Mon, Oct 02, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Blake breezes past mediocre Ljubicic to win Thailand Open

AGENCIES , BANGKOK

James Blake of the US powered past a below-par Ivan Ljubicic 6-3 6-1 in less than an hour to win the US$550,000 Thailand Open yesterday.

Blake stunned the Croatian by opening up a 5-0 lead in the first set, as Ljubicic failed to produce his trademark big serve.

The American broke his opponent at the start of the second set before Ljubicic's game completely fell apart -- the Croatian finding the net almost as often as the court.

Blake used his pace and powerful backhand drives to put the match beyond Ljubicic and take his fourth title of the year.

"I felt like I was returning great because his serve was off from the start, and it stayed off," Blake told a news conference.

"When he's winning, it's because of his serve and I took advantage of that and heaped pressure on him the whole match," he said.

"It was a combination of me playing well and him having a bad match," added Blake, who sealed victory in 58 minutes for his third straight sets win of the tournament.

Ljubicic, who was the top seed, said he was unhappy with his performance having played well in the earlier rounds against high caliber opposition.

He said Blake had nothing to lose and won by cutting him out of the match at the start.

"It's disappointing because I wanted to fight for the title and I was never in it from the very first point," Ljubicic told reporters.

"He played good, he was returning my serves perfectly. My shots were going out when all his were landing in," he said. "When he plays like this I had to take more risks. He was more relaxed and had nothing to lose.''

The victory was Blake's seventh career ATP title and his first win against Ljubicic.

In the doubles final, Israel's Andy Ram and Jonathan Ulrich beat British brothers Andy and Jamie Murray 6-2 2-6 10-4.

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