Blake begins quest for second Indy title
James Blake began the hunt for his first title in nearly a year with a 7-6 (7-2), 6-2 defeat of Israeli Dudi Sela Tuesday in the first round of the Indianapolis Tennis Championships, dpa reported.
Blake last won a trophy in late August, 2007, at New Haven, Connecticut, and is coming off European disappointment with second- round losses at the French Open and Wimbledon.
Sela, ranked 78th, gave the top seed and 2006 winner a few minor scares, forcing Blake to save set points and breaking the American a game later as he served for the opening set.
But after taking it in a tiebreaker, Blake relaxed to sweep through.
"I didn't start great, but I knew I could still play great tennis," he said. "I knew I could get back in and win the match."
German Tommy Haas advanced in his first match, then said he will stay on in the game for as long as his troubled shoulder will allow.
The fifth seed, who reached the semi-finals at the US Open run-up event in 2002, defeated US youngster Jesse Levine 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.
"It's been a tough year," said the 30-year-old, who underwent more shoulder surgery last autumn, then made his 2008 comeback too early.
"I came back too early since I wanted to know how the shoulder would feel. I had to quit in the hard-court season, didn't play the clay. I only started again after the spring on grass. I've really only played two events since Miami (in March)."
Haas, who reached the Wimbledon third round, said that he will soldier on in the game for as long as he feels fit.
"I've been out for a few years here and there. If I'm feeling fit, I can do some damage," he said. "If the shoulder plays up again, and I start to struggle, we'll have to see."
Haas plays his second-round match Wednesday, taking on another US young gun in big server John Isner, who beat Robert Kendrick 7-5, 6- 4.
Popular Frenchman Fabrice Santoro was unable to make the fast change from a grass-court title to a start on cement, falling in the first round.
The sixth seed paid the price for a 48-hour turnaround as he lost with a double-fault on match point against Rajeev Ram 7-6 (8-6), 6-4.
Santoro first played the event in 1991, with his quarter-final at that edition his best career showing at the Indiana tournament.
On Sunday, he won the sixth title of his career on grass at Newport, Rhode Island.
2007 finalist Frank Dancevic was unable to get past US player Bobby Reynolds, losing a first-round encounter 6-7 (6-8), 6-3, 6-2. Three weeks ago at Wimbledon, the 90th-ranked Reynolds also beat the Canadian.