Blake, Roddick Post Opening Wins at US Open

Posted on August 29, 2007

No. 6 seed James Blake has a good chance of overtaking countryman Andy Roddick to once again become the No. 1-ranked American during this US Open, and Tuesday he took his first step with a hard-earned 7-6(6), 6-3, 7-6(4) win over baseline grinder Mike Russell of the U.S.

Calm and collected as usual in his post-match conference, Blake nonetheless was in the danger zone in the opening set and needed to fight off two set points, at one point sprinting to switch sides during the tiebreak after Russell stoned a sitter forehand on set point.

"When I'm winning a lot of matches the way I have been, I get to 4-all, 5-all, 6-all in sets, I just feel like I'm going to win them," Blake said. "I just have that confidence."

Russell rued his lost opportunities.

"I mean, a short forehand [at] 6-5, I mean, you got to make that," Russell said. "I put it I think in the middle of the net. Obviously, if I would have won the first set tiebreaker it would have changed things a little bit."

The No. 5-seeded Roddick showed he won't give up the American top spot easily, beating good friend Justin Gimelstob 7-6(6), 6-3, 6-3 to take the first step toward a potential quarterfinal meeting with world No. 1 Roger Federer. Roddick's potential rankings drop comes as he defends US Open runner-up points from last year, but the player with one of the most potent serves and forehands on tour was too much for Gimelstob, who played his last US Open.

"He let me hang in there for a set," said Gimelstob, who reveled in some on-court storytelling and lengthy applause after the match.

Roddick was also finally able to relax after admitting to a tense run-up to the match.

"We're going to miss one of the funniest guys on tour," Roddick said of Gimelstob's retirement. "You always leave it all out there, and that's what you did tonight."

Other seeded winners were (3) Novak Djokovic (d. Haase), (12) Ivan Ljubicic (d. Vliegen), (15) David Ferrer (d. Mayer), (16) Lleyton Hewitt (d. Delic), (20) Juan Ignacio Chela (d. McClune), (23) Juan Monaco (d. Roger-Vasselin in four), (24) David Nalbandian (d. Navarro Pastor), and (31) Jurgen Melzer (d. Hartfield).

Orchestrating upsets on the day were Frenchmen Michael Llodra (d. (29) Volandri in four) and Arnaud Clement (d. (32) Karlovic 7-6 in the fifth).

Unseeded Americans were a mixed bag Tuesday, as wildcard Wayne Odesnik beat Thai Danai Udomchoke 7-6 in the fifth, but Sam Querrey was soundly beaten 7-6(1), 6-1, 6-1 by Austrian scamperer Stefan Koubek.

Tuesday's attendance again broke the all-time record according to USTA officials.

Wednesday highlights at the US Open are (2) Rafael Nadal vs. (WC) Alun Jones, (1) Roger Federer vs. Chilean Paul Capdeville (night match), (25) Marat Safin vs. (Q) Frank Dancevic, and (27) Dmitry Tursunov vs. Tim Henman.