PARIS - James Blake's frustration rose to a crescendo yesterday.
The top U.S. man in the French Open was talking to himself, and the words were growing louder. He was bothered by the clay underfoot. By the chair umpire. By his own play. And, most of all, by the drop shots and assorted other winners his up-and-coming foe produced.
For the fifth time in six career trips to Roland Garros, Blake departed before the third round, losing this time to 80th-ranked Ernests Gulbis, of Latvia, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. It was part of a 1-3 showing by American men yesterday, when Mardy Fish and Bobby Reynolds also lost.
The 88th-ranked Robby Ginepri knocked off No. 27 Igor Andreev, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5), 6-2, to join Wayne Odesnik as the only players from the United States in the third round.
"Americans a lot of times don't have the highest expectations on clay," the No. 7-seeded Blake said. "But I really felt like this match today was a match I could have won."
There were moments, if ever so brief, that similar thoughts ran through the minds of the men facing No. 1 Roger Federer and No. 2 Rafael Nadal.
Federer's opponent, 60th-ranked Albert Montanes, of Spain, staked himself to a one-set lead - and then was overwhelmed the rest of the way in a 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-0, 6-4 victory for the owner of 12 Grand Slam titles.
Nadal's opponent, 148th-ranked Nicolas Devilder, of France, was one point from serving for the first set, holding a break point at 4-all - and then was completely overwhelmed the rest of the way in a 6-4, 6-0, 6-1 victory for the owner of the past three French Open titles.
"His forehand was not a big problem for me to start with. And I thought, 'Why not? Why not?' " Devilder said.
"The games go by so quickly," he said. "They go by so quickly, and you think: 'When is it going to end?' "
Venus Williams and Jelena Jankovic won in straight sets, while No. 6 Anna Chakvetadze - who is hiring Justine Henin's coach, Carlos Rodriguez - and two-time major champion Amelie Mauresmo both lost. *