No. 2 Blake advances, top seed Gonzalez crashes out of Los Angeles tennis

July 19, 2007 - 0:0

LOS ANGELES (AFP) -- James Blake made put on a potent display of shot making on his favorite hardcourt surface, while top seed Fernando Gonzalez was sent crashing out of the ATP Los Angeles event on Tuesday.

The 27-year-old Blake beat Alexander Peya, of Austria, 7-5, 6-4 in his opening match which lasted one hour, 12 minutes at the UCLA hardcourt tennis facility. ""I feel like I have the ability to win this tournament,"" said Blake. ""But I can't put a lot of pressure on myself or I will lose my focus. As long as I prepare properly then I am fulfilling my commitment to the tournament and I felt like I did that tonight."" Blake, whose has posted all nine of his career ATP titles on hardcourts, advances to the second round where he will face American Paul Goldstein. Goldstein won his match over Adrian Garcia in three sets 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 on Tuesday. Blake is now the highest seed left in the draw after Chilean Gonzalez lost a shocker 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 to wild card Zach Fleishman of the United States. ""If felt like I belonged out there,"" said Fleishman, who is ranked 162nd in the world. ""I wasn't nervous, I felt like I could play with the best."" This is the first time 27-year-old Fleishman has beaten a top ten player and only the second time he has played one as he boosted his 2007 singles record to 2-2. World No. 6 Gonzalez had to take an injury timeout in the second set to get treatment for a lower back problem. ""It was really fast it was tough to return especially with one hand,"" Gonzalez said. ""I didn't play my best but the hardcourt season is just beginning."" Russian Igor Kunitsyn made the most of his first round match by beating former Wimbledon runner-up David Nalbandian in straight sets 7-6 (7/5), 7-5 at the UCLA tennis stadium. Kunitsyn rallied from a 5-3 deficit in the second set to close out the almost two hour match by winning four straight games. Kunitsyn, of Vladivostok, said he is playing the best tennis of his career. ""That was my second favourite victory,"" he said. ""I beat Lleyton Hewitt in Adelaide a couple of years ago in front of a full crowd, but this is the best tennis I ever played. ""Hopefully I will play this way more often in the future. The most important thing for me is to win. I have been playing tennis all my life and being able to improve like this is a wonderful feeling."" Kunitsyn advances to the second round where he will face Germany's Nicolas Kiefer, who beat another Russian Teimuraz Gabashvili 6-3, 6-3 on Monday. Kunitsyn managed to find a way to win despite his six double faults and just two aces. He said the key to beating Nalbandian, of Argentina, is to surprise him in the first round. ""He never gives up. He was just waiting for me to make a mistake,"" said Kunitsyn, a runner-up in doubles at the ATP Newport tournament last week. ""The most important thing is I didn't let it slip away. My goal was to play at a high level but don't give him anything. One point could have turned the match."" He is looking forward to the challenge of beating another former top 10 player in Kiefer. ""If I play like I did today then I have a chance,"" Kunitsyn said. In other first round matches Tuesday, American Vincent Spadea beat Thiago Alves, of Brazil, 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 and South Africa's Wesley Moodie defeated Kei Nishikori, of Japan, 6-3, 6-2