NEW YORK (AP) — Mardy Fish is America’s Best at this year’s U.S. Open.
On Monday, he lived up to the billing, opening his stay at Flushing Meadows with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 victory over Tobias Kamke of Germany that included a between-the-legs shot in the final game of a match that took only 1 hour, 43 minutes.
“To be honest, I thought that was my only shot,” Fish said. “I didn’t try to hit a winner. Just tried to make it.”
But if Fish is ever going to bring out his inner showman, now is the time. He enters as the eighth seed, the top-ranked player, man or woman, in America, supplanting Andy Roddick after his long run as the top American male.
As such, Fish earned prime billing — the opening match in Arthur Ashe Stadium, where play began two hours later than scheduled as workers hurried to prepare the stadium that was battened down for Hurricane Irene over the weekend.
“I’m just so excited to be in this position. To be out here. I don’t get to play out here too often,” Fish said. “Hopefully, I’ll get to play out here more this year.”
Indeed, a lot feels new for the 29-year-old from Los Angeles, who has never gotten further than the quarterfinals at a major.
Fish opened the match by losing his serve, but that turned out to be the only hiccup. He is one of 14 American men entered in the U.S. Open, as the host country continues its quest to find the next great champion. No U.S. man has won a major since Roddick won in New York in 2003.
“Andy’s been the No. 1 player in our generation for years,” Fish said. “This is extremely different for me, this feeling coming out here and trying to show everything you can, to show you’re the No. 1 guy, at least for this tournament. It’s been a lot of fun.”
While Fish’s match was moving along in routine fashion, Wimbledon women’s champion Petra Kvitova became the first major upset victim of the tournament, committing 52 unforced errors in a 7-6 (3), 6-3 loss to Alexandra Dulgheru. Kvitova has won a total of two matches since defeating Maria Sharapova in the Wimbledon final.
Also winning in early play Monday was 27th-seeded Marin Cilic, who defeated 19-year-old American Ryan Harrison 6-2, 7-5, 7-6 (6). Harrison, who made headlines last year with his first-round upset of 15th-seeded Ivan Ljubicic, had chances to serve out the second and third sets, but was broken each time.
He also squandered a 4-1 lead in the third-set tiebreaker — and took nothing away from this match but a few scratched-up rackets, the result of the multiple times he bounced them, kicked them and skidded them along the ground at Louis Armstrong Stadium. He also kicked a ball into the stands.
“I didn’t break any rackets; I didn’t say swear words on court,” Harrison said. “It could have gotten better and I could have been better. I didn’t really go nuts.”
Other early winners included ninth-seeded Tomas Berdych, 20th-seeded Janko Tipsarevic, No. 31 Marcel Granollers, No. 22 Alexandr Dolgopolov and, on the women’s side, No. 19 Julia Goerges.
Sharapova, seeded third, had a late-afternoon match in Arthur Ashe Stadium, while No. 3 Roger Federer and Venus Williams were scheduled for night matches.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.