Russian teen beats top seed Blake in Las Vegas match


Russian teenager Evgeny Korolev upset top seed and defending champion James Blake 6-2, 6-4 in the Tennis Channel Open round robin on Tuesday. The 19-year-old Korolev broke Blake in the first game and handled the 50-kph (32-mph) gusts better. “That gave me a lot of confidence right away,” Korolev said. “Today was pretty cold to play and we both had a difficult time.” Blake finished with 34 unforced errors in dropping the match in 59 minutes. “I didn’t play well. It happens,” Blake said. “I’m not going to make a ton of excuses. I never really felt that comfortable. My game didn’t click at any point.” Despite the loss, Blake could still reach the quarterfinals on Friday. Korolev dropped his opening match on Monday to Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 6-2, leaving Blake a window to advance if he can beat del Potro for the loss of five games or less. Lleyton Hewitt downed Vince Spadea of the United States 6-3, 6-3 in a match between former champions. Hewitt, the tournament champ in 2000 and 2003, ran his record to 7-0 against Spadea, who won his only career title in 2004 when this tournament was in Arizona. The Australian was also twice a runner-up, including last year to Blake, whom he’s seeded to meet again in this week’s final. Another two-time Grand Slam winner, Marat Safin, won his first match in Las Vegas, defeating Stefan Koubek of Austria 7-5, 6-2. Third-seeded Safin didn’t concede a break point against Koubek, and will play fellow Russian Igor Kunitsyn for a place in the quarterfinals. Safin adapted to the strong winds. “It is very tough,” Safin said. “It is difficult to play your very best tennis. You just try to stay as cool as you can and try to attack. That is the only way to try and control the ball.” Tim Henman was a winner in his first match since October when he dispatched Nicolas Mahut of France 6-1, 6-2. Seventh-seeded Henman had been sidelined for four months since he injured a knee in Basel, Switzerland. No. 8-seeded Benjamin Becker of Germany served up seven double faults and was upset by Jan Hernych of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-5. France’s Paul-Henri Mathieu beat Thai qualifier Danai Udomchoke 6-2, 6-3 for his first win in seven weeks, and Chilean qualifier Paul Capdeville defeated France’s Michael Llodra 6-2, 2-6, 6-1.