Blake eliminates Santoro

August 14, 2006 08:50 PM

James Blake 225 w
MASON, Ohio (AP) -- Third-seeded David Nalbandian waited out a rain delay and beat Rik De Voest 6-0, 6-4 on Monday in the first round of the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters.

Nalbandian reached the semifinals of two Grand Slam events this year but was upset in the first round of last week's Masters event in Toronto. He seemed headed for a quick win to start this tournament near Cincinnati, but the weather didn't cooperate.

He led 4-0 after just 17 minutes when the match was suspended because of heavy rain. The players came back 90 minutes later and warmed up, but light rain returned. Play finally resumed after a delay of 2 hours, 19 minutes.

Nalbandian quickly won the set, then cruised through the second, unbothered by the double delay.

"The first set was important, when I was 4-0, then to come back and win it quickly was good," Nalbandian said. "Then you feel you just have to play one more set, or maybe two."

Eighth-seeded Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, who also was upset in the first round last week in Toronto, needed two tiebreakers to beat Thomas Johansson of Sweden 7-6 (3), 7-6 (3).

"I was not ready for Toronto, that's for sure. Mentally and physically, I wasn't ready," Baghdatis said. "Losing in Toronto was good for me because it gave me a smack on the face, telling me you have to go back and work hard. That's what I did since five, six days."

Johansson served 22 aces against Baghdatis -- 11 in each set -- but it wasn't enough in a match that took 2:06.

American James Blake, the No. 6 seed, eliminated Fabrice Santoro of France 6-4, 6-4 in an evening match.

Blake broke Santoro in the seventh game and won the first set. He quickly broke Santoro in the opening game of the second set, but almost let Santoro back on serve. Blake trailed 0-30 in the 10th game before rallying to win the match.

"I got up two breaks and got a little lazy," Blake said. "I was coming in, attacking, finishing points at the net ... in the first set-and-a-half. Then, that last few games, I stopped doing that. I started kind of just trying to rip winners from the baseline."

Tenth-seeded David Ferrer of Spain ousted countryman Carlos Moya 6-3, 6-1 in a late match interrupted by a 54-minute rain delay, the fourth of the day.

Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina upset fifth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko of Russia 6-4, 2-6, 6-2. American Robby Ginepri, the 15th seed, beat Paul-Henri Mathieu of France 1-6, 3-6, 6-4. Sixteenth-seeded Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia defeated Paul Goldstein of the United States 6-4, 6-3.

The tournament's top seeds, No. 1 Roger Federer and No. 2 Rafael Nadal, were scheduled to play their first matches on Tuesday.