PARIS (AP)—There are plenty of theories about why U.S. men have so much trouble at the French Open, and James Blake offered his thoughts on the matter after losing in the first round Tuesday.
“For the Americans, a lot of times, this isn’t our main goal of the year. Ours is generally Wimbledon and the U.S. Open,” Blake said.
“I think if we were to try to prepare completely for the French Open, we would be giving away some of our advantage at the Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. That’s where we excel. We’d rather, I think, prepare best for what our strengths are.”
The 15th-seeded Blake was eliminated 7-6 (6), 7-5, 6-2 by Leonardo Mayer, a qualifier from Argentina making his Grand Slam debut.
Both other American men in action Tuesday lost, too: No. 22 Mardy Fish and unseeded Bobby Reynolds. That made the U.S. contingent 2-7 in the first round this year, with No. 6 Andy Roddick and Robert Kendrick the only winners.
“We’re trying as hard as we can,” Fish said. “Once these two weeks are over, the clay talk is over, and we’ll be looking to my most fun part of the year: Wimbledon, grass courts. That’s where we play our best.”
In 2007, the country’s men went 0-9 at the French Open. No American has won the title since Andre Agassi in 1999, and none even has reached the quarterfinals since he did in 2003.
Blake reached the final of a tournament on clay at Estoril, Portugal, this month and was not exactly down on his chances when he arrived at Roland Garros.
“Felt good. Felt like I was ready to play some good tennis and have a good run here,” he said. “Didn’t happen.”
Blake, who never has been past the third round at Roland Garros, made more than twice as many unforced errors as Mayer.
“Incredible. I played incredibly,” said Mayer, who previously failed in six tries to qualify for Grand Slam tournaments.
Asked if this was the best match he’s ever played, Mayer replied: “Yes, yes, yes.”
“I wasn’t nervous at the beginning, but at the end, when I had to close the match, I was very nervous, yes,” Mayer said. “I was dying of nerves.”
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