Los Angeles:Vincent Spadea celebrated his 33rd birthday by joining Zack Fleishman and Radek Stepanek in the quarterfinals of the ATP Countrywide Classic at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on Thursday.
Spadea, who said he's still trying to maximize his potential, called the 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-3 victory over No 5 seen Dmitry Tursunov "a great mental match for me."
Spadea advanced to the quarterfinals of a tournament for the seventh time this year, though he has reached the semis just once. To do it here, he will have to beat the winner of the later match between second-seeded James Blake and Paul Goldstein.
Fleishman, who beat top-seeded Fernando Gonzalez on Tuesday, beat fellow American Robert Kendrick, 7-6 (4), 6-3 to reach the quarters. Stepanek, of the Czech Republic, ousted No 6 seed Mardy Fish, 6-2, 6-2.
"I've been working on my game a lot," said Spadea, who's No 62 in the rankings now after being as high as No 18 in February 2005. "Sometimes you forget to just hang in there and compete hard. So that was a great win for me."
After losing the first set, Spadea trailed 5-3 in the second after having his service broken for the second time. He won the next four games and the set, losing only four points in the process. Then he got a service break in the fifth game of the third set to take a 3-2 lead and closed it out with a break in the ninth game thanks to a pair of double faults by Tursunov.
"I didn't do anything really that different," said Spadea, a quarterfinalist at this event in 2003. "I stayed at the level I was playing. He was playing a little better, then he started playing slightly worse and that was that.
"I went for a few more shots. When you're down you tend to loosen up and play the way you should be playing all the time, really."
For a long time last year, Stepanek didn't know if he'd be able to compete again because of a dislocated disc in his neck that caused him to lose all touch and feel and power in his right hand.
"It was like the hand was not mine; I was like paralyzed," he said. "Even now I know the hand is not 100 per cent, but I'm not complaining about it. I know the situation and I'm trying to do as much as I can. You have to stay patient."
Stepanek, who has overcome the injury with rest and exercises after rejecting the idea of surgery, will play Fleishman in the quarterfinals.
Fleishman said the win over Kendrick "proved this is an official level I can play at, instead of (having) just one good outing. It's the first time I've ever reached the quarters of a tour event and I hope to take it farther."
After earning a wild card into the tournament by winning a qualifying event, Fleishman is playing at his former college, before friends and family.
"I think that really helped me," he said. "When I get a little tired or a little negative on myself, i hear a few cheers from the crowd and i think it gives me that little bit of energy I need."