Blake Defeats Vahaly in All-American Clash
by Douglas Robson
Monday, August 26, 2002
Surging James Blake held off compatriot Brian Vahaly 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (5) in a hard-fought first-round match Monday at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Blake, coming off his first ATP title earlier this month in Washington, D.C., arrived in New York as one of the hottest players on tour. But he quickly found out that his fellow American and friend Vahaly would be no pushover.
Despite playing in his US Open debut on the Open's marquee court, Vahaly, a 23-year-old Atlanta resident who turned pro in 2001, matched the 25th-seeded Blake stroke for stroke. He then took control in the first-set tiebreaker, winning 7-3.
But the 22-year-old Blake managed to find his range and used his quick feet and powerful forehand to slowly pull ahead of Vahaly, a wildcard entrant ranked No. 111. He used breaks in the second and third sets to tame Vahaly, and then won a close fourth-set tiebreaker to seal the match.
With the win, Blake moves into the second round for the second straight year. He next takes on Russia's Nikolay Davydenko, who earlier Monday defeated Radoslav Lukaev of Bulgaria.