Eliminates No. 1 Seed Gonzalez, Blake Advances
Zach Fleishman - USA
Los Angeles - In
just his second match ever against a world's top-10 player,
Southern California native Zach Fleishman rocked the top-seeded
Fernando Gonzalez in straight sets 7-6(5), 6-4 in the first
round of the Countrywide Classic. In the earlier evening match,
the second-seeded American James Blake overpowered Austrian
Alexander Peya 7-5, 6-4.
Fleishman, who was a member of the Bruin tennis team for a year
before turning pro in 2000, kept pace with Gonzalez to send the
first set to a tie-break, managing to outlast the Chilean and
win the first set. In the second set and tied at 1-1, Fleishman
grabbed the early break to go up 2-1.
With the second-set score still in Fleishman's favor, Gonzo made
a call for the trainer for an unspecified back problem. Although
after returning to the court he held serve, Fleishman remained
composed, winning the final game at love to advance past the No.
6 player in the world.
"This is the best win of my career," Fleishman said. "To do it
in front of my friends and family...it just feels so good. I had
the best time of my life today."
With the No. 1 seeded player losing in the first round, the
top-half of the draw just became up for grabs, and Fleishman has
proved to be one to watch.
"I just have to play as well as I can," Fleishman said. "I'm 27
years old and I feel like I am just starting to peak."
The victory was the American's first against a top-10 player in
the world. Fleishman will face fellow American Robert Kendrick
in the second round.
James Blake - USA
In the first match of the evening, the No. 2 seeded James Blake
broke his opponent in the last game of both the first and second
set to advance to the second round. At 5-4 in the second set and
with a match point, Peya left a ball short that Blake muscled
for a backhand winner down the line, giving him the victory.
"A win is a good feeling, no matter how it happens," said Blake,
ranked No. 9 in the world. "I was really pleased with the way I
served. He (Peya ) only had one break point the whole day. That was
definitely a very good feeling."
"It is always great to get back on the hard courts, especially
in the states," Blake added. "I feel so much more comfortable. I
feel like I have the ability to win this tournament."
James Blake has been
a professional tennis player since 1999, when he left Harvard to
join the professional tennis circuit. Though, his career was
almost cut short in 2004 while practicing in Rome for the
Masters - the New York native ran full speed into a net post,
breaking his neck. Just two months later, his father and
inspiration, died of stomach cancer. Soon after that, Blake
contracted a virus that paralyzed half his face and blurred his
And just this month, Blake released his self-written book titled
"Breaking Back: How I Lost Everything and Won Back My Life",
which recounts his many struggles and how he was able to
In the second round, Blake will face fellow American Paul
Goldstein, who he has an 0-1 record against.
Also in attendance to show support for Blake was women's tennis
star Serena Williams and Laker fan's potential savior Kevin
Earlier in the day, Russian Igor Kunitsyn (ranked No. 99 in the
world) upset Argentina's David Nalbandian in straight sets 7-6
(5), 7-5. Americans Mardy Fish, Vincent Spadea and Robert
Kendrick all advanced to the second round.
Matt Osias can be reached at