Blake, Bryans Through to Semis,
Safin Upset; Fleishman's Cinderella Run Ends
James Blake - USA
Los Angeles - No. 2 seed
James Blake continued his bid for his first Los Angeles title,
beating Vince Spadea in straight sets 7-6(2), 6-4. Robbing fans
of a possible semifinal match-up between Marat Safin and Blake
was Korean Hyung-Taik Lee, who came from behind to halt the
Russian 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. In the featured match of the night, Bob
and Mike Bryan dispatched the tandem of Amir Delic and Igor
Kunitsyn 7-5, 6-2, while American wild card hopeful Zach
Fleishman fell to Radek Stepanek 6-4, 6-2.
Needing a tie-break to decide the first set, Blake struck first
blood, jumping out to a quick 4-0 lead. Though Spadea would snag
a few points, it was too little too late as Blake finished off
the first set 7-6(2). The second set would not be much better
for Spadea, as Blake came out aggressive, securing the early
break. With the second set score at 4-2, Blake struck again with
another break, giving him the chance to serve out the match.
Spadea, however, with little to lose, was able to get ahead
00-40, where Blake double faulted back one of the two breaks.
Spadea would then hold to bring the set score to 5-4, but it was
not enough, as Blake regained control, sending the last point of
the match into the seats on a crushing overhead slam at the net.
"Those kinds of things happen," Blake said after giving back a
break in the second set. "I just had to keep in mind that I was
up a set and still up a break, and close it out."
Marat Safin - RUS
Although Blake admittedly said Safin
may be the tougher semifinal round opponent, he complemented the
backhand of his next round opponent Lee as one of the best one-handers
Safin, who looked to have his quarterfinal match under control,
up a set and leading by a break in the third, saw his lead
vanish, as Lee's "keep fighting" attitude vaulted him into the
semifinals tomorrow on ESPN 2 against Blake at 11:30 a.m.
"I just kept trying, again and again," Lee said in regards to
his last set heroics. "This is my most successful tournament so
far this year."
Lee has not won a match in his first five tournament appearances
in Los Angeles, though now with an opportunity to get into the
finals with a win Saturday.
Though clearly disappointed in his inability to close out the
match, Safin did appear optimistic, stating that it is just the
beginning of the of the hard court season and he has another
warm up in Washington before he plays in the Master's events
later in August.
Also continuing their hopes of repeating as champions, Bob and
Mike Bryan made quick work of Delic and Kunitsyn.
"We love to play in this stadium, it brings out a lot of
energy," Mike Bryan said. "We got better as the match went on."
On the grandstand court, wild card Nicolas Kiefer advanced to
the semifinals with a 7-6(5), 6-1 win over countryman Michael
Matt Osias can be reached at