The "Welcome to the effing TOP EIGHT, James!!!!!!!!" Spring US thread! (Davis Cup!!!) [Archive] - Page 2 - MensTennisForums.com

The "Welcome to the effing TOP EIGHT, James!!!!!!!!" Spring US thread! (Davis Cup!!!)

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landoud
03-19-2006, 06:40 AM
well done james... great win

idolwatcher1
03-19-2006, 08:56 AM
simply AWESOME!! :bigclap: :yippee: :woohoo:

James has done so well here! I would really love it if he won the first TMS this year!! Go James!! :yippee:

I♥PsY@Mus!c
03-19-2006, 09:45 AM
Very well done James!!! :aparty: I can't imagine the way I react if he beats that tennis god! :rolls: Anyway GO!!! :rocker2:

Fee
03-19-2006, 09:45 AM
wow. Go James (sorry I missed your match...)

Pammy
03-19-2006, 11:54 AM
I'm very proud of James right now. Go and beat Federer!

screaminhead
03-19-2006, 12:36 PM
The way he's playing right now, I think he's gonna give Fed a run for his money...can't wait to watch the match live later..GO JAMES! :yeah:

cobalt60
03-19-2006, 01:25 PM
James! Great! Great! Great! Keep it up!

MissFairy
03-19-2006, 03:43 PM
MY WORD. WOW.

I actually got chills with that match. WAY TO GO, INDEED.

belco
03-19-2006, 03:50 PM
good luck blake

jackieglover
03-19-2006, 04:21 PM
I think it'll be a close match today. Hopefully James can play well on the big points.

Deboogle!.
03-19-2006, 07:03 PM
Man, james is so effing awesome, after he signs the camera like all the other winners do, he says "I love you mom"

GOSH. :inlove:

surfpinky
03-19-2006, 07:07 PM
so, I stayed up to watch the match, but fell asleep.
james :hug:
is espn showing the final? :awww:

jackieglover
03-19-2006, 07:09 PM
so, I stayed up to watch the match, but fell asleep.
james :hug:
is espn showing the final? :awww:

Supposed to be ESPN2. I made it through the replay last night and was just as happy even though I knew the result. :D Let's it make it 5 out of 12 tournies James! (right?) :cool:

tangerine_dream
03-19-2006, 07:11 PM
I'm still so excited for James. I can't wait for the final to begin :bounce:

%$#@ women's basketball is on ESPN again :ras: I feel like such a bad feminist whenever I trash women's sports. Women fought for so long just to get the money and equipment to play sports and all I can do is yawn and scream at them to get off my TV. Shame on me. http://forums.sohh.com/images/smilies/unsure.gif

BUT. I hate both men's and women's basketball equally. ;)

jackieglover
03-19-2006, 07:13 PM
ESPN and ESPN2 were showing the same game. :lol:

jackieglover
03-19-2006, 07:23 PM
James gets an early break :D

tangerine_dream
03-19-2006, 08:01 PM
Aw, poor James, he blew away all those breaks and now he's melting so quickly. :awww: :hug:

I love how James' little bubble butt keeps holding his shirt up in the back. :lol:

jackieglover
03-19-2006, 08:01 PM
Afraid of an ambush now that Roger came back and took the first set like that. Hope James can keep it together and keep fighting otherwise it's going to be 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 :sad:

Deboogle!.
03-19-2006, 08:06 PM
James really choked :( :hug:

honey827
03-19-2006, 08:15 PM
Come on James

jackieglover
03-19-2006, 08:34 PM
Need a miracle comeback. Listening, God?

Fee
03-19-2006, 08:58 PM
I don't care if he got bageled by GodFed, James had a GREAT week in Indian Wells and I think he is going to have a fantastic year. I am so pleased for him.

Deboogle!.
03-19-2006, 08:59 PM
Yes, he did and he's now #9 in the world and not far from being higher.:D:yeah:

It's just too bad he choked when he actually had the first set within grasp :(

J. Corwin
03-19-2006, 09:08 PM
James you've made me even a bigger fan after this week and I might even start cheering for you against Andy now. ;) Playing like a top 5 at least all this week and I hope your ranking goes even higher!

And that is really cool of Roger to send James his only get well note in the Rome hospital. :)

idolwatcher1
03-19-2006, 09:10 PM
I'm really proud of how James did these last few weeks! :D He was on fire the first part of the 1st set, but Fed did what he does best... :ras: ... I am not deterred by his loss here though because I feel like he can only learn from this match and get even better!! Great tournament James! :worship:

AgassiDomination
03-19-2006, 09:10 PM
James had a good tournament. He'll look back at this tournament with a smile. :yeah:

PinkFeatherBoa
03-19-2006, 09:21 PM
I'm very proud of James right now. Great week. (':

Sparko1030
03-19-2006, 09:28 PM
:sad: to see James get tight there but what a tournament for him!!!!! I jumped on the James bandwagon last summer and he has not dissapointed. Good luck in Miami James!

goodwoman
03-19-2006, 09:32 PM
This has been a great tournament for James and his fans who knew all along that he deserves to be where he is now. It's too bad he couldn't have beaten Fed but he had a great run and he'll learn from this.

Keep working hard, keep your head up, James!

We are proud of you!! :worship: :worship: :worship:

Godiva
03-20-2006, 12:16 AM
Super tournament James. So satisfying to see you beat the no. 2. Keep on rising. :worship:

cobalt60
03-20-2006, 12:31 AM
Great job James! And when all was done, nice to see 2 gentlemen out there at the end. Lots of respect for each other. Next stop Nasdaq!!!

Fee
03-20-2006, 01:29 AM
It's beautiful, isn't it?

Deboogle!.
03-20-2006, 02:03 AM
Yes, it really really really is.

jackieglover
03-20-2006, 04:28 AM
Looks awesome. :D He's only going to move up. :yeah: Hope to see James still playing in Miami when I get back.

idolwatcher1
03-20-2006, 06:16 AM
It's beautiful, isn't it?
This is the first week since February 14, 2000 where three Americans are in the Top 10 simultaneously! :D Way to go James!! :worship:

I♥PsY@Mus!c
03-20-2006, 10:48 AM
It's sad he got bagelled, :mad: but glad he's in top 10 now! :D

Golfnduck
03-20-2006, 02:44 PM
Great tournament James!!! :yeah: It's nice to see another American player in the Top 10 :woohoo:

16681
03-20-2006, 05:11 PM
:bigclap: 3 American Men in the Top Ten :bigclap: I read that the last time this happened was in 2000. A great Tournament for James :hatoff:

oconnor08
03-21-2006, 12:52 AM
nice work James keep up the good work it's great to see 3 american men in the top 10 again :clap2:

am&a
03-21-2006, 03:37 AM
deb. make the title say top NINE. d:

Deboogle!.
03-21-2006, 03:41 AM
OKAY. d:

mishar
03-21-2006, 06:31 AM
sad about the final... :sad: Not that James lost badly even, but that he choked away that first-set lead... He really felt the pressure I think of the occasion and playing Federer... of course Fed is just unbelievable... but I think the match would have felt much tighter if James had won the first set.
But when Rog gets on a roll, he rolls over everyone bagel-style -- Hewitt and Agassi in the last two US Open finals, Baghdatis, their will to resist just crumbles.

I certainly think James can stay in the top 10 and keep rising...
He's #3 in the Race today!! :worship:

His draw in Miami is okay. Should win his 1st round over Young/Berlocq, then a really tough one against Jarkko, against whom he has a good record. Then Gaudio/Chela, which I think is a winnable match. Then the end of the road most likely against Fed but a pressure-free match

tangerine_dream
03-21-2006, 05:09 PM
Where's that party/celebration smilie? I'm still too happy for James to be sad about him losing the final. Losing to Roger, big deal. Everybody does that. :lol: At least he made the final of an MS event and he did it in grand fashion! No one saw it coming. He should be very proud of himself for the way he played all week. I know I am. :D :D :D

btw, I made a torrent of his SF match with Nadal. Enjoy! :banana:

http://www.menstennisforums.com/showpost.php?p=3237414&postcount=3007

Agassi Fan
03-22-2006, 08:49 AM
Welcome in the Top 10 James!!!

tangerine_dream
03-23-2006, 05:13 PM
Heh. Someome posted this link over at TW. A video of James' massive service return at 112 mph :eek:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=HWNPaYbFL_s

surfpinky
03-23-2006, 06:16 PM
wow :eek:
I like their reaction :lol:

Deboogle!.
03-23-2006, 07:30 PM
James is cool enough to give a pre-tourney press conference! :D
======================
An interview with:

JAMES BLAKE

THE MODERATOR: Questions for James, please.

Q. What do you know about either one of your opponents?

JAMES BLAKE: I know Carlos Berlocq is up 6‑Love, 1‑Love right now. My coach is out there watching it right now. I'll get the report later. I really don't know much about Carlos. It looks like that's probably who I'm going to be playing.

Donald, I know a little bit about him. I've hit with him once. He's a very talented kid, but still he's a kid. He's got some learning to do. I think he's got some learning to do at the futures and challengers level first, and then he can get back up here and maybe have some success.

But I think right now he's not quite ready for it. Most 16‑year‑olds aren't. I mean, it's very, ver rare that a kid of that age is ready to compete at this level. Nadal was probably; Hewitt was. But it's pretty rare. It doesn't take anything away from him because, you know, there's a very good chance he could be good, but I didn't predict that I'd be playing him in the second round.

Q. Is it a little bit painful to see him not be able to break through?

JAMES BLAKE: Well, it's tough. I don't know him as well. I just hope he has the right attitude about it, that this is just a learning process and it doesn't mean in two or three years he isn't going to be a respected guy on tour, a guy that is winning these matches handily and is expected to win them. 'Cause I hope he doesn't come in with the expectations of winning a lot of these matches because even when I started, I was older, it was similar. I wasn't getting as many wildcards, but I got a few that I used and learned from, getting beat up pretty badly. I got a wildcard into Indian Wells and Scottsdale and got beat up by some Top 20 players badly.

I was pretty down on myself for a little while about that, but as I got better and better, I realized that it's possible. It was good for me to see that level, and I hope it is good for him to see this level. But I hope he doesn't take this into the futures and challengers and think just 'cause he can't win a match out here right now that he can't win down there and earn his way back up here. I think that's important to feel like you've earned it. I don't know if he does or not right now, but it's a good ‑‑ a really good thing to figure out that you've earned something and to have done it the right way, go through the futures and challengers and get back here. You don't feel like you owe anyone anything. You don't feel like you're not sure if you belong, you know you belong there. I hope he does that and doesn't let this affect earning his way back here.

Q. You've hit with him. Have you had occasion to talk with him about this to make sure he understands?

JAMES BLAKE: Not a whole lot. He seems to have a few people around him at all times. It's tough to kind of break through that.

But if he were to ever ask for advice, I'd be happy to help. I hope his support staff or entourage or whatever you want to call it is keeping his head on straight.

Q. A few years back you were part of an American Express promotional campaign at the US Open, there was a huge billboard as you were on the boardwalk going to the National Tennis Center. Was that too much, too soon, expectations too high at that point?

