Blake not bothered by tight race to Masters Cup tennis

October 23rd, 2008 - 3:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Basel, Oct 23 (DPA) James Blake stayed cool under fire, defeating Nicolas Kiefer 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 at the Swiss Indoors tennis to remain in contention for a place in the season-ending Masters Cup in Shanghai. “For the past three years I’ve been around seventh, eighth or ninth in the race,” said the American, who lost the 2006 final in China to Roger Federer, after winning the match Wednesday.

“Whatever happens, will happen. That’s not something I can be worrying about during a tournament. I need to play my matches.

“I’ve to get to Shanghai again, great - if not, there is always a silver lining. You get an extra week at home and maybe do better at the start of the next season, who knows?”

Blake, who has never been beyond the Basel second round, has a chance to produce his best effort when he plays Spain’s Oscar Hernandez in the next round for a quarter-final place.

Former finalist Marcos Baghdatis lost his opening match 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 to Spaniard Marcel Granollers, but after failing to complete his last two matches, the Cypriot was all smiles.

“It’s great to finally finish one,” said one-time Australian Open finalist. “It shows I’m back on the Tour.”

Baghdatis had to be carried off court three weeks ago in Metz, when back troubles flared.

He admitted he’s not near 100 percent with only a few days of practise under his belt, but added that he hopes to be ready to perform at his last match of the season next week at the Paris Bercy Masters.

“So far, I’ve gotten up with a new pain every day,” said the number 43. “Physically I’m not 100 percent yet, but I’m working on that.”

Jarkko Nieminen set up a repeat of last year’s final 6-2, 6-4 over Eduardo Schwank to face holder Roger Federer in the second round.

Nieminen bounced back after aggravating a thigh muscle last week in Madrid, where he had to quit against Argentine Juan Del Potro.

But a week of rest did wonders for the 20th-ranked Finn as he dispatched Argentina’s Schwank in 72 minutes.

Federer is a daunting opponent for any player, none more than Niemimen, who has lost all nine times he has faced the top-seeded Swiss.

Besides Kiefer, other German players went down to a trio of defeats, with only qualifier Benjamin Becker managing to stay alive.

Becker overcame compatriot Andreas Beck 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals at the St Jakobshalle.

But there were losses for Germany as Belgium’s Kristof Vliegen defeated Vienna champion Philipp Petzschner in the first round 6-2, 6-3 and Russian sixth seed Igor Andreev stopped Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6 (8-6), 6-7 (0-7), 7-5 in a struggle lasting for more than two and a half hours.

Andreev fired 17 aces in the victory to reach his eighth quarter-final of the season.

The Muscovite now stands 42-30 this season, but last appeared in the last eight during the week prior to the US Open.

Andreev has a history in Switzerland with two summer runner-up finishes at Gstaad on clay.

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