U.S. Open Report: Blake Survives Marathon To Advance

By Richard Kent
Updated: September 1, 2007

US Open NEW YORK — James Blake won an incredible tennis match at the U.S. Open late Thursday night. He really won more than that. He won the hearts of New York — again.

The sixth-seeded Blake is at his best at night. The crowd needs his energy at night. And the Open needs James Blake. An American with hope.

Blake beat France’s Fabrice Santore under the lights. He is one of the toughest players to play. He has a very unorthodox style. The 5-foot-9 Santore takes a lot of time between points and it is often quite tough on opponents.

However, Blake weathered the storm winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 4-6, and 6-4. But you never really had the feeling that this American was going to lose. Blake never felt that way either. He is confident but not cocky. He is a New Yorker. He said that “I’m not going to lose” heading into the very last set.

Blake committed an incredible 71 unforced errors. That is mind boggling. How do you win that way? Well, you win 57 out of 83 net approaches. You knock off seven aces. You have 83 winners to Santore’s 39.

Blake did them all and more. Fabrice is 34 years old. He reached the third round of the Open in 1990. Blake wasn’t even at Harvard then. Santore is a very focused player and that was very true in his epic against Blake.

He never wavered even when he fell behind. Fabrice is the player that opponents do not want to see in their draw. He is called “The Magician” by other players.

Blake acknowledged that Santore is a “credit to the game” after the match. He had never on a five-set match and feels that “he got the monkey off his back” with the win. His opponent did not know that he had never won a five-setter.

Late Saturday, Blake met Stefan Koubek of Austria.The crowd will be behind him. New York will be behind him and the hopes of American tennis will be behind him.

Earlier on Saturday, Donald Young’s great summer adventure, which saw him win at a Grand Slam for the first time and advance to the third round, came to an abrupt end at the hands of another lefty, Feliciano Lopez.

The veteran Spaniard dashed the young American’s hopes of reaching a Round of 16 encounter with Roger Federer, winning in four hard-fought sets, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 7-5.

Friday night, both Venus and Serena Williams would advance on Stadium Court. Serena needed nearly two hours to overcome Vera Zvonareva 6-4, 7-6 (4). It was a different story for Venus.

The No. 12 seed followed her sister on Arthur Ashe Stadium and dismantled a very respectable player in Alona Bondarenko, the No. 21-seed, 6-1, 6-2 in a mere 58 minutes.

Both will be in action Sunday. Venus is scheduled to battle fifth-seeded Ana Ivanovic of Serbia in the afternoon while eighth-seeded Serena will take on tenth-seeded Marlon Bartoli of France.