Bjorn Phau needed more than just his tennis skills to earn a berth in the main draw of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic. Because of a change in plans, Phau originally did not enter the qualifying tournament for the main draw and only got in after two other players withdrew from the 28-player qualifying field.
Once that happened, though, Phau took care of the rest. The 19-year-old German, who joined the ATP tour full-time this summer, defeated South African Neville Godwin, 6-2, 6-4, yesterday to earn a place in the 56-player main draw. Play begins today at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center in Northwest Washington.
"I was lucky," Phau said of his entry into the tournament. "I had wanted to play [in a lower-level tournament] and when I decided to play here, it was too late to enter."
Phau arrived in Washington on Thursday uncertain whether he could play. However, he has made the most of his stay here, earning a berth in a tour event for the third time in his young career. Phau was on his way to a seemingly easy victory yesterday, serving with a 4-1 lead in the second set. However, his serve was broken twice in a row as Godwin evened the match before Phau won the final two games.
"I wasn't being offensive anymore and he played better and stopped making unforced errors," said Phau, who was named after tennis great Bjorn Borg. ". . . I know I can beat these guys. I just have to play tough and play my game."
Phau, who is ranked 372nd in the world, will play Roger Federer in the first round.
Meanwhile, it was a mixed day for the siblings of better-known tour players as Mashiska Washington won his qualifying match, but Torrey Gambill and Mark Draper lost theirs.
Washington, the younger brother of MaliVai Washington, defeated Australian Michael Hill, 6-4, 6-2, to advance to the main draw of an ATP tournament for the first time this year. Like many of the other players in the qualifying draw, Washington has spent most of the year playing challenger-series tournaments, trying to improve his game. He is ranked 349th in the world.
Although there might be some expectations for Washington to be as successful as his brother, who has earned $3.2 million in career prize money, he said he is not concerned with comparisons. He added that being the younger brother gave him opportunities his peers did not have when his brother was one of the world's best players, rising to No. 11 in the rankings in 1992.
"Everybody has a different development stage," said Washington, who plays Juan Ignacio Chela in the first round. "It was sort of fun -- I got to go to bigger tournaments when I was younger and be in the mix."
Draper, the older brother of Scott Draper -- last year's Legg Mason singles runner-up -- lost his second-round match to Mikael Tillstrom, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1. Torrey Gambill, whose older brother, Jan-Michael Gambill, is the tournament's 11th seed, lost to Michael Joyce, 6-3, 6-1, in a first-round qualifying match.
Among yesterday's other results, South African Kevin Ullyett defeated Canadian Frederic Niemeyer, 6-3, 6-4. Ullyett teamed with Grant Stafford to win the doubles title here last year. Nenad Zimonjic, a 23-year-old from Yugoslavia, defeated Canadian Bobby Kokavec, 6-7 (7-5), 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-5).