Saturday, January 20, 2007

Win Some, Lose Some

Americans Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish booked a quarterfinal clash on Sunday at the Australian Open while Ashley Harkleroad fell in her third-round match.

Roddick pulled out all the stops in his fourth-round encounter with 9th seeded Mario Ancic of Croatia, winning the match 6-3 3-6 6-1 5-7 6-4 in just over three hours.

Meanwhile, Fish continued his impressive form in Melbourne. The unseeded American, currently ranked 42nd in the world, took out 16th seeded David Ferrer in four sets, 6-1 7-6(4) 2-6 7-5.

Harkleroad did not fare as well, losing to 15th seeded Daniela Hantuchova 6-7(6) 7-5 6-3. The 21-year-old started off the match well, taking the first set and jumping out to a 4-1 lead in the second. Hantuchova surged back, however, breaking Harkleroad's serve at love to even the match at 5-all and winning eight of the next 11 games to advance to the fourth round.

While Roddick and Fish now assure an American birth in the semifinals, James Blake, the 5th seed, takes on Chilean Fernando Gonzalez in the fourth round. Should Blake win over the hard-hitting South American, he will face either Andy Murray or Rafael Nadal.

Fish and Roddick are close friends, often hitting together at tournaments and practicing in Florida. The higher-seeded Roddick leads their head-to-head matchups 4-1, but shouldn't look to walk through the quarterfinal with ease. The last time the two met, in Memphis a year ago, Roddick needed a third-set tiebreak to get past Fish.

And while Serena Williams is currently leading Jelena Jankovic 3-0 in their third-round encounter (I love AO Radio), the American flag can fly a little higher today: four still alive and week two upon us.

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