Blake loses at Pilot Pen

Unseeded Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo ousted defending champion James Blake 2-6, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4) on Tuesday night.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:36 IST
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New Haven, Connecticut:James Blake had the crowd behind him all night. Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo had all the shots he needed for the upset. The unseeded Spaniard ousted the Pilot Pen's favorite son and defending champion 2-6, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4) on Tuesday night. Blake, who grew up in nearby Fairfield, squandered five match points, including two in the first tiebreaker. "It just slipped away and he was playing pretty good tennis," Blake said. "It's kind of inexcusable to have three or four match points on my serve and not convert." Some of his fans, sporting blue T-shirts, packed a corner of the Connecticut Tennis Center, dubbed the "J-Block", chanting his name at every critical turn in the two-hour, 23-minute second-round match. The 25-year-old Ramirez Hidalgo, ranked 57th in the world, stole their moment with a solid baseline game, great range and an impressive second serve. Hidalgo said it was one of the biggest wins of his career. The partisan crowd did little to shake him. Blake, ranked fifth in the world, was having the best year of his career since winning the 2005 Pilot Pen. He's won five of his six singles titles in the last 12 months. Ramirez Hidalgo is still looking for his first singles title. Blake acknowledged there is always added pressure to play in front of the home crowd, but it's something he gladly takes on. Many in the crowd on Tuesday night will follow him to the US Open. Meanwhile, Lindsay Davenport, the women's defending champion, beat Katarina Srebotnik 6-3, 6-3 to move into the second round. The seventh-seeded Davenport managed just two points in the first two games before gaining momentum. It was the only the ninth match of the year for the former No. 1 player, who has battled injuries throughout the season. Bulging disks in her back sidelined her in March and a concussion sustained from a fall at her Los Angeles home kept her out of Wimbledon. She's banking on a solid outing at New Haven, the final hard-court tuneup before next week's US Open. (AP)

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