James Blake, Class of 2001, who has taken time off away from Harvard to play professional tennis, defeated Wayne Ferreira, a former top ten player, yesterday at the Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia.
As one half of a U.S. delegation, along with Wimbledon semifinalist Alexandra Stevenson, Blake dispatched No. 53 Ferreira 6-4, 6-4 in the mixed gender equivalent of the men's Davis Cup and the women's Fed Cup.
"I just went out expecting to try my hardest and to play really loose and not worry if I made a few mistakes early," Blake, ranked 219, told the Associated Press.
"I didn't want to get down on myself and start playing tentative. I just wanted to play my game and be aggressive the whole time. I was trying to keep the ball deep and not let him attack me and run me all over the place, because I'd have been in for a long day."
Blake, the top NCAA player last year, paired with Stevenson for a 6-7, 6-3, 6-2 mixed doubles win over Ferreira and Amanda Coetzer to seal the 2-1 win over South Africa.
No. 46 Stevenson lost to No. 11 Coetzer, 6-3, 6-1, in a singles match.
The win over South Africa capped a week in which Blake and Stevenson played well in matches against world-class competition but had mixed results.
On Jan. 3, Blake fell 6-3, 7-5 to No. 73 Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden.