When looking at the draw for the Legg Mason Classic in Washington, D.C., I looked for the possible showdowns that had potential to have a high level of shot-making and intensity. For example, a possible second round clash between James Blake and the 2010 champion David Nalbandian of Argentina. Another match would be young American Donald Young and Austrian Jurgen Melzer in a battle of the lefties. With James Blake prevailing in the first round over Tatsuma Ito of Japan 6-3, 6-3, he would go on to face Nalbandian in the second round.
Going into the match, believe it or not, I gave the slight edge to Blake for the sole fact that he’s played much more than Nalbandian has in recent weeks. The Argentine’s last tournament was Wimbledon, while Blake has played in two tournaments since Wimbledon getting some matches under his belt. The lack of match play completely exposed Nalbandian in this match, as Blake came out with more fire power, more agility and more focus than the defending champion. Nalbandian was unable to shake the rust during the match and was unable to convert on the three break point chances he had on Blake’s serve. Blake, on the other hand, was able to convert on break points three times on Nalbandian’s serve en route to a 6-2, 6-4 victory.
Up next for Blake in the third round is a familiar foe, American John Isner who got the best of Blake in a three-set thriller in Atlanta. This time around, I think Blake will look for some revenge and come out firing against the 6”9 Isner. If you remember back to 2002, Blake won the Legg Mason tournament so he does have confidence on those courts no matter what his ranking says. Should Blake be able to upset Isner, he will have a very manageable path to the Legg Mason semis.