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Country Wide Classic July 16 - 22, 2007 - Day 4

By Matt Osias


Blake Outlasts Goldstein, Spadea and Fleishman to Quarterfinals

Los Angeles – At least one of the two top seeds still remains at the Countrywide Classic, as No. 2 James Blake outlasted his friend and fellow American Paul Goldstein Thursday night 6-0, 1-6, 7-5. American Vince Spadea, who celebrated his 33rd birthday with a victory over last year’s finalist Dmitry Tursunov, will meet Blake in the Quarterfinals on ESPN 2 today. Also into the quarterfinals, by defeating Robert Kendrick, is local boy Zach Fleishman, who stunned No. 1 seed Fernando Gonzalez in the first round; He will face Czech’s Radek Stepanek who took out Mardy Fish 6-2, 6-2.

In the first match of the evening, Blake looked to have complete control over Goldstein, jumping out to an early 6-0 first set. But the tables would quickly turn in the second, as Goldstein broke Blake in the very first game (and two more times after that), ensuring the two would have to fight it out in the third set.

“After the 6-0 first set, I knew I would swing at more balls,” Goldstein said. “My level picked up in the second, but James also didn’t play as well.”

At 4-4 in the third set and with two break point chances, Blake looked like he would make his move, but Goldstein managed to save them both, eventually giving him the 5-4 advantage. In the very next game and with the score at 30-30, Goldstein hit a forehand return-of-serve winner to set up a match point. But Blake would fight it off, sending a serve down the middle that set up a gutsy forehand winner down the line to save the match and win the game.

Marat Safin – RUS

James Blake – USA

Tied at 5-5, Blake jumped out to a 00-40 lead and started waving his racquet at the crowd, trying to get them involved. Though Goldstein won the next point, Blake simply overpowered him to take the first break of the third set, setting up a chance to serve out the match. At 6-5, and after grabbing the first point, Blake reeled off three straight aces to seal the deal, moving into the quarterfinals.

“A lot of guys would get down after a second set like that,” Blake said. “In the third (set) I just started moving my feet better. Paul really made me work for everything out there.”

Though Goldstein mounted a great comeback, he could not capitalize on his sole match point opportunity.

“My only regret was not hitting a better forehand on match point,” Goldstein said. “There is no greater athlete on Tour than James.”

With two Americans on center stage, the crowd was cheering both ways, wanting to see a great match more than anything else. Even a few of Blake’s J-Block crew was seen in the stands. And who could miss the seven-foot Kevin Garnett back for an encore. KG, a good friend of JB (Blake), congratulated Blake for finding a way to dig deep and pull out the win.

Earlier in the day, Mardy Fish suffered an embarrassing 6-2, 6-2 defeat at the hands of Stepanek, who broke the American on four of six attempts. In the last match of the day, S. Lipsky/D. Martin defeated the tandem of M. Fish/S. Querrey 6-3, 6-4.

Matt Osias can be reached at mosias@californiatennis.com


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