Friday, March 13, 2015

Fish falls in return; Serena to play after boycott

Mardy Fish, shown in 2013, played his first singles match
in more than 18 months on Thursday. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Everyone except Brett Favre, it seems, is making a comeback in the BNP Paribas Open.
   Mardy Fish began the parade on Thursday with a 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (3) loss to fellow American Ryan Harrison in the first round at Indian Wells. Harrison saved two match points serving at 4-5 in the third set against the former part-time Sacramento Capital in World TeamTennis.
   It was the 33-year-old Fish's first singles match and second overall in more than 18 months. The former world No. 7 battled an irregular heartbeat and severe anxiety during his layoff.
   Tonight, Serena Williams is scheduled to make her first appearance at Indian Wells since a racially charged incident in 2001. The top seed and two-time champion, who received a bye in the opening round, will face Monica Niculescu of Romania in the second round. Tennis Channel will televise the match at 7 p.m. PDT.
   Also, Jack Sock (hip surgery) of Tampa, Fla., and reigning U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic (shoulder injury) of Croatia are set to make their season debuts today and Saturday, respectively.
   Meanwhile, Austrian left-hander Jurgen Melzer, yet another 33-year-old, beat Dennis Novikov, 21, of San Jose 6-4, 6-4 in a first-round matchup of qualifiers. Novikov had knocked off two seeds in qualifying to reach the main draw at Indian Wells for the first time.
   College result -- Utah State defeated Pacific 4-2 in Stockton. The Tigers (2-11) swept the doubles and won on Court 2 with Miguel Diaz. On Court 1, Dennis Baumgartner outclassed Alex Hamilton 6-3, 6-2 to help the Aggies improve to 14-4.

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