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, that was all ‑‑ I mean, I was taking it as something that was crazy and fun, and maybe a once‑in‑a‑lifetime opportunity. Pretty darn cool to see yourself on a bus or on a billboard. I think I heard a few years ago when that was up that ‑‑ in the New York Post that someone actually stole the face off one of the billboards of me.

I mean, just things like that, I never took them too seriously. I thought it was unbelievable exposure, it was a lot of fun, it made for some pretty good jokes. My friends made plenty of jokes about it and stuff.

I thought it was great. But I didn't worry too much about it. I didn't think it meant I had to win the tournament. I didn't think it meant I was expected to do anything spectacular. They were just hopefully capitalizing on my marketability at that time. It was something that was fun. If I ever get back there again, great; if not, something I can say when I'm 40, 50 years old that I was on a bus and on billboards and stuff, and it's pretty cool.

I didn't think about the expectations too much. I know there were plenty when I was coming up, but I never really thought about them too much. It's funny to hear so many people now saying, "Oh, I knew you'd get to the top 10. I thought you'd do that." Everyone, I don't know how they thought it, because I wasn't sure it was ever going to happen. I guess they're smarter than me.

Q. On that same topic, Patrick McEnroe and a couple other people said the biggest difference now is that you actually believe that you're a top 10 player and other people have felt that you had the potential but that you were kind of the last one who had to be convinced. Do you think that's accurate?

JAMES BLAKE: Partly. I mean, I always believed in myself, but I think I was in one way a little too hard on myself. I'd let things affect me if I didn't play perfectly. And, I also might have been a little impatient at times. I've gotten much more patient. I have more confidence in kind of every aspect of my game. I always had confidence in my forehand, I always had confidence in my speed and things that I know I can do well. But I never had confidence in my defense, I never had confidence in my patience, never had confident in my second serve. Those were things that I've been able to work on as I've gotten older and just kind of matured a little and gotten stronger and been able to hit tons of backhands, hit plenty of balls in practice and everything.

Having the confidence in all those kind of even elevates the confidence in the things I do well. So, it's definitely changed my outlook when I get on the court because I don't feel like I'm going into matches now a lot of times where I have to play my absolute best tennis to win a match. I have to play well every time, but I don't go in trying to do too much, which at times before, I did. Maybe that was not believing that I was good enough on my own.

Q. You had to overcompensate almost?

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah.

Q. You had to do everything perfect?

JAMES BLAKE: Going for a little too much, too soon. Trying to hit winners when I can just stay in points and wait for my opportunities.

To some regard I think that's true. And also just having a calmer perspective on the court. I mean, that's given me a lot of confidence because I know that, you know, it's just one match, one point, one game, whatever I'm focusing on at the time and life goes on with or without that one match and it doesn't change the fact that I'm incredibly competitive. Doesn't make me any less of a competitor, just means I think I have a better attitude that I can go through that and if it's a breakpoint or huge point in a match, I don't need to tense up so much to the point that this is what I'm going to live or die on. I was lucky enough to know and find out that I have friends that will care about me and family that will care about me whether or not I win every match or lose every match. So that's something that's in the back of my mind at times on the court, and it's a good feeling.

Q. What did the match against Nadal at the US Open do for you in terms of your development?

JAMES BLAKE: That helped a lot because it was a match I went into without a whole lot of pressure on me. He had had an unbelievable summer, obviously winning the French Open, and winning Montreal, proving he could play on hard courts. So I didn't have pressure. People probably expected me to lose, I don't know.

I've done a much better job now of also not listening to those kind of things, when people expect me to lose or expect me to win. It's what I expect and what I think about with my coach.

And so I didn't think about that. I just went out and had no pressure. I'm playing the No. 2 player in the world, but I'm going to have my crowd, my friends there, and there's no reason why I can't beat the No. 2 player in the world. I went out and played well. I think that's a match, again, a few years ago I would have lost. I won the first set, lost the second set pretty close. I think a few years ago, I would have thought "He's playing better than me, I got to step up and really go for too much and find a way to win this some different way," but I just kept playing my game and said, "Okay, we're even now. That means we're playing the same. If I just keep playing my game, I'll hopefully find a way to break him down."

On that day, it was good enough to win. He's obviously playing even better now. He beat Roger already this year, and he's a great player.

It really helped me to know that I can play my game and beat the No. 2 player in the world on a large stage, on the biggest stage we have really, at the US Open.

Q. Where you are now in the standings, being back in the Top 10, do you feel it vindicates your decision to stay with your coach? Many people were saying why is he still with Brian?

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, well, first of all "back in the top 10" is a little misleading because this is the first time I've been in the top 10. Last time I was in the top 10 was in college (laughter).

But, no, definitely, it's funny. It feels good to know that people now have faith in my coach and we joke about it all the time. I mean, there was no chance. There's ups and downs in everyone's career, whether or not they change coaches or stay with coaches. It's so often that guys refuse to take the blame on themselves and they put it on their coach. The coach isn't out there hitting those balls, he isn't playing breakpoints for you. So it's funny that they get blamed when the player's losing and they don't get the credit when the player's winning. When the player's winning, it's "Oh, you changed your backhand, you've worked on this, you worked so hard." Well, how come you're not thanking the coach then?

I definitely think he deserves a lot of credit for me getting up here, and not just for me getting into the Top 10, but for me being someone that people generally like in the locker room, for being a friendly person, for growing up the way I've grown up. He's helped me with everything.

I'm lucky to have had him there. I don't worry about the vindication as much. I do think it's great for him. It's funny when, you know, the commentators and people are saying, "He should get rid of the coach" when I'm playing badly, I don't think they realize his parents watch that, and his friends watch that, and they think, "Is that true?" They don't know as much about tennis.

It's unfortunate, but, luckily, I did stay with him. He knows my game better than anyone. He's helped me get back and further than I ever have before. I'm very happy and thankful for that.

Q. Why is it important to be liked?

JAMES BLAKE: That's something that has nothing to do with tennis. I try to be respectful of people and be friendly. That's a lesson my parents taught me from very young, is it's better to have friends. You want to have people that ‑‑ it makes life so much better. When I was a kid, I was a brat on the court and it wasn't fun being me against the world, when all the parents don't like you because you're a bit of a brat. Even if you're winning, no one cares.

I specifically remember one time when I was about 12 or 13 years old and I won a tournament and I came back to the tennis club, came to the clinic and sat down with Brian for probably an hour and we talked about it and he said, "Think about this. You just won that tournament. Do you think anyone here cares?" No one did. No one cared that I won because I was a brat then.

Now I come into the locker room here after doing well in Indian Wells, and I got 20 or 30 congratulatory handshakes and pats on the back. It's just good to have people that are around you that care. I know now that I have friends in that locker room that are going to be friends for life outside of tennis. I know Mardy Fish is going to be a friend of mine. Andy Roddick, Robby Ginepri, Taylor Dent, those guys are going to be friends of mine whether I never win a tennis match again, whether I play them 12 times and beat them 12 times, lose to them 12 times, it doesn't matter. I'm so happy. That's in some ways more important than ever winning another tennis match. I have friends now, and it's a good thing to have people around you that care.

Q. When did you cease being a brat, and when did you come to the realization there's another way of doing it?

JAMES BLAKE: I was probably around 13, 14 years old when I started kind of making a conscious effort to act a little more appropriately on the court. It was something that took time, and it wasn't something that comes overnight, just like changing a stroke or changing a habit. You take time. You take time to make a conscious effort. As you do it over and over again consciously, it starts to become unconscious and you start doing it naturally. That's what's comes now. It's very natural for me out there on the court now, I'm just being myself. When I was 13 or 14, I wanted to throw my racquet every time I missed the ball. You have to think about it, and make sure you don't.

Then I ended up starting to play better just 'cause I was having more fun on the court, I had more friends, like I said. It was just a matter of, for me, I was lucky enough to have people that had perspective and said it's just a matter of growing up, really. That's luckily what I was able to do. It was an effort between me, my coach, my parents.

Q. It's kind of hard to picture you as a brat. How bratty were you? What would you do?

JAMES BLAKE: Let's see, bratty enough to the point where I think Brian suggested I either quit tennis or take at least a year off. Because I am so competitive, and I think it's funny, a lot of times when people say I'm a nice guy or whatever and that maybe I'm not competitive enough, because if they only knew how competitive I am. I mean, any time I lost a match, I didn't think I should have. I had, you know, a million and one reasons why I didn't. "This guy cheated me." "I was not feeling well." Just being a 12‑year‑old kid, what kids do.

I'm so lucky Brian was able to just sit me down, have the patience to deal with that. A couple things, he said one thing that made him stick with me, he was amazed how competitive I was and he would watch everyone in the clinics and he said that I was one of the few kids that was that competitive and that crazy but never cheated anyone. I'd call balls against myself. He said, "I knew you had that kind of potential to actually be a nice person." He stuck with me and kept me on the right path.

Q. Anything that makes you lose your temper?

JAMES BLAKE: Anything that still makes me lose my temper, yeah, I think it runs in the family. Me and my brother both get pretty frustrated with bad drivers. It definitely frustrates me. And we found a few down here in Miami (smiling).

Q. Just a few?

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah.

Q. About Davis Cup, do you feel like a second player in the singles on your team, or do you think that maybe Andre Agassi would be called for it at this time?

JAMES BLAKE: It's a tough question. I think that's a more important question for Patrick McEnroe. He's the captain. He gets paid to make those tough decisions. I mean, it's tough to say no to Andre Agassi if he makes himself available.

But I think I've done my part, and that's all I worry about. I've played my best tennis, I've been playing better than I think I ever have. I played well in Davis Cup the first round, and I hope he sees that and makes his decision based on, you know, who's playing well.

I think he has the luxury of kind of picking the hot hand if he wants to. If Andre goes out here and wins this tournament, then I'll be sitting around cheering for him. I'd be happy to do that. But if he thinks all the success I've had lately is an indication of how I'm playing and hopefully how I can play, and if he thinks I give the team a better chance to win, then I'm going to go and represent my country as well as I can.

Q. Your opinion about the tie against Chile?

JAMES BLAKE: My opinion is I like our chances because I think Andy and myself or Andre and the Bryans are a little more comfortable on grass than Gonzalez and Massu. We've been playing some good tennis. Andy has, I think, proven over the last couple years he's the second‑best grass court player in the world. I definitely like our chances. It's at home. We'll have a great crowd. I definitely like our chances. I think we have an unbelievable team this year. I know we're a close‑knit team that enjoys being around each other. I think that's going to account for a lot and, hopefully, take us all the way to the championship.

Q. You talk about the importance of being liked by your peers. How about being a crowd favorite?

JAMES BLAKE: It's great. I think the best thing about it is ‑‑ I think the best thing people can do on the court is be themselves. That's what I try to do. I'm having fun on the court. That's something that I couldn't do when I was 12 years old, but now I always have a great time ‑ practice, matches, whatever. I'm having fun on the court. I think the fans see that, which is great. Whether I'm in the States or outside of the States, that's great. It seems like fans relate to that. They all play tennis, they know it's a game, and they have fun playing. They see some professionals out here that aren't having fun, that make it like a job. I'm having fun out there, and I think they can relate to that a little better.

