Blake battered at hands of Vleigen

Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic became the first big name to bow out of the Madrid Masters on Wednesday (18/10), when the number three seed was beaten by Britain's Andy Murray 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Madrid, Oct 19: Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic became the first big name to bow out of the Madrid Masters on Wednesday (18/10), when the number three seed was beaten by Britain's Andy Murray 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

The number eight seed, James Blake of the United States, also went home, Kristof Vliegen of Belgium taking a third set tiebreak to win 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5), but the tenth seed survived, with Chile's Fernando Gonzalez putting out Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-4.

Day one at the Madrid Masters was all about Spanish players feeling the pressure as five of the home contingent fell at the first hurdle - day three turned the spotlight on the seeds and none of them were given an easy ride.

First up on the show court was Chilean number ten seed Fernando Gonzalez, who was up against Thai number one Paradorn Srichaphan in round two of the Euros 2.1-million event.

Gonzalez, who was runner-up to Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic at the Vienna International last week, took the first set 7-5, but Srichaphan fought back to break in the eighth game of the second and although it went to a tiebreak, Srichaphan levelled at one set all.

Gonzalez recovered to convert his only break point in the final set at 5-4 though and took the match 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-4.

The Chilean will meet either Joachim Johansson of Sweden or the Russian number five seed Nikolay Davydenko for a place in the last eight.

The number five seed, James Blake, could certainly be described as the form player coming into this tournament.

The 25 year-old American had won back-to-back tournaments at Bangkok and in Stockholm in the run-up to the Madrid Masters and was expected to go a long way in the Spanish capital.

However, Blake lost the first set to his Belgian opponent Kristof Vleigen and only got his game together in the middle of the second.

In the rally of the match, both players fetched back balls from near impossible positions before Blake emerged with two set points and brought the match back to one set all.

Vleigen had the last laugh though, overturning a 3-1 deficit in the decider to force a tiebreak.

The Belgian world number 33 held on, and encouraged by the distant memory of a straight sets win over Blake back in 2000, closed out to win 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5) in a little over two hours of play.

Vleigen will meet either Russia's Marat Safin or the number nine seed Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus for a place in the quarter finals.

Britain's Andy Murray caused the upset of the day when the nineteen year-old Scot put out the number three seed Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia.

Murray, who had had crashed out in the first round of his last two tournaments, played some of the best tennis of his short career to overcome one of the strongest indoor players on the circuit.

Ljubicic was coming off a victory in Vienna last week and was the runner-up here last year, but Murray took the first set 6-4, survived a comeback from the Miami Masters finalist in the second, and came through 6-3 in the decider to set up a third round tie with fifteenth seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia in what will be the first meeting between the pair.

Bureau Report

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