Former champion James Blake (’02) was defeated in this first round match last night after a strong showing in the QF’s in Los Angeles last week. That momentum didn’t follow him into DC however, where he fell to qualifier and fellow American Ryan Sweeting in a three set thriller 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
JB was obviously struggling with his serve through the match, and faced a few break points in his very first service game. He got himself together and took the first set. He got a few break chances in the third but just couldn’t convert.
Blake said in his presser, “I haven’t played a lot of matches this year and I would have loved to have played more matches this week, but it wasn’t meant to be. I just wasn’t doing the things I needed to do to win matches. I played tentative on the big points. I needed to step up to take control of the big points. Credit to Ryan for doing that.”
Sweeting, hoping to build off his opening victory, said, “I think it’s my best win for sure, I just tried to keep the ball away from his forehand as much as possible. I tried to hit to his backhand and attack to his forehand so he couldn’t use it as a weapon.” He’s feeling some confidence going into his next match with Michael Llodra tonight.
Former World Number 3 David Nalbandian, returning from after a long injury break, easily dropped American Rajeev Ram, 6-4, 6-0, in just 52 minutes. Nalby’s playing just his fifth tournament since he resumed play from February, and received a WC into the MD.
In other matches, Igor Kunitsyn defeated Kei Nishikori and Slovenian Grega Zemlja took down Benjamin Becker. Kunitsyn meets Giles Simon the next round, while Zemlja is set to meet No. 2 seed Andy Roddick in the headline match tonight.
Playing doubles for their first time together, Marcos Baghdatis and Stan Wawrinka got through over Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau, 4-6, 6-4, 10-8. Wawrinka’s here with new Coach Peter Lundgren, who I spent some time watching over the past couple of days. Their partnership seems to be a good one. They’re very easy with each other, laughing and quietly talking during their work-outs. Lundgren was even seen buying Stan an ice cream after a rough practice on Sunday. That’s some fine coaching.
Serbian Viktor Triocki had a easy victory against qualifier Kevin Kim, 6-1, 6-2 in 57 minutes. He’ll face off against Mardy Fish tonight. Rainer Schutler, the number five seed German, who got into the QFs at Los Angeles, lost to Illya Marchenko in three well-fought sets, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.
Fence-sitting ticket buyers in the DC area would be well-advised to head out to Rock Creek Park for tonight’s incredible match-ups. Making their debuts tonight: Andy Roddick, Atlanta winner Mardy Fish, John Isner, Fernando Verdasco, and Marin Cilic. Early round action continues with Julien Benneteau vs. Xavier Malisse, former champion Arnaud Clement taking on LA semifinalist Janko Tipsarevic; and Richard Gasquet coming in off his finals appearance at the Swiss Open.
All told, a great night of tennis on tap. The weather is here, and the tennis should be beautiful.
For live updates from the grounds on Twitter follow superfan @JulesDC, blogging locals @TennisRomi and @DailyForehand, the official Twitter @LeggMasonTennis, official stringer @GameSetMatch10s, and of course yours truly, @LynnLovesTennis.
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