WASHINGTON -- The biggest news from Monday at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic was not a result, but a change in the last line of the draw.
Having played nine matches in the last two weeks, No. 2 seed Mardy Fish pulled out of the tournament, citing a bruised right heel that he suffered in his loss to Ernests Gulbis in the final of the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles Sunday.
Fish's no-show in and of itself is hardly surprising, but it does create an extremely interesting storyline. The lucky loser replacing Fish is none other than Wayne Odesnik, who lost in the final round of qualifying but is now into his first ATP main draw since his suspension for possession of human growth hormone. Odesnik inherits Fish's bye, and will play Radek Stepanek in the second round.
A look at the eight singles results from Monday's singles action, which included three wins by Australian qualifiers:
James Blake (United States) def. Tatsuma Ito (Japan) 6-3, 6-3 -- Blake, currently ranked No. 90 is well past his days of playing top-five caliber tennis. But Blake is also past his days of being ranked No. 173, which he was in March. Winning the Winnetka challenger just outside of Chicago in early July, Blake has shown a tremendous ability to beat players whom he should beat (of which Ito is certainly one). Blake shouldn't beat his next opponent, defending champion David Nalbandian, but he should at least be able to make it interesting.
Donald Young (United States) def. Artem Sitak (New Zealand) [Q] 6-0, 6-3 -- Donald Young is often hard-pressed for wins at the ATP level, but No. 387 Artem Sitak didn't press very hard. Young won 14 points in a row at one point, which says far more about Sitak's level than Young's. Young should come down to Earth in his second round match against No. 4 seed Jurgen Melzer, but just getting to the second round has to make this a good week for Young.
Radek Stepanek (Czech Republic) def. Philipp Petzschner (Germany) 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-0 -- Philipp Petzschner is one of the premier starters in tennis, but his lack of closing ability has kept him from coming anywhere near fulfilling his top ten potential. This match was more of the same, with Petzschner able to stay toe-to-toe with Stepanek until Stepanek got his first break of the match early in the second set. After that, Petzschner imploded, and was eventually bageled in the third set. Considering Petzschner's state of mind recently, an early loss and some time to rest might be just the thing he needs.
Chris Guccione (Australia) [Q] def. Alejandro Falla (Colombia) 7-6(3), 6-3 -- Given his huge serve, there's no reason Chris Guccione shouldn't be able to move into the top 50 the way Ivo Karlovic and John Isner have. Though he once made it as high as No. 67, Guccione has toiled well outside the top 100 for most of his career, and is currently ranked at No. 224. But he was able to blast his way to a win today, and should have a decent shot against another tree of a player, No. 13 seed Kevin Anderson, in the second round.
Michael Russell (United States) def. Ivo Karlovic (Croatia) 6-4, 7-6(4) -- Despite a height difference of well over a foot, journeyman Michael Russell (generously listed at 5'8") defeated Ivo Karlovic (accurately listed at 6'10") in straight sets. Russell got the returns he needed on important points, and ably exploited Karlovic's incredibly sub-par backhand.
Matthew Ebden (Australia) [Q] def. Rajeev Ram (United States) [Q] 6-1, 3-2 (ret) -- Matthew Ebden, who is playing the best tennis of his young career and won doubles titles in Newport and Atlanta in July, was making short work of Rajeev Ram before the American threw in the towel. It wasn't immediately clear why Ram retired, and it was even less clear when he hung around behind the fence to watch the end of Russell's match. The ATP eventually said the cause was a "right abductor strain," but there's a distinct possibility it could be some sort of hand injury from Ram's handshake with Odesnik on Sunday.
Marinko Matosevic (Australia) [Q] def. Ricardas Berankis (Lithuania) 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-1 -- This was a big win for Matosevic, who finally looks to have made a significant move away from the challenger circuit and into the ATP ranks. Matosevic qualified at Wimbledon and Atlanta before again qualifying at this tournament, and was able to avenge his loss to Berankis at this year's Australian Open. [Ed note: An SB Nation interview with Matosevic will be going up in the very near future]
Igor Kunitsyn (Russia) def. Gilles Muller (Luxembourg) 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5) -- This was a tremendous effort by the much smaller Kunitsyn to fend off the huge serving Muller on courts as fast as the ones in Washington. Kunitsyn made the semifinals of this tournament in 2008 when it was held during the Olympics, but this match still should have been Muller's. Muller imploded in the third set tiebreak after he disagreed with the call on a Kunitsyn ace, an implosion that saw him sink all the way to 5-1 at the change of ends. Muller pulled to within 6-5, but the hole he dug was too deep.
Stay tuned to SB Nation's coverage of the 2011 US Open Series at SBNation.com as well as on Twitter, @DailyForehand .