ATP Previews: Sydney, Auckland

Posted on January 6, 2008

James Blake hopes three times is the charm as the American goes for his third consecutive Sydney title this week at the Medibank International.

Blake is the third seed behind No. 1 Richard Gasquet and No. 2 Tommy Robredo. Other seeded players are Tomas Berdych, former No. 1s Carlos Moya and Lleyton Hewitt, Paul-Henri Mathieu, and Fernando Verdasco.

Opening round matches of note include (8) Verdasco vs. Spanish countryman Feliciano Lopez, (3) Blake vs. Fabrice Santoro, (7) Mathieu vs. riser Juan Martin Del Potro, and (2) Robredo vs. Radek Stepanek.

The Bryan brothers are the top seeds in doubles, and open against the formidable team of Max Mirnyi and Jamie Murray.

Spaniard David Ferrer is the lone Top 10 player in Auckland at the Heineken Open, joined by seeds Juan Ignacio Chela, Juan Monaco, former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, Jarkko Nieminen, Nicolas Almagro, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Al Montanes.

Wildcards went to Mario Ancic and Kiwis Jose Statham and Daniel King-Turner.

Blake's consecutive wins in Sydney came on the tail of two in a row by Hewitt in 2004-05.

Ferrer is the defending champ in Auckland, last year topping Robredo in the final.