In Houston, the U.S. Clay Court Championship final was played with 22 year old Marcel Granollers of Spain, ranked 75 in the world, taking on James Blake ranked 8 in the world and the top seed at this event. After losing the first set, Blake recovered nicely, effortlessly winning the second. The hope was that the tides had turned. After having an early lead in the third set, Blake went down a break. With Granollers serving for the match at 5-4, Blake managed to break back. Yet, Blake was unable to harness this momentum and allowed the Spaniard back in the match. On the subsequent game because of a bunch of unforced errors, Blake was on the ropes once again. This time though, the Spaniard did not falter and edged in front. With a solid service game, Granollers won the match and with it his first ATP career title 6-4, 1-6, 7-5.
This represents the second time this year that Blake has been beaten in the finals by a no-name opponent whom he technically should have defeated handily. At the tournament in Delray Beach, 19-year-old Japanese qualifier, Kei Nishikori, triumphed over Blake. The American continues to be inconsistent. Just last week, Blake was instrumental in terms of the USA advancing to the next round in Davis Cup play. Ernests Gulbis of Latvia and Rainer Schuettler of Germany won the doubles title.
In Valencia Spain, another clay court final was underway with two Spaniards David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro fighting it out. The latter, the champion the last two years, went down in a third set tiebreak to Ferrer who snatched his first Valencia Open title 4-6, 6-2, 7-6. The Argentinean team of Juan Monaco and Maximo Gonzalez won the doubles crown.
The next stop on the ATP tour will be Monte-Carlo which starts on April 20th where Nadal, Federer along with an elite field of clay court virtuosos will be in action.