Mardy Fish, playing competitive tennis for the first time in over 18 months, battled for 2 hours, 36 minutes Thursday before losing to fellow American Ryan Harrison, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (3) in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open.
Fish had two match points at 15-40 in the 10th game of the third set, but Harrison wiggled free. After both held serve to force the 12-point tiebreaker, Harrison won three points in a row to go up 5-2. Fish's double fault gave Harrison match point and the 22-year-old closed it out with an ace.
The 33-year-old Fish, once ranked No. 7 in the world, had not played on the ATP Tour since Aug. 20, 2013, because of heart problems that have plagued him since March 2012.
American wild-card Tim Smyczek also advanced with a 6-3, 7-6 (4) win over Benjamin Becker of Germany as the men began play in the two-week event at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
The women's first round continued with Americans Christina McHale, Lauren Davis and Madison Brengle advancing and Shelby Rogers losing. McHale was a 6-4, 7-5 winner over Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic, Davis beat Slovakian Anna Schmiedlova 6-2, 6-2, and Brengle took a 6-3, 6-0 win over China's Saisai Zheng. Rogers was eliminated by Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium, 6-2, 6-4.