James at River Oaks [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

James at River Oaks

04-09-2005, 09:17 PM
James has won this title once before and I'm really hoping he can win it again this year. Haas will be a tough customer. I wish I could see this match.


Blake is making a comeback
Injury-plagued American will meet Haas in semifinals
Houston Chronicle
April 9, 2005

James Blake looks at Tommy Haas and immediately feels better about his chances of becoming the player he still believes he can be, a player capable of beating anybody anywhere on any surface.

Haas, once the No. 2 player in the world, has come back from two shoulder operations, the first for full rotator-cuff surgery. Blake, once the No. 22 player in the world, is trying to come back from a broken neck, a broken heart and a broken face, all incurred in 2004. The kind of year, he says, "I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy."

So, for a number of reasons, he is delighted to have the opportunity to take Haas' measure in the River Oaks International semifinals. They've only played once before, when Blake was ascendant and Haas was despondent, contemplating the end of his career.

The right perspective

Blake won easily, a script the unseeded 25-year-old American says he's unlikely to reprise today. But that won't matter.

"I've learned there are worse things than losing tennis matches," he said.

Blake is playing tennis matches again, and he's playing them pretty well, too, as Hugo Armando will attest. Blake took out Armando, the tournament's defending co-champion, with surprising ease 6-4, 6-2. Earlier, the top-seeded Haas had eliminated Mike Russell 6-3, 6-3.

Russell bears scars of his own. He had surgery on both knees in October. And another semifinalist, No. 8 Dmitry Tursunov, who ousted 18-year-old Phillip Simmonds 6-2, 2-6, 6-1, has been on the court just once in 2005 as he continues rehabbing from a broken vertebrae in the lower back suffered July 4.

Ginepri vs. Ryderstedt

Of River Oaks' final four, only the No. 5 seed, Robby Ginepri, hasn't had to cope with any serious medical emergencies of late, although he admits he did endure a troubling period of brain-dead tennis last year. He also had early relapses, but his opponent, 20-year-old Michael Ryderstedt succumbed with a bare minimum of resistance 6-1, 6-3, never looking like the player who had upset the second-seed, Jiri Novak.

Blake's travails began in Rome May 6, when he collided with a net post during a practice hit and cracked a vertebrae in his spine. Even that proved fortunate because doctors told him had he struck his head as fast as he was moving, he'd likely be in a wheel chair today.

But just as he was feeling better, a different kind of trauma felled him.

His father, Tom, died of cancer. The stress of that ordeal, on top of the injury, apparently made him vulnerable to a disease called zoster, which left him dizzy with blurred vision and half of his face paralyzed.

"I could barely hit a ball," he said. "But I was so bored that I decided to play a tournament and that cost me my protected ranking, as I knew it would. I didn't care."

The ATP requires a full six-month layoff. His entering the Delray Beach, Fla., event explains why he's currently 188th in the world.

"I don't mind trying to earn it again," Blake said of the lengthy climb ahead. "If I don't get back, then I won't deserve to get back."

Haas loves Houston

Haas, 27 and ranked 16th, is much further along — but he had further to go, having missed most of two years while doctors tried to successfully repair his shoulder. Last April in Houston, he announced his return to good health by whipping Andy Roddick in the U.S. Clay Courts finals at Westside Tennis Club.

"There haven't been any jolts of pain since that scared me," Haas said after dispatching Russell. "Believe me, I know what to look for."

04-09-2005, 10:10 PM
James WON!

Blake defeats Haas 3-6,6-3,6-4

Yea it's only an exhibition tourney, but he's had some solid matches here, and it's gotta be good for his confidence to beat someone like Tommy, esp. coming down from a set down. I really hope he can take this momentum into real tourneys and pick up his ranking to where he belongs.

04-10-2005, 12:40 AM
Wow :eek: James beat Tommy that's incredible. Well done, James :yeah: Now go on and win this title. :banana:

04-10-2005, 12:41 AM
YAY JAMES!!! :banana: :rocker2:

04-10-2005, 01:05 AM
Well done James!!! :bigclap:

04-10-2005, 04:50 AM
awesome job :D

04-10-2005, 06:10 PM
Tursunov, Blake in final
Russian survives last-game duel to defeat Ginepri
Houston Chronicle
April 10, 2005

Sometimes, you just want it too badly. Saturday, Dmitry Tursunov definitely wanted it too badly.

But, after a tortuous progression of blown opportunities in what was surely one of the most remarkable games on River Oaks' nearly 80-year-old Stadium Court, Tursunov survived. After seven squandered match points, he won the eighth to reach the River Oaks International final against James Blake.

