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Blake Rallies For First-Round Win In Washington; Baker Falls

Washington D.C., U.S.A.

Serra© Getty ImagesFlorent Serra knocked out Brian Baker in the first round of the Citi Open.

Former champion James Blake rallied to oust fifth-seeded Spaniard Pablo Andujar 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 on Monday night at the Citi Open. The American finished strong in the decisive set, dropping just five points on serve and capitalising on his two break points to close out the one hour, 42-minute victory.

The victory Monday marked Blake’s second of the season (2-8); the former World No. 4 had notched his 350th career match win two weeks ago in Atlanta. The 32 year old, who had come back last season from a knee injury, said that he was reaping the benefits of hard training to work his way back to peak fitness.

"Most of the year I haven't been 100 per cent," he admitted. "My legs are under me now and I can move so much better. I was falsely optimistic earlier in the year…I don't have the ability to compete with these guys if I am not 100 percent... If I don't have my legs, I'm really not one of the elite players out here."

Blake improved to a 16-7 match record in Washington, D.C., where he captured the title in 2002 (d. Srichaphan) and finished runner-up in 2005 (l. to Roddick).

American Brian Baker lost his first-round match for a third straight week, converting just three of his 16 break point opportunities in a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 defeat to French qualifier Florent Serra.

The 27-year-old Baker, who had made his tour-level return this past spring after a six-year injury layoff, was looking to win his first match on hard courts since defeating Gaston Gaudio at the 2005 US Open.

Argentine Leonardo Mayer kicked off main draw proceedings at the ATP World Tour 500 tournament with a 7-6(5), 7-6(8) victory over Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Neither player faced any break points on serve during the one hour, 58-minute match.

The 63rd-ranked Mayer, a quarter-finalist last week in Los Angeles, will face the winner between fourth-seeded German Tommy Haas and American qualifier Michael Russell in the second round.

In an all-French opener, No. 6 seed Jeremy Chardy fired 19 aces to prevail against Edouard Roger-Vasselin 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-4 after two hours and 11 minutes.

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