May 10, 2009

So Close!

I had a whole other headline planned out this morning.

After I heard that James Blake had won his two-day semifinal match against Nikolay Davydenko, I started picturing a world in which an American would become a force on clay -- or at least win a title or two on the elusive surface.

And he almost did it.

He had two championship points against Spain's Albert Montanes, who had won his only previous title at the International Series event in Amersfoort. But after he lost the second set James fell apart in the third, double faulting four times and winning less than a quarter of his second serves.

Regardless of the loss, it was a good showing for Blake, who hadn't made a final since Houston last year. He played strong all week, and with Roland Garros only two weeks away, he could reestablish himself as a force.

Meanwhile at the inaugural Serbian Open being held in Belgrade, world #3 Novak Djokovic made his hometown proud. For the title he faced lucky loser Lukasz Kubot, the 179th-ranked Pole who beat Igor Andreev and Ivo Karlovic on his way to his first career singles final.

It was Novak's second championship of the year, and his latest argument in favor of a higher ranking. Hard to believe, but with the 250 points he earned this week, he's slowly inching toward Roger Federer. If he continues his roll next week in Madrid, we could see him unseed the former #1.

Victory is just a stone's throw away!

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