Miami, FL Ricky Dimon
Not even a rain delay that lasted more than one hour and pushed the day schedule into the night session could keep James Blake from getting off the court at a reasonable hour on Wednesday at the Sony Open Tennis event. Blake crushed fellow American Ryan Harrison 6-2, 6-2 in a mere 57 minutes to book a spot in the second round.
The 33-year-old squandered all of a 0-40 opportunity on Harrison’s serve in the third game of the match, but he took control with a break for 3-2 in the first set. From there it was all Blake the rest of the way. Harrison, who is now 0-3 in the head-to-head series, dropped the last five games of the opener and lost five of the first six games in the second. Blake eventually double-faulted on his second match point at 5-2, but he converted his third chance en route to a meeting with No. 24 seed Julien Benneteau.
The theme of the day on Stadium Court was veteran success, as Blake’s performance was preceded by victories for Lleyton Hewitt and Nikolay Davydenko. Hewitt took care of Joao Sousa 6-1, 7-6(3) before Davydenko held off Paolo Lorenzi 6-0, 2-6, 6-0. A thunderstorm tried to halt the 31-year-old Russian’s momentum at 2-0 in the third, but he picked up where he left off more than an hour earlier and surged through the last four games of the match.
“When you’re out injured and just had surgery and rehab, (it) feels like a long way away to getting back out there and playing the big tournaments again,” Hewitt explained. “You probably enjoy it a little bit more when you’re able to come back and bounce back from injuries, to be back competing at these tournaments. It’s nice to be back out there on center court today.”
Drama on the outer courts included a third-set tiebreaker featuring Jurgen Melzer and Ricardas Berankis, an impressive comeback by Somdev Devvarman against Evgeny Donskoy, and some bad blood between Michael Llodra and Benoit Paire.
Melzer outlasted Berankis 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(1) after previously edging the Lithuanian in a 2010 U.S. Open thriller that went to 7-5 in the fifth set. Devvarman trailed Donskoy by a set and a break and by 5-2 in the second-set tiebreaker before recovering to topple the Russian 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 in two hours and 28 minutes. Llodra and Paire, engaged in a heated verbal exchanged during the very first change over ends, had to be separated by chair umpire Damien Dumusois. There was no handshake between the players after Paire–who blew four set points in the opening frame of play–went down to his 32-year-old countryman 7-6(7), 6-2.