Nate Chura is senior tennis pro at the Heights Casino in Brooklyn and covers the U.S. Open for WNYC.
Mardy Fish became the first American male to advance to the third round of the US Open this afternoon, after Andy Roddick flamed out last night. The 19th-seeded Fish thumped Argentine Pablo Cueveas, hitting 14 aces enroute to the 7-5, 6-0, 6-2 win.
But serving wasn’t the only key to Fish’s success. Despite the beefy ace count, he only managed to put 52 percent of his first serves in play during the two-hour match.
“I competed well,” said Fish. “I think I was pretty solid throughout from the baseline, much more aggressive than with my first round.”
After playing a spotty opening-round five-setter, the American was also quick to credit his conditioning and footwork.
“I think my legs won me a few points in the end of that first set,” he added. “Physically I felt great throughout the match, and I knew he was sort of struggling there a little bit. I could tell.”
To win the tournament, Fish will have to win five more matches, including a potential clash with world No. 2 Roger Federer. The two played just two weeks ago in the final of the Cincinnati Masters 1000. There, Federer gutted Fish in three, tight sets. Here in New York, Fish would like to return the favor.
But first he’ll play veteran Arnaud Clement, who upset Marcos Baghdatis in the first round. The Frenchman earned the spot to play Fish after Eduardo Schwank retired in the second set.
Other players to move through the draw today included Russians Vera Zvonareva and Svetlana Kuznetsova, and top Dane, Caroline Wozniacki, who double bageled Kai-Chen Chang of Taipei.