James' third round post match interview.
Q. Are you playing well enough to equal or better your quarterfinal appear's from last year?
JAMES BLAKE: I hope so. We'll find out. Couple more matches hopefully and we'll see about that.
I can only beat one person at a time. I can't look that far ahead in the draw. Today I was good enough to win. Hopefully it will be the same Monday, and then we'll probably revisit that question hopefully on Wednesday.
Q. How do you assess your game so far?
JAMES BLAKE: It's been good. Different conditions. The first couple was a little windier out on Margaret Court. Today dealing with the shadows. No wind and calm. Not too hot. It was perfect conditions really.
I felt like I was playing well, attacking well. Came up with a couple pretty good volleys. Missed a couple easy volleys. But overall I was playing my kind of game: aggressive and taking time away from Igor, which I think is something you got to do. If you let him set up and rip that forehand, he's going to hurt you pretty bad.
I felt like I was playing smart and playing really well.
Q. Talk about your next match. You played him in Paris in November. He got the best of you. Different surface.
JAMES BLAKE: He played really well there in Paris. He kind of just overpowered me a little. He was serving unbelievable, didn't give me too many looks, just was taking rips and feeling loose on my serve.
If he does that and plays just as well as he possibly can, it's going to be tough for me to get looks. But I have a feeling this time in a three‑out‑of‑five‑set match, I'll get my chance, I'll get some opportunity, maybe looks at second serves, get an advantage. Take a little time away from him. He does a good job of doing that to his opponents. It's going to be kind of first to the punch, first to hurt the other guy a little bit. We'll see what happens. He's obviously been playing some pretty good tennis to beat guys like Ljubicic. I didn't see much of his match today because I was out there today. Must have played well. Pretty convincing score line at the end. I know it will be tough.
I don't ever consider any match out here easy. I expect another tough one on Monday.
Q. You recently switched your sponsor from Nike to Fila. Can you talk about Fila a little bit?
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, it's a great company. Has a strong tradition in tennis. Back to the likes of Bjorn Borg. In more recent time they've had a little more visibility in the women's game with Jennifer Capriati, Monica Seles when she started, now with Kuznetsova and Agnes Szavay.
It's good to be part of the men's version and hopefully get it back to the same level it was at in the '70s with Bjorn Borg.
I've always had a lot of respect for them as a company. The biggest thing for me is how open they are to hearing my ideas. Very soon it will be a lot inspired by me. I'm going to start my own line within Fila. I'm going to have my own name, my own trademark as a part of the Fila brand.
To have a company have that much faith in you, that you can sell that much product, and you can be a force in the tennis world, I'm excited about that.
I'm really excited to do some things that will hopefully last even longer than my career. If the line is doing well, when I'm done playing, it will be something that will be an easy transition. When I'm done playing tennis, I can still be involved in the game a little way by dealing with the style and the playability. It always has to be functional. That's the way the Fila clothes are for me. They're making it easy on me in the transition from Nike. It's a good fit right now. So I'm excited about that. They're going to let me also design some lifestyle and casual and golf clothes. Hopefully I'll be in Fila and then my own line for a long time to come.
Q. You're a designing man like Venus and Serena are designing women?
JAMES BLAKE: I didn't go to design school like I know they did, but I got some ideas. I'm sure the designers that will be in the room will probably laugh at my ideas and tell me they're just not possible.
But I'm excited about starting that. We've already actually started a little bit, some of the brainstorming for the US Open because I'm learning how far out you got to plan for these things. They're saying we got to rush to do that. Then it's still going to be a little bit of a rush to get all the entire line out by the spring of 2010. It's going to be some work. It's going to be like I'm back in school, doing some homework when I get back home from here.
Q. You want to try out some of those ideas on us?
JAMES BLAKE: I don't think I'll be doing sleeveless any more. Probably back to more traditional roots. That's the first idea. Then we'll figure out the actual designs when I get back to the States probably.
Q. Do you feel like yourself involved in fashion when you retire?
JAMES BLAKE: That's possible. This is going to be a perfect situation to find that out. I enjoy fashion off the court. I think it's something that's interesting to deal with on the court because most guys, I can't go at it from the female perspective, but from a guys' perspective, we want to make sure we feel good on the court. Not as much looking pretty or looking perfect. But as long as we feel good and the clothes fit right and they're functional and they're not taking any attention away from the job at hand, that's the biggest thing for us.
I'm going to be excited about designing those to make sure that, you know, sometimes you have little ideas when you got something that doesn't fit exactly right or doesn't feel as comfortable on the court, you want to just tell me. Now, I'm going to have the control to do that. So, if I'm out there blaming my equipment, it's going to be my own fault eventually. I hope that doesn't happen too often.
Off the court I really enjoy the casual wear, the golf stuff, the things you'd wear just walking around the mall. It's going to be fun to be part of the design team that does that.
Q. When you play someone like Tsonga, who likes the big matches and stages, do you have to match his energy level?
JAMES BLAKE: I think that's something that has to happen in just about every match you play. Just today, going into this match, I'm 5‑0 against Andreev. He's kind of got nothing to lose. He won two close five‑setters.
If I go out there a little flat, not matching his energy, I'm probably going to lose that match. That's the small percentage difference in the players these days, just that little bit of being excited, being energetic, getting up for every match.
If I don't match his energy, I don't stand much of a chance. I'll need to do that. I'll need to be focused. I'll need to be ready. I think it's something a lot of players learn their first time kind of getting up in the rankings, you can't just rest on that. You can't beat someone with your ranking. You got to beat them out on the court and be just as hungry as they are.
Q. You've had a lot of success against Andreev. How does this particular match compare to the other ones you played against him?
JAMES BLAKE: Well, I think it's something where I just seem to match up well against him. My forehand is my strength, his forehand is his strength. We kind of battle with those. Then I try to take time away from him. He's a guy that kind of dictates play when he's got time. When he can set up and rip that big forehand, he can hurt you from way behind the baseline.
I'm somehow able to take a little bit of that time away from him, make him press a little bit more than he probably would like. Might be a different story on clay. I've never played him on clay. I think that's definitely helped my record against him.
But it's just something where I've happened to play well against him every time I've played him.
Q. Is this the best you played against him?
JAMES BLAKE: I don't know. It's tough to say. I played really well against him in Indian Wells, when I beat him, maybe 4‑1. Wimbledon was a different experience, being on grass. But this is up there with as well as I could play against him.
Q. You're getting up there, you're a veteran. When you look back, you still seem pretty eager, fired up. The break in 2004 wasn't one that you consciously took. Do you think that's a factor? Do you think more players will be more conscious of taking larger chunks of time off on the tour?
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, like you said, it's something I wasn't planning on. But when it did happen, you take advantage of the opportunities you have. Taking a break does make me feel a little younger in what I like to call 'tennis years'.
I didn't start on tour till I was 19, almost 20. Then I took basically almost a year‑long break. You look at guys like Agassi, who lasted till he was 36 years old, was still at the top of the game at that point. He took an extended break at one point, too.
I think it's just something that your bodies really need to regenerate. They need to take breaks. When you only have a month off, which means you take two weeks off the court, then you got to get right back to training, because you're training for one of the biggest tournaments of the year here in Australia, especially in the heat.
You don't have time to deal with little injuries, to really rest them, completely get off the court and focus on getting healthy.
So I think that time for me was mainly focused on getting healthy as a person, not as a tennis player or even really thinking about being a tennis player. But in the long run, it may have helped me in terms of just having that time to relax and get off the court and not even think about it, then come back refreshed, ready.
Like you said, I'm 29 years old and I'm still eager. I'm going to be trying to match Tsonga's enthusiasm, match these young kids' enthusiasm. I think I have that ability because I don't feel burnt out. I don't feel as worn down by the tour as a lot of guys can at this stage, thanks to a break in the middle of it.
Q. You spoke about playing Andreev on clay. You've had some success against Nadal on other surfaces. How do you beat Nadal on clay?
JAMES BLAKE: I don't know. Has anyone figured it out yet (laughter)? I don't think anyone has figured it out in three out of five yet.
My guess, I'm by no means a clay court specialist, or everyone close to that, but I generally play the same way I play on hard on clay, with very slight adjustments. So I would play him the same way I play him on hard: try to take the time away from him, make him beat you with his backhand, make him hit passing shot after passing shot, which for him is easier on clay, because you're sliding around more up at net.
Your first serve is not going to get you as many free points. I've never played him on clay. That's most times not an unenviable task.
Q. What are the two best matches you ever played drama‑wise? Agassi and what else?
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, Agassi has to be No. 1 in terms of drama. Hmm, I don't know. I don't know what the other one would be.
JAMES BLAKE: That one was pretty exciting at the Open. The quarterfinals as well.
Q. Davis Cup?
JAMES BLAKE: Davis Cup possibly against Paul‑Henri Mathieu last year. That was probably the next one. Saving two match points with two pretty good points on his serve, then coming back and winning that 7‑5 in the fifth set. Or another loss possibility in Davis Cup, when I lost about 12‑10 or 13‑11 to Fernando González in Palm Springs, yeah.
There have been a couple that have been pretty exciting. Hopefully there will be plenty more wins to think about with a lot of drama, as well. Although I'll take them easy, too (smiling).