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post #166 of (permalink) Old 03-19-2006, 03:25 AM
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Re: James News!

They never posted this on the website but I found James' interview after beating Igor

J. BLAKE/I. Andreev
6-1, 6-4


THE MODERATOR: James is now in the top 10 for the first time in his career with this win, No. 10.

Q. Did you find his forehand difficult to read?

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, his forehand is I think one of the best on tour. It's definitely -- I think he creates some of the best racquet head speed out there outside of maybe Nadal and Federer, when he really wants to torque it. I think his racquet head speed is unbelievable.

It created a few miss-hits for him that were ugly, but it also creates some unbelievable winners and a lot of trouble. Even if he doesn't hit a winner, he puts a lot of pressure on you. It's almost like defending a kick serve off his forehand sometimes.

It's very difficult, tough to read. He can hit it anywhere. He can hit it so heavy and so high that it's definitely a weapon that's going to be tough for everyone to contend with for many years, I think.

Q. You're a long way from Tunica, Mississippi. That was about a year ago.

JAMES BLAKE: Not quite a year ago, I was in Tunica, Mississippi, almost losing in the second round there. It's crazy how quickly things can change. Patrick reminded me this morning two years ago I was in the quarterfinals here. I remember back to that match. It seems like a lifetime ago. It seems so long. Those two years, so much happened.

Tunica, Mississippi, last year great to start my comeback there a little bit. I think I'll be in Rome this year and hopefully enjoying myself a little more than in Tunica.

I mean, just little things change. You keep improving. You keep working hard. Things start going your way. You get a lot of confidence. Here I am in the semis here instead of the semis in Tunica.

Q. Who beat you in Tunica?

JAMES BLAKE: I won the tournament. I almost lost in the second round to Golmard. I believe he was up a set and a break or a break in the third set. I know I had to break to get back in it. Played pretty well. The end of the match, I think I won it four or five in the third.

Q. What was the name?

JAMES BLAKE: Jerome Golmard. He's been top 30 in the world. He wasn't at all intimidated by me or anything. Just playing well, serving well.

Q. Historically a lot of players have had setbacks such as yours and they came back to play even better. Seems similar to what happened with Arthur Ashe.

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, it's always an honor to be put in the same sentence with Arthur. With all due respect to him, a tennis loss or anything I've ever endured on the tennis court is very pale in comparison to everything that happened to me in 2004. I don't consider that much of a downtime. I consider that turmoil in your career, not turmoil in your life as much.

It's been amazing I've come back. I think the biggest difference is the mental aspect, where I've been calmer. I realize that there's more life than tennis. It doesn't change the fact that I'm still competitive. I don't think that's ever going to change. I want to win every match. I want to win every point. But I also have realized this is a finite career. It won't last forever. I want to make the best of every chance I get, every match, every time I step on the court, remember every time I'm out there on center court and serving for a match or receiving to stay in a match or anything.

You know, this is what I missed so much when I was having a downtime, when I was on the couch, when I couldn't really walk without being dizzy or anything. It's a lot of fun to be back.

Q. It's interesting you should mention being calmer. Paradorn has been talking about his meditation, being calm between points. You're probably not meditating, but the calmness, how important is that?

JAMES BLAKE: I think tennis is a very individual sport. I don't think you see Rafael Nadal ever being calm. You see him, his feet are always moving. Something's moving. He's getting fired up. That's just him. It works for him.

For me, I think I'd probably burn too much energy and get tired if I was doing all he was doing.

It's very individual. For me being a little calmer, a little more relaxed, it keeps me more focused as opposed to worrying about everything I'm doing, thinking about the last point. I think that's the biggest thing.

Even though Rafael is different, he's moving all the time, but I think he puts points that he plays badly out of his mind very quickly. That's I think the most important. I'm sure Paradorn is doing a good job of that now being in the semifinals. I'm doing a better job. You play a bad point, you shouldn't let that affect the next point. It snow balls, it can be a little bit of trouble.

Mentally you need to stay in every point, whether you're down a set and a break, whether you're up a set and a break. You can't let anything that's happened affect what you're going to do in the future, how you're going to play that point and that game.

I think being calm has given me that time to focus. If I feel a thought, a negative thought creep into my mind, take your time, be calm about it. It's not -- you got all day out there. You don't have a shot clock. You can go out and play your game. If you start winning about 55% of the points, almost always you're going to end up winning the match. You just got to try to focus on that.

Q. You talked about Igor's forehand being a big weapon. I think it's your forehand we need to talk about. I think you have the biggest forehand in the game. When you were hitting, I noticed you hit a lot flatter and harder at him than Andy Roddick. Do you think that took away time from him, which made it harder for him to play his game?

