Washington, DC: July 31 - Aug. 6

June 27, 2006 12:21 PM

Roddick Beats Blake for Legg Mason Title

WASHINGTON (AP) -- After a couple of tough weeks, Andy Roddick asserted himself at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic.

Hitting 18 aces and showing the form he hopes will carry him far at the US Open, Roddick beat James Blake 7-5, 6-3 Sunday to win the Washington hard-court title for the second time.

Roddick is the third straight American to win a tournament in the US Open Series, the summer circuit leading up to the year's final Grand Slam.

"To have three Americans win in the first three weeks of this series is great,'' Roddick said. "I feel like it's on an upswing from a month ago, with the younger guys stepping up and playing well.''

In the second set against Blake, Roddick took control by breaking for a 5-3 advantage. He then served the match out with three aces -- one at 144 mph -- to join Andre Agassi and Robby Ginepri on the list of US Open Series titlists this year.

Roddick, the 2003 US Open champion and past No. 1, was seeded first in Washington and was a heavy favorite, especially after Agassi pulled out and highly seeded players such as Tim Henman lost early.

On the other hand, Roddick came to the Legg Mason event after losing in the quarterfinals to Ginepri at Indianapolis, then withdrawing because of a sore knee from the Los Angeles tournament won by Agassi.

Did Roddick believe he simply had to win in Washington?

"I didn't feel like it was a necessity because I had won tournaments earlier this year,'' Roddick said, "but I felt it was a necessity to play well.''

Blake is one of the countrymen long expected to follow Roddick up the rankings, but his career has been derailed by injuries and inconsistency.

Fifteen months after breaking a vertebrae in his neck in a freak accident while practicing in Rome -- an injury that basically ended his 2004 season and resulted in a ranking drop from No. 39 to No. 201 -- Blake now will re-enter the top 100.

"It was just a matter of showing everyone else I'm playing well,'' Blake said. "Everyone is saying that this is my welcome back, but I feel like I've been back for a while. And this is just the fruition of it all.''

Roddick, who also won in Washington in 2001, took advantage of costly errors by Blake in the clinching game of the first set, then rode that momentum to his fourth title of the year and 19th overall.

"Andy plays at a little bit different level than some other guys that I played, and he made me hit some more balls today,'' said Blake, who has lost each of his six meetings with Roddick.

"Right now, it stings. But looking back on it, I think it will be a good week.''

Blake, the 2002 champion, won three straight games to tie the first set at 4-4. That included a break of serve to get within 4-3 -- the only time Roddick lost his serve all week, ending a 56-game holding streak.

"I wasn't upset because I didn't think I played a bad game,'' Roddick said. "I just tried to refocus.''

That he did, responding to take a 6-5 lead behind his powerful service game, then clinching the set when Blake hit a volley wide right, then sent a shot long.

"He was definitely making me earn my points,'' Roddick said.

In the doubles final, U.S. Davis Cup members Bob and Mike Bryan beat Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett 6-4, 6-2.

 

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