Blake gets to final in Sweden

Published October 15, 2006

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Defending champion James Blake edged Robin Soderling 7-5, 7-6 (7-4) Saturday to reach the Stockholm Open final.

The second-seeded American plays Jarkko Nieminen in today's final at the Royal Tennis Hall.

Nieminen, seeded fifth, beat Swedish wild card Joachim Johansson 7-6 (10-8), 6-7 (5-7), 6-3.

Blake, a Tampa resident, put in nearly 80 percent of his first serves.

"I served great," he said. "I don't know why I served so good. Sometimes it feels good from the start. In the first two games, I missed only one. Then I got into a rhythm. Maybe it's because it's indoors - no sun, no wind."

The sixth-ranked Blake, who won in Bangkok two weeks ago, made his first appearance in the Swedish capital last year and is undefeated in nine matches.

BA-CA TENNIS TROPHY: Third-seeded Andy Roddick was upset 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5) by Fernando Gonzalez in a semifinal in Vienna, Austria. The fifth-seeded Gonzalez reached his first final this season and plays defending champion Ivan Ljubicic, a 6-1, 6-4 winner over Dominik Hrbaty.

BANGKOK OPEN: American teenager Vania King defeated sixth-seeded Meghann Shaughnessy 6-1, 6-4 in Thailand to reach her first career WTA final. The 17-year-old King faces Tamarine Tanasugarn in the final after the Thai cruised past ninth-seeded Severine Bremond 6-2, 6-3.


Men's team misses final

The U.S. men's team had such a tough time, it did the unthinkable and missed the team final at the World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark - a result clinched with still nearly half the field yet to compete today.

China (370.45 points) and Japan (367.75) finished in the top two spots. The United States (358.1) was 10th, guaranteed to be watching the eight-team final Tuesday.

Gymnasts earn spots in the individual events based on qualifying results, and the poor effort threatened to leave no U.S. athletes eligible for event finals. Sasha Artemev (20th) and Guillermo Alvarez (22nd) have to wait through today to see if they make it onto the 24-man all-around.


BOXING: Joe Calzaghe survived a cut in the fourth round to capture a unanimous decision over Sakio Bika in Manchester, England, and keep his IBF and WBO super middleweight titles. The victory extended Calzaghe's unbeaten record to 42-0 with his 19th successful defense of his WBO title, which he has held for nine years, and the first defense of the IBF crown he took from Tampa's Jeff Lacy in March. ... Unbeaten Mikkel Kessler added the WBC super middleweight belt to his WBA title, stopping Markus Beyer in the third round in Copenhagen, Denmark.

CYCLING: Defending champion Paolo Bettini won the Tour of Lombardy in Milan, Italy.

HORSES: Vacare took the lead in the stretch and won the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup by a half-length at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., to remain unbeaten in four career starts. In another stakes race, favorite Gorella accelerated down the stretch to win the $400,000 First Lady by a nose over Karen's Caper. .... Adhrhythm defeated Silkily by 4 lengths to win the $400,000 My Dear Girl Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder Race Course in Miami Gardens.