Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Blake shocks del Potro in Stockholm

   Apparently, playing in the recent $100,000 Sacramento Challenger helped James Blake.
   After reaching the Sacramento final and taking last week off, Blake stunned second-seeded Juan Martin del Potro 6-4, 6-4 Wednesday in the second round of the $825,000 Stockholm Open on the ATP World Tour.
    "This is my best win in the last three years, I'd say," Blake asserted on the ATP's Web site. "I played some of my best tennis, and I'm really proud of it. He's going to be a great champion for many years, so I'll be proud of this one for a long time."
   Blake, the runner-up to 6-foot-10 Ivo Karlovic in Sacramento, evened his career record against del Potro at 2-2. Del Potro had won the last two meetings, 6-4, 7-6 (3) in July in the second round at Los Angeles and 6-4, 6-7 (3), 5-7, 6-3, 10-8 in 4 hours, 17 minutes in the second round of the 2010 Australian Open.
   "Juan Martin is an excellent player, and he made me work for everything," Blake said. "I felt coming into Stockholm, I had some confidence. The body feels good for a change. We had a tight match earlier in the summer. and the breaks just went my way today."
   The 31-year-old Blake, who splits his time between his childhood home of Fairfield, Conn., and his training base of Tampa, Fla., is ranked 69th in the world after reaching a career high of No. 4 in 2006. He suffers from chronic tendinitis in his right knee.
   The 6-5 del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, missed eight months last year because of a right (playing) wrist injury that required surgery. The 23-year-old Argentine, a semifinalist at San Jose in February, has rebounded to No. 15.
   Blake could face another Argentine, David Nalbandian, in Friday's quarterfinals. Nalbandian, the 2002 Wimbledon runner-up who underwent right hip surgery in 2009, is scheduled to play seventh-seeded Ivan Dodig of Croatia on Thursday in the second round.
   Blake is 2-0 against Nalbandian, including a 6-2, 6-4 victory in the second round at Washington in August, and has never played Dodig.
   Also reaching the Stockholm quarterfinals were fifth-seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa and sixth-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada. The 6-8 Anderson, ranked 31st, won the 2007 Sacramento Futures. The 6-5 Raonic, ranked 29th, won his first career ATP title in February at San Jose.
   Ryan Sweeting, a 6-5 American who reached the semifinals of last week's $100,000 Tiburon Challenger, lost to Grigor Dimitrov, a 20-year-old Bulgarian, 6-3, 6-1 in the first round.
   In Tiburon, Sweeting complained of burnout following an outstanding first half of the year that propelled him to a career-high No. 64 last month. He's now No. 66.
   Scott Lipsky, an ex-Stanford All-American, and Rajeev Ram, the Sacramento Challenger runner-up in singles (2006) and doubles (2008, with John Isner), lost in the first round of doubles to Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus and del Potro 4-6, 7-5, 10-6 tiebreak.
   Tursunov playing in hometown --Eighth-seeded Dmitry Tursunov, a Folsom resident playing in his hometown, is scheduled to meet Julien Benneteau of France on Thursday in the second round of the $725,000 Kremlin Cup in Moscow.
   Tursunov, who beat Albert Ramos of Spain 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the first round, is 0-1 lifetime against Benneteau after falling 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in the first round at Cincinnati four years ago.
   Tursunov and countryman Igor Kunitsyn, the defending Moscow doubles champions, lost to Alex Bogomolov Jr., an American born in Moscow, and Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan in the opening round 7-5, 3-6, 10-8 tiebreak. Tursunov also won the Moscow doubles title in 2007 with countryman Marat Safin, who retired at the end of 2009.
   WTA tour in Moscow -- Second-seeded Vania King, a member of the Sacramento Capitals living in Boynton Beach, Fla., and Yaroslava Shvedova, a Moscow native who plays for Kazakhstan, defeated Maria Kondratieva of Russia and Petra Martic of Croatia 6-2, 6-2 in the first round of the Kremin Cup.
   Neither King nor Shvedova is playing singles in Moscow.

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