NORCROSS — As the No. 1 seed in the singles draw, American Mardy Fish had a first-round bye and had to wait until Thursday to get on the court for his first match of the 2011 Atlanta Tennis Championships.
So what’s another couple of hours for a weather delay for last year’s defending champion?
That’s what happened as storms moved across the area late Thursday afternoon and delayed the action at Racquet Club of the South.
But Fish was solid as the No. 8 ranked player in the world rolled over France’s Nicolas Mahut 6-3, 6-3 and will move on to play No. 8 seed Somdev Devvarman of India tonight in a quarterfinal starting no earlier than 7 p.m.
Devvarman rolled to an easy 6-1, 6-3 win over Tatsuma Ito of Japan on Thursday to set up the showdown with Fish.
Fish was never really challenged and appeared to have his game in good form as the Olympus U.S. Open Series gets under way.
“You always feel a little pressure coming back where you’ve had success,” Fish said. “I’m happy to just move on. It’s only going to get tougher as well. The first (match) is always tricky and (Mahut) is a tricky opponent because he serves well.”
But it was 19-year-old American Ryan Harrison who may have posted the biggest win of the day when he rallied to take a 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-4 win over No. 4 seed Xavier Malisse of Belgium.
After dropping the first set in a tie break, Harrison recovered to win the second set and got off to a decent start in the third set, trailing 2-1 and serving in the fourth game when the bad weather rolled in.
After enduring the long delay, Harrison completed his service game and was broken to give Malisse a 3-1 lead.
But Harrison broke back and the two players stayed on serve until the young American finally broke Malisse to take a 5-4 and serving for the match.
Harrison didn’t let the opportunity slip away and served a love game to close out the match.
“You try to stay relaxed and prepared and you don’t want to get too worked up,” Harrison said. “I was ready when I got back out there and I just missed some shots I shouldn’t have missed.
“Just the way my mind’s wired — I like it whenever things get tense. I just let the negative go by and I whenever I had something positive, I used it to kind of fuel me and get me going.”
Harrison, ranked No. 120 in the ATP rankings, moves into the quarterfinals today to take on the Lleyton Hewitt-Rajeev Ram match, which was played late Thursday night.
“With it being such a quick turnaround, I’m just going to try and enjoy the moment right now but not be content with it,” said Harrison of tonight’s quarterfinal in the last match of the day. “I’ll use (this win) to build my confidence and hopefully I’ll go deeper here.”
The first win of Thursday’s action was in quarterfinal doubles action as No. 4 seed Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins of Great Britain knocked off Russian Igor Kunitsyn and American Michael Russell by a 6-3, 6-1 score.
Fleming-Hutchins will meet the winner of the Drake Bernstein-Kevin King vs. Matthias Bachinger-Frank Moser match, which will be played today following the Kevin Anderson-Gilles Muller match that begins at Noon on the Stadium Court.
Bernstein and King, the UGA-Georgia Tech duo and wild card entries into the tournament, defeated the top seed and defending champion pair of Americans Scott Lipsky-Rajeev Ram late Wednesday night.
John Isner and James Blake are done in the doubles competition as Isner decided to rest his shoulder following Wednesday night’s marathon singles match against Blake. Isner and Blake had upset No. 2 seed Marcelo Melo and Jamie Murray on Tuesday.
So Alex Bogomolov Jr. and Matthew Ebden walk over into the semifinals on Saturday against the winner of the Devvarman/Treat Conrad Huey-Richard Berankis/Malisse match, which was played late Thursday night.
Isner will play his quarterfinal singles match against Yen-Hsun Lu on the Stadium Court no earlier than 4 p.m.
Notes: Today marks the beginning of television coverage with ESPN2 and Tennis Channel on site. Tennis Channel will get things started from noon to 2 p.m. followed by ESPN2’s coverage from 4-6 p.m. and again from 7-9 p.m. Both networks will have continuing coverage on Saturday and Sunday for the semifinals and finals, respectively. ... USTA League Day is today and the first 500 spectators will receive fans, which will come in handy as matches get started at noon. Gates will open at 11 a.m. ... Attendance for Wednesday was 3,535.