Frustrated Blake leads run of U.S. exits
PARIS - James Blake's frustration rose to a crescendo yesterday. The top-ranked 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.
PARIS - James Blake's frustration rose to a crescendo yesterday.
The top-ranked 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, the seventh-seeded 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 of the men's tourney.
No. 1 Roger 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.
No. 2 Rafael 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, then also was overwhelmed the rest of the way in a 6-4, 6-0, 6-1 victory for the owner of the last three French Open titles.
Nadal improved to 23-0 at Roland Garros and said he was "improving with each match."
Federer, meanwhile, called his outing "a good test."
In the third round at the only major tournament he has not won, Federer faces a familiar foe: Mario Ancic of Croatia, the last man to beat him at Wimbledon, in 2002.
Blake's exit in the second round in Paris - only in 2006 did he make it to the third - was followed shortly by that of No. 6 David Nalbandian. Unlike Blake, Nalbandian has had success at the French Open, twice reaching the semifinals, but the Argentine wasted a two-set lead and was eliminated, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-2, by Jeremy Chardy of France.
The 19-year-old Gulbis moved to Munich when he was 12 to work with Niki Pilic, the coach who helped mold Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic.
Against Blake, it was Gulbis who seemed to have a better grasp of when to go for winners and when to wait for the right opening.
Blake groused afterward about hearing "too many commentators" and "people that talk about tennis that don't play tennis" say he should tone down his aggressive style.
Maria Sharapova still has some kinks to work out of her serve, because she served four more double-faults and was broken three times, and her match didn't even finish. She was leading Bethanie Mattek of the United States, 6-2, 2-3, when play was suspended because of darkness.
Venus Williams and Jelena Jankovic played in the morning and won in straight sets, while No. 6 Anna Chakvetadze and two-time major champion Amelie Mauresmo lost.
Williams used a six-game streak to take control and beat 241st-ranked qualifier Selima Sfar of Tunisia, 6-2, 6-4. Jankovic defeated Marina Erakovic of New Zealand, 6-2, 7-6 (5).
Mauresmo, a Frenchwoman seeded 22d, barely put up a fight in a 6-3, 6-4 loss to Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain.