Blake Recovers From Slow Start
by Sean Randall | March 11th, 2006, 7:01 pm
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Blake Recovers From Slow Start

American James Blake began with a sluggish start Saturday morning on Center Court, but quickly turned around his form to secure a second-round victory at the Pacific Life Open.

Following a one-hour delay due to the previous night’s storm and spotty rain throughout the morning, the No. 12 seed surrendered the opening set in 20 minutes to American wild card Sam Querrey, who had picked his first career ATP-level win Friday.

Blake put aside the lopsided beginning and raced out to a 5-0 lead in the second before a short rainfall halted play for half an hour. When he returned to the court, last week’s Tennis Channel Open titlist proceeded to close out the victory 1-6, 6-1, 6-3. ADHERER

Meanwhile, Swiss No. 2 Stanislas Wawrinka made a winning start in his Indian Wells debut, defeating Brit Greg Rusdeski 6-2, 6-4. The 20-year-old won five straight games to take the first set and promptly broke Rusedski to begin the second. The Brit had won their previous two meetings.

If Wawrinka wins his next match against Belgian Olivier Rochus, he will earn a third-round meeting with countryman Roger Federer. The two went head-to-head for the first time in Dubai last week.

Three qualifiers also advanced in first-round action. Americans Kevin Kim and Justin Gimelstob joined Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia and Montenegro in producing victorious efforts Saturday.

Kim, who hails from Southern California, defeated Russian Mikhail Youzhny 7-5, 6-4, to earn a tough second-round match for the second straight year. The 27-year-old fell to fifth seed Guillermo Coria in last year’s event, and will next encounter French teen Richard Gasquet, the No. 17 seed.

Gimelstob and Tipsarevic also enter challenging ties, set to face fourth seed David Nalbandian and No. 6 seed Ivan Ljubicic, respectively. Nalbandian is the reigning Tennis Masters Cup champion, while Ljubicic leads the circuit with 17 wins (tied with Tommy Haas) and two titles. (ATP)

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