Hamburg Masters: Blake defeats Murray

Fifth-seeded James Blake of the United States defeated British teenager Andy Murray 6-3, 6-3 in the second round of Hamburg Masters on Wednesday.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:40 IST
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Hamburg:Fifth-seeded James Blake of the United States defeated British teenager Andy Murray 6-3, 6-3 in the second round of Hamburg Masters on Wednesday. "It's the first time I've played a top 10 guy and lost pretty comfortably," said Murray. The tournament, already hit by the withdrawals of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, lost three more seeded players. Third-seeded Ivan Ljubicic who became the tournament's top-ranked player when the pair pulled out, was toppled by Argentina's Jose Acasuso 6-2, 6-0. "I played my worst match of the past few years. Nothing went my way. I don't know why because I was well prepared. I hope it's just one match," said Ljubicic. Also, sixth-seeded Gaston Gaudio squandered a 4-1 lead in the final set and lost 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to France's Gilles Simon. While Max Mirnyi of Belarus upset ninth-seeded Nicolas Kiefer 6-2, 6-2. Comprehensive victory Blake, showing the same impressive clay-court agility that led to his first-round win over Carlos Moya, outclassed Murray from the start. Murray, who turned 19 on Monday, let his temper rule and stood no chance against Blake's remarkably consistent drop shots and powerful returns. "The way I returned today was one of the better returning performances of my year," Blake said. "I wouldn't say I'm a clay-court specialist yet - I don't have too many pairs of socks with the clay burnt in - but I definitely feel I'm improving on clay." He added. Blake broke twice in the opening set to take a 5-2 lead. Murray broke right back, but lost his very next service to allow the American to close it out. The pair traded breaks twice in the second set. Blake held serve to love to lead 5-2, causing Murray to slam his racket to the red clay in anger. Murray held his next serve and - knowing it was too little, too late - ironically raised his arms to the crowd. Blake served for the match and won when Murray sent a backhand into the net. Other wins The 23-year-old Acasuso, ranked a career-high 30th, improved his clay-court record to 14-4 this year with all four of his wins against top-10 players coming on the surface. Gaudio struggled against Simon from the start and earned a warning for swearing loudly early in the second set. He took the set and appeared on track to win with a 4-1 lead. But Simon swept the next three games to even the score to 4-4. In a bizarre incident, Gaudio then caught his fingers in his shorts pocket when he was reaching for the ball, tearing the fabric as Simon broke point for a 5-4 advantage. "The incident didn't affect me at all. It was funny but I was in the match and focused on what I had to do," said 21-year-old Simon. Following a quick break for Gaudio to change shorts, Simon served for the match. He collected three match points and clinched the win when Gaudio returned the ball into the net. Mirnyi had lost all five previous matches against Kiefer. "Today I was able to do what I wanted to do. I was seeing the ball well and serving well, which is a tough combination when I can combine the two," Mirnyi said. Kiefer, who lost in the Australian Open semifinals to Federer, was visibly frustrated and angry. "He broke my first game and I was always one step behind,'' Kiefer said. "He was serving good and I couldn't put the ball in. He was hitting so many aces. Returning is my strength. This shouldn't happen.'' Fourth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko of Russia advanced, beating Italian Andreas Seppi 6-1, 6-2 in 63 minutes. (AP)

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