Dent, Amritraj advance

NEWPORT, R.I. -- Prakash Amritraj of India and Taylor Dent of the United States won their opening matches at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships on Monday.

Amritraj, the runner-up last year, beat Danai Udomchoke of Thailand, 6-1, 6-4 and Dent, the 2002 Newport champ, rolled past Marcos Daniel of Brazil, 6-2, 6-1.

In other first-round action, American Brendan Evans ousted No. 4-seeded Benjamin Becker 7-6 (5), 3-6, 7-5, when the German doubled-faulted on the final point. Jesse Levine beat fellow-American Chris Guccione, 7-6 (2) 7-6 (2); Daniel Brands of Germany beat Vince Spadea of the U.S., 6-0, 6-4; and Amerian Robby Ginepri ousted Santiago Ventura of Spain, 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.

Top-seeded Mardy Fish withdrew after replacing Andy Roddick on the United States Davis Cup team.

Fish was selected for the team a day after Roddick lost an epic Wimbledon final to Roger Federer. Roddick withdrew from the Davis Cup citing a right hip flexor injury.

Amritraj, like many in the sports world, was still marveling about his classic match at Wimbledon on Sunday.

"It was incredible," he said. "You look at the great players and when the match gets tight they start to look nervous. He was swinging at 14-all like it was 1-0 in the first set."

Amritraj, whose father, Vijay, won Newport in 1980 and '84, lost last year's final to two-time champion Fabrice Santoro of France, who will play his opening-round match later this week.

The second-seeded Santoro, from France, didn't lose a set last year in defending his title.

"We'll talk about him when he loses a set," Amritraj said.

Dent echoed those who are calling Federer the best ever now that he has won a 15th Grand Slam tournament title to surpass Pete Sampras.

"I'm happy for Federer. I don't think we've ever had a better ambassador for the sport," Dent said. "I think he's taken over the mantel as the best ever. I'm an American. I hate to see Pete Sampras dethroned a bit."

The Hall of Fame Championships are held in conjunction with induction ceremonies into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The 2009 class -- highlighted by Monica Seles -- is scheduled to be enshrined Saturday before semifinal play.

The tournament has never had its top-seeded player win the title in its 33-year history. It was the first time the No. 1 seed had to withdraw before playing a match.

In qualifying play, Alexander Peya of Austria defeated Go Soeda of Japan, 6-3, 6-1; Alejandro Falla of Columbia, beat Andrea Stoppini of Italy, 4-6, 6-0, 7-6 (6); Samuel Groth of Australia edged Simon Stadler of Germany, 7-6 (9), 6-4. Ricardo Mello of Brazil advanced after Rajeev Ram of the U.S. withdrew with a calf injury, but Ram is the lucky-loser after Fish withdrew.