James Blake beats Arnaud Clement; John Isner’s dazzling summer continues

NEW HAVEN (U.S.): Sania Mirza downed Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3, 6-3 in a first round match of the Pilot Pen tournament here on Tuesday even as rain continued to disrupt the schedule.

Sania and Medina Garrigues had started their match on Monday evening with the Spaniard leading 1-0 and 30-30 before rain intervened.

When play resumed late on Tuesday, the Indian star played with authority, unleashing a barrage of winners and delightful returns.

“My return is my favourite shot,” said the 28th-ranked Indian. “She’s not one of the big servers. So, you want to put pressure rightaway.”

Sania has had a hectic schedule since Wimbledon but finally took some time off ahead of the U.S. Open, the last Grand Slam of the year which starts on August 27 in Flushing Meadows.

“I took a week off last week. I felt I needed it. I feel fresh again and ready for the U.S. Open,” Sania said.

Breaks galore

In the men’s event, the third-seeded American James Blake eased into the third round. On a chilly evening, the 25-year-old defeated the unseeded Frenchman Arnaud Clement 6-4, 6-2 in a match that witnessed nine service breaks and numerous unforced errors.

Blake, who reached the final in Cincinnati last Sunday, was far from fluent. Despite not firing on all cylinders, he proved too strong for Clement who just couldn’t get his counter-punching game right.

The sixth-ranked American has now extended his winning streak to 7-0 against the Frenchman.

In the only other men’s match, American giant-killer John Isner continued his dazzling summer run with a straight-set demolition of Germany’s Benjamin Becker 6-3, 6-4 in the first round.

The 22-year-old American, who smashed a stunning 144 aces on his way to the final in Washington recently, completely dominated the contest, breaking his opponent once in each set to seal the issue in 58 minutes.

“I knew his game pretty well having played him in Washington. I was really comfortable out there. I know what I had to do,” said the 199th-ranked American, who fired 13 aces to his opponent’s 14.

Play washed out

At Forest Hills (New York), rain washed out the first day’s play in the Forest Hills women’s Classic, a U.S. Open warm-up event where France’s Virginie Razzano is the top seed.

Razzano, a quarterfinalist at both Los Angeles and Toronto this month, heads a field of 16 for the Tier IV event, where American Meilen Tu is the second seed.

The results:

ATP & WTA Pilot Pen championships:

Men: Second round: James Blake bt Arnaud Clement 6-4, 6-2; First round: John Isner bt Benjamin Becker 6-3, 6-4.

Women (first round): Sania Mirza bt Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3, 6-3; Agnieszka Radwanska bt Ai Sugiyama 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-4. — Agencies

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