Isner, Haas, Del Potro advance

August 13, 2008 10:08 PM
Tommy Haas of Germany returns a shot to Nicolas Mahut of France during the Legg Mason Tennis Classic at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center on August 13, 2008 in Washington, DC. Haas defeated Mahut 7-6,6-3.
Second-seeded Juan Martin del Potro won his 16th-straight match Wednesday, beating Dudi Sela 6-0, 5-7, 6-2 to advance to the quarterfinals of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic.

Fourth-seeded Tommy Haas also advanced, beating Nicholas Mahut 7-6 (4), 6-3.

Del Potro cruised through the opening set, but struggled in the second before closing out the match against Sela.

The 19-year-old Argentine, ranked No. 19 in the world, has not lost since Stanislas Wawrinka beat him in the second round of Wimbledon on June 25. Since then, del Potro has won all three tournaments he’s entered. He picked up his first career title in Stuttgart, Germany, and kept the streak going with wins in the Austrian Open and the Countrywide Classic in Los Angeles.

It’s the first time any ATP player has picked up his first three career titles in three straight tournaments.

In contrast to del Potro, who cruised early before running into trouble, Haas had his tough times early in the match. Serving with a 5-3 lead in the first set, Haas double-faulted three times to give Mahut a break.

“That drove me a little bit crazy,” Haas said. “Just to not make him play, especially when I was serving for that first set.”

Those were just the most damaging of seven double faults for Haas in the opening set. Haas said his shoulder was a little bit tight, and after he missed on a few serves he started to overthink the motion.

Haas settled in after the first-set tiebreaker, winning the final four games of the second set to end the match. He had no double-faults in the second set.

Mahut had beaten Haas in the pair’s two previous meetings, a mark Haas had specifically pointed out after his first-round win.

“I was really looking forward to the match,” Haas said. “When I finally broke him it felt good.”

Del Porto will meet last year’s runner-up, John Isner, in the quarterfinals. Isner defeated Donald Young 6-4, 7-6 (4).

The two-set win in Washington was a new experience for Isner. In his first Legg Mason appearance last year, Isner won five matches in third-set tiebreakers before losing to top-seeded Andy Roddick in the final. He again went to the third-set tiebreaker in his opening-round match against No. 8 seed Marcel Granollers.

Young was overpowered by the 6-foot-9 Isner’s serve. Isner had 17 aces in the match, and Young was visibly frustrated at the end of the tiebreaker. After hitting a long unforced error to go down 5-4 in the tiebreaker, Young threw his racket to the ground. After failing to return Isner’s next serve, Young kicked the racket before going to his bag for a new one.

The new racket didn’t help Young, who returned Isner’s final serve wide to send Isner to the next round.

Haas will face Alejandro Falla in the quarterfinals. Falla prevailed in two tiebreakers against Florent Serra, winning 7-6 (2), 7-6 (11).

Falla, who defeated fifth-seeded Mardy Fish in the first round, said his right quad was cramping when he was down 6-5 with Serra serving in the second set. He battled through it to force the tiebreaker and throughout the long rallies of the 24-point final game.

“Everything happened in the tiebreak,” Falla said. “Set point for him, match point for me. It went so long—there were long rallies and some amazing balls.”

Falla was down 6-5 in both sets and was also down 6-5 in the final tiebreaker. The match ended when Serra hit a ball into the net during a rally.

“It was a very good sensation,” Falla said.