Country Wide Classic July 16 - 22, 2007 - Day 6
By Matt Osias
Blake Storms into First Final in Los Angeles
Los Angeles – American No. 2 seed James Blake secured his spot in the CountryWide Classic final, beating Korean Hyung-Taik Lee in a roller coaster ride three set match 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 Saturday at the Los Angeles Tennis Center.
After making quick work of Lee in the first set, the Korean stole the early first game break from Blake to give him all the lead he would need to send the match to a decisive third set.
In the third set and after fighting through an 18-point game to hold serve at 4-3, Blake got his golden opportunity. Down 00-30 on Lee’s serve, Blake rallied to win the next three points, setting up a break point. While exchanging cross court ground strokes, Blake changed up the tempo, crushing an aggressive forehand towards Lee’s backhand, which was dumped into the net, resulting in a 5-3 Blake advantage.
With the chance to serve out the match, Blake took control, forcing Lee into difficult shots from the baseline that gave the American the victory and a shot at the winner of the Nicolas Kiefer vs Radek Stepanek match later tonight.
“It is such a good feeling to make it to the finals,” Blake said. “I have been preparing since the clay court season. I feel really fit and am excited about tomorrow.”
With the win, Blake improved his already amazing consecutive semifinal win total to 14 straight on hard courts
Commenting on his highly aggressive style of play and how he is able to sustain that kind of level from start to finish:
“I am not going to get lazy and be defensive late in a match, that’s not me,” Blake said. “I know that there is always going to be a lot of hard work, but I feel prepared…I am ready.”
In the first doubles semifinal of the day, the tandem of Scott Lipsky and David Martin overcame a first set deficit to secure a 4-6, 6-3, 10-3 victory over the Ratiwatana brothers and a chance to meet the No. 1 seeded Bryan brothers, who play later tonight.
Kiefer Defaults Semifinal Match
In the top half of the draw, German wild card Nicolas Kiefer defaulted his semifinal match with Radek Stepanek due to a knee injury.
“I felt pain in the morning when I woke up,” Kiefer said. “I tried to practice but I couldn’t do it.”
Kiefer who has been victim to injury for the the past year was making his first appearance since and had not dropped a set over the entire tournament. Playing in his first Los Angeles final against Blake will be Stepanek Sunday at 2 p.m.
Bryan’s Advance to Second-Straight Los Angeles Final
No. 1 seeds Bob and Mike Bryan overcame four set points in the second set to advance to the finals tomorrow against fellow Stanford alums Lipskey-Martin. After winning the first set 6-4, the Bryan brothers found themselves down 00-40 to tandem Jeff Coetzee and Wesley Moodie, before Mike Bryan served the team out of trouble, preventing a third set. Known for his returning ability, Mike Bryan took a page out of his twin brother Bob’s book (known for his powerful serve), reaching the 130mph mark on several occasions.
Able to send the second set into a tiebreaker, Bob and Mike Bryan’s experience took over, as the duo emerged victorious 7-6(4).
“We really just love playing here,” Bob Bryan said “We’re going for our fourth (L.A.) title, so it’s going to be special. It is going to be an all-American, all-Stanford (alum) final.”
Matt Osias can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
James Blake – USA