INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) - Paradorn Srichaphan began his bid to return to the final of the $600,000 RCA Championships on Tuesday night, easing past Frenchman Thierry Ascione in a second-round match.
Srichaphan was pushed to a first-set tiebreaker before prevailing, 7-6 (7-4), 6-1, in the first meeting between the players. Last year, Srichaphan reached the title match here before losing in straight sets to hard-serving American Andy Roddick, who was beginning his march to the U.S. Open title.
A native of Thailand, Srichaphan won a grasscourt event in Nottingham and reached the final of a hardcourt event in Chennai earlier this year. "I've been playing all year," Srichapan said. "I have a lot of points to defend this summer. But I'm trying not to think of it that way, just stay positive, play the event and try to do well." Ascione has not gotten past the quarterfinals of any tournament this year.
The top 16 seeds received byes into the second round. The only other seed in action Tuesday was No. 10 Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia, who cruised to a 6-2, 6-3 victory over American Rajeev Ram. Ljubicic never has advanced past the third round of this event.
There were 13 first-round matches, with American Jan-Michael Gambill and Frenchman Fabrice Santoro among those advancing and South African Wayne Arthurs and Armenian Sargis Sargsian among those eliminated. Gambill defeated an injured Jan Hernych of the Czech Republic, 6-4, 3-0 and next faces No. 7 Sjeng Schalken of the Netherlands. Santoro held off Hyung-Taik Lee of Korea, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, to set up a meeting with No. 6 Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia. Arthurs suffered a 7-6 (8-6), 6-1 loss to Rik Devoest of South Africa, who advanced to meet No. 6 Vincent Spadea of the U.S. Sargsian absorbed a 6-3, 6-3 loss to Gregory Carraz of France, who gets fifth-seeded American Mardy Fish.
The top seed is Roddick, who lost to Roger Federer in the final of Wimbledon. Last year, this was the first of three hardcourt tournaments that Roddick won last summer before capturing his first Grand Slam title. His first match will be against Michel Kratochvil of Switzerland, who eliminated Jan Vacek of the Czech Republic, 6-2, 5-7, 6-3. Federer will rest before beginning his North American hardcourt campaign. Andre Agassi withdrew on Saturday.