The 22-year-old Russian who feels like an American because he has lived in California since he was 12 rallied from an early deficit to defeat 22-year-old American Robby Ginepri 6-4, 7-5, after Blake had come from a set down to oust top-seeded Tommy Haas 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

"We're both hungry," Tursunov said of today's showdown against Blake. "Neither of us has played that much."

In Blake, the eighth-seeded Tursunov draws his fourth opponent in five days after having just one match in seven months. He was being laid low by a broken vertebra in his lower back suffered July 4, the day after he reached a career-best No. 63 in the world.

Blake, in turn, was out of commission for most of the final seven months of 2004 after first suffering a broken vertebra in his neck when he collided with a net post.

Playing on and on

Although River Oaks offers no ranking points — and both of them could use a few because they've fallen out of the top 100 — the court time is invaluable.

"Robby probably had more confidence going in, and it showed," Tursunov said. "We'd practiced early in the week, and he beat me pretty solidly in a couple sets. But I settled down and got into a pretty good rhythm, at least until the last game."

The fifth-seeded Ginepri only smacked one winner to stay in the fight. The other reprieves were the result of Tursunov miscues and an incorrect overrule by chair umpire Gail Gregory, who gave Ginepri one of the four break points he was unable to convert in the marathon 28-point game, which was at deuce 11 times.

Tursunov responded to Gregory's "odd decision" by bashing a service winner to Ginepri's backhand. But three more match points would be squandered with bad errors.

"Dmitry struck the ball well today and kept me on the defensive a lot more than I would have liked," Ginepri said. "I couldn't get back in the rallies to attack him."

After dropping the first three games, Tursunov won six of the next seven and was seemingly in control when he broke for a 3-2 second-set lead. Ginepri answered in kind, but Tursunov dominated the rest of the match, getting the crucial break in what became the next-to-last game with a grueling 18-stroke rally ending when Ginepri netted a forehand down the line.

As for Blake, no matter how depressed he felt when he couldn't play matches last year, he refused to mope. Instead, he made good use of his down time, relentlessly working on his serve and spending hours tweaking his drop shot. Straight away, Haas felt the full effects of Blake's self-improvement efforts. Noting Haas' position well behind the baseline, Blake won the first point of their semifinal with a perfect drop shot.

And he finished his victory over the 27-year-old German by serving a love game to give himself a chance to win the International for the second time in three years. He beat Wayne Ferreira in the 2003 final.

Haas atones in doubles

Ferreira returned despite having retired from the ATP Tour, and he joined forces with Jeff Tarango to reach the doubles final. But Haas and Hugo Armando were too strong en route to a 6-4, 6-4 victory.

"I was pretty pleased for the first set and a half, but then I played a few loose points in the second set," Haas said of his loss to Blake. "When he came up with some good shots to break me, it kind of took a toll mentally."

04-10-2005, 06:46 PM
Hey all James is looking for an assistant to help him on the tour. Anyone game? What a question huh? Uh, you know that was an April Fool's joke, right?

04-10-2005, 07:29 PM
LOL the email address was real, and I believe that Chris (the webmaster of James's site) even posted some of the replies.... maybe yours was posted ;)

04-10-2005, 11:33 PM
James wins River Oaks!!!

Please carry the momentum and confidence to a REAL tournament, thanks :) :p

04-11-2005, 01:09 AM
YAY JAMES!!!! :woohoo:
i wanted him to win that match against carlos so badly, and he was so close. :sad:

04-11-2005, 01:28 AM
Congrats James!!! :worship:

04-11-2005, 04:02 AM
James wins River Oaks!!!

Please carry the momentum and confidence to a REAL tournament, thanks :) :p
what is River Oaks? (i am truly asking). never heard of it before. glad he won it anyway -- he needs every bit of his old self-confidence.

04-11-2005, 04:17 AM
It's a tournament-esque exhibition held in houston on red clay. It's rather old, around 70 years. They have a ton of prize money ($300,000 I believe) but it's never been an ATP tourney. Considering the singles draw is only 24 and the doubles is 16, it's really basically as much prize money as an IS tourney and I think the players treat it as pretty serious competition like Kooyong or whatever. So that's why I'm hoping these good wins will really help James's confidence, even if it's only an exho :)


According to James's quasi-official site, the score was 6-2 6-3 :)

04-11-2005, 05:19 AM
awesome. thanks for the info. i'm sure he's glad for the money. i'll check out the site tomorrow. now i'm off to bed :wavey:

04-11-2005, 02:29 PM
You're welcome :)


Blake's hard work upends Tursunov in final
Match of players on comeback trail favors American
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

James Blake's newfound equanimity paid off in spades at the River Oaks International this weekend. Not only did he claim the tournament's Ernie Langston Trophy awarded to the best sportsman, he also kept his cool during Sunday's final when Dmitry Tursunov got off the canvas and applied some heat early in the second set.

