By Matt Van Tuinen & Ron CioffiATC
ay’s action at the Atlanta Tennis Championships setup what looks to be a big weekend of tennis. The quarterfinals were set, and the semifinals will be determined tomorrow.
In the first singles match of the day, 19-year old American Ryan Harrison defeated No. 4 seed Xavier Malisse. With the match tied at a set a piece and 2-1 in the third set, lightning and then rain halted play for two-and-a-half hours.
When the match restarted, Harrison dropped a quick break of serve, but battled to get it back and in the next game. From there he grabbed the upper hand and won 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4.
With his win over the No. 40 Malisse, Harrison is into his second career ATP World Tour quarterfinal. This year he has five wins over top 50-ranked opponents, and it shows in his confidence.
"Ever since the (2010) US Open, I have more belief in myself. A light bulb went off for me knowing that I can beat these guys. Even against Ferrer, Soderling and Roger, I had chances. I know I could play with those guys," he said.
Defending champion Mardy Fish also punched his quarterfinal ticket yesterday with a win over Frenchman Nicholas Mahut 6-3, 6-3. Fish cruised to a relatively easy win, but all matches have their moments of tension. Fish dropped a break in the second set, but like a veteran he battled to get it right back.
"This was my first match back on outdoor hard court," Fish said. "You always feel pressure where you’ve had success. I was just happy to move on. I got down a break in that second set. I got some momentum and broke back."
This is his sixth quarterfinal or better appearance this season, and he continues to cement his status as the top American player in the game.
Joining him in the quarterfinals were Somdev Devvarman, who defeated Tatsuma Ito of Japan, 6-1, 6-3, and Rajeev Ram, who defeated former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt 7-5, 2-6, 6-2. This is Ram’s first quarterfinal appearance in an ATP World Tour event, since he won Newport back in 2009.
In doubles, the British team of Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins defeated Igor Kunitsyn and Michael Russell 6-3, 6-1. In the semifinals on Saturday they will face the winner of the match between the University of Georgia’s Drake Bernstein and Georgia Tech’s Kevin King (who upset last year’s doubles champions in the first round) and Germans Matthias Bachinger and Frank Moser. In the final match of the evening Berankis/Malisse eliminated 6-1, 7-6(5).