By Charles Bricker
It's unclear if James Blake, in the throes of a tough slide out of the top-20, has split with long-time friend, confidante and coach Brian Barker, but he's in Beijing for the $3.3 million tournament there and working with another long-time friend, Kelly Jones.
I don't have any immediate full information on the Blake coaching situation, but my best guess is that Barker, who has coached Blake since J.B. was 12 years old, is sitting this next week out with some personal issue. Blake and Barker are so close it's hard to imagine a mid-season split.
Jones, 45, of Tampa, was a highly accomplished doubles player who could be instrumental in improving Blake's transition game and volleying. Jones briefly reached doubles No. 1 in the world in early October of 1992, his greatest season in which he and Rick Leach were finalists at both the Australian and U.S. Opens.
Jones has previously coached top players Xavier Malisse and Mardy Fish.
Blake has not had a bad season, but he has had a disappointing season. He's 21-17 overall and, again, has not fulfilled his potential at Grand Slam events. He began the year at No. 10 and is now at No. 24.
I hope it works out for James
I am now watching his match vs Rafa and he is playing some incredible tennis at some moments!