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Top American Mardy Fish loses at US Open

September 6, 2011

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— Mardy Fish found himself dealing with all sorts of problems as he tried to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the second time.

There was the brief flap with his opponent, 11th-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and the chair umpire over some distracting cheering in the stands.

There were the aching right hip and hamstring that left Fish flat on his back, getting massaged by a trainer before the fifth set.

There was the pressure of knowing that he was, for the first time, the highest-ranked American at the country’s Grand Slam tennis tournament.

There was the whipping wind that sent shots this way and that.

And then, of course, there was Tsonga, the big-hitting, athletic Frenchman, who feels more confident than ever — and it shows. The eighth-seeded Fish wasted a lead and lost the fourth-round match at Flushing Meadows 6-4, 6-7 (5), 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 on Monday night, bringing what he saw as a premature end to what he hoped would be a run to a major semifinal.

Tsonga reached his first U.S. Open quarterfinal, but unlike Fish, he’s already tasted this sort of success. Tsonga made it to the final of the 2008 Australian Open before losing to Novak Djokovic, and got to the Wimbledon semifinals this year — where he again lost to Djokovic — by stunning Roger Federer after dropping the first two sets of their quarterfinal.

There will be a Grand Slam rematch in New York, because Tsonga next plays 16-time major champion Federer, who defeated Juan Monaco, 6-1, 6-2, 6-0.

Djokovic, meanwhile, extended his 2011 record to 61-2 by beating No. 22 Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine 7-6 (14), 6-4, 6-2. Their 16-14 tiebreaker in the first set lasted nearly a half-hour all on its own, with Djokovic saving four set points and finally converting his sixth when Dolgopolov pushed a forehand long to close a 13-stroke exchange.

Pretty much everyone who played Monday complained about the wind, which gusted at up to 20 mph and kept changing directions, making even serve tosses difficult.

Serena Williams handled those conditions much better than former No. 1 and 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic and beat her 6-3, 6-4 to return to a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the first time in 14 months.

No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, trailed by a set and 4-1 in the second before coming back to beat 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-1 at night.

Wozniacki turned things around thanks to a combination of her own increasingly aggressive play and Kuznetsova’s increased mistakes. Kuznetsova’s 40-20 edge in winners was rendered meaningless by her 78 unforced errors, 52 more than Wozniacki.

The 21-year-old Wozniacki, the 2009 runner-up at the U.S. Open, is still seeking her first Grand Slam title.

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