Blake was pummeling Tursunov at the end of the first set, winning 13 of the last 14 points. But the expatriate Russian bear, coming out of hibernation after an injury-induced layoff, had plenty of energy and desire. He sensed Blake was the better playerbut refused to let himself be embarrassed after the solid week of tennis he produced.

Two breaks sway result
So, playing in just his second tournament since the U.S. Open last fall, Tursunov came out hammering. Blake didn't blink, though. He survived the onslaught and, breaking twice to finish the match, won 6-2, 6-3 for his second International title in three years.

He's a much-changed player, however, from the guy who defeated Wayne Ferreira in 2003. Blake has been through a lot and learned a great deal, about life and tennis. Coming off a lost year on the court and a sad one elsewhere after his father died of cancer, Blake has gained perspective — with a capital "P."

"The biggest difference for me is my attitude," he said. "I realize every match isn't going to be live or die. ...

"So I don't get as nervous. I don't start asking myself, 'What should I do? Should I change my game?' I'll just keep playing the way I play."

Blake's last tournament victory on the ATP Tour was in Washington in 2003, propelling him toward a career-best No. 22 in the world rankings. Today, after injury (a cracked vertebrae), illness (the disease zoster with symptoms including dizziness and facial paralysis) and personal loss, he's No. 188.

His River Oaks triumph won't help rectify that because it doesn't offer ATP points.

No matter. This, he believes, was a milestone event, a major step forward for him.

Back for Clay Courts
Besides, it gave the New Yorker and one-time Harvard student the first leg of the Houston Slam. He already had received the final wild card into the main draw for the U.S. Clay Court Championships at Westside Tennis Club next week.

Tursunov, 22, whose ranking fell from 63rd to 129th after he broke a vertebra in a boating mishap July 4, will have to try to qualify at Westside.

He, too, saw his River Oaks run to be a satisfying experience. He didn't lose the match; rather, Blake won it.

"What's the deal with the lines, James?" Tursunov said when he walked in on Blake's post-match interview.

Blake had painted a number of them during a patch of nearly perfect tennis at the end of the first set. He alternated screaming groundstrokes off both wings with deftly placed drop shots, and he was surpassing 120 mph with his serve.

"Hey," Blake said, "you hit two lines yourself when you broke me."

That break in the fourth game of the second set had answered one by Blake and leveled the score at 2. Then Tursunov held easily. The 2,500 fans in the stadium sensed the momentum changing.

"Two years ago," Blake said, "I might have gotten down on myself there. I'd be going, 'Shoot, I saw the finish line and I couldn't close it out. I could have won this thing.' Today, I just kept my focus and went right back to work."

'Pretty big' forehand
He held at love, then broke at love when Tursunov, unnerved by two beautiful Blake volleys, answered with a pair of loose points. A drop shot with Tursunov trapped far behind the baseline made it 5-3, Blake. Tursunov subsequently would save one match point against his serve, but consecutive errors finished him off.

"Dmitry can hit that forehand pretty big from anywhere," Blake said of Tursunov, a Californian since he left Russia when he was 12. "I was hopeful I could just frustrate him with a few of my gets (off drop shots), then take control when I got my opportunities."

And that's how it played out, with Blake, 25, becoming the 13th player in the tournament's 71 years to win it at least twice.

04-11-2005, 03:56 PM
Good job James :) Now do well in the required tourneys :bounce:

04-11-2005, 05:30 PM
james :hug: :kiss: keep this up

04-11-2005, 06:01 PM
Here's what James sent to Chris, the webmaster of the quasi-official site.....good stuff. Keep it up James :)

4/11/05 Recap from the Champ

the finals was a good match against tursunov. i played really well and was returning great to break him pretty consistently. and then it was just a matter of taking care of my own serve. the new clay at river oaks really helped to have a true clay court feel. it is much slower this year. that helped when i needed to defend against his big forehand.

as for the match with haas, i lost the first set but actually had more break points than tommy. so i knew that i was playing well, and just had to keep it up and hopefully the breaks would start going my way. i did just that and continued to play really well. i broke him the first game of the third set and held all the way through to make that break hold up.

this tournament felt great to help with my confidence because i really feel like i played some top level tennis. i am very pleased with my first clay court event of the year and hope it bodes well for the rest of the season.

on a side note, thank god the mets won today. i couldn't take all the jokes.


04-11-2005, 10:35 PM
on a side note, thank god the mets won today. i couldn't take all the jokes.

the mets?!? :( :ras: come on james :rolleyes:

bad gambler
04-15-2005, 05:26 AM
blake is a mets fan? :lol:

c'mon james kick some ass in houston now :rocker2:

04-15-2005, 07:33 PM
yeeeah James, the Mets: a REAL team. :rocker2: Yank-ees suck! Yank-ees suck! ;) :banana: