Video of ex-tennis star Blake’s arrest troubles NYC police boss

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NEW YORK — The New York Police Department scrambled Thursday to deal with fallout from the mistaken arrest of former tennis star James Blake outside a Manhattan hotel by putting the arresting officer on desk duty and offering Blake an apology.

The episode became a headache for the department at a time when the city is hosting the U.S. Open, one of tennis’ premier events and where Blake has been a fan favorite. At a hastily called news conference, Police Commissioner William Bratton told reporters that he was waiting to hear from Blake after leaving messages on his cellphone.

“I’m very interested in speaking to Mr. Blake and hope to hear back from him to extend an apology for the experience he encountered,” Bratton said. “It should not have happened.”

Earlier Thursday, the 35-year-old Blake said he was never told why he was forced to the ground and handcuffed.

“I’d like an explanation for how they conducted themselves because I think we all need to be held accountable for our actions, and police as well,” Blake said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

The mishap unfolded on Wednesday outside the Grand Hyatt New York hotel, where detectives were investigating a credit card fraud ring that was having retail items brought there by a delivery service, police said. A retailer had given police a photo of a man who was involved, police said.

“If you look at that photo, it is a remarkable likeness of Mr. James Blake,” said Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce. “They look like twins.”

The confusion intensified when a cooperating witness misidentified Blake as a suspect while Blake was standing outside the hotel waiting to head to the U.S. Open. Blake said he looked up from his cellphone and saw a plainclothes officer charging him before he was body-slammed.

“I was standing there doing nothing – not running, not resisting, in fact, smiling,” Blake said.

Blake told officers to check his identification, and he was released. He said the officer never identified himself.

The NYPD took the arresting officer off the street while it conducts an internal investigation. After seeing a security video of the officer grabbing Blake, forcing him to the sidewalk and rear-handcuffing him, “I have concerns about the takedown,” the commissioner said.

Part of the internal inquiry will focus on why the chain of command wasn’t notified of the mistake.

“Mr. Blake has made a number of comments to the press – that’s how we first became aware of the matter,” Bratton said.

In a statement, the United States Tennis Association said it was “deeply concerned about this troubling incident.”

Blake “is the embodiment of a model citizen whose triumphs on and off the court continue to inspire tennis fans and non-fans alike,” the USTA said.

Blake’s last tournament as a professional was the 2013 U.S. Open, where he lost in the first round of singles and doubles. He was ranked as high as No. 4 in the world and reached three Grand Slam quarterfinals, including at the U.S. Open in 2005 and 2006.

Blake’s mother is white and his father was black. But he downplayed any suggestion of racial profiling and instead focused on his allegations of excessive force.

Said Bratton: “I don’t believe at all that race was a factor.”

Sakkari through to Parma Open quarterfinals; Stephens loses

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PARMA, Italy — Top-seeded Maria Sakkari rallied past Arantxa Rus 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals of the Parma Ladies Open.

Sakkari, who accepted a late wild card to the red clay court tournament, was playing her first event since losing to Wang Xiyu in the second round of the U.S. Open.

The Greek player will next face Maryna Zanevska of Belgium after she eased past Dalma Galfi 6-1, 6-3.

Fourth-seeded Sloane Stephens of the United States, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, lost to Danka Kovinic 7-5, 2-6, 7-5.

Kovinic will face Jasmine Paolini in the quarterfinals after the Italian defeated compatriot Elisabetta Cocciaretto 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

There will be an American in the final eight, however, as Lauren Davis rallied to beat Sara Sorribes Tormo 3-6, 6-4, 7-5. Sorribes Tormo had eliminated second-seeded Martina Trevisan in straight sets in the opening round.

Davis will play Mayar Sherif after the Egyptian player defeated Simona Waltert 6-3, 7-6 (1).

Also, third-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania eased past Italian wild card Matilde Paoletti 6-4, 6-4 to set up a quarterfinal against sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan, who beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

Sorribes Tormo beats 2nd-seeded Trevisan at Parma Open

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PARMA, Italy — Sara Sorribes Tormo beat second-seeded Martina Trevisan 7-5, 6-0 in the opening round of the Parma Ladies Open – marking the third consecutive first-round loss for this year’s French Open semifinalist.

Third-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu advanced when Viktoriya Tomova retired with Begu leading 7-5, 5-1.

Danka Kovinic beat Oceane Dodin 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 and will next face 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens.

Also on the red clay courts, Mayar Sherif of Egypt eliminated fifth-seeded Anna Bondar 7-5, 6-4; Elisabetta Cocciaretto defeated seventh-seeded Nuria Parrizas Diaz 7-5, 6-1; and Italian wild card Matilde Paoletti earned her first tour-level win by beating Romanian qualifier Gabriela Lee 6-4, 3-6, 6-0.