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Team USA Defends Delray Beach Crown

Mardy Fish clinches the title for Team USA in Delray Beach.© Andrew PatronMardy Fish clinches the title for Team USA in Delray Beach.

Team USA successfully defended their title on Saturday at the Delray Beach Open, sprinting to an insurmountable 5-1 lead over Team International on Day 2 of play.

The Americans raced to a 3-0 lead in the opening match of the day as James Blake/Vince Spadea prevailed in doubles over Sebastien Grosjean/Mikael Pernfors 6-2, 3-6, [11-9]. But just when Team International seemed down and out, Fernando Gonzalez hung tough in a Champions Tie-break to defeat Mardy Fish 7-5, 1-6, [10-8] and give his team their first point of the weekend.

“It was a tough match. I was a little bit lucky at the end because he was dominating in the second set, but I managed to pull through,” said Gonzalez. “We played a huge match at the Olympics [in 2004] and he won there, but of course now my best memory of us playing is beating him here!”

In the evening session, Vince Spadea played just four games in his Champions Tour singles debut before Mikael Pernfors retired due to a leg strain. The American led 3-1 in the first set.

“I knew it was going to be tough having played the doubles earlier,” said Pernfors. “I need both legs to play, but I wanted to give it a shot. Hopefully I’ll be okay tomorrow.”

In the final match of a packed Saturday schedule, Fish weathered a late surge from Grosjean to prevail in his second match of the day, 6-3, 7-6(5). The American began to feel the effects of three singles matches in 24 hours, but put everything he had into the second-set tie-break to pick up the win.

“It’s just fun to be out here in the heat and play against a good friend,” said Fish. “We’ve played a lot of great matches over the years and this was another one of them.”

The final day of play on Sunday will see Gonzalez take on Spadea, followed by Blake finishing off an entertaining weekend of tennis against Grosjean.

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