- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It was a wretched day for the top seeds at William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center on Tuesday as the tournament’s third-, fifth- and sixth-seeded players all lost before nightfall.

No. 3 Feliciano Lopez and No. 5 Mardy Fish were both upset, and No. 6 Marat Safin retired with a “neck injury” against Fabic Fognini.

Top-seeded Andy Roddick, however, won but needed a second-set tiebreaker to finish off Ramon Delgado 6-3, 7-6 (4) in the night session behind 21 aces.

Among the upsets, Fish was first to go, suffering a disheartening loss to Colombian Alejandro Falla. It was Fish’s third first-round exit in his last four ATP tournament appearances and sweet revenge for Falla, who fell to Fish at last week’s Countrywide Classic in Los Angeles.

After breezing past Falla with a nearly flawless first set, Fish imploded, finishing the match with eight double faults and 41 unforced errors.

Fish’s frustration was visible on center court. The 24-year-old right-hander slammed his racquet to the surface at numerous points throughout the match, eventually smashing the Wilson [K] Six-One 95 after he fell behind 4-3 in the second set.

“It’s never fun to lose,” Fish said. “[It’s] maybe a little more frustrating this time, having played well last week.”

Fish, who has competed in five tournaments in the past five weeks, said the loss may be a blessing in disguise.

“Maybe it’s good for me to get a little bit of a break here,” said Fish, who has four days off before play in New Haven, Conn., begins Aug. 17. “I think I got a little ahead of myself scheduling a tournament each week for the summer.”

Shortly after Fish’s flop, Robert Kendrick served up a shocker in the grandstands by knocking off Lopez in straight sets.

Kendrick mauled the 25th-ranked Spaniard with 13 aces and allowed Lopez only 12 return points.

“I went out there and swung away,” said Kendrick, who faces Somdev Devvarman in the second round. “I felt relaxed out there. It was important in those first couple games to set the tone.”

Next to go was Safin, who made it through just one set with Fognini.

The two players were set for a normal changeover after Fognini won the first set 7-5, but Safin smashed his racquet and promptly left the court.

“I pulled a muscle in the first game, and it was just getting worse and worse and worse,” the 28-year-old Russian said, adding he would have quit even if he had won the first set. “It’s a pity, but I have to deal with it.”

Roddick won the first set in 37 minutes but had trouble finishing Delgado off, allowing him to win three straight games at one point.

“I was just playing sloppy,” said Roddick, who has won the Legg Mason three times. “It got a little tighter than I would have wanted it to.”

Roddick closed the match with a 137 mph ace.

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