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, I definitely think a lot of the guys, especially the guys that have more success on clay, Spaniards, he's obviously Russian, but I think he grew up playing with a lot of Spaniards and spent time training in Spain. A lot of those guys like having time.

Definitely for me, taking time away from those guys is important. I'd rather get them -- like you said, my forehand is my weapon, and if I can go kind of baseline to baseline, forehand to forehand with someone, I like my chances. If he's six feet behind the baseline, he's pushing me six feet behind the baseline, I don't like my chances much. Mine is trying to get through the court quicker. It's tough that from that far back. For him, he's trying to get it up, get me out of my strike zone. I definitely try to keep taking time away from him. I think that gives me an advantage or I try to. If it's not working, I need to change it. Luckily today it was working. I was taking time away from him.

I don't think Andy should try to change his game to do that. Andy has one of the best forehands as well. His is a little bit more loopy, a little more topspin, just a little heavier than mine. But mine, you know, today when things were going well, it maybe can create more winners. It's flatter, going through the court, I'm taking it early. On other days, Andy's is going to be much better. That's kind of just the way it is.

When I'm playing well, everyone seems to think things are going to continue that way forever. I'm realistic enough to know I could go a few matches, lose a few in a row, and people are saying, Why aren't you looping your forehand and getting in it, as opposed to you miss a few. Hopefully now people see I can play this level of tennis. It's my best chance of winning more matches over the long-term. That's just the way I try to think of it, is the percentages.

If I lose one match because I played it the way I need to play it, but then I win a tournament that way, I can deal with that as opposed to just winning one match I'm supposed to and then not being able to really hurt these guys that are so talented like Igor.

Q. Could you take a second to reflect on reaching the top 10.

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, it's pretty crazy. I was told about it this morning. Probably shouldn't have been. I told Patrick, you're not supposed to do that. It's like telling a guy that's throwing a no-hitter, you can't talk to him during the game.

I heard about it. The first thing that came to my mind is now I get to take my shirt off at Saddle Brook. I made a deal with Kevin O'Connor who runs the tennis program there, I saw Sampras come and practice there, Rios come and practice. They'd be practicing with their shirt off. It gets pretty hot in Tampa. Then myself or Mardy Fish go try to practice. No, no, no, you're not allowed. Other administrators come over and say you got to keep your shirt on. How come they can? If you get to top 10 in the world, then you're allowed to take your shirt off.

First practice back in Tampa, my shirt will be off. I'll be working on my tan.

Q. That's your motivation?

JAMES BLAKE: That's a big motivation, yeah. I get to take my shirt off at Saddle Brook.

No, I mean, other than that, it's really just a number. It means I'm playing great tennis. It's an accomplishment I'll look back on when I'm done with my career and say it's another thing no one can take away from me. Right now I need to just keep trying to get better and keep trying to win matches. Not worry as much. I generally don't worry about those rankings.

Now, since it is a significant number obviously to say that I'm there is great. I think, you know, last year at this time, as much as now, I can maybe officially say I know what top 10 level tennis is. I think I was playing top 10 level tennis at the US Open, around that time. I can stay top 10 and possibly not be playing top 10 level of tennis. I don't want to do that. I just want to keep getting better, play this level, continue to improve.

I'm not as worried about the ranking or if I'm going to get to top five or any other more significant points. I don't think there's any more incentives like that out there. There's no -- I don't get to take my shorts off when I get to top five or anything. No other big incentives.

Q. Patrick McEnroe keeps referring to Roddick as the No. 1 guy on the Davis Cup team. Your results vis-a-vis Roddick's would seem to suggest you should be the top guy. How do you feel about that?

JAMES BLAKE: I think you better check the results again. What's his record against me? I think he's about 8-0 against me. I'm very happy to defer to him as the No. 1. We've called him our Mariano Rivera a few times. He's a closer. When we got him in a deciding points, he's never lost for us, I don't think. I'm very happy to have him be the one to carry that pressure because he's done it so well. He's more accustomed to it. He's done it for about three years. I'm just here to kind of carry a little piece of that load for him. He obviously didn't have as good a result as he would have liked here. Hopefully I'm trying to pick up where he left off.

There have been three years of him doing that for the rest of us. I don't feel like six months of results are going to make me the No. 1 player in America. Andy has proven himself so many times that I don't feel like a couple of results here or there are going to make me the No. 1, especially since I've never beaten him in an actual ATP tournament.

I definitely think he's the No. 1. I'm proud to have him as the No. 1. I'm just hoping to be the No. 2 on the team. I love being a part of that team. Whatever role I can play, I'm happy to be there. I'm definitely, like I said, very proud of Andy as our No. 1. I hope Patrick continues referring to him as our No. 1 because that's the way I feel as well.
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