Blake Opens Series With Win

July 18, 2007 09:16 AM
American Zack Fleishman, playing just his second career match against a top 10 player, upset top-seeded Fernando Gonzalez, 7-6 (5), 6-4, to close out the first round of the Countrywide Classic on Tuesday night.

Fleishman's upset came after James Blake, the No. 2 seed, beat Alexander Peya of Austria 7-5, 6-4.

The day's other upset came in the afternoon, when No. 4 seed David Nalbandian lost, 7-6 (5), 7-5 to Igor Kunitsyn, a Russian ranked 99th on the ATP Tour.

Meanwhile, Americans Mardy Fish, Vincent Spadea and Robert Kendrick joined Fleishnman, Blake and Paul Goldstein in the second round of the $525,000 event. Fish, the No. 6 seed, beat doubles partner Sam Querrey, 7-5, 6-4; Spadea eliminated Thiago Alves of Brazil, 7-6 (2), 6-2; Goldstein toppled Adrian Garcia of Chile, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, and Kendrick was a 6-4, 6-3 winner over Wesley Whitehouse of South Africa.

"I beat a top 10 player at my former college, in my hometown, at a place where I've practiced since I was 9 years old,'' said Fleishman, who now is 2-2 in tour matches this year and 5-12 lifetime. "My pure strategy coming in was to play my game and if I needed to adjust I would.''

Gonzalez, ranked sixth in the world, at one point called for the trainer for an unspecified back problem. He also tossed his racket after Fleishman got a service break to go up 2-1 in the second set. Fleishman held for 3-1 and they played the rest of the match on serve.

Blake, playing before a crowd of 5,561 that included NBA star Kevin Garnett and tennis star Serena Williams, won both sets of the 71-minute match with service breaks on the final game, then said he was satisfied with his play overall.

"A win is a good feeling, no matter it happens,'' said Blake, ranked ninth in the world. "I was really pleased with the way I served and took care of my serve. He only had one break point the whole day and I came up with many first serves. That was definitely a very good feeling.''

Fish won 12 of his first 16 matches this year, before losing eight straight matches and 10 of 11. He slipped to No. 40 in the rankings and made this tournament as a wild card.

Querrey has been struggling as well, and lost his seventh straight match. Querrey said he played tentatively "the whole time, especially on my backhand. It's getting frustrating. You start second-guessing yourself.''

In other day matches, Ricardo Mello of Brazil beat American Phillip King 6-4, 6-2; Wesley Moodie of South Africa spoiled the tour debut of Kei Nishikori of Japan, 6-3, 6-2; and Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic advanced when Great Britain's Alex Bogdanovic retired because of a back problem after losing the opening set, 6-1.

After winning the first-set tiebreaker, Kunitsyn won the first three games of the second set and had break point for a 4-0 lead. But he missed a volley, and that enabled Nalbandian to regroup. The Argentine, a Wimbledon finalist in 2002, won that game and the next four to go ahead, 5-3.

Kunitsyn then won the final four games.

"He's one of the toughest players. He never gives up,'' Kunitsyn said. "I was prepared that he would always be there and that helped me so much.''