American James Blake survived 27 aces from Ivo Karlovic Monday to post a 3-, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 victory into the second round of the Shanghai Masters, where he faces top seed Rafael Nadal.
Blake, who parted ways with his coach of nearly two decades recently, needed just under two hours to hold off the biggest server in the game, advancing into his showdown with top seed Nadal as towering Croatian Karlovic double-faulted for the third time on a drizzly afternoon.
Blake and world number two Nadal stand 3-3 in their career series, with the Spaniard winning the last three including a week ago in the Beijing second round.
Weather was marginal for the start of the Masters which was formerly played in Madrid and won a year ago by Andy Murray.
But the Scot is sitting out the week with a wrist injury while world number one Roger Federer pulled out to get rest.
The top eight seeds in a field led by Nadal and Beijing champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia all received byes into the second round.
Officials closed the massive lotus-petal roof of the Qi Zhong stadium, venue for the last four years of the season-ending Masters Cup, in order for play to continue. Drizzle died away in late afternoon, allowing matches on outside courts to proceed.
Number 14 Tommy Robredo of Spain became the first seed through, defeating Frenchman Michael Llodra 6-1, 6-4. Brazilian Tomaz Bellucci won a first-round battle of qualifiers as he put out Swiss Marco Chiudinelli 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 with the help of 14 aces.