So far this year, the Sacramento Capitals' selection of Mardy Fish in last month's World TeamTennis marquee draft doesn't look very good.
Fish's poor season hit a new low Monday. Not only did the eighth seed lose in the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, he fell to a qualifier in straight sets. Plus, he was penalized a point for hindrance.
Fish, who's scheduled to play home matches for Sacramento on July 12 and 13, succumbed to Matthew Ebden of Australia 6-3, 6-4 in the third round. At least Fish, who received a first-round bye, has been consistent. He is 1-1 in all four of his tournaments this year, with three second-round exits before Monday's dismissal.
The one exception to Fish's slow start is a victory over Stanislas Wawrinka, 9-7 in the fifth set, in the United States' stunning victory over host Switzerland, which also featured Roger Federer, on clay in the first round of the Davis Cup last month.
"I've been around long enough to realize there are certainly highs and lows," Fish, 30, told reporters at Indian Wells. "There's no doubt that this is a low for me.
"You have to stay positive. I've worked my butt off to be No. 8 in the world. The start of the year is not going to take that away, but I certainly would have liked to have started better."
Fish leads all American men and women in the world rankings but could lose that distinction as early as next week. John Isner, 6-foot-9 with a devastating serve, lurks at No. 11 after starting the year at No. 18.
Isner, 26, has a good chance to reach the Indian Wells semifinals, where he could face defending champion Novak Djokovic.
Meanwhile, Fish continued to struggle at Indian Wells after reaching the 2008 final, in which he lost to Djokovic, with a straight-set victory over Federer. Fish fell in the second round the following three years.
Fish was penalized Monday for yelling, “Come on!” before Ebden got to the ball on Fish’s volley winner in the next-to-last game of the match. According to the International Tennis Federation rule, chair umpire Felix Torralba had a choice of assessing a point if he considered the hindrance intentional or ordering the point to be replayed if he considered the interference accidental. He ruled it was intentional, leading Fish to refuse the traditional post-match handshake with Torralba.
“I don’t think it had an effect on (Ebden) making or missing the shot," said Fish, who was serving. "But I feel like maybe (play) a let there, unless he hits the shot in. Then that’s different. I’ve never (intentionally interfered) before on tour in my life. I was just trying to fire myself up.”
Fish's close friend, 30th-seeded Andy Roddick, lost to No. 7 Tomas Berdych 6-3, 4-6, 6-2. Roddick has been plagued by injuries this year but refused to use that as an excuse.
On the women's side, 30th-seeded Nadia Petrova ousted No. 6 seed Samantha Stosur 6-1, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (5) in the third round. Stosur outlasted Petrova in a third-round marathon in last year's U.S. Open and went on to win her first Grand Slam singles title.
Francesca Schiavone, seeded 10th, became the eighth player to withdraw or retire because of a virus sweeping the Coachella Valley.
In men's doubles, top-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan edged the Spanish pair of Feliciano Lopez and Marcel Granollers 6-7 (2), 7-6 (4), 17-15 tiebreak. The 33-year-old Bryan twins, Los Angeles-area natives who won the 1998 NCAA doubles title while at Stanford, seek their first Indian Wells crown.
Isner and San Francisco native Sam Querrey defeated Argentines Carlos Berlocq and Juan Ignacio Chela 6-4, 5-7, 10-4 tiebreak in the first round.