U.S. Open Report: Sixth-Seeded Blake Battles To Win Opener

By Richard Kent
Updated: August 28, 2007

US Open NEW YORK — It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t pretty. But it was a victory and a crowd pleaser at that. James Blake beat Michael Russell 7-6, 6-3, and 7-6 to advance in the U.S. Open in Flushing.

In the first set. the players traded points,unforced errors and serving miscues. Blake won the decisive tiebreaker in the very first set with an overhead slam which drew an ovation from the throng supporting him. The set took 65 grueling minutes. Russell has a few set points.

Blake grew up in Yonkers and went to school in Fairfield. He attended Harvard University before turning pro. He is a tremendous crowd favorite in New York and may be the top American at this point in time. Russell is ranked No. 60 in the world, while Blake is ranked No. 8 and sixth in the Open.

The second set started off with Russell breaking Blake early on but then Blake took over and won 6-3. He was never headed. His forehand was working well as was his speed.

In the last set, Russell found his game again. He was serving much better and no one works harder than Russell. He tied it at 6-6 and actually had the lead in the tiebreaker. Blake fought back and his serve was the reason that he won the third set.

Russell was undefeated against Blake going into the match but that stat is from years ago. He is from Detroit and is 29 years old. He has never won a match at the U.S. Open.

Blake will next face Fabrice Santore, a player who has never beaten him. Blake reached the quarterfinals in 2005 and 2006. He played Roger Federer close, lost to Andre Agassi before an energized Stadium crowd and beat Rafael Nadal.