August 7, 2005

Roddick beats Blake for fourth title of year

By Steve Ginsburg

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Andy Roddick captured his fourth
title of the year Sunday as he fired 18 aces to defeat fellow
American James Blake 7-5 6-3 in the final of the $600,000
Washington Classic.

Roddick won 10 of 11 service games against Blake -- and 63
of 64 this week -- to give notice that he is ready to contend
for the upcoming U.S. Open championship.

"I definitely feel good," said Roddick, the number one
seed. "I couldn't be happier as far as my preparation. I just
want to try to have this roll over into the next couple of

Roddick, the 2001 champion here, took advantage of careless
service games by 25-year-old Blake late in each set to win the
match and a $74,250 paycheck.

The fifth-ranked Roddick, 23 later this month, broke
Blake's serve in the second game of the match to grab a 2-0
lead. But Blake returned the favor in the seventh game,
Roddick's first service loss of the week, and the two were back
on serve.

"I wasn't upset because I didn't feel like I played a bad
game," said Roddick. "He took a couple of full swings on my
first serves and hit them flush.

"It's a lot easier to get broken when the other guy has
come up with the goods as opposed to feeling like you gave it
away. I just had to re-focus."

With Roddick leading 6-5 Blake played a loose service game
and when he punched an easy overhead beyond the baseline, the
first set was over.

"He missed a couple of shots that he hadn't missed to that
point," said Roddick. "But that's tennis. If you put enough
balls in the court, you're going to get some that go your way.

"It was unexpected but I was happy to see it."

In the second set Blake trailed 4-3 when he played an
error-prone service game to let Roddick break. Roddick then
closed out the match with an ace, his 67th this week in five

Roddick's powerful serve was the difference in the match.
In addition to the aces he put pressure on Blake with dozens of
serves that his opponent barely managed to reach.

"He just puts so much pressure on you with that serve,"
conceded Blake.

Early last year Blake suffered a broken neck during
practice and then contracted a condition that hampered his
vision and caused facial paralysis.

The New York native, the 2003 Washington Classic champion,
saw his ranking fall off the charts but he should move up some
30 spots to about number 72. His career best ranking is 22,
achieved in 2003.

"It hurts to lose right now but when I look back on this
week I'll be satisfied that I played some good tennis," he
said. "But right now it stings."