to survive the opening-set marathon tiebreak 20-18, but entering the second-set tiebreak it became evident the Frenchman was not in condition, with sloppy footwork contributing to a quick tiebreak loss and early breaks in the next two sets.

Roddick displayed an argumentative attitude throughout the match, yelling expletives at his opponent and engaging in multiple arguments with the chair umpire.

"I think I got a little first-round jitters," Roddick said. "These first matches are a little bit uncomfortable sometimes. But it got better as I went along."

Other seeded winners Monday were (7) Tommy Robredo (d. Ramirez Hidalgo, bagel in the third), (9) Mario Ancic (d. Go "Get Me a" Soeda), (11) Marcos Baghdatis (d. Schuettler in four), (14) Novak Djokovic (d. Massu, dropping two games), (16) David Ferrer (d. Pless), (18) Richard "Baby Fed" Gasquet (d. Volandri), (20) Radek Stepanek (d. Llodra, bagel in the third), (22) Dominik "The Dominator" Hrbaty (d. Vanek in four), (24) Juan Carlos Ferrero (d. Hajek who retired in the first with a stomach virus), and (25) Mikhail Youzhny (d. Hernych, bagel in the third).

Swede Joachim "The Jackhammer" Johansson retired against Guillermo "G-Lo" Garcia-Lopez in the first set with a blister, while other unseeded American winners were Vince Spadea (d. Andreev) and former NCAA champ Amer Delic (d. Simon).

Struggling Frenchman Gael "Force" Monfils was a four-set winner over Daniele "Choppin'" Bracciali, while the even-more-struggling Paradorn "The Thai Fighter" Srichaphan saw his campaign ended by Israel's Dudi "Where's My Car?" Sela in straight sets, suffering with a wrist injury.

As of 8 a.m. EST, Marat Safin was entering into the fifth set against Benjamin Becker.

Seeded players and other matches of interest scheduled for Tuesday are (2) Nadal vs. Kendrick, (19) Hewitt vs. Russell, (5) Blake vs. Moya, (8) Nalbandian vs. Tipsarevic, (15) Murray vs. A.Martin, (13) Berdych vs. H.-T.Lee, (12) Haas vs. Montanes, (3) Davydenko vs. Roitman, (29) Xavier "X-Man" Malisse vs. Clement, (28) Grosjean vs. Christophe "The Roach" Rochus, (10) Fernando "Gonzo" Gonzalez vs. Korolev, (21) Tursunov vs. Waske, (17) Nieminen vs. Goldstein, (23) Soderling vs. Mayer, (32) Almagro vs. Ginepri, and (31) Wawrinka vs. K.Kim.