James Blake exploded in anger at chair umpire, Norm Christ, after his double's match loss today. He and Xavier Malisse lost a three set match versus Travis Parrot and Jordan Kerr. It was a close, hard fought match that Malisse/Blake lost 3-6 in the third. The last point was very controversial, because the ball looked in, but was called out. Both Blake and Malisse were visibly disappointed with the call, but politely shook the hand of their opponents and the umpire. Xavier rapidly packed his things and started making his way off the court with security. The crowd started surging forward for autographs from the players. James signed a few things and started gathering his things, but stopped and walked over to umpire, Norm Christ, who was just getting out of the umpire's chair. (Norm Christ is the same umpire that presided over James' controversial singles match last night that was riddled with disputed line calls. Many balls that were actually out, were called good in favor of his opponent, Robbie Ginepri. I saw the match from the box seat section and feel that James was correct in disputing the calls during the singles match and also had my hunch corroborated by a ball boy who worked that match. He agreed that James was indeed cheated.) (see photos
James asked him,'How can you make those calls where you can't even see the ball that well?'
Norm replied,'I can see the ball.'
'You can't see a fucking thing,'said James.
At this point Travis Parrott looked up from signing autographs and stared at the dueling duo with a baffled,'What the hell is going on?' expression on his face. He looked stunned at James' outburst. (OT: Travis is sooooo damned hot in person!! I asked him if he was still traveling with his girlfriend and he said,'Yes, she's here supporting me.' Oh, she's a lucky girl, he's so handsome and gorgeous.)
The confrontation between the umpire and James went on for at least three minutes, with James continuing to chide Christ for not making good calls. Both men stood their solidly, completely unwilling to back down. Finally, at the end, Christ said,'Well how am I supposed to see that?'
James replied with,'Take it from me, my man, you need to try.'
Then, as if awakened by sleeping salts, James' head snapped to attention, and he appeared to realized that the remaining crowd (people who wanted autographs) was staring at him in silent astonishment. He then returned to gathering his things. He signed an autpgraph or two and then quickly trotted off court with a security guard.
During the entire confrontation, his doubles partner, Xavier Malisse, waited to the side picking at his nail, head down, but smiling from time to time as James lashed out at Norm Christ. James' coach and brassy blonde had already exited immediately after the match ended. John Mayer didn't come to this match, nor James' other doubles match. He only attended James singles matches.
All the photos
below capture the scene, with the exception of the three crowd photos where you can see the Paris Hilton trashy lookalike who is James' current girlfriend and traveling companion from now on. She's the brassy blonde in the green top who looks like a stripper. I took those photos during James' night match against Ginepri. Brassy blonde and her friend definitely stood out from the rest of the crowd with their overly bleached hair, trowled on makeup, and nightclub attire. I honestly thought that they had to be groupies, because their look is what the French would describe as 'obvious'. Barbie looked rather bored during alot of James singles match as if she had no real clue of what was going on. She suffered from the same ennui today during James' doubles match.
Certainly, to err is human, but today's behavior from James was out of character. He appears to be turning a corner in his career and its not in the right direction, when you factor in all the other elements:
He'll either need a wild card or play qualies to get into the US Open, because he hasn't been able to get his ranking back up into the top 100. He should have done that by now, but instead has slipped from 97 at the start of the year to a current 108.
He's not improving as a player. Granted, he did have horrible health problems last year and missed alot of time on the tour, but even before that, his results could have been better based on the amount of talent he possesses. Its not fun watching him struggle so badly. He's at the level where he has all the shots, but absolutely no clue at how to successfully strategize and put them together for victory. As he was being interviewed by Access Hollywood on the grounds today, he mentioned playing until he was 32 or 33. I would be very surprised if he lasted that long, because James is on a downward spiral and doesn't notice it one bit.
Bringing the distraction of a new relationship on the road with you as you are in the midst of rebuilding your career is not a wise decision. Trailer trash Barbie will be traveling to every city with him, he announced during the Access Hollywood interview (he didn't use that wording, he said,'Now I've found someone to go to every city with me.'
It is exceedingly obvious that James needs a new coach if he wants to take his game to the next level, but James would rather wait for a miracle that would make that happen. He has experts like Patrick McEnroe and others advising him to make the change and he still won't do it. His stubborness is hurting his career.
There's no doubt that James has 'book sense', i.e. he is intelligent academically. But when it comes to making choices about his career, he's definitely not the sharpest knife in the drawer. He seems to rely solely on trial and error instead of using an analytical process to develop a solid plan for his career.
For the most part, I think James will hover around the 100 mark in the rankings all the while needlessly struggling, because he is dedicated to a poor problem solving approach compounded by his unrelenting stubborness (no one tells James Blake what to do, even if they know much more than him!)
See photos of the confrontation