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post #34 of (permalink) Old 02-15-2005, 03:56 PM
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Re: the memphis belle!

this is from the memphis paper
Blake, sidelined on two lengthy occasions last year by injury and illness, also went three entertaining and high-level sets, fighting off six match points before succumbing to No. 6 seed Mardy Fish, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7).

In the late-evening match that produced shot-making typically seen in a final, Blake and Fish went toe-to-toe -- or baseline to baseline -- exchanging groundstrokes like heavyweight boxers trade punches. Blake, unseeded because of the time he spent rehabbing and recovering, played the role of the underdog.

He gallantly fought back from a 5-2 deficit in the third set to force a tiebreaker, a common theme Monday. With Fish serving for the match at 5-4, Blake refused to give in to his close friend and doubles partner. He saved five match points in the game, including one on a running, forehand winner that brought the crowd to its feet.

In the tiebreaker, he saved a sixth match point on a return winner, but finally yielded on the seventh.

''We had hoped it was going to be a final instead of a first round,'' Fish said. ''I felt like some of the tennis out there, at times, was really good quality.

''I don't feel like I played a bad match at all. And I really don't feel that I played some of those games I lost at the end (of the match) on my serve very poorly at all.''

Blake, a Memphis finalist in 2002, saw his ranking drop nearly 60 places as a result of his time away from the court last year. From July to the end of the year he played in only three tournaments.

But Monday he looked as if he was playing at the level that had him ranked in the top 25 two years ago.

''It was encouraging to know I'm playing at that level again,'' said Blake, who will play doubles with Fish this week. ''I came up just a few points short, but he played great.

''Last week in San Jose, I didn't have a lot of confidence in my game. I was playing a lot of defense. In this match, I played my game from beginning to end.''

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