I like to think that's why I'm a crowd favorite. It's fun to have those fans cheering for you. I think it's great when people have their own personality. Lleyton obviously has a different personality, but he's being himself out on the court. Pete was very different, he was very reserved. But for Pete to do anything like Andre Agassi or Andy Roddick and go crazy on the court, that's not like him, so I don't think it's right for him to do that. I think it's great when people are being themselves. You see Andy being himself; he's a crowd favorite. You see Pete being himself, and once the crowds warmed to him a little bit, they appreciated his demeanor and I think a lot of kids looked up to him for his sportsmanship and everything. Roger, he's kind of quietly confident and then at times he has emotional outbursts, but that's just who he is. He's very quiet in the locker room as well. I think it's great to see people showing their personality on the court and to see the differences in personalities, because you see that in the real world, too. You see very varied personalties and it's good to see that on the court as well.

cobalt60
03-23-2006, 08:31 PM
Well your sig sums it up :worship:

goodwoman
03-25-2006, 07:19 PM
Best wishes in your match today, James. You can beat this guy!! Keep believing. :)

hoobSD
03-25-2006, 08:22 PM
19 minute first set bagel :eek: :eek: 13 winners 5 unforced errors

Fee
03-25-2006, 08:26 PM
wow. well, Go James.

surfpinky
03-25-2006, 08:41 PM
:banana: double bagel, biatches :banana:

Deboogle!.
03-25-2006, 08:43 PM
mmmmmmmmmm TASTY!

mishar
03-25-2006, 09:07 PM
Obviously he'll get a tougher match from Jarkko (who is top 8 in the race so far this year) but it's good to see James go through a whole match without any letdowns, and follow up a good tournament still playing well

Deboogle!.
03-25-2006, 11:18 PM
James's Press conference :D it's LONG!
================
J. BLAKE/C. Berlocq
6‑0, 6‑0

An interview with:
JAMES BLAKE

THE MODERATOR: Questions for James Blake.

Q. What can you gain from a match like that?

JAMES BLAKE: What is it, like $9,000 or so I gain? :lol: No, I mean, it builds your confidence to know that you can beat a player at this level that soundly. It's actually one of the toughest things I knew, that was going to be going into this match, was coming from a Masters Series final to a first round is difficult. Although the match is still important, it seems to, you know ‑‑ most people's mind, it's less important. So you might not get as fired up, you might not be as intense. That was gonna be a challenge, another one to face and to figure out how to deal with it, because I've never been in a Masters Series final before this.

So coming into this, I wanted to continue the intensity and match the other person's intensity because he's already had a match under his belt. He probably hasn't been in this situation very often. So it's probably a big match for him to get excited, to get fired up for, and I wanted to match that because I didn't want to just rest and try to win just on my name or just because I thought I had done so well last week. I managed to do that and keep my focus the whole time, which obviously the score line shows that I kept my focus the whole time, which is something I'm proud of.

Q. Do you remember your last shutout?

JAMES BLAKE: No. Probably not on tour. Actually, definitely not on tour. I would most likely have to go back to college or maybe in the futures or the challengers. I don't know. I can't remember specifically.

Q. He had a couple of breakpoints on you, fourth game, second set. Obviously, you had the match well under control. How important was it for you to not give up anything?

JAMES BLAKE: I wasn't thinking about just not giving up anything, I was thinking about winning each game. I mean, at that point, you're up two breaks. He breaks you, you're only up one break. Obviously, he had the ability to break me if he gets to breakpoint. I had second serves on both of them.

All I think about is the fact that I need to do everything I can to win each game 'cause it's not, you know, a social game. It's not a country club game where we're gonna go have tea and cookies afterwards. We're doing this for a living, trying to win. That's my goal. It's not to embarrass anyone, do anything like that. It's to go out and win.

I thought the best way to do that is play, you know, to show respect, play as well as you possibly can. That's what I did. Unfortunately for him, he obviously didn't capitalize on any of those chances. He did play some unbelievable points to get there, and I, you know, just happened to play better on those game points and breakpoints. Once I got my confidence going, it was tough to stop that momentum.

Q. Your backhand used to be considered somewhat attackable. That no longer seems to be the case. How much work have you put in? Do you feel it's at the point now where you can win as many points on your backhand?

JAMES BLAKE: Well, I'm still definitely going to try to end points with my forehand and kind of base my game around my forehand. But I definitely feel much more comfortable on my backhand side, and guys, if they are going to attack it all day, I don't think it's going to be quite as easy as it was a few years ago for them to do that and be successful. I think I can pass pretty well off it, I can defend off of it. If they give me a short ball, I feel like I can attack with it much more so than I used to be able to. I'd still rather run around hit my forehand, but if I can't get, if they're hitting it well enough, positioning it well enough to my backhand, I don't feel as uncomfortable. It did take a lot of work, hitting ball after ball after ball, and kind of grinding and stuff that's not as much fun and also getting into the weight room and getting stronger. A lot of the guys hit such heavy balls, you're hitting some of them out of your strike zone and up above your shoulders. That's not easy to do if you're not strong enough to get it up there and still feel confident enough to hit it.

Q. Do you have to do drills to keep your speed?

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, I definitely do a lot of drills with my speed. I think it's kind of human nature, when you're pretty good at something, you try to ‑‑ you end up working that more than some of the other things just 'cause you feel like you're good at it and you want to keep it.

So I definitely do a ton of off‑court ‑‑ on the track I do a lot of longer sprints where it's 200s and 400s. That's more for the cardio. But then at the end of most of those sessions, I'll do the 20‑yard sprints, the first‑step kind of drills, agility drills on the court. I do tons of those.

I mean, really, on the court, you're very rarely getting up to full speed like in a 200 or in a 100‑yard sprint. The more important stuff is doing the just, for lack of a better term, you call them "suicides." A lot of suicides on the court. Other kind of variations of those. Kind of quick‑step things on the alleys, just little drills like that. I do do them very often. I don't get the chance to do it as much during tournaments because you're just focused on playing tennis and saving your energy. But when I have time and I get weeks off or have at least a few days off, I definitely do plenty of those.

Q. Does Brian time you?

JAMES BLAKE: Brian times me sometimes, but it's more often Mike Nishihara, who's my trainer, or Mike, who's my new trainer up at Saddlebrook. They're the ones that are timing it. They're pretty loose because the 200s are set up just by steps. It's not a track. It's actually on a field just because I think that's better for your knees. There happens to be a field right by the tennis courts. So it's probably not an exact calculation of 200.

I still haven't actually timed myself in a real hundred. I want to do that. Andre always asks me to do that. I don't know how fast I'd be in a hundred or a 40. It would be fun.

Q. Give up the numbers.:lol:

JAMES BLAKE: I actually don't even remember. All I'm thinking about is not throwing up when we're doing it. I think for a 200 I want to say it's around 28 or 29 if that seems reasonable. And I try to get, you know, three or four under that time and then take a little break and do it again. I think it's around there, but I'm not positive. You can't ‑‑ don't quote me exactly on that.

Q. What's the sequence of how long you do it?

JAMES BLAKE: A lot of times it will be ‑‑ I mean, changes depending on how long I have off. If I have plenty of time off, a pretty tough one would be maybe do two 400s then do three 200s, take a little break, do three more 200s and then do maybe 800s or something like that. That would be a pretty tough day. Then get into the gym and lift.

Q. What's the break? How long?

JAMES BLAKE: Well, in between each one, in between each 400, it's probably a minute. Then in between the 200s, in between the 200s, you get maybe 30 seconds, 45 seconds. But then a longer break in between the three. You get maybe two minutes to kind of rest up and recover and do another three, then take a two‑minute break before you do the hundreds and maybe just 25 seconds in between the hundreds.

Q. Have you ever run track as a little kid?

JAMES BLAKE: I ran track. I ran cross country for I believe two days, until I got very bored and I wasn't going to practice as much because I was playing tennis and the coach didn't like that. So I stopped that.

And I ran indoor track. I made it in that for about two weeks until I explained to the coach beforehand in high school that like, "I play tennis first, I'll come here and I think I can help the team, I'll be one of the better sprinters," and I think at that time it was a 55‑yard dash we did in high school. "I think I'll be one of the better guys." But I'm only going to come to practice twice a week because I want to be playing tennis. He said, that's fine.

I did that and came. About two weeks into it he said it's not fair to the rest of the guys, which I totally understand because I was only at practice a couple days a week and I was still on the team, and the other guys were showing up at practice every day. Tennis took precedent, priority over the indoor track.

But I made it about two weeks on the indoor track team.

Q. What are the suicides you just referred to?

JAMES BLAKE: No, that's just on the tennis court where you're going kind of side to side, touch the line, go back, touch the line, go back, kind of do those. So you do those.

Q. Doubles line to doubles line?

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah.

Q. How long do you do that?

JAMES BLAKE: The most we do is 17s, where you go one, two, three, four, five, you know, seventeen. Sometimes you'll do just two 17s, sometimes you do like different sequences of maybe like 10 and 2, then 8 and 6, then 4 and, you know, things like that.

Q. That's just your quickness?

JAMES BLAKE: That's, yeah, more for quickness. The 17s, by the time you get to 17s, it's a little bit ‑‑ it's some cardio, because that takes about 50 seconds or 40‑something seconds.

Q. Why 17?

JAMES BLAKE: That's just what the NBA does. Mike Nishihara, the trainer, he, I guess worked with some of the NBA guys, college basketball players. They would do on the basketball court 17s. He would always give me the times that they were supposed to do for a basketball court, which is a little wider, and we would have to beat that. I'm actually amazed at how fast those guys are. The times he was telling me for them is pretty darn impressive.

Q. Do you beat their times?

JAMES BLAKE: I beat the centers, that's for sure. I probably beat the big guy ‑‑ the forwards. But the point guards, I'm pretty close with them, but, like I said, a tennis court is a little smaller than a basketball court. So I think if it was on a basketball court, I think I'd be losing to Allen Iverson and Steve Francis and those guys.

Q. Do you hold your racquet?

JAMES BLAKE: No, without the racquet.

Q. 40 meters or 40 yards would make more sense in terms of usable speed on the court. Now, in your opinion, including yourself, if you had to line up the five fastest guys on the tour, who would they be?

JAMES BLAKE: That would be a rough one. I mean, if you're asking the people themselves, I think Mark Knowles would say he's No. 1. He's had this debate that he thinks he's one of the fastest guys out there.

But it's tough to say because you really don't know ‑‑ you don't get the sense of it on the court. 'Cause I think it would be very surprising to a lot of people if we all did. I think it would be a fun exhibition. But I think some of the guys that are unbelievably quick on the court like Lleyton Hewitt, Arnaud Clement, Sebastien Grosjean, I don't know, because I haven't seen them run it, but I don't know if they'd be as fast in hundreds because it's very different.

Q. It's different.

JAMES BLAKE: Their forte is more like that quick first step, that quick burst. Also, they're a little smaller so they'd have to take more steps. As opposed to, I think one of the fastest guys probably ever or, you know, in the last few years would have been like Sampras or Rafter. Those guys are bigger, they take longer strides. I think they'd be some of the faster ones.

But right now, I don't know. Monfils would be up there, I think. He's incredibly quick. Nadal might be up there.

Q. Nieminen?

JAMES BLAKE: Nieminen, you say? Possibly. I haven't played him in a while, so I haven't seen it. There's some quick guys. I'm trying to think who else. I mean, you have to put Hewitt and...

Q. Coria?

JAMES BLAKE: Coria in there. Even though I'm not sure, since I don't know if they're as good long term, a little bit longer.

But I don't know. It would be a fun exhibition. I wish they did like that Wide World of Sports kind of thing for the stars where you run a mile, see who's the best at that, run the 40, see who's the best at that.

Q. Swimming?

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah. See who can hit the most targets with a serve. See who can bench press the most.:haha:

Q. Archery?

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, that would be fun, I think. I don't know, we'll talk to the ATP about setting that up.:rolls:

PETE HOLTERMANN: We'll get on it (smiling).

Q. What does it mean to be in the top 10 and have your name mentioned with the likes of Arthur Ashe?

JAMES BLAKE: It's an honor any time I hear my name linked to Arthur Ashe, it really is. It kind of takes me back a second to think about how incredible he was, and also to think about what he did with his fame and with his influence. It kind of overshadows what he did on the tennis court.

So when I'm linked to him, I know it's just in tennis terms and I've got a very, very long way to go to be linked to him in terms of what he did off the court. That's something that I attempt to do, but I know it's gonna take a lot more work.

Q. I've spoken to six females earlier today. They all say you're so hot. Does it bother you that they didn't talk about your tennis game? :spit: :rolls:

JAMES BLAKE: It depends (laughing). What do they look like? :haha::haha:

No, I'm just kidding.:aplot: No, I mean, I think when I started on tour, I had the dreads and everything and that was kind of what all people would talk about. And, I don't know, I didn't know what to do about it. Now I've kind of figured out what the easiest solution is, and that's to win matches so I don't feel like that's the only reason people are coming to watch me.

So it's pretty ‑‑ it means a lot to be in the top 10 so that I feel like, "All right, people are here to watch the fact that I've played some pretty good tennis," and being in the top 10 means you've played some pretty good tennis over a while. It's not just one fluke tournament or something.

It's still obviously always a compliment and always something I'll be happy to hear, but I always say people should just compliment my parents because I don't do a whole lot to look good; it's their genes that have made me look the way I look. I don't do a darn thing.

Q. They're complimentary of the story, the last couple years and the adversity you've come through. They have taken a liking to you and read about your story, look up your stats.

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, I'm happy they did. I guess that means I've got some fans. It's always fun to have fans. It was a pretty cool atmosphere out there on the Grandstand to see how packed it was at the start of that match. It might have helped me actually a little bit because I think this was probably his first time being in that kind of an arena. He might have been a little nervous. So that might have helped me as well today.

But, like I said, it's good to know that I have fans that are looking up to me or looking up scores and stats online of me, and I like to think that that's because of good tennis. I think many guys in the past have said ‑ I think I first heard it from Jim Courier ‑ that the more matches you win, the better looking you get.

So I think hopefully I'm getting better and better looking (smiling).

Q. Real quickly, are you comfortable being called America's No. 1?

JAMES BLAKE: Not yet. That's for sure. Andy has dealt with this for years now. He's proven himself. He's won a Grand Slam. He's won Masters Series titles. He's dealt with so many things. The pressure that he's felt on his shoulders and done such a good job of really maturing and growing up under the public eye, and that's something that I'm very impressed with. I'm really proud of him.

So he's still No. 4 in the world and is, in my mind, America's No. 1. I'm happy and proud of him. Right now I'm playing great tennis, but it's ‑‑ as much as being in the top 10 means I played good tennis for a while, being No. 4 and at one time being No. 1, finishing the year No. 1, means you've been playing really good tennis for a long time. He deserves the credit. Even if I were to ever pass him in the rankings, until it's something that I've done day in, day out, month in, month out, and possibly for a year, then I don't feel like I deserve that title quite yet.

I'm happy to leave the pressure on him. He does a good job of handling it.

Q. About Davis Cup. You have a good record against Gonzalez. You played just once Massu five years ago. But you obviously know them very well. Can you analyze their games.

JAMES BLAKE: Sure, Fernando's pretty simple: He hits the ball as hard as he can very often, and so he's pretty hit‑or‑miss. He can have days where he's unbelievable, he can have days where he's kind of off. Hopefully we'll catch him on an off day.

I like the fact that my speed kind of counteracts some of his power. That's probably why I've got a pretty decent record against him.

And you try to attack the backhand, generally, because his forehand is so dangerous. But he's done a very good job of countering that by running around and hitting a lot of forehands.

Massu, very similar. He hits tons of forehands. If you can get him hitting a lot of backhands, you're probably in good shape. But he's another guy that plays well in big situations. Obviously, at the Olympics he probably had his best week ever.

But I think with us on grass, we'll hopefully feel more comfortable on the grass than they do.

Q. Massu said you're playing great, but he thinks you are not better than him and Gonzalez playing on grass. I guess you don't agree?

JAMES BLAKE: I don't know. That's his opinion. I mean, that's, I would assume, in their mind. Everyone goes into a match, they don't think they're going to lose. I go into a match thinking I'm going to win no matter what. So I have no problem with him thinking he's better, or Gonzalez is better. That makes it for interesting competition. If I went out there thinking I was going to lose, it probably wouldn't be a good match, a good competition.

I take no umbrage:worship::worship: to that. I wish him the best, but I like our chances, especially with Andy being the, I think far‑and‑away the second‑best grass court player the last few years.

Q. Yesterday Andre pulled out and talked kind of philosophically about, you know, the thought that, you know, some day he might not play again and all that stuff. Can you just talk about, you know, where do you think he is? You just played him in September at the US Open and obviously he played well there.

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah.

Q. Where do you think he is right now?

JAMES BLAKE: Las Vegas probably.

He was pretty impressive in September. It's amazing to all of us, I think, to think about how long he's been playing this game. We all, I think, did little tributes to him last week or talked about the fact that this would have been his 20th time at this tournament. That, to me, is just amazing and shows how long he's been playing at this high of a level. It really is incredible.

I think so many of us feel little aches and pains and we feel like we've been out here for a while. I'm 26 years old and start feeling kind of old. Then you look at him, he's 35 and in better shape than half the guys out here and has worked so hard to stay at this level.

So we're all extremely proud of him. We owe him a lot for how much he's done for the sport of tennis, how much his whole legend, his whole story, everything about him has brought to the game, how many fans have been brought in because of him.

So as long as he can strap on the shoes and get out there and play, I want to see him out there. But, unfortunately for him, I think if his back isn't well, if he's in pain and if he knows it's not getting better, then he knows his body better than anyone. He should go out on his terms. He shouldn't go out there being hobbled. We all feel like we're on borrowed time with him anyway with how long he's lasted. It's just so impressive. We should be thankful that he has played and given us so many memories, especially last year at the US Open. It was thrilling.

Q. He says he wants to only play if he can win. He wants to feel he can win big matches.

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, and I think he's earned that right to go out there. There's no point in him going out to play to get to the Round of 16 or something. He's done that too many times. He knows he wants to win. And I think he can. Obviously, he made it to the finals of the US Open not that long ago. There's a lot of guys out here on tour that have never made it to a Grand Slam final and will never make it to a Grand Slam final. So no one's asking them to retire, no one's questioning when they're going to stop. He's got that ability, still. If his back is healthy, with a couple weeks of training, I have a feeling he can still win. It's obviously tough these days with Roger playing as well as he is, but if anyone can do it, I think Andre can.

Q. We hear a lot about the Russian women, but the Russian men have been making some news on the ATP Tour. Can you comment on them.

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, I've played a few of them. They're very impressive.

Andreev has made great strides. His forehand is unbelievable, it's one of the biggest on tour. He's just proven that he's a solid player who's moving up pretty quickly.

Nikolay Davydenko just kind of sneaks under everyone's radar. He's No. 5 in the world. People don't give him a lot of credit as being a contender for Grand Slams or Masters Series, but he seems to be in the mix come Round of 16s or quarterfinals every tournament. He's someone that can be dangerous if he does get hot.

I think everyone knows about Marat Safin, one of the most talented guys on tour. On a good day for him, he can obviously win Grand Slams. He's a Hall of Famer, he's unbelievable.

Who else is out there? Youzhny.

Q. Tursunov?

JAMES BLAKE: Tursunov. I mean, I still look at him as American, so...:lol:

I mean, he strikes me as a California surfer kid. So I don't necessarily think of him as Russian, but I guess he is. He's a great player but, like I said, I think of him as American.

Youzhny is a good player. He hasn't had as much success lately as he did a couple years ago. But he obviously has talent, so he can get right back up there and will have some confidence soon probably.

Q. With the Williams sisters, so much was said about the older sister constantly losing to the younger sister. I'm curious, in your case, you are now in the Top 10. Your older brother is in the challenger circuit trying to achieve some of the success that you are having on this level. How is it affecting you? How is it affecting the relationship?

JAMES BLAKE: Well, first of all, he's officially retired now. I don't know if you saw the press conference. Big news.:rolls:

No, just kidding (smiling).

No, he's decided to call it a career. He had too many injuries. But we have an unbelievable relationship. I mean, I followed him to college. I grew up looking up to him. I still look up to him. If there's any big brother you want to be like, it's him for me.

Just I happen to have had more success on the tennis court. But he is extremely intelligent. He graduated from Harvard. Right now he could walk into just about any office in the world and get a job. I have no doubt of that. They might make him cut his hair, but other than that, he could get any job. He truly is one of the nicest guys in the world. I've heard him a few times talking to friends, talking to anyone, and he seems genuinely proud of me. That's something that my mom would always worry about, like, "Is this okay with Thomas" and everything. That's a mom's job, is to worry. But he really is proud of me, I think. It makes me feel extremely good.

I think about if the roles were reversed how I would feel, and there's no one you want to do better than your brother. I remember all the times when he was doing so well in high school, All‑State, then All‑American in college. I was going bragging to my friends that my brother's an All‑American at Harvard, how cool is that. That's an amazing accomplishment. Just, I mean, I think in most families having an All‑American from Harvard would be a pretty big feat. It just happens that I've had some success, a little more so in tennis. That, I hope, doesn't bother him at all. If it does, he hasn't showed it. I really don't think it has. Because he's just proud of me, and I'm proud of everything he's done. He's a graduate of Harvard. I always say that just because I'm better at tennis, he's still the one that got the looks and the smarts in the family. All the girls come up and tell me they love his light eyes or something. I don't know. He's got the height, too, so. He didn't get short‑changed. I don't think he'd do it all over again any different. I'm proud of him and everything he does, and whatever he does after this.

He's been helpful to me the last few weeks, too. He's been around here, he's still here with me as well. It's good to have him in the crowd and see that goofy hair cheering for me when I'm playing well.

16681
03-25-2006, 11:41 PM
Great article as always Deb, but as you said it was long :)
I hope James enjoyed his bagels today :banana:

mishar
03-25-2006, 11:41 PM
Isn't James nice? He's such a pleasant fellow, such nice comments about his brother, interesting about his sprints and work-outs.

