Blake advances at Monte Carlo Masters

MONTE CARLO, Monaco, April 15 (UPI) -- James Blake on Tuesday survived the wind to become the second American to advance to the second round of the $2.45 million Monte Carlo Masters, outlasting Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.

Vincent Spadea, who advanced on Monday's opening day at the cliff-side Monte Carlo country club, and Blake are the last Americans in the draw after losses by Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish and Taylor Dent.


Flying Finn Jarkko Nieminen took care of Dent, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2, a few hours before the 15th-seeded Blake found his feet on the European clay.

A fierce wind raking in from the Mediterranean under bright, sunny conditions made life a misery for anyone with a racket in his hand.

"This is probably the windiest pro match I've ever played," admitted Blake, who next takes on Argentine clay specialist Guillermo Coria. "It was tough out there, in the first two sets especially.

"We were both a bit tentative as we didn't know when the next gust would come. We didn't have the confidence in our shots."


Blake needed 1 hour, 33 minutes to achieve victory at a tournament he will leave if he loses early, with an event in Houston scheduled for next week.

The American got the match under control with two breaks of Hrbaty in the third set.

Blake credited an exhibition tournament in the Texas city two weeks ago with giving him some prior condition on the clay.

Second seed Carlos Moya survived for a windswept 6-3, 6-3 victory over Belgian Xavier Malisse.

Moya, who lost last year's final to fellow Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero, still managed 11 winners in the swirling winds.

The win put the 1998 champion into a second-round clash with Ferreira, the veteran South African who had an equally gusty challenge before finally ousting Swede Jonas Bjorkman in a battle of 30-somethings, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5.

French Open winner Albert Costa of Spain, seeded fourth, ousted last week's Estoril champion, Russian Nikolay Davydenko, 6-2, 6-2. Also, fifth seed Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic and No. 7 Thai Paradorn Srichaphan both advanced.

Russian Yevgeny Kafelnikov continued his clay progress, winning his third ATP match of the season with a 6-2, 6-7 (4-7), 6-1 upset of 11th seed Younes El Aynaoui of Morocco.


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