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U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship, Delray Beach in Reverse

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Top seeded American James Blake avenged his Delray Beach final loss to Japan's Kei Nishikori, defeating the rising star 6-4, 6-4 on Wednesday in Houston to advance to the second round at the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship.

The 18-year-old Nishikori challenged Blake as he twice went up a break in the start of the second set, but the American No. 2 responded by leveling the score each time and then broke Nishikori one more time to secure the win in one hour and 27 minutes.

"It definitely feels good anytime to avenge a loss," said Blake. "Usually the slower court hinders me, but this time I think it helped because his balls are helped by a quicker court. It makes him more effective and he doesn't seem to have a problem with pace. It makes the serve much more effective. It gave me the opportunity to look at his serve a lot better here on slow court."

Nishikori had come into the tournament ranked a career-high No. 116, backed by his title effort in February and ATP Masters Series debuts at Indian Wells and Miami, but he has now lost four straight matches in his ATP main draw appearances.

Blake, who picked up his 20th match win of the season, will attempt to advance to the quarterfinals for his six straight tournament when he confronts another youngster, 15-year-old American qualifier Ryan Harrison, on Thursday night. Harrison is the third youngest player to win an ATP match since 1990, behind Richard Gasquet and Rafael Nadal.

Posted by Shelia

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