I wish Roger had played like he did today in the final against James last week! James needs to reach the QF first, but maybe.. just maybe.. Roger will be a little off-form. ;-)

goodwoman
03-25-2006, 11:54 PM
Great interview! James DOES like to talk! :)
I really like the way he talks about Thomas. They are very close.
James is such a good guy! :)

Great job on the double bagel today!! ymmmmmmmy!

Deboogle!.
03-25-2006, 11:56 PM
Yes James is very articulate. He may not give the funniest press conferences (though this one had its humorous moments) but he gives long detailed thoughtful answers, moreso than most. Impressive as the rest of him :D

PinkFeatherBoa
03-26-2006, 12:33 AM
Holy Double Bagel James!

James is love.

MissFairy
03-26-2006, 02:05 PM
Ah! A long press conference. They want James. He's the toast of the circuit :D

PinkFeatherBoa
03-26-2006, 03:27 PM
Ah! A long press conference. They want James. He's the toast of the circuit :D

Surely he's more like the meat of the circuit. Andy can be the measley slices of bread holding the James sandwich together.

'Bladdick' sandwich, anyone?

MissFairy
03-26-2006, 03:34 PM
Surely he's more like the meat of the circuit. Andy can be the measley slices of bread holding the James sandwich together.

'Bladdick' sandwich, anyone?
Andy is not the toast. He is too pasty to be grilled bread. He's more like Austin-sun-baked dough.

:lol: Bladdick sounds way too much like bladder :p

PinkFeatherBoa
03-26-2006, 03:39 PM
Andy is not the toast. He is too pasty to be grilled bread. He's more like Austin-sun-baked dough.

:lol: Bladdick sounds way too much like bladder :p

Well, this is the sandwich that is likely to get you to RUN. Well, the James part anyway.

MissFairy
03-26-2006, 03:41 PM
Well, this is the sandwich that is likely to get you to RUN. Well, the James part anyway.
Make you run? Is this a prune sandwich or a James sandwich? ;)

Fee
03-26-2006, 07:21 PM
James said Umbrage. If he and Andy ever play doubles together they will be Umbrage and Onus.

Deboogle!.
03-26-2006, 07:39 PM
James said Umbrage. If he and Andy ever play doubles together they will be Umbrage and Onus.CRAP. DEATH. HAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAA.

surfpinky
03-26-2006, 08:31 PM
james!
He has a personality, unlike some other players :sad:. He's great!! :D

surfpinky
03-26-2006, 08:31 PM
James said Umbrage. If he and Andy ever play doubles together they will be Umbrage and Onus.
:spit: :spit:

tangerine_dream
03-26-2006, 11:42 PM
James said Umbrage. If he and Andy ever play doubles together they will be Umbrage and Onus.
:lol:


SPEED WORK

James Blake, known for his speed, is a fanatic about speed drills. On a typical day, he does two 400-meter sprints, three 200s, three more 200s after a short break, and then an 800. He then does 17 ''suicides,'' where he races from doubles line to doubles line on the tennis court 17 times.

Why 17? Because one of Blake's trainers, Mike Nishihara, has worked with some NBA players and that's what they do on the basketball court.

''He would give me the times the NBA guys were supposed to do for a basketball court, which is a little wider than a tennis court, and I'd have to beat that,'' Blake said. "I'm actually amazed at how fast those guys are.''

Asked if he beat the times, he smiled and said: "I beat the centers, and the forwards. But the point guards, I'm pretty close with them. But if it was on a basketball court, I think I'd be losing to Allen Iverson and Steve Francis.''

Asked who would win if tennis had a 40-yard race, Blake said, "Mark Knowles would say he's No. 1; he thinks he's one of the fastest guys out there. It's tough to say. Some guys that are unbelievably quick, like Lleyton Hewitt, Arnaud Clement, Sebastien Grosjean, I don't know if they'd be as fast in hundreds. [Gael] Monfils would be up there. [Rafael] Nadal might be up there. And I guess Hewitt and [Guillermo] Coria.

"I wish they did that Wide World of Sports thing where you run the mile, run the 40, see who can bench the most. It would be fun.'' --- Miami Herald

Game on an upward swing
American James Blake has reached a career-high No. 9 in the rankings, boasting 'sky-high' confidence in his play and winning friends along the way.

BY MICHELLE KAUFMAN
mkaufman@MiamiHerald.com
3/26/06

Nice guys don't always finish last. Every once in a while, the kid in the back brace, diagnosed with scoliosis at 13, grows up to model for GQ and play tennis for Harvard.

Every once in a while, the young man who breaks his neck, loses his father to cancer and suffers facial paralysis in one horrific summer winds up battling back from No. 210 to ninth in the world rankings.

James Blake is that guy.

And his storybook career is entering its most promising chapter. The 26-year-old American cracked the Top 10 for the first time last week. He is 20-5 this year, 42-11 since last August, and he has won four of his past 12 tournaments after winning just one of his first 94. Not since Arthur Ashe has a black player been as highly ranked in the men's game, a stat in which Blake takes considerable pride, though he says he has ``a very, very long way to go to be linked to him in terms of what he did off the court.''

Blake is 1-12 against good friend Andy Roddick and legend Andre Agassi, and insists Roddick remains ''America's No. 1'', but no American was playing better than Blake entering the NASDAQ-100 Open. Last week, he scored his second victory over Rafael Nadal in the semifinal in Indian Wells, Calif., and on Saturday he breezed past second-round opponent Carlos Berlocq of Argentina 6-0, 6-0 in 53 minutes.

''It builds your confidence to know you can beat a player at this level that soundly,'' Blake said. "Last shutout I scored? I'd have to go back to college days.''

Mardy Fish, one of Blake's closest friends on tour, said: "James is on a roll and his confidence is sky-high. He feels like he can beat anybody -- and he can.''

Added TV analyst Patrick McEnroe: "James has taken his game to another level. His backhand used to be a liability, and now it's actually a weapon. His shot selection is so much better. He used to be a guy who was capable of beating anybody and losing to anybody, but now he's much more consistent. He finally believes he's a Top 10 player, that's the difference.''

The expectations on Blake are higher now, as are his expectations of himself. But he refuses to be called the top American player. ''Not yet, that's for sure,'' he said. "Andy has dealt with this for years. He's proven himself, won a grand slam, Masters Series titles, he's still No. 4 in the world, and in my mind, America's No. 1. Right now I'm playing great tennis, but even if I were to pass Andy in the rankings, until I've done it day in, day out, month in, month out, I don't feel I deserve that title.''

Blake, who was the top-ranked college player while at Harvard, was just another member of the U.S. brat pack rising through the pro ranks a few years ago, along with Roddick, Fish, Taylor Dent and Robby Ginepri. American tennis was looking for new stars to take the baton from Agassi and Pete Sampras, and Blake was in the mix, known for his speed and forehand but not really distinguishing himself.

TURNING POINT

Then, in May 2004, on a slippery court in Rome, everything changed. Going for a ball in practice, Blake smashed head-first into a net post and fractured his neck.

He was forced to rest six weeks, which he later said was a blessing in disguise. Those were the last six weeks of his father Tom's life. Tom Blake was dying of stomach cancer. Had his son not been injured, he would have been touring in Europe. Instead, James went home to Connecticut and was at his father's bedside during those critical weeks.

''I never would have had that time with my dad, so in a way, that accident was a blessing,'' Blake said.

Tom Blake died in July 2004, and a few weeks later, perhaps because of the stress of the summer, James contracted Zoster, a shingles-like condition that affected his speech, vision, balance, and paralyzed the left side of his face. He played only three matches the rest of that year.

Blake returned to the game in January 2005, and four months later, his ranking was down to No. 210. Little by little, he regained his strokes and his confidence, and by August, he was up to No. 71. An emotional run to the U.S. Open quarterfinals bumped him up to No. 34. He beat second-ranked Nadal, and took Agassi to five sets in the quarterfinals.

''That Nadal win helped a lot because he had an unbelievable summer, winning the French and winning at Montreal, so people probably expected me to lose,'' Blake said. "But I had my crowd, my friends there, and there was no reason why I couldn't beat the No. 2 player in the world. I think that's a match that a few years ago I would have lost. It helped me to know I can play my game and beat the No. 2 player in the world on a large stage.''

POPULARITY CONTEST

Blake has always been one of the most liked players in the locker room and the interview room -- a far cry from the ''complete brat'' he was as he came up through the juniors.

He abused rackets, whined and moped, and always found excuses when he lost. After one big junior win, his coach, Brian Barker, pulled Blake aside and told him that the victory wasn't as sweet as he thought because nobody at their club was rooting for him.

''I learned to be respectful of people and be friendly,'' he said. "It makes life so much better. When I was a kid, I was a brat on the court, and it wasn't fun being me against the world, when all the parents don't like you because you're a brat. Even if you're winning, no one cares.''

Now, things are very different after Blake wins.

''I come into the locker room after doing well, and I get 20 or 30 congratulatory handshakes and pats on the back,'' Blake said. "I know I have friends in that locker room that are going to be friends for life outside of tennis. I know Mardy Fish is going to be a friend. Andy Roddick, Robby Ginepri, Taylor Dent -- those guys are going to be friends of mine even if I never win another tennis match.

". . . It doesn't matter. I'm so happy. That's more important than winning. I have friends now.''

goodwoman
03-27-2006, 04:00 PM
James, Wishing you all the best in your match today. Keep playing hard and keep the confidance going!! You can beat him!! :)

surfpinky
03-27-2006, 07:58 PM
woot james :banana: 6-3 4-6 6-1 :banana:

MissFairy
03-27-2006, 08:01 PM
WOOT :D :D We'll just call that 2nd set a blip (:

surfpinky
03-27-2006, 08:09 PM
what second set? I didn't see a second set. [:

MissFairy
03-27-2006, 08:10 PM
Huh? What? Me neither. (:

surfpinky
03-27-2006, 08:20 PM
this so called "second set" is space....I think this is where time stopped. |:

MissFairy
03-27-2006, 08:21 PM
Ooo we shouldn't mention it or the US government are going to want to invest in the time stopping abilities than James has |:

surfpinky
03-27-2006, 08:23 PM
yes we shouldn't mention that err I mean, mention what? |:

MissFairy
03-27-2006, 08:26 PM
We can't possibly mention the unmentionable. That's impossible. Because it doesn't exist so can't be mentioned. Only a gap in time. James is magic. |:

surfpinky
03-27-2006, 08:35 PM
yes |:

MissFairy
03-27-2006, 08:37 PM
They must've both visited GAP stores in that time. :p

surfpinky
03-27-2006, 08:42 PM
HAHAHAHHAHA I love you sarah [:

goodwoman
03-28-2006, 01:42 AM
What I thought was really cool was the way James was able to come back from shopping at the Gap and dominate the rest of the match. ;)

Great job, James!! :worship:

Deboogle!.
03-28-2006, 03:27 AM
another long press conference LOL
=================================

J. BLAKE/J. Nieminen
6‑3, 4‑6, 6‑1

An interview with:
JAMES BLAKE

JAMES BLAKE: First question, please (smiling).

