Andy Roddick has beaten James Blake, 7-5, 6-3 to win the Legg Mason tennis tournament in Washington, D.C.
On a warm Sunday afternoon, a big crowd packed the FitzGerald Tennis Centers Stadium Court to watch the first matchup of two Americans in the final since 1990. The fans were slightly in favor of the underdog Blake, who won this event in 2002. But above all, they wanted to see good tennis, and that is what they got.
The first set got off to a fast start, literally, as Roddick won the first point with an ace clocked at 224-kilometers per hour. It was the first of 18 aces for the 22-year-old in the match.
Roddick, the 2001 Legg Mason champion, then won a service break in the second game. Although Blake had a chance to return the favor in the third game, he could not finish off a 40-30 lead. Blake finally got on the scoreboard by winning the fourth game, and won a service break in the fifth game, surviving a 216-kilometer-per hour ace from Roddick at 15-40. It was Roddick's first loss of serve in the entire tournament.
Blake was then able to tie the set at four-all, winning the game with an ace of his own clocked at 196-kilometers per hour. Both players held serve from there until the set's final game, when Blake hit an open overhead shot long of the baseline to give Roddick a 7-5 win.
In the second set, both players held serve to start. Then, with Roddick up 4-3, Blake hit a forehand wide to go down 5-3. He fought valiantly against Roddick's serve, rallying from 30-love down to tie the game at 30-all, then won a long baseline rally with a drop shot to take a 40-30 lead. But Blake could not hold the momentum, as Roddick came back and won the match with a 203-kilometer-per-hour ace.
It was something of an accomplishment just for Blake to make the Legg Mason final. He only played in three tournaments in the second half of 2004 due to multiple injuries and illness. But now he has returned to the spotlight of American tennis, and he said that while he was not happy to lose, he will leave Washington with fond memories.
"It hurts to lose right now for a little while, but definitely tomorrow, the next day, whenever I'm looking back on this week, I'll be satisfied that I played some good tennis," Mr. Blake says.
Roddick and Blake have been friends for some time, and embraced each other once the match was over. But Roddick said that their friendship had to be put aside for a few hours while they battled on the court.
"I think we both know that once you get between the lines you kind of have to put your friendship on the back burner a little bit," Mr. Roddick says. "Who knows, we'll probably meet up tonight and have a drink or something but when you're between the lines it's business and I think we both understand that."
With Roddick's win, the last three ATP events on American hard courts have all been won by American players Robby Ginepri in Indianapolis, Andre Agassi in Los Angeles and now Roddick. Roddick said that this streak shows American tennis is in good health with the U.S. Open only a few weeks away.
"I feel like it's on an upward swing," Mr. Roddick says. "Obviously it's a lot better now than it was a month ago, with the young guys coming through and playing well."
The fans at Stadium Court also appreciated the skills of James Blake and Andy Roddick, and gave both players a standing ovation when the match was over.