ATLANTA (AP) — Mardy Fish took a hit in his gradual return to full-time tennis Wednesday night in the Atlanta Open, falling 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 to Michael Russell in a rain-delayed first-round match that began Tuesday.
It was only Fish's fourth match since the U.S. Open in September when he withdrew before a fourth-round match against Roger Federer because of an irregular heartbeat.
Ranked No. 13 in the world last July, the sixth-seeded Fish — the Atlanta Open winner in 2010 and '11 - fell to 1-3 this season. He's ranked No. 63 after his first match since losing in a lower-level ATP Challenger tournament in April.
Fish was unavailable for comment after the match.
"I thought he played really well," said the 35-year-old Russell, ranked 85th. "He was coming up with 130 mph serves. I couldn't tell. Usually when somebody takes four months off, they're a little rusty. But I thought it was really good tennis."
Russell took advantage of the delay to make racket adjustments.
"It definitely helped me a little bit," Russell said about the delay. "I was able to change my string tension. I was pleased with the rain delay."
Seventh-seeded Lleyton Hewitt advanced to the quarterfinals with a deceivingly difficult 7-6 (3), 6-4 win over wild-card entry Rhyne Williams. The 32-year-old Hewitt, 64th in the world, trailed 2-6 in the tiebreaker before winning six straight points, and only broke serve in the second set in the deciding game.
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