Q. Did you get a wakeup call after that second set?

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, I got a wakeup call early this morning. I know I needed to play well against Jarkko Nieminen. He's a great player. That's just what I went into the match thinking, that it was going to be a long match, it was probably going to be tough for me to win. Just about every match I've been going into, I've been going in with the same attitude that there's probably going to be ups and downs. It's not that often that I go through matches on tour where it's just you cruise through, you get a break early, you win the set, you get a break early, you win the set. It's not that often that those things happen. I know there's going to be ups and downs. I do a much better job now of once that second set was over, I had a pretty bad game at 5‑4, missed a couple forehands. Instead of thinking about that going into the third set, I was thinking about, What do I need to do to win this third set? Just don't miss those shots, and keep him on the run. Keep forcing the issue, especially on the second serve. I was able to do that. Now I'm pretty happy I got through it. Like I said, he's a great player.

Q. Are you looking forward to a stadium match where you can use the technology, considering some of the line calls you got?

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, I definitely am looking forward to it. It's pretty funny. I mean, it says something about how good a guy Jarkko is. After a match, most people aren't very talkative at all and don't really want to see the person they just lost to. He was just talking to me in the locker room and said, "There was a couple close calls out there." And he said, "I think I actually got a couple breaks going my way."

On one of them I think the crosscourt backhand I hit to end the game on one ‑‑ at one point he said he was actually ready to play the ball because he thought it was in and they called it out. What can you do? I mean, that's not his job, and it is really nice of him to say that after the match because ‑‑ but, you know, I think it all evens out in the end. I got lucky with a couple let cords, too. Both of us got a couple breaks going our way.

It still came down to who, I think, played better in the end. And I got to ‑‑ I took advantage of the points that I had, the chances that I had in the third set.

It will be fun to challenge and see how I do. I think I might be a little nervous to challenge. I felt like I was right on those, but if I end up looking stupid if I'm wrong, I don't know, I've got nothing to complain about then.

Q. What do you make of how poorly people have actually done with the challenge?

JAMES BLAKE: I haven't seen. Has it been really bad?

Q. Really bad.

JAMES BLAKE: Really? Well, then I won't challenge anything unless I'm sure. I heard at the Hopman Cup, we were pretty good. We were about 40‑something‑percent being overturned, so I know we were pretty good then.

I haven't heard any of the stats here specifically. I'm stuck laboring out on Grandstand.:awww:

Q. It was like 25 out of 86, was that right?

JAMES BLAKE: 25 out of 86, that's pretty bad. Let's hope the guys ‑‑ maybe they're just hoping, they're not actually thinking they're right.

But, hopefully, we'll get better. I'll try to make my percentage higher.

Q. I noticed that your brother was watching the women's match.

JAMES BLAKE: They got shorter skirts, you know (laughter). I probably would have, too.

No, it's good to have him in the crowd, but I know where he's getting his paycheck from this week. He's been hitting with Kirilenko all week, all the time at Indian Wells. He's been helping her out. It was too bad she couldn't get through.

But he's, you know, doing his job, and now I guess he gets a break from that so he'll probably be back in the box with my match. Unfortunately, the schedulers didn't know that so they had us both at the same time.

Q. This bad percentage that the players have, of course we're going to go back to regular ‑‑ we're not going to have line calling until at the very least the US Open Series. I wonder whether or not the players are going to bring a different attitude to the court about what they think they see on the court.

JAMES BLAKE: Maybe we'll be humbled a little bit. I think a lot of us need that, so maybe we'll stop arguing with the umpire. Even I argued today a little bit. But I try, I generally try to do it very respectfully. I think I did that today. I hope there was ‑‑ I mean, I hope if the microphone is there they noticed it was at least somewhat respectful.

But maybe we'll realize that the guys, the linespeople, are getting it right. They're doing their job. As much as we think we're seeing something and we think we feel like we made a shot, I mean, I think when you see guys pretty adamantly arguing, they really felt like they made it or like the other person missed or whatever. But there's a lot of times when people are just arguing for the sake of arguing. Maybe it's more hoping. Like I said, I think some of these challenges might be just in hopes as opposed to really thinking that they're right.

I hope they realize that arguing, when you're doing that, kind of makes us look silly. I generally try not to argue unless it's kind of a factual thing where an umpire is maybe being inconsistent with overruling something that's farther away when they don't overrule one that both players feel is closer to him and a clear mistake. That's generally what I'm talking about.

But, you know, I know the lines judges generally do do their jobs very accurately, and they're pretty good. That's why we have the best out here.

Q. How much do you think of it as guys looking for make‑up calls down the line?

JAMES BLAKE: They might be doing that. But I think that's kind of silly. I hope, like I said, I think we have some of the best line judges, and I think they're the most professional. Just because someone argues five or six times, they're not going to give them a free call the next time. I don't think they're doing that.

Especially with how hard ‑‑ I don't know how hard it is on the women's side, but how hard we're hitting the ball, you don't even have time. If they have time to think about, "This guy argued last time, maybe I should make this a make‑up call," I don't think they have time, with it hitting in a split second, they're going to make that call right away. I don't think they have time to even think about that.

I've learned as I've gotten older. You know, when you're a kid, you think the world's against you, the calls are all going against you. They're not doing it on purpose. They're doing their best out there. Those are people. If you're out there yelling at them, you forget, you know, they might have kids. The kids are out there watching, they're seeing their mom or dad get yelled at by some punk kid. It's embarrassing. I feel bad for the people that are doing that. They shouldn't be. It's just a matter of respect for the people that are out there doing their best.

Q. Do you personally think that a player who hits the ball and sometimes is in a contorted position can see a call better than a linesman who is right there?

JAMES BLAKE: I believe at times we know kind of. I mean, I've hit balls where I can tell, as soon as I hit it, that's right on the line. Then it's also tricky sometimes. Like I said, they're not doing it on purpose, but sometimes they make the mistake of seeing kind of the angle the ball is going. It looks like it's probably going to go out. With the string these days, the ball can dip at the last second. I know there have been times where I thought a ball was going out and it just dips right on the line or dips right inside.

If people call it, if sometimes a line judge will call it too early, that can be frustrating to a player because they know they maybe just hit a winner or a shot to get the point in their favor, and it ends up not happening because they make a mistake like that.

But, like I said, it's a mistake. We make them, too. I don't get yelled at every time I miss a forehand, and they shouldn't get yelled at every time they miss a call.

I think we can tell a lot of times, but I think sometimes, like I said before, it's just hoping. It's breakpoint and you hit a ball that was really close. You wish you had that call. But I think sometimes we do know; we can feel it. Sometimes you can feel it. You can feel when you hit your serve. Even if you're kind of looking down, you can feel when you know you hit it well or hit it pretty darn close to the line or possibly you know that you hit it in. I know guys like Sampras had the ability, I'm sure he could tell every time he hit the line, he was that precise. I don't think I'm that precise very often, but sometimes I do know that I feel like I definitely just put that one on the line.

Q. Martina talked before you came in about the racquets, the courts and so forth. From the time that you started playing in Harlem and so forth, has the game changed in terms of yourself, but the racquet?

JAMES BLAKE: Oh, yeah, the game's definitely changed. I think with the advent of this poly mono string ‑ the Luxilons, the, I don't know who else makes it, Babolat ‑ they all make this poly mono string, and it makes such a difference. All the clay courters use it, I've been using it. Literally, the first time I put it on my racquet, I said I'm never switching to anything else, I'm using this for the rest of my career. It's unbelievable, the difference it makes. Racquets have gotten more technologically advanced. It really has changed. I think that's part of the reason it's taken away from a lot of serve and volleyers, because it makes it so much not easier to return, but your returns are much more effective. You can dip them to people's feet, you can swing a lot harder, and guys can stand far back and they know they can create enough power with these racquets and with this string.

It has made tennis, I think, much more enjoyable because it's made ‑‑ it's brought the level of the game up. You see guys hitting shots that didn't seem possible back with wooden racquets or back with natural gut, and it's ‑‑ I think it's great for the game. It's gotten better.

I don't know if Martina has used that to her advantage; I haven't seen her play that much lately. But I'm sure she's noticed a big difference because she was back in the day of the wood racquets. I think I'm just about on that borderline of people that never grew up with a wooden racquet. I never used a wooden racquet. I'm sure it's a huge difference for people like that.

Q. She said the manufacturers are trying to dictate the game. Do you believe that?

JAMES BLAKE: They might be trying, but I don't think they can be effective with that because if you're a top player, I think you use what you want to use. You don't care about if you're getting paid a little extra to play with something that they want. You're using what's effective for you.

For me, that's a no‑brainer. I don't mess with my racquet unless I put it in my hand and it feels good. If it's something where I need to adjust, I'm not sure about it, I can't do that. That's then messing with my prize money, my state of mind, because I'd rather go out on the court feeling good, feeling like I'm going to win, as opposed to worrying about a racquet that might change something.

So I don't even know if they're trying, but they're not going to be effective with me and I don't think they're going to be effective with a lot of the top players. You see a guy like Roger Federer, he's using basically the same racquet that he has the whole time. Sampras used the same racquet for his whole career. Andre has basically used his, the same racquet, his whole career. They stick with what works. I don't think manufacturers can change that.

If they are, they're probably trying it at the junior level. If you get kids started on something, then I think they're going to stick with it. But I don't think at this level they're dictating anything.

goodwoman
03-28-2006, 04:38 PM
Yep, another long interview. Reporters make sure they rewind their tapes before going in to talk to James! :)

Thanks for sharing, Deb.

I was surprised he didn't know how the call challenges were going. You'd think they'd be talking about that in the locker room and stuff.

Best wishes in your match tonight, James! Keep that confidence going! :)

tangerine_dream
03-29-2006, 02:59 AM
%$# bugger off Chela :mad: This is one player I can't stand. Booo! He took the first set 6-4. Drugs! DRUGS.

Deboogle!.
03-29-2006, 03:52 AM
4-6 6-1 6-0 nice comeback james!

Now good luck against Roger :awww:

surfpinky
03-29-2006, 03:59 AM
james went to the GAP again in that first set :banana:

tangerine_dream
03-29-2006, 05:26 AM
omg is James amazing or what? He turned that match around in a jiffy and served up a breadstick and bagel, that is just too good :bigclap: Love it, love it, LOVE. IT.

I'm also loving the fact that James is wearing a mustard yellow shirt tonight :hearts: is in a cranky mood :devil: and made his first challenge with such authority that he was RIGHT. Heh. Don't mess with James :armed: Well done, kiddo. ;)

PaulieM
03-29-2006, 06:00 AM
james:bigclap: he looked hot in the white and green shirt. :hearts:

goodwoman
03-29-2006, 02:07 PM
james went to the GAP again in that first set :banana:

Yeah, and he bought a green and white shirt that must have done the trick!! ;)

WELL DONE, JAMES!!!!! :worship:

Deboogle!.
03-29-2006, 03:32 PM
My gosh, he is the king of the long interview :lol:
============================
J. BLAKE/J. Chela
4‑6, 6‑1, 6‑0

An interview with:

JAMES BLAKE

THE MODERATOR: Questions for James Blake.

Q. Wondered whether your backhand was going to come out of the locker room today?:haha:

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, it started out a little slow. I think I was going for a little too much, and then I started being much more effective in the second and third sets, kind of rolling it and going back to my general basic plan, which is, you know, get the backhand to try and get them out of position to really set up my forehand instead of trying to win too many points with the backhand.

It was much more effective, obviously.

Q. In the second set, where he was up 40‑Love and decided to serve and volley, do you think it's sort of where it clicked in for sure?

JAMES BLAKE: Well, I think that really helped my ‑‑ helped me mentally, and I think possibly hurt him mentally. When you're up 40‑Love, you feel like you should win that game. He obviously got out of his comfort zone to try and serve and volley. That's not what he's known to do very often.

I think ‑‑ I was really pleased with the fact that I hung in. I think there was two games I was down 40‑Love and came back and won. I'm really happy about that.

So that was more my thinking. I wasn't really thinking as much specifically about the backhand, I was just thinking about the fact that I hung in those games and didn't let him get any free points. That's something that's important to do at this level.

Q. What did you learn from the match against Federer in Indian Wells that you can carry into the next round?

JAMES BLAKE: Well, I learned that I can play with him, you know. First set I obviously had chances. I was playing pretty well. But it's a matter of keeping that level up and not kind of getting ahead of yourself or not thinking too much about it or getting into your own head really and thinking about everything he can do. Because, obviously, he can do just about anything with a tennis racquet in his hand.

But on a given day, hopefully so can I. I need to know that it's possible and know that I have no pressure on me and not worry and not think any differently if I'm up a break, two breaks, a set, whatever. And if I get down, try to stop the momentum. He got a lot of momentum going at the end of the match, and he really knows how to front run. So try not to let that happen.

Q. Speaking of keeping your level up, you go out and you really have continued to build all the way back to September basically on this. Is it that you're kind of in an extended zone? Is it something you're actually forcing yourself to focus on week in, week out?

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, it's definitely something where I'm forcing every single match to be very aware mentally of what I need to do, and it would have been very easy to come from Miami, my first Masters Series, right into the next week to have a letdown. I managed to not do that.

I was proud of the way I played the first round, proud of the way I played against Jarkko. Today, getting down the first set, maybe not playing my best tennis, it could have been easy to just, "I had a good couple weeks, let's get out of here and take a couple days off before Davis Cup or something." But I'm real happy that mentally I'm not able to let that happen. That's a good feeling. I'm impressed how Roger has done it for years. I mean, I've only done it since September. He's been doing it for about three years. I am impressed by guys who are able to do that week in and week out, keep that focus. It's really not easy. Especially with, I'm starting to feel about 1/100th of what Andy has been feeling for years with the expectations each match. Now people are wondering if it is a zone or how good I am, and I'm finding that out myself with other people putting expectations on me when I play a guy that's ranked 20‑something or 30‑something in the world, people just think it's gonna be easy. Well, to be honest, it's never easy for me. I'm not a guy that can go out and just routinely be beating these guys without a lot of effort. It takes a lot of effort for me. I'm finding out if I can continue to do that. To do that, I know I need to keep this mental focus up.

Q. You had a long point against Nieminen, he blew himself out on the point. Same thing tonight. He won a long, spectacular point, looked like he was dead on his feet after that. Talk a little bit about your fitness level.

JAMES BLAKE: My fitness level is great right now. I'm really pleased with it. The fun thing about it is I've done it in a very fun way. I've done it with playing a lot of matches. I haven't had to get out to the track and really bust my butt all the time. I did that in the off‑season. I did that when I didn't have a lot of competitions going on. Now, when you play a lot of matches, that's sometimes the best thing to get you in tennis shape. Because I've been through a lot of long points, I've been through some serve and volley points, I've been through playing defense points, I've been through every situation that comes up on the court lately, and that gets me in great shape and I really enjoy it, too. I love playing tennis. This is the easiest way for me to get in shape.

I feel like some guys have had to get out on the track and it's not exactly the same. I know I've done that hard work to make it so this run or zone that I'm in or whatever people want to call it has been possible. Because if you're out of shape, you win one week, or you do well one week, the next week you're too tired to be successful. Because if your legs are a little weary, you see what can happen with a guy like if Chela lost his legs a little bit, it becomes very difficult.

I definitely feel great on the court, though.

Q. When did you feel like you'd worn him out?

JAMES BLAKE: Well, that long point did help because I went to ‑‑ I remember that was a breakpoint for me and that can really turn it. If you save a breakpoint and come back and win that game, it can be important. I really just missed a routine ball. That next point, I kind of made it a point I wanted to make sure just keep the ball deep and make him beat me. If he can come out and his legs are strong enough to come out and really rip some winners on me, fine.

But I wasn't tired at all, so I was ready to keep running and if I needed to at that point. But all I needed was a couple pretty decent deep balls, and he made a mistake. That made me feel really good that he might have left a little something out there with that long point. So I was really pleased with my fitness level.

Q. So we can call it a "Rope a Dope" technique you got going?

JAMES BLAKE: (Laughing). I don't think it was Rope a Dope. I wasn't kind of hanging my head or pretending like I was tired; I felt good. If I go to that tactic, then I know I'm probably in trouble. Hope I don't need to go to any sort of gamesmanship or anything like that.

Q. What kind of thoughts were seeping into your head in that last match against Federer? You said you have to try to not start thinking about things he can do. What things were you thinking of?

JAMES BLAKE: Well, I mean, being up 4‑1 and two breaks, you start thinking, "All right, I just need to hold my serve, just kind of hang on to it." You got an easy ball, you can kind of guide it instead of really just going after it and as if you're down and you need the point. You kind of need to trick yourself into thinking, All right, just keep playing exactly the same way like I had been playing. Before that, I was playing like I needed every point and I was really focused on each one as opposed to, All right, I'm up 4‑1, can just kind of guide this one into a corner and he won't be able to pass me.

Then you end up making more mistakes when you're trying to just push and when you're trying to just kind of place a ball instead of going after it. We've hit enough balls in our life that we know where it's going to go even if we're going after it.

Q. In theory, you're out there going out to play every match. You get out there tonight, find yourself down at the end of the first set. It is easy to bail, you can walk away, you've had a great run. What's your reaction? Is this going through your mind, that you have to tighten it down here? What are you feeling?

JAMES BLAKE: My feeling at that point, I remember thinking about, All right, now I need to prove myself. Because, you know, there are different things you can prove out on the tennis court. Obviously, there are times when you can prove that you can play with the best in the world; I've done that a couple of times with Nadal and Hewitt. There are times you need to prove that you can fight from being down a set and a break. For me, this was a time to prove it. Each match for me now is an effort to prove mentally how much better I've gotten.

Tonight was another opportunity. When I lost that first set, I said, "Okay, now, this is a very good player, one of the top players in the world, he's playing well, and I've got a million and one excuses why I could lose this match and I want to prove that I'm not going to be one of those guys that does it. I'm going to go out there and try to win it. If I go down, I'm going to go down swinging and playing my game. Maybe the guys in the locker room will see that. Maybe they'll notice I'm still fighting for every point." I was proud that I did that when I was down 40‑Love a couple times and came back and still won those games.

I wanted to prove to myself, to my coach, to whoever else was out there, whoever wants to know, that I'm still mentally in it. If I'm down a set and I've been playing 15 matches in the last three weeks or whatever, I'm still wanting to win each one.

Q. Federer is so good at blocking back those backhand returns. Is it key for you to sporadically come in behind your serve to his backhand side?

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, I mean, I think I try to do that a lot of times with guys that play defense with my first serve. First and foremost, I need to make a lot of first serves to give myself that option. But then if I am making a lot of first serves and he's beating me with just blocking it back and getting into the middle of the court and kind of neutralizing the point, then, yeah, you got to change your tactic because you can't let someone beat you when you're making first serves that way.

But that's not something I'll think about too much before the match. We'll kind of see how it goes. If I need to, then I'll adjust. If he's not hurting me with it and I'm still getting forehands that I like to hit from the middle of the court, then hopefully I won't need to change.

Q. Andy has proved to not be real in‑depth at serving and volleying. Can you talk about you doing it.

JAMES BLAKE: I feel pretty comfortable serve and volleying. I used to do that I think to my own detriment very often when I was younger. I was about five feet tall and I was the only kid that was serving and volleying in 14s. My coach thought I was crazy, and he didn't know what I was doing. My dad loved it, he said, "Oh, it's going to be great in the 18s, in college." You know, I'm crying on the sideline because I just got beat 0‑0.

But I feel comfortable doing it. A lot of the guys' returns have gotten to be so effective that it makes it difficult to do it so often unless you're Taylor Dent when you're serving 140 or something which, unfortunately, I don't have.

But I do like doing it a lot when it's sneaking in and catching guys playing defense, especially with how far back some of the clay courters stand. So I don't have a problem doing it.

Andy has maybe had trouble, maybe it's also difficult when you're serving 150; you don't have that much time to get in. So if they do get it back, it's probably going to be at your feet and a tough volley. But I think for him it's more just to serve and watch them miss it.

Q. I'm doing an article on top level Juniors deciding between Juniors and the pros. I wanted to ask you, maybe you could share an anecdote from your own college experience and how your college experience helped you.

JAMES BLAKE: Sure. First off, my advice is go to college. Unless you're a clear‑cut case like an Andy Roddick who was playing top hundred tennis level basically when he was 17 years old, I think a year of college is not going to hurt you. It's something that's going to be fun. It's one of the best, I think, stepping stones into the real world. Because you're going from your parents' care to being semiorganized where you have a coach, you have professors, you have people that are making sure you get to practice, but it's still on your own and away from your parents' kind of rule.

But you still have to do a lot of things on your own and also you're starting at the bottom. You're a freshman, I don't care if you're No. 1 in the country. I came in pretty highly‑touted No. 3 or 4 in the country, and I still had to carry guys' bags, I still had to sit in the worst seat on the van, I still had to pack up the van, do things like that. I think that helps you. It humbles you. It keeps you with the team spirit. It gets you a great group of friends. I had one of my teammates from Harvard here tonight watching me play. I think it kind of gives you a great start to life and to the real world, to what you're going to expect, because what I'm in right now is not the real world; this is a fantasy world. For kids to expect this is crazy.

I think going to college, you maximize your opportunities if you're going there. If you dominate in college, you've proven at another level that you can succeed. It's a quicker jump from college to the pros, although it's still a huge jump. And also if you're worried about contracts and things, they're still going to be there if you dominate at college. If you don't, the worst thing that happens is you're getting a college education and most of them are getting it for free because they're getting scholarships, and you're having a great time. So I don't really see that much of a down side.

I think if you're going to make it in the pros, you have to have an inner drive, you have to be able to make it on your own, and you're going to do that if you went to college. I proved that. I went to a college that wasn't really a tennis powerhouse, and I worked harder than all the guys there basically. I knew I needed to do that to get to this level. If you're willing to do that, I don't see anything wrong with going to college and enjoying it.

Q. You, the Bryan brothers are maybe exceptions to the rule. Do you think there's still a place in the college game to develop people to become top 10 pros in the world?

JAMES BLAKE: I absolutely do. Because, like I said, it's something inside you that you need to do out here. Very often you're by yourself. Very often, there are times ‑‑ I mean, once you're out here, your coach works for you. So if your coach tells you to go do sprints and you don't feel like it, you don't have to. It has to be inside you to go out and work. You're going to learn that in college and then you're going to have to prove that you can dominate at that level to get to this level.

So I don't see really much of a down side, because if people say you're losing a few years, some of your best years, well, I don't really believe that at all because I think you're going to get there if you're going to get there. If you get there one year later, that's not going to change. Andre is still playing at 35, 36 years old. It's not like you only have one or two years out there. You can do this at 21, 22 and 23. I don't really see much of a problem at all.

Q. Yet there's kids that are 13 years old, just came out today ‑‑

JAMES BLAKE: I heard, yeah, a kid signed at 13.

Q. What does that say?

JAMES BLAKE: I don't know. I hope he's got the right people around him telling him not to take losses too hard, to enjoy tennis. At 13 years old, I know I wasn't thinking about being a pro tennis player. I was thinking about candy and girls ‑ well, not too many girls, I was five feet tall. So dreaming of girls (laughter). I was serving and volleying, though, yeah.

Yeah, I mean,13 years old, to be signing with an agent, I can't even fathom that. But I'm sure the kid's got talent.

screaminhead
03-29-2006, 03:35 PM
Does anyone know if James will move up the rankings now that he's reached the quarterfinals at Nasdaq or will he remain 9th? :)

Deboogle!.
03-29-2006, 03:48 PM
He'll be 8th, higher if he were to win the QF :D

screaminhead
03-29-2006, 04:45 PM
i really hope he does :cool:

goodwoman
03-30-2006, 05:39 PM
It's interesting reading what James had to say in that latest interview about playing Federer and keeping his mental focus. He seems to really know how to focus lately and it's working. Obviously, Federer is tough (is that an understatement?) but he's right, on any given day he can be beaten. I hope it's tonight. I mean, I have a great deal of respect for Roger, but I'd love to see James kick his butt. :devil:

All the best, James! Stay mentally tough!! You can beat him!!

Sparko1030
03-30-2006, 09:47 PM
Good Luck to James against Roger tonight!!! :rocker2: He can do it this time!!! :fiery:

cobalt60
03-31-2006, 01:39 AM
James played very well tonight. He played like the top 10 player he is.

Deboogle!.
03-31-2006, 01:43 AM
:hug: That's ok James :)

Top 8 now :D

Maybe we'll close this thread with DC stuff then make a new one for clay? :)

cobalt60
03-31-2006, 01:48 AM
Sounds good Deb!

mishar
03-31-2006, 01:58 AM
Great effort from James. What I love about him these days is his mental toughness. Yes, he gave back the leading break again... and yes he slipped away in the tiebreaker and then the early break... but still there were many occasions in the match when I thought he would crack and he didn't.

He def. played Fed. the toughest so far this tournament. Clement only won that set because Fed went on a walkabout. Good luck in DC James!

Sparko1030
03-31-2006, 04:20 AM
:hug: Good match James. No shame losing to Roger. Congrats on another great tournament!

goodwoman
03-31-2006, 04:50 AM
It was a good match. James keeps playing him better and better. He is learning, but with Roger you never stop learning. It's too bad he was broken the first game of the second set. Near the end of the match, James had that determined look; I really thought he might pull it through, but....not quite. Good tennis from both James and Roger.

It's great to see James playing so well. :)

Deboogle!.
03-31-2006, 05:18 AM
:)

R. FEDERER/J. Blake
7-6, 6-4

An interview with:

JAMES BLAKE

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You played him a lot better this tournament versus last tournament.

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, and I'm learning. I was just talking in the locker room, I feel like I'd get better and better if I played him every single week. You learn from when you're playing someone better than you and when you're playing the best. That's the best chance to learn.

Today was another learning experience. Maybe I'm a slow learner; it might take me a while. But maybe one of these days I'll get over the hump and be able to get a win against him.

Q. James, how difficult did you control your game against Roger Federer?

JAMES BLAKE: I felt like I controlled my game pretty well. I only got broken twice. I had one break on him, had a couple breakpoints. He played unbelievable on one of the breakpoints, so I thought I could have gotten another break.

But that's what makes him No. 1 in the world. I did my best to control my half of the court. Even when I got down a break in the second set, I managed to hang on to my serve every time, do what I could to put pressure on his serve, but he kept hitting his spots really well. That's tennis, what can you do?

Q. What are your feelings about that fantastic overhead that you hit and that just came back?

JAMES BLAKE: Unbelievable. I was just talking to my coach and actually to Andy in the locker room. We were talking about some of the things that he does that are frustrating to us because myself and Andy now are very frustrated by playing him a lot. We got through talking about a bunch of things and then I was like, "And that's not even to mention I hit a jump overhead as hard as I could 130 at him and he just blocked it back like it wasn't much of a big deal."

I mean, just those things, you don't even think about how good he is at that.

Q. It took McEnroe and Borg a couple of times before McEnroe finally surpassed him. It's too early to ask that kind of question, but it seems like you might be his main threat this year.

JAMES BLAKE: Well, I think Rafael Nadal might have something to say about that. That's an honor if I'm his main threat. That means I'm doing pretty well against the rest of the field. I feel like I push him to play well against me. I'm starting to feel like one of those players, basketball players, that was playing in the early '90s. You feel like you make Michael Jordan play well, but then every time he comes up and beats you and makes you realize why he's the best.

I feel like I push Roger to play well, and then he does (smiling). If I keep doing that, I feel like I'm doing my part. That's the best I can do.

Like I said, I'm learning. I learned today. I learned last week. The more I learn, hopefully the better I get, and maybe one of these times even Michael Jordan had to retire some time. We'll see.

Maybe Roger will get caught gambling or something, I don't know (smiling). :haha:

Q. You're saying about the Michael Jordan thing. How do you keep from believing in your mind that you can't beat him? What makes you keep thinking you can?

JAMES BLAKE: Well, you just got to keep going back to practice. Like I said, you keep learning. I felt like I played better this week. I managed to control instead of once he got up a set and a break, I didn't let him run away with it. I kept control of my serve and played well and kept fighting. So that's one thing I learned. Maybe next time I'll learn something better. If you go out there with a defeatist attitude saying you know you're going to lose, then, I mean, you might as well not be playing the sport or else you're doing it for the wrong reasons. I want to win every match I play. I feel like I can.

Like I said, I feel like I push him to play well. Maybe one of these days, he'll get a bad night's sleep or have a fight with his girlfriend or something, I don't know. But maybe just one time he'll play badly against me.

He seems to find ways to win even when he is playing badly, but if I keep getting chances to play him over and over, maybe I can capitalize on one of those bad days, I don't know.

Q. When you look at the players that have beaten him, do you think there's any one particular way that you think you have to play against him, or is it a question of playing unbelievably well?

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, you pretty much just have to play unbelievably well. I mean, at the level we're at, guys can play. When the guys are playing their best, it's tough to beat anyone at this level. So you have to play your best and kind of hope he's not playing his best.

So I think that's what's done it for some of the guys. Rafael has probably been the only one that's had continued success against him, but the other guys, it seems like they just happen to play unbelievable. I mean, that match with Nalbandian was just great tennis. The match with Gasquet, I didn't see it, but I heard was just fantastic tennis.

I think you just have to play unbelievably well. That's what I have to hope to do. You go out there, you know you're not going to win easy; you know you're not going to go out and just play average and beat him. You know you have to play really well. That also kind of frustrates people because you can go for too much. That's another thing I learned this time, is I didn't start going for too much. Especially when I got down, people tend to just start slapping for lines, and you end up kind of playing into his hands. I'm proud I didn't do that today, but one of these days I want to hit those lines.

Q. Is there anything wrong with the guy? Is there anything at all wrong with him?

JAMES BLAKE: Man, he speaks too many languages. He was in here for too long. He was doing it in Swiss German, French, in English. I mean, pick one. Gosh (smiling).

No, I mean, I was hoping maybe I'd be better at him at the challenges, but we were both 0-for-1 tonight. I didn't even beat him in that.

I don't know. There's not many things I can say bad about him. That's another thing. He's like my brother, I think one of his good friends always had the classic line - he's the kind of guy you love to hate, but you just can't because he's too nice. He's one of those guys that everything comes so easy to him, you want to hate him, but then he goes and does something nice and is as classy as can be. He's too darn nice - another reason you can't hate him (smiling).

MissMoJo
03-31-2006, 05:23 AM
He keeps moving on up :) it was be awesome if he could keep up this form and make the cut for shanghai

Clara Bow
03-31-2006, 06:16 AM
Congrats to James. :) Even though this was a loss- it was a good loss, he seemed to regroup from IW and is gathering his tools.

I am so glad to see James finally living up to his potential- which is that of a top 10 player.

I hope his improved defensive skills will bode him well for the upcoming clay season.

AgassiDomination
03-31-2006, 05:08 PM
:D

Golfnduck
04-07-2006, 12:33 AM
James leads off for the USA, he faces Gonzo first. GO JAMES!!! GO USA!!!! :bigclap:

goodwoman
04-07-2006, 05:03 PM
Go James!! Go Andy!! Go Bryans!! Go USA!!

Alan
04-08-2006, 02:13 PM
james lost.. tough match... sigh! :(

mishar
04-10-2006, 12:39 AM
Sad performance from James this weekend... I feel he's run out of steam, tired out mentally from weeks of tennis.. I don't expect much from him this week in Houston -- hopefully he'll take a break and come back refreshed in Rome

Deboogle!.
04-10-2006, 04:12 AM
James um... played really really badly today. and like, he would miss shots and laugh about it :( It was weird and disappointing :(

tangerine_dream
04-10-2006, 05:05 AM
He played pretty well during the Gonzo match but I can't believe how badly he choked that third set away. :eek: And then he lost it in five :sobbing: His expression walking off the court said it all. :sad:

I didn't see the Capedeville dead rubber match but he kinda mailed that in and forgot the postage, yeah? :rolleyes: :lol:

heya
04-10-2006, 12:32 PM
It's James' acting stupid and happy to lose, like against Agassi last year. Heartless. :retard:


“We’re ready to play any country in the world right now,” Blake said. “We have so much fun together. We have a lot of talent on this team as well. We feel like we’re ready to win any tie.”

“On clay, I’ve had some success. I feel like I can play well on that. After this season, I’m sure I’ll learn plenty in Rome, Hamburg, Houston, the French Open. I’ll hopefully put what I learned to good use in Russia.”
This is from daviscup site.

goodwoman
04-10-2006, 08:11 PM
James um... played really really badly today. and like, he would miss shots and laugh about it :( It was weird and disappointing :(

That is disappointing to hear. I'm sure in all of the jubilation he just didn't care. I would be very disappointed if I had paid money to see him play, and that's what I got. I am sorry to hear that.

Deb, did you see his 5-setter against Gonzalez on Friday, and if so, what did you think? It's really too bad that one got away, but at least he was trying!

I'm ecstatically happy for Andy. He really came through!!!! :worship:

Deboogle!.