Radek Stepanek Beats James Blake To Win Countrywide Classic; Takes Early Lead in US Open Series Lever 2000 Challenge Standings

July 22, 2007 09:23 PM

Series Continues as Men Move to Indianapolis and Women Begin 2007 Season in Stanford;

Live Weekend Television Coverage on NBC for the Men, ESPN2 for the Women

July 22, 2007 - The fourth season of the 2007 US Open Series launched this week at the Countrywide Classic in Los Angeles with a win by unseeded Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic over No. 2 seed James Blake in a three-set final, 7-6(7), 5-7, 6-2. Stepanek, who reached a career-high ranking of No. 8 in July 2006, did not drop a set in the tournament before meeting Blake in the final. This marks the second consecutive year Blake has appeared in the final of the US Open Series season opener, following his win at Indianapolis to begin the 2006 US Open Series.

Stepanek now takes a 15-point lead over Blake in the US Open Series Lever 2000 Challenge, in which the men's and women's winners will compete for $1 million in bonus prize money at the 2007 US Open. The US Open Series Lever 2000 Challenge leaders after Week One are as follows:

Next on the US Open Series: The women will begin their 2007 US Open Series tomorrow at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, Calif. The men will compete at the Indianapolis Tennis Championships, as reigning tournament champion James Blake and two-time defending US Open Series champion Andy Roddick look to get back to the final. ESPN2 will provide six hours of live coverage from Stanford, starting with the semifinals on Saturday night at 10:00 p.m. ET and concluding with the final on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. ET. NBC will broadcast from Indianapolis live semifinal action on Saturday from 4–6 p.m. ET and the live final on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. ET.

The US Open Series is the six-week summer tennis season linking 10 major ATP and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour tournaments to the US Open. Since its inception in 2004, the six-week US Open Series has doubled television viewership and increased attendance, while generating new corporate partnerships for the sport.

In 2006, Andy Roddick captured his second straight US Open Series Lever 2000 Challenge and claimed $500,000 in bonus prize money for his runner-up finish at the 2006 US Open for a total payout of $1.1 million. Maria Sharapova, who finished second in the women’s final US Open Series Lever 2000 Challenge standings, also took home $500,000 on top of the $1.2 million she received for winning the women's singles tournament for a total payout of $1.7 million.

The US Open Series is now supported by seven national sponsors including Lever 2000, American Express, Olympus, MassMutual Financial Group, and three new sponsors this year in Valspar Paint, Wolf Blass Wines and Femara.

The final 2006 US Open Series standings were as follows:

Men Women

1. Andy Roddick, USA 1. Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2. Fernando Gonzalez, CHI 2. Maria Sharapova, RUS
2. Andy Murray, GBR 3. Kim Clijsters, BEL