- The Washington Times - Monday, May 26, 2008

From combined dispatches

PARIS — To James Blake, 1-0 sounds a lot better than 0-9.

A year after all nine U.S. men competing at the French Open lost in the first round, Blake won his opener at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament yesterday, beating former top-10 player Rainer Schuettler 6-4, 6-1, 7-6 (3).

“We’ve already done more,” the seventh-seeded Blake said with a laugh. “We set the bar low enough that we’re over the bar by 3 o’clock on Sunday afternoon. It was a tough situation last year, but now maybe it’s just like playing with house money this year.”

He lost to Ivo Karlovic in four sets at Roland Garros in 2007, part of the worst showing by American men at any major tennis championship in 34 years. It also continued their recent trend of struggling on clay.

“We all feel like, you know, last year was an aberration that should never happen again, and this year we’re definitely looking for better results,” Blake said.

Harkleroad poses nude

Ashley Harkleroad, the 61st-ranked American who lost to Serena Williams 6-2, 6-1 yesterday in the first round of the French Open, said she posed for the August edition of Playboy magazine.

“I thought about it, and it was something that I did,” Harkleroad said after the match. “I’m proud of my body. I was representing a female athlete’s body.”

The 23-year-old noted other athletes who have appeared in the magazine, including Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard and former volleyball player Gabrielle Reese.

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