Stepanek stuns Blake in Los Angeles tennis final
Updated: 2007-07-23 09:16
LOS ANGELES, United States - Radek Stepanek toppled second-seeded American James Blake 7-6 (9/7), 5-7, 6-2 here Sunday to capture his second career ATP title in the final of the 525,000-dollar Countrywide Classic.
Radek Stepanek (R) toppled second-seeded American James Blake (L) 7-6 (9/7), 5-7, 6-2 here Sunday to capture his second career ATP title in the final of the 525,000-dollar Countrywide Classic. [AFP]
Ranked 101st in the world, Stepanek converted two service breaks in the deciding set to claim the victory over the world number nine.
Stepanek came into the match fresh, after Germany's Nicolas Kiefer withdrew from their Saturday night semi-final with a knee injury.
It was the Czech's second win in five career meetings against Blake, who had won the previous three encounters - all on North American hardcourts. He won 73,000 dollars.
Stepanek had attained a career-high world ranking of No. 8 in July 2006 before suffering a back injury that sidelined him for the final third of the year.
He had failed to win three matches in a row this year until advancing to the semi-finals at Gstaad last week, a run that proved a springboard to his performance here.
Leading 2-1 Stepanek took control by breaking Blake in the fourth game of the deciding set. After a double-fault, Stepanek seized on Blake's second serve and blasted a backhand winner down the line to lead 3-1.
Stepanek again took advantage of Blake's inconsistent serve in the eighth game to break him again and seal the match.
Stepanek, who failed to reach a quarter-final in his previous 14 tournaments this year, had not dropped a set this week until the American took the middle set.
Blake was seeking his second title of the year to go with a victory in Sydney.