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Ryan Harrison outlasts Mardy Fish at Indian Wells

March 13, 2015

INDIAN WELLS, California (AP) — Playing competitive tennis for the first time in over 18 months, Mardy Fish battled for 2 hours, 36 minutes Thursday before losing to fellow American Ryan Harrison, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (3) in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open.

Fish had two match points at 15-40 in the 10th game of the third set, but Harrison wiggled free. After both held serve to force the tiebreaker, Harrison won three points in a row to go up 5-2. Fish’s double fault gave Harrison match point and the 22-year-old closed it out with an ace.

The 33-year-old Fish, once ranked No. 7 in the world, had not played on the ATP Tour since Aug. 20, 2013, because of heart problems and anxiety issues that have plagued him since March 2012.

A finalist in 2008, when he lost to Novak Djokovic, Fish said that despite the long layoff the loss to Harrison “stings a little bit.”

But there were positives.

“I’ve worked really hard in the past 3 1/2 months to get back in shape,” Fish said, “So, I don’t have any issues sort of during a match or after a match. I worked extremely hard to put myself in the best position to not have to worry about things when I was out there — if I was out of shape or if I didn’t feel well or if it was going to be a long match or a hot match or something like that, when a lot more things creep into your head.”

On the women’s side, two-time champion Daniela Hantuchova fell to Klara Koukalova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 1-6, 6-3; Vera Zvonareva, the 2009 champion, lost to qualifier Polona Hercog of Slovakia 6-1, 6-1; and 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone of Italy was ousted by Chinese qualifier Zhu Lin 0-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Seven qualifiers won their opening matches on the women’s side on Thursday.

In other men’s matches, Canadian Vasek Pospisil advanced when Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan retired while trailing, 6-4, 4-2; 18-year-old Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis beat Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany, 7-6 (3), 6-3; and Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus moved on when Czech player Jiri Vesely retired while trailing 6-3, 1-1.

The men will conclude their first round Friday, while the women begin second-round play, highlighted by Serena Williams’s return after a 14-year absence. Williams will face Monica Niculescu of Romania on Friday night.

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