Blake advances to face Murray

Updated: November 8, 2009, 3:18 PM ET
Associated Press

PARIS -- James Blake of the United States beat French veteran Fabrice Santoro 6-4, 6-3 in the first round of the Paris Masters on Sunday.

The 36-year-old Santoro, who is playing his final season on the ATP tour, swapped jerseys with Blake after the match and did a lap around the court to warm applause from the crowd at Bercy indoor arena.

Blake broke Santoro's serve twice in each set, and afterward paid tribute to the Frenchman.

"He's a great competitor, such a classy guy. Someone I've had a lot of tough matches with," said Blake, who next plays fourth-seeded Andy Murray of Britain. "He's had a great career. It's unbelievable how much success he's had in singles and doubles and how well liked he is by his competitors."

Murray beat Mikhail Youzhny in the Valencia Open final on Sunday, winning his sixth title of the season in his first tournament back since injuring his wrist at the U.S. Open in September.

In another first-round match in Paris on Sunday, Benjamin Becker beat Michael Llodra of France 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. The German next meets sixth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko of Russia.

Becker converted all three break chances, and saved two second-set break points and another in the decider. Both players served nine aces.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press