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Friday, Dec 15, 2017
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Frustrated Blake Says Adieu

PARIS - James Blake's frustration rose to a crescendo. The top U.S. man in the French Open was talking to himself Thursday, and the words were growing louder. He was bothered by the clay underfoot. By the chair umpire. By his own play. And, most of all, by the drop shots and assorted other winners his up-and-coming foe produced. For the fifth time in six trips to Roland Garros, Tampa's Blake departed before the third round, losing this time to 80th-ranked Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 7-6 (2), 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. It was part of a 1-3 showing by American men Thursday, when Mardy Fish of Tampa and Bobby Reynolds also lost. The 88th-ranked Robby Ginepri knocked off No. 27 Igor Andreev 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5), 6-2 to join Wayne Odesnik as the only players from the United States in the third round.
"Americans a lot of times don't have the highest expectations on clay," the No. 7-seeded Blake said. "But I really felt like this match today was a match I could have won." There were moments, if ever so brief, that similar thoughts ran through the minds of the men facing No. 1 Roger Federer and No. 2 Rafael Nadal. Federer's foe, 60th-ranked Albert Montanes, staked himself to a one-set lead - and then was overwhelmed the rest of the way in a 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-0, 6-4 win for the owner of 12 Grand Slam titles. Nadal's opponent, 148th-ranked Nicolas Devilder of France, was one point from serving for the first set, holding a break point at 4-all - and then was completely overwhelmed the rest of the way in a 6-4, 6-0, 6-1 victory for the owner of the past three French Open titles. Nadal improved to 23-0 at Roland Garros and said he's "improving with each match." On the women's side, top-seeded Maria Sharapova still has some kinks to work out with her serve, because she served another four double-faults and was broken three times - and her match didn't even finish. She was leading Bethanie Mattek of the U.S. 6-2, 2-3 when play was suspended because of darkness. No. 8 seed Venus Williams beat Selima Sfar 6-2, 6-4, while No. 3 Jelena Jankovic defeated Marina Erakovic 6-2, 7-6 (5). No. 6 Anna Chakvetadze fell to Kaia Kanepi 6-4, 7-6 (2), while No. 22 Amelie Mauresmo barely put up a fight in a 6-3, 6-4 loss to Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain.
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