Blake to meet Andreev in Sydney final - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Blake to meet Andreev in Sydney final

By Philip Henderson 13/01/2006 10:11:59 PM Comments (0)

American James Blake is eyeing a career-best grand slam performance at next week's Australian Open after upsetting world No.6 Nikolay Davydenko in the semi-finals of the Sydney International.

The world No.23 will chase his fourth career ATP title when he meets rising Russian star Igor Andreev in the final of the Australian Open lead-up tournament at Olympic Park.

Andreev, the world No.26, downed Lleyton Hewitt's conqueror, Italian qualifier Andreas Seppi, 6-2 2-6 6-2 after enduring a three-hour rain delay before Blake won his fourth consecutive match against Davydenko 6-4 6-2.

Blake's most recent title preceded a debut quarter-final appearance in a grand slam at last year's US Open - where he lost a memorable five-set marathon to eventual finalist Andre Agassi.

And after beating the tournament second seed, Blake said he was confident of landing a few more big-name scalps in Melbourne this coming fortnight.

"I know going into this first grand slam, with the new perspective I have, that hopefully I can be in that second week and really causing some damage to the big names," said Blake.

"The last grand slam I went into (the US Open) I had won a tournament right before, and that was my best result in a grand slam so far. And I felt I was pretty close to being in the semis or possibly even the finals of that."

Blake, the eighth seed in Sydney, took full advantage of Davydenko's crumbling serve to streak into his fifth career final.

Davydenko dropped his final six service games against the New York native, crashing from 4-2 ahead in the first set, to a straight-sets loss.

Blake beat Andreev twice last year, including a straight-sets win in the second round of the US Open, but tipped the Russian to be a much tougher prospect.

Andreev has won two of his three career ATP titles since the US Open, and earned his fifth career final appearance this week after overcoming No.4 seed Richard Gasquet in the opening round, as well as Australian Peter Luczak and countryman Dmitry Tursunov.

"His first serve's huge, his forehand is huge... I was playing really my best (at the US Open) and I'm going to have to do that again to get a win because he's confident now," Blake said.

Andreev, who is bidding to be the first Russian in 34 years to win in Sydney, promised Blake a far more torrid encounter in their third meeting.

"Tomorrow is going to be a different game... sometimes when you go (into a final) and try to enjoy it, it doesn't work.

"So you have to go there like for war. That's the only way you can win," said Andreev, who has trained in Valencia for the past seven years and can speak fluent Russian, English and Spanish.

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