James Blake is a perfect 1-0 against Rafael Nadal in Shanghai. Will that have any meaning in their seventh career encounter later today at the Shanghai Masters? Maybe, maybe not.
Nadal though did just beat Blake in three sets last week in Beijing to finally get to level terms on their head-to-head 3-3. But Blake is under a new coach, Kelly Jones, and given he is in the downslope of his career and now “under the radar”, he should play even more freely (if that’s even possible) than ever. And in my mind a free/loose James Blake is a dangerous James Blake!
In the first round Blake took care of Ivo Karlovic and now I think Blake will do the deed that I had originally pegged Ivo to do, beat Rafa. I’m just not convinced Rafa’s in full form yet and perhaps Blake will draw from his straight-set win over Rafa a few years ago at the Masters Cup.
Also today my man Gael Monfils locks up with Lleyton Hewitt. The Australian’s playing better than most give him credit for, but Gael should win that match. I like Juan Martin Del Potro to struggle but get through Jurgen Melzer. I also think the rest of the favorites including Tomas Berdych who meets Marat, to all advance to the third round.
As for the matches yesterday, I thought Marin Cilic would struggle against Tomas Berdych the Croat did just that losing in three sets. And while I picked Stanislas Wawrinka to beat Andy Roddick (and eventually reach the semifinals!) I didn’t expect Roddick to damage his left and retire to the Swiss. Based on what I read there was no serious trauma to the knee so I hope it’s something minor and the American returns in Paris.
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Blake Falls as Del Potro, Simon Move Closer to Shanghai
Tsonga, Roddick Serve Up a Treat; Nadal, Federer Opt for Tricks in Paris