Blake begins quest for second Indy title

July 16th, 2008 - 2:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Indianapolis, July 16 (DPA) James Blake began the hunt for his first title in nearly a year with a 7-6 (7-2), 6-2 defeat of Israeli Dudi Sela Tuesday in the first round of the Indianapolis Tennis Championships. Blake last won a trophy in late August 2007 at New Haven, Connecticut, and is coming off European disappointment with second-round losses at the French Open and Wimbledon.

Sela, ranked 78th, gave the top seed and 2006 winner a few minor scares, forcing Blake to save set points and breaking the American a game later as he served for the opening set.

But after taking the first set in a tiebreaker, Blake relaxed to sweep through.

“I didn’t start great, but I knew I could still play great tennis,” he said. “I knew I could get back in and win the match.”

The fifth seed German Tommy Haas, who reached the semi-finals at the US Open run-up event in 2002, defeated US youngster Jesse Levine 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.

“It’s been a tough year,” said the 30-year-old, who underwent a shoulder surgery last autumn but made an early comeback this year.

“I came back too early since I wanted to know how the shoulder would feel. I had to quit in the hard-court season and I didn’t play on the clay. I only started again after the spring on grass. I’ve really only played in two events since Miami (in March).”

Haas, who reached the Wimbledon third round, said that he will soldier on in the game for as long as he feels fit.

“I’ve been out for a few years here and there. If I’m feeling fit, I can do some damage,” he said. “If the shoulder plays up again, and I start to struggle … we’ll have to see.”

Haas plays his second-round match Wednesday, taking on another US young gun in big server John Isner, who beat Robert Kendrick 7-5, 6-4.

Popular Frenchman Fabrice Santoro was unable to make the fast change from a grass-court title to one on the cement, falling in the first round.

The sixth seed paid the price for a 48-hour turnaround as he lost with a double-fault on match point against American Rajeev Ram 7-6 (8-6), 6-4.

Santoro first played the event in 1991, his quarter-final appearance at that edition his best career showing at the Indiana tournament.

The Frenchman Lasty Sunday had won the sixth title of his career on grass at Newport, Rhode Island.

The 2007 finalist Frank Dancevic was unable to get past US player Bobby Reynolds, losing a first-round encounter 6-7 (6-8), 6-3, 6-2. The 90th-ranked Reynolds had defeated the Canadian three weeks ago at Wimbledon.

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