LONDON, December 4, 2015
Former World No. 4 James Blake came from behind to beat Younes El Aynaoui 4-6, 6-3, 10-8 in an absorbing Champions Tennis contest at the Royal Albert Hall on Friday evening.
While El Aynaoui, 44, was the steadier of the two players for much of the match, Blake eventually found his rhythm. Some crunching returns and trademark forehands helped turn the tide in his favour and he edged a nail-biting Champions Tie-break on his third match point.
Victory for the US-American means he keeps his qualification hopes alive. The outcome of Group A will be determined on Saturday afternoon when El Aynaoui meets Tim Henman. The winner of the Group will play defending champion Fernando Gonzalez in Sunday’s final.
Elsewhere on Friday, Xavier Malisse overcame Magnus Larsson 7-6, 7-5 in Group B. Larsson was replacing the injured Sebastien Grosjean.
In the Tie Break Tens qualifiers, Xavier Malisse and Younes El Aynaoui set up a qualification showdown. Malisse beat Blake 10-3 and El Aynaoui overcame Gonzalez 10-7. The pair will face off on Saturday afternoon in a bid to join World No. 2 Andy Murray, Tim Henman, David Ferrer, John McEnroe and Kyle Edmund on Saturday evening.
Tie Break Tens, which starts at 6pm, will feature a six-man field split into two round-robin groups. The top two players in each group will go through to the semifinals, with the winner taking away a cheque for US-$250,000. Each of the ten matches at Tie Break Tens will be contested over a first-to-ten-point tie-break.
Saturday 5th December, 2015
El Aynaoui vs. Henman
Tie Break Tens Qualifier Final – Malisse vs. El Aynaoui
Bahrami/McEnroe vs. Cash/Pernfors
Jamie Murray was still basking in the glow of his Davis Cup glory when he played doubles at Champions Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall, but he’s now setting his sights on 2016.He told the tournament’s Tennis Podcast that his new partnership with Bruno Soares is one he believes can bring him a Grand Slam title after falling short in the Wimbledon and US Open finals alongside John Peers.