Ancic advances to Hamburg quarterfinals

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Mario Ancic advanced to quarterfinals of the Hamburg Masters after he staged a third dramatic rally to topple fifth-seeded American James Blake.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:40 IST
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Mario Ancic advanced to quarterfinals of the Hamburg Masters after he staged a third dramatic rally in a little more than a week, to topple fifth-seeded American James Blake. Ancic last week saved three match points against both Frenchman Florent Serra and Spain's Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo to win at the Rome Masters. "I am the kind of person who fights to the end. When James was serving for the match I still knew I had a chance because number one it was clay, and secondly throughout the whole match there had been chances," he said. The 12th-seeded Ancic now plays fourth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko, who took just 55 minutes to dispatch 13th-seeded Finn Jarkko Nieminen 6-1, 6-3. Ancic battled for over two and half hours to get past Blake. Other matches Spain's Fernando Verdasco also had to overcome a first-set loss to upset seventh-seeded Fernando Gonzalez 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. He will next meet Argentina's Jose Acasuso. David Ferrer ousted fellow Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-2, 6-4. Ferrer now will face another countryman, eighth-seeded Tommy Robredo. Tough battle Blake twice served for the match, but like last week, 22-year-Ancic prevailed. "It was a tough one to lose, especially when I served for it twice. He hung on. Today he taught me a lesson. At some point he could have given in a little, but he continued to play his game," said Blake, ranked seventh by the ATP Tour. The pair began by trading breaks before Ancic's double faults and Blake's backhand returns gave the American a 5-2 lead. Three unforced errors let Ancic recover one of his serves and pull back to 5-3 but Blake sealed the set the following game. Ancic twice clung to his serve to hold to 5-4 and Blake, serving for the match this time, was thwarted yet again. Ancic opened the decider with a love game and Blake was forced to save two break points to keep the score level at 2-2. Blake, who had beaten Carlos Moya and Andrew Murray in Hamburg on his least favorite surface of clay, broke for a 4-3 lead and held once before serving for the match a second time. Ancic converted the third of three break points when Blake sent a backhand into the net, evening the set at 5-5. In the tiebreak, Blake took a 3-1 lead but stalled when Ancic rallied to sweep the next six points for victory. "It's definitely something I'll think about tomorrow and the next day and into the French Open," said Blake. The French Open starts May 28. Verdasco wins Verdasco, 22, improved this season's clay-court record to 9-4. He reached the semifinals in Valencia last month, where he lost to Frenchman Gilles Simon. Ferrer took the opening set without much trouble from Ferrero. Ferrero had won their last encounter in Monte Carlo. (AP)

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