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Beijing Olympics - James Blake upsets Federer

 

American James Blake pulled the upset of the Beijing Olympics tennis tournament when he upset Roger Federer in straight sets today.  The upset ended Federer's bid to win his first Olympic medal and showed a lackluster performance once unthinkable for Federer.  James Blake won the match in straight sets 6-4, 7-6. 

The upset was a stunner in that Blake had won only a single set in their previous eight matches. But the top-seeded Federer is battling a year-long slump that has left him stalled at 12 major titles, two shy of Pete Sampras' record. His Wimbledon reign ended last month, and he came to Beijing knowing he would lose the No. 1 ranking after 4½ years to Rafael Nadal next week. Federer's latest defeat means there will be no rematch in Sunday's final against Nadal, who won in epic fashion when they met for the Wimbledon title.

Federer had been seeking his first Olympic medal after losing in the singles semifinals in Sydney and in the second round in Athens. He was scheduled to play a quarterfinal doubles match later Thursday with Swiss partner Stanislas Wawrinka.  The upset was sweet for the #8 seeded Blake, a first-time Olympian at 28 and the lone American man to survive the first round of singles. In a tournament that had been upset-free through three rounds, the first surprise was a doozy.

The match began after a rain delay of 3 hours, 35 minutes, and Federer seemed off his game from the start. His forehand, once the sport's most feared, was unreliable, and he repeatedly struggled to hold serve. Blake earned the first break in the final game of the opening set. On set point, Federer left his feet for a spectacular backhand save that extended the rally, but with his next shot he floated an easy backhand into the net. His shoulders sagging, he was broken again two games later and fell behind 3-0 in the second set.

Federer finally showed life by breaking back in the fifth game and holding the rest of the way to reach 6-all. But Blake played a flawless tiebreaker, while Federer made two unforced errors and popped up a volley. When Federer sailed a return long on match point, Blake screamed, "Yeah!" Federer ripped off his headband and walked head down to the net. It just wasn't Federer's night.

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