7/31/12 5:17 AM | Ricky Dimon
Americans have mixed fortunes on Monday night in Washington, D.C. James Blake battles past Pablo Andujar but Brian Baker goes down at the hands of Florent Serra.
James Blake d. (5) Pablo Andujar 4-6, 6-2, 6-2
Blake fired nine aces without double-faulting and assaulted Andujar's serve as he won their first-round match at the Citi Open in one hour and 42 minutes on Monday night. However, just as he did against Ryan Harrison in Atlanta to score his first ATP victory of 2012, Blake needed to overcome a slow start. The 32-year-old American fell into a hole when he got broken with the pressure on at 4-5 in the first set.
Andujar, however, was out of his element on a hard court and he faded the rest of the way. The 39th-ranked Spaniard donated serve three times in the second and twice more in the third. Blake dropped only five points in his last four service games and he closed things out with a final routine hold at 5-2. Next up for the world No. 116 is either Marco Chiudinelli or Horacio Zeballos.
(Q) Florent Serra d. (WC) Brian Baker 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
Baker was the feel-good tennis story of the year when he finished runner-up in Nice then reached the Wimbledon fourth round after basically six full seasons of constant injuries. However, his disastrous summer hard-court campaign continued on Monday in Washington, D.C. with a three-set loss to a slumping Serra. The Frenchman prevailed in two hours and 11 minutes to set up a meeting with either Kevin Anderson or Jurgen Zopp.
Trying to erase the memories of straight-set loses in Atlanta (to Igor Kunitsyn) and Los Angeles (to Rajeev Ram), Baker converted two break points (out of 12 chances) in the opening set before finishing it off on serve at 5-4. Serra, though, did not face a single break point in the second and he saved three of four break points in the third. Two more breaks of his own in the decider allowed him to serve it out at 5-4.
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