Second-seeded Mauresmo wins, top-seeded Davydenko loses

August 24, 2005 11:30 PM

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - A rested Amelie Mauresmo breezed through her first match at the Pilot Pen tournament, making a strong start to her final tuneup before the U.S. Open by beating Elena Likhovtseva on Wednesday night.

The second-seeded Mauresmo won 6-1, 6-3 to advance to the quarterfinals. She and top-seeded Lindsay Davenport would meet in the final if they each win their next two matches.

Mauresmo is playing her second tournament since taking five weeks off from tournament play _ doing some surfing but not playing tennis for the first two weeks. She then practiced for three weeks before returning to competition in Toronto, reaching the semifinals before losing last Friday.

``I needed, physically and mentally, the rest,'' she said. ``I think it is important. The season is long.''

On Wednesday, she led the second set 4-0 before Likhovtseva held service. The Russian missed a good chance to get back in the match in the sixth game, which reached deuce five times. But Mauresmo, ranked third in the world, won the final point when Likhovtseva hit a forehand wide from the baseline.

Likhovtseva also rallied from two match points to send the last game to deuce. Then she hit two backhands wide and Mauresmo advanced after playing aggressively.

``My game is so much better when I'm coming in,'' Mauresmo said. ``I served pretty well.''

The top-seeded player in the men's draw couldn't avoid an upset as Juan Ignacio Chela overcame a big deficit in the tiebreaker and beat Nikolay Davydenko 6-1, 7-6 (5) in the second round.

Chela was cruising through the match, winning the first set 6-1 and leading the second 3-0, before Davydenko rallied. He won the next four games, but Chela held service to tie the set at 4-4.

In the tiebreaker, Davydenko, ranked sixth in the world, surged to a 4-1 lead but lost the next five points, two when he hit backhands into the net. Chela, ranked 50th, then hit a forehand into the net. But Davydenko ended a long rally _ and the match _ when his crosscourt forehand sailed wide.

Davydenko's baseline style helps Chela, who is unbeaten in four matches against him

That gives Chela `` lot of rhythm and that's the way (Chela) likes to play,'' the winner from Argentina said through an interpreter.

Davydenko increased the tension on his rackets for this tournament but, after falling far behind, switched back to one with less tension that gave him more control. Then, he started his comeback but broke a string late in the match and went back to one with greater tension.

``I don't know if it's me or the rackets'' responsible for the loss, Davydenko said.

Most top players skipped the tournament, the first time men have participated in it, to get ready for the Open.

Second-seeded Fernando Gonzalez advanced with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 win over Justin Gimelstob, but 10th-seeded Filippo Volandri, more suited to clay than the hard court at the Connecticut Tennis Center, was dominated by unseeded James Blake 6-1, 6-3.

Blake, who went to high school in nearby Fairfield, wasn't hurt by the quick turnaround after his second-round match Tuesday, winning both matches in straight sets. He's confident going into the Open after his previous two tournaments in which he lost to Andy Roddick in the final in Washington and Roger Federer in a close first-round match last week in Cincinnati.

``Then you get to come, basically, home. It's a great feeling before the Open,'' Blake said.

He's scheduled to play his first match there against Greg Rusedski, who withdrew from the Pilot Pen.

Third-seeded David Ferrer eliminated Tomas Zib 6-3, 6-3. Also, No. 6 Tommy Haas defeated Christophe Rochus 6-2, 4-6, 6-0; No. 7 Nicolas Massu ousted Andy Ram 6-4, 5-7, 7-5; Igor Andreev upset No. 8 Olivier Rochus 7-6 (1), 7-6 (2); Philipp Kohlschreiber stopped No. 11 Jurgen Melzer 6-4, 6-1; No. 12 Vincent Spadea took Andreas Seppi 6-3, 7-5; Fabrice Santoro defeated No. 13 Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4, 7-6 (2), and Stefan Koubek topped No. 16 Gael Monfils (16) 4-6, 7-5, 7-5.

No. 6 Patty Schnyder was the only seeded woman who lost. Daniela Hantuchova beat her 5-7, 6-2, 6-4.