James Blake rehabilitated his clay court game on Tuesday as the French Open countdown began, sending the US into a 1-0 led over Argentina at the ARAG World Team Cup.
Sweden secured an unbeatable 2-0 scoreline over the Czech Republic through Robin Soderling and Thomas Johansson.
Soderling began the day as he beat Tomas Berdych 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 while the veteran Johansson ended it 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5) to hold off a fightback from Michal Tabara.
Yesterday’s doubles would be for pride with the Red group tie now decided.
World number eight Blake recovered nicely after losing his opening singles this week against Berdych to come good on his second opportunity at the eight-nation event.
His defeat of demoralized Guillermo Canas 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 paved the way for substitute teammate Wayne Odesnik to hopefully seize control of the tie when he faced Juan Chela later.
“I felt pretty confident to beat a guy like Canas, who makes you work hard on every single point,” Blake said. “Today I played some of my best tennis.”
“I was patient when I needed to be and went for the shots, kept the pressure on him. I had to earn almost every point out there,” he said.
Blake went through on his after saving a pair of break points in the last game which left Canas flinging his racket to the clay in despair after just over 90 minutes.
Philipp Kohlschreiber put host Germany into control with a win over Italy’s Potito Starace 6-2, 7-6 (7-5), coming from 1-5 down in the second set.
“I just wanted it too much and made a lot of mistakes and took a lot of bad decisions,” the national No. 1 said. “I got frustrated but then forgot and things got better.
“I’ve beaten a good play player. We won the first tie in our group and that whets the appetite,” he said.