German qualifier upsets seventh seed Querrey; Blake, Ginepri, Fish advance

Updated: February 20, 2008, 1:40 AM ET
Associated Press

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- James Blake insists he'll pace his tennis career much better this year -- as soon as he finishes traveling from Melbourne to Vienna to Florida to San Jose to Memphis in a six-week span, that is.

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Blake easily won his first match at the SAP Open on Tuesday night, beating Sam Warburg 6-3, 6-1 to shake off the memory of a stunning upset loss two days earlier.

Robby Ginepri and Mardy Fish also won their opening-round matches, and German qualifier Denis Gremelmayr upset seventh-seeded Sam Querrey in the early session.

Blake, the world's ninth-ranked player and the tournament's No. 2 seed, needed just 55 minutes to dispatch Warburg, a Sacramento native and a former All-American at Stanford. With a booming serve and near flawless net play, Blake showed no ill effects from his loss to 18-year-old Kei Nishikori on Sunday in the final of the International Tennis Championship in Delray Beach, Fla.

Though the SAP Open is grateful to have a perennial fan favorite in the field, even Blake is wondering whether he's racking up too many frequent-flier miles in a short span. After a quarterfinal loss to Roger Federer in the Australian Open, he jetted to Austria for a Davis Cup win, then came straight back for the first of three straight ATP tournaments in Delray Beach -- perhaps resulting in the mental exhaustion that seemed to be a factor in his loss to Nishikori.

"It's been tricky going straight from a very short offseason to play in the Australian Open, over to Europe to play on clay, then back over here for these tournaments," Blake said. "Earlier in my career, I wasn't taking enough breaks. That's something that Andre [Agassi] and Pete [Sampras] have talked to me about, and that's definitely something I'm going to work on this year and the next."

The excessive action leaves Blake prone to minor injuries, such as the pulled hamstring he incurred in the first set. But after moving Warburg around the court with sharp serves and groundstrokes in almost every game, Blake finished the match with consecutive aces.

"I feel like Todd Martin out there with all the ice bags I've got on me," Blake said with a grin. "I guess as I get older, I should learn to stop sliding on hard courts."

Warburg clearly was outclassed in his third match on the ATP Tour, following a second-round loss at the Australian Open to finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Even a substantial cheering section of friends and relatives at HP Pavilion didn't help.

"I was always kind of scrambling," Warburg said. "I didn't feel very comfortable with my feet. I felt like my serve went off a little bit because of all the pressure he put on me. He was just getting the ball real early and taking really wide swings. I felt like he was on the baseline and I was behind the baseline. I felt like I was running and he was in control."

Querrey, a 20-year-old San Francisco native touted as one of the United States' top prospects, fell 5-7, 7-6 (1), 6-3 to Gremelmayr, who won on the tour for just the second time in a year. Querrey reached the semifinals in Delray Beach last week, but also lost to Nishikori to miss what would have been his first tour final.

Ginepri, a wild-card entrant, needed three sets to hold off lucky loser Jesse Witten, winning 6-2, 5-7, 6-4. Ginepri also reached the semifinals at Delray Beach.

Fish finished off fellow American Tim Smyczek 6-3, 6-4 in the final match of the afternoon session. Germany's Benjamin Becker also ended a three-match losing streak with a 6-1, 3-0 win over Marcos Daniel, who retired with a groin injury.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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