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Blake pushed to five sets in first-round

August 26, 2008 11:56 IST

Ninth-seeded American James Blake was pushed to five sets by compatriot Donald Young before completing a 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 victory to bring the curtain down on Monday's opening day at the US Open.

Blake looked poised to make quick work of Young, a first-round loser at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon this year, leading two sets to one and up 2-0 in the fourth before the slender left-hander caught fire.

Young battled Blake fiercely to level the set 2-2 in a marathon fourth game, breaking the 28-year-old's serve on his seventh break point and breaking again in the 10th game to force a fifth set.

Blake, twice an Open quarter-finalist, claimed the only service break of the final set in the ninth game, taking a 5-4 lead when the 102-ranked Young sailed a forehand long.

He ended the two-hour, 48-minute slugfest on his second match point, when Young, playing his first career five-setter, netted a backhand.

"Donald really picked up his game and really played great toward end of the match," said Blake, who committed 50 unforced errors in the match trying to find angles out of reach of the fast-footed teenager.

Young, the third youngest player in the men's draw, took positives from the first-round duel against his fellow African American.

"It was great," said Young, who was playing on Arthur Ashe Stadium court for the first time. "I really enjoyed it.

"Obviously you're a little disappointed you lost, but look who you're playing.


"I was really excited to be playing five sets, in a night match at Ashe against one of the best Americans we have. It was great to give him a good match. I surprised myself."

Blake said he thought his experience paid off.

"In the fifth set you is the time you need to play your game. I never felt like things are not going to go your way," said Blake, who was coming off an Olympics tournament victory over then world number one Roger Federer.

"It came down to a couple of points here and there. I think maybe my experience helped a little bit."

Young, who won the 2005 Australian Open junior title at age 15 to become the youngest and first African-American boy to be ranked number one in the world, used his big forehand and blazing court coverage to stay in the match.

"That could have been a pretty big loss there," said Blake.

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