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Del Potro wins Blake thriller

2010-01-20 15:28

Melbourne - US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro battled for over four hours before winning a titanic five-setter against James Blake to reach the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday.

The Argentine fourth seed prevailed after an epic struggle, 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 5-7, 6-3, 10-8 in four hours 17 minutes on Hisense Arena.

Del Potro will now face German Florian Mayer in the next round and is projected to face American seventh seed Andy Roddick in the quarters.

"I really showed the crowd, the people were so excited all the time. We played a very good match," del Potro said.

"Blake was fast. He played very strong with his forehand. He never missed easy points, easy forehand.

"I was trying every game with my serve. Then when I had the opportunity to break his serve, sometimes I did, sometimes not.

"It's very difficult to keep trying, keep going. You have to be focused every point, every time, and try to take your chance. I had my chance in the last set."

Del Potro said he was still experiencing some discomfort with a wrist injury which forced him out of last week's Kooyong Classic lead-up exhibition tournament in Melbourne.

"Yes, (pain) a little bit, but I can play," he said.

"I think I have many good things right for the next match."

The Argentine giant, who beat Roger Federer in last September's US Open final to claim his first Grand Slam title, needed all his fighting qualities to overcome the gallant 45th-ranked American.

Only five points separated the pair in Del Potro's favour over the course of the gripping contest, 205 to 200.

Blake, who was a quarter-finalist here in 2008, fought every bit of the way and belied his ranking to keep the pressure on the 21-year-old rising star.

Blake battled on courageously throughout most of the marathon match limping from a bandaged right knee.

"I had my chances, I made a couple of mistakes," he said.

"You miss a couple of balls by an inch, he makes a couple of balls by an inch, he's moving into the next round and I'm not."

He broke Blake's serve seven times and gave up his serve five times as the match ebbed and flowed before an enthralled crowd.

Del Potro is bidding to become the first man in the Open Era to win his first two Grand Slam titles back-to-back.

The Argentine twice had service breaks in a 77-minute long final set with Blake quickly breaking back in the third before he gave up his serve in the 17th game.

Del Potro became a sports hero in Argentina when he became the first South American to win a US Open since compatriot Guillermo Vilas in 1977.

His accomplishment was all the greater for ending Federer's five-year US Open title run after eclipsing Rafael Nadal in the semi-final.

Results from day three of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Wednesday (x denotes seeding):

Men's singles

2nd round

Fernando Gonzalez (CHI x11) bt Marsel Ilhan (TUR) 6-3, 6-4, 7-5
Andy Roddick (USA x7) bt Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
Evgeny Korolev (KAZ) bt Tomas Berdych (CZE x21) 6-4, 6-4, 7-5
Rafael Nadal (ESP x2) bt Lukas Lacko (SVK) 6-2, 6-2, 6-2
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) bt Rainer Schuettler (GER) 6-3, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2
Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI x19) bt Igor Kunitysn (RUS) 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
John Isner (USA x33) bt Louk Sorenson (IRL) 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5
Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER x27) bt Wayne Odesnik (USA) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
Ivan Ljubicic (CRO x24) bt Andrey Golubev (KAZ) 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3
Florian Mayer (GER) bt Viktor Troicki (SRB x29) 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/2), 6-1
Gael Monfils (FRA x12) bt Antonio Veic (CRO) 6-4, 6-4, 6-4
Andy Murray (GBR x5) bt Marc Gicquel (FRA) 6-1, 6-4, 6-3
Ivo Karlovic (CRO) bt Julian Benneteau (FRA) 2-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3
Juan Martin Del Potro (ESP x4) bt James Blake (USA) 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 5-7, 6-3, 10-8
Florent Serra (FRA) bt Jarkko Niemenen (FIN) 3-6, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5

Women's singles

1st round

Li Na (CHN x16) bt Marina Erakovic (NZL) 6-2, 6-0
Vera Zvonareva (RUS x9) bt Kristina Kucova (SVK) 6-2, 6-0
Victoria Azarenka (BLR x7) bt Stephanie Cohen-Aloro (FRA) 6-2, 6-0
Agnes Szavay (HUN) bt Stephanie Dubois (CAN) 6-3, 6-2
Iveta Benesova (CZE) bt Chang Kai-Chen (TPE) 7-5, 6-2
Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) bt Kimiko Date Krumm (JPN) 6-4, 6-2
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN x4) bt Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) 6-4, 6-2
Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) bt Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ) 6-4, 6-4
Julia Goerges (GER) bt Tamira Paszek (AUT) 6-0, 3-6, 6-3
Tathiana Garbin (ITA) bt Elena Vesnina (RUS x28) 7-6 (7/5), 6-4
Shahar Peer (ISR x29) bt Lucie Hradecka (CZE) 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-1
Sofia Arvidsson (SWE) bt Jarmila Groth (AUS) 6-2, 4-6, 6-4
Daniela Hantuchova (SVK x22) bt Viktoriya Kutuzova (UKR) 3-6, 6-1, 7-5
Stefanie Voegele (SUI) bt Melinda Czink (HUN) 7-5, 6-7 (5/7), 9-7

2nd round

Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS x3) bt Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 6-2, 6-2
Elena Baltacha (GBR) bt Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR x30) 6-2, 7-5
Kim Clijsters (BEL x15) bt Tamarine Tanasugarn (THA) 6-3 6-3
Marion Bartoli (FRA x11) bt Sandra Zahlavova (CZE) 6-4, 6-4
Zheng Jie (CHN) bt Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (ESP x24) 2-6, 6-2, 6-3
Nadia Petrova (RUS x19) bt Kaia Kanepi (EST) 6-4, 6-4
Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) bt Flavia Pennetta (ITA x12) 7-6 (7-2), 6-1
Maria Kirilenko (RUS) bt Yvonne Meusburger (AUT) 6-3, 6-1
Angelique Kerber (GER) bt Aravane Rezai (FRA x26) 6-2, 6-3
Sara Errani (ITA) bt Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) 6-2, 6-3
Alona Bondarenko (UKR x31) bt Polona Hercog (SLO) 6-4, 7-5
Dinara Safina (RUS x2) bt Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) 6-3, 6-4
Alisa Kleybanova (RUS x27) bt Sorana Cirstea (ROM) 6-4, 6-3
Jelena Jankovic (SRB x8) bt Katie O'Brien (GBR) 6-2, 6-2
Roberta Vinci (ITA) bt Vania King (USA) 7-6 (9/7), 7-5
Justine Henin (BEL) bt Elena Dementieva (RUS x5) 7-5, 7-6 (8/6)

AFP