The first marquee names made their appearances at the SAP Open in Tuesday’s morning session, when the tournament’s second- and fifth-seeded singles players, James Blake and Mardy Fish, teamed together for a doubles match against local favorites Paul Goldstein and Jim Thomas.
In a departure from their normal success at singles, Fish and Blake suffered a first-round exit, losing to Goldstein and Thomas 6-3, 1-6, 10-4 (in the match tiebreaker.)
Despite their high individual rankings, Blake and Fish’s defeat should come as no surprise. The swift 5-foot-9 Goldstein and the towering 6-foot-4 Wilson entered as the SAP Open’s No. 3 seed (Blake and Fish were unseeded) and the duo have been playing together since their Stanford days, where they contributed to a Cardinal team that won four straight NCAA team championships from 1995-98 (Goldstein was present for all four years, Wilson the first two).
So even though Blake and Fish ripped off the first eight points of the match to lead 2-0, Goldstein and Thomas exhibited few signs of trepidation or meekness.
"They won the first eight points, but it was still only two games," said Goldstein, the world’s 73rd-ranked singles player who lost Monday to American teenager Sam Querrey. "If we panicked every time we were confronted with that scenario than I think we both would be having desk jobs by now."
The pair managed to get a win on Goldstein’s service game to move within 2-1 and then fed off that momentum to rip off the next five games to take the first set 6-3.
Blake and Fish responded by dominating the second set 6-1, but Goldstein and Thomas once again showed their resolve by battling to take the tiebreak set in convincing fashion 10-4.
"Jim’s first service game when we were down 2-0 was huge," said Thomas, who is ranked 32nd in doubles play. "We were able to kind of stem the tide at that point and move on from there."
Goldstein and Thomas played doubles for one year at Stanford, in 1996, when Goldstein was a sophomore and Thomas a senior. The duo competed together fairly regularly on the ATP Tour after college, then took a lull while Goldstein worked on his singles game, before teaming up once again on a more normal basis over the past 20 months.
"I think we compliment each other well," Goldstein. "He’s a big guy with an overpowering serve and I’m a little guy barely over 5-7 who can chase the ball around the court."
Goldstein and Thomas will face the winner of today’s matchup between Jamie Murray and Eric Butorac against Kristian Pless and Danai Udomchoke.
In other results from the opening session on Tuesday, No. 3 Andy Murray, the tournament’s defending champion, defeated American Kevin Kim 6-3, 6-1, No. 4 Marat Safin defeated Scott Oudesma 6-4, 7-6 (3), American Vince Spadea, the tournament’s oldest competitor at 32 years old, defeated Udomchoke 6-3, 6-4, and Bjorn Phau triumphed over Konstantinos Economidis 6-2, 6-3.