Blake Wins Legg Mason Tennis Classic

Sunday, August 18th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ James Blake won his first ATP Tour title Sunday, beating Paradorn Srichaphan 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the Legg Mason Tennis Classic.

Blake, the 22-year-old American who upset Andre Agassi in the semifinals, broke Srichaphan's serve to tie the second set 3-3, and took the tiebreaker when Srichaphan's backhand shot sailed long.

Srichaphan had the first opportunity in the third set with three break-point chances in the fourth game, but Blake saved them all. Blake then broke Srichaphan in the fifth game, winning with a forehand volley, to take the lead for good.

Srichaphan fought through a difficult opening service game and on-court temperatures of about 110 degrees before breaking Blake twice to take the first set.

``It's been a hot week,'' Srichaphan said. ``But I think both of us played our best.

Blake, the sixth seed who lost in two previous finals this year, improved to 3-0 lifetime against the 14th-seeded Srichaphan. The winner earned $111,600.

Blake has come along way since his first trip to the tournament when he served as a practice partner for another player.

``I didn't feel like I belonged at this level,'' Blake said. ``In those four years a lot has changed.''