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Fish Holds On For Straight-Sets Win

Houston, U.S.A.

Pablo Cuevas© Aaron M. Sprecher/ROCCPablo Cuevas is through to his first quarter-final of the 2011 season.

In his debut as the American No. 1, Mardy Fish survived a late comeback attempt by Spaniard Albert Ramos on Thursday evening in Houston to reach the quarter-finals at the US Men’s Clay Court Championship.

Fish looked on his way to a comfortable victory after building a 4-0 lead in the second set, but was unable to serve out the match in the eighth game despite getting to deuce from triple break point down. Ramos held two more break point chances in Fish’s next service game, but was unable to convert as the American succeeded in closing out the 6-3, 6-4 win.

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Fish has a 10-7 record at this ATP World Tour 250 tournament and won the title in 2006. The 29 year old came to Houston at a career-high No. 11 in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings after reaching the semi-finals at the Sony Ericsson Open.

He next takes on sixth seed Kei Nishikori of Japan in what will be the first meeting between the two Florida residents. The 21-year-old Nishikori converted on three of seven break points in a 6-3, 6-3 win over Russian Igor Andreev, advancing to the quarter-finals for a third time this year.

Seventh-seeded Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas defeated 2008 finalist James Blake 7-5, 6-1 in 69 minutes to move through to the quarter-final stage for the first time since last October in Moscow.

The 66th-ranked Cuevas, who won the doubles title at Roland Garros in 2008 (w/Horna), had recorded the biggest singles win of his career two weeks ago in Miami, when he upset World No. 8 Andy Roddick in straight sets.

Third seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez snapped a five-match losing streak as he dismissed Indian Somdev Devvarman 6-4, 6-1. The Spaniard had not won a match since reaching the Zagreb semi-finals in early February.

“I played pretty consistent and it was a solid match for my first time on clay this year,” he said. “Overall, I am happy with the start. I look forward to the quarter-finals.”

Garcia-Lopez also reached the quarter-finals on his only previous Houston appearance two years ago (l. to Hewitt).

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