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U.S. puts Fish on line with his Davis Cup singles debut

©Associated Press

February 7, 2003


ZAGREB, Croatia -- Mardy Fish will make his Davis Cup singles debut in opening the U.S. team's World Group matches against Croatia today.

Fish will play Ivan Ljubicic, followed by the Americans' most experienced member, James Blake, against Mario Ancic.

Fish and Blake, both of Tampa, will play the doubles on Saturday and the reverse singles Sunday.

U.S. team captain Patrick McEnroe chose not to use Taylor Dent or Robby Ginepri in the first Davis Cup match between the countries. The best-of-five matches will be played on indoor carpet.

Fish's only previous Cup experience was pairing with Blake to beat Slovakia in doubles last February in first-round play.

"Mardy has played more matches lately, he's won more matches. He's in a little better shape," McEnroe said.

"Taylor is not as sharp as Mardy is. Mardy is playing with a lot of confidence and started the year well. He's played Davis Cup in doubles. I just think right now, for the Friday match, he's the better guy to go with."

Blake's record is 4-1 in singles and 3-0 in doubles.

Former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic will play only doubles for Croatia after surgery on his left serving shoulder 10 months ago.

DAVIS CUP: Lleyton Hewitt overcame a faulty start to outclass British left-hander Alex Bogdanovic 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 and give host Australia a 2-0 lead in its World Group first-round match. Earlier, Mark Philippoussis beat Alan Mackin 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.

EVERT BOWS OUT: Chris Evert is leaving broadcasting after 13 years as an analyst for NBC Sports.

The tennis great wants to spend the next few summers at home in Boca Raton with her family and devote time to charitable and public service work, her tennis academy and the magazine she publishes.

"It is time to experience summer at home with the family and I can't wait," said Evert. She and husband Andy Mill have three sons -- Alex, 11, Nicholas, 8, and Colton, 6.

GAZ DE FRANCE: A tearful Amelie Mauresmo made a strong comeback before a home crowd, defeating Ai Sugiyama 7-5, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals in Paris.

The third seed had been sidelined for 31/2 months because of her ailing right knee. After the victory, she clutched her head, looked up, then sat and wept. She next faces Magui Serna.

INDIAN OPEN: Fourth-seeded Mary Pierce was weakened by a throat infection and lost to Flavia Pennetta 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 in the quarterfinals at Hyderabad.

Pennetta faces second-seeded Tamarine Tanasugarn, who ousted U.S. Open junior champion Maria Kirilenko 7-6 (8-6), 6-3. In the other semifinal, Akiko Morigami meets fifth-seeded Iroda Tulyaganova.

HUMANITARIAN AWARD: An Israeli-Pakistani doubles team won the ATP's Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award for promoting "tolerance through tennis."

Israel's Amir Hadad, a Jew, and Pakistan's Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, a Muslim, played doubles at Wimbledon and the U.S Open last year.

"During a summer when fear and hatred garnered much of the headlines, Amir and Ais am-Ul-Haq provided much needed relief with their simple message about tolerance through tennis," ATP chief executive Mark Miles said.

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