Ranked No. 45 and falling, American James Blake made a valiant exit on Wednesday in the second round of the Australian Open, losing a five-set marathon to reigning US Open champ Juan Martin Del Potro.
After almost 4-1/2 hours of effort, Blake was left pondering his hard luck and a 6-4, 6-7(3), 5-7, 6-3, 10-8 loss which leaves him 4-13 in career five-set matches.
“Blake is too fast. He play very strong with his forehand. He never miss easy points, easy forehand,” del Potro lauded his opponent. “It’s very difficult to keep trying, keep going. You have to be focused every point, every time, and try to take your chance. I had my chance in the last set…was tough for him play two days in a row, five-set matches.”
Del Potro, who says he is experiencing some wrist pain, will next face Florian Mayer, who upset No. 29 seed Viktor Troicki.
Other Top 10-ranked results were (2) Rafael Nadal topping Lukas Lacko in straights, (5) Andy Murray defeating Marc Gicquel in straights, and (7) Andy Roddick over Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci in straights.
Nadal says Roger Federer’s No. 1 ranking is not the goal, but winning one match at a time.
“Right now my goal is try to be in the fourth round of the Australian Open. That’s my goal right now,” Nadal said. “To be No. 1 again, that can’t be a goal. It is not possible…if you’re not winning important tournaments, you’re not going to have any chance to be No. 1. My real goal right now is just try to be competitive in every tournament that I gonna play and feel when I go on court I can win against everybody.”
No. 21 seed Tomas Berdych was a surprise loser Wednesday, ducking out in straights to Evgeny Korolev.
Unseeded winners of note were Feliciano “F-Lo” Lopez over former Oz runner-up Rainer Schuettler in four, Florent Serra outlasting Jarkko Nieminen in five, John Isner over Louk Sorensen in straights.
“I was a little bit tired out there,” said the Auckland winner Isner. “I played a lot of matches in the last eight days or so…I’ve won seven [matches] in a row. I’ve never done that in my career. So this is a first. Having tomorrow off will be real big for me.”
One match remained on court at press time, with (14) Marin Cilic and Aussie Bernard Tomic headed toward a fifth set.
Hightlights on tap for Thursday are (3) Novak Djokovic vs. Marco Chiudinelli, Lleyton Hewitt vs. Donald Young, Marcos Baghdatis vs. (17) David Ferrer, (10) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Taylor Dent, Janko Tipsarevic vs. (18) Tommy Haas, and (30) Juan Monaco vs. French net-rusher Michael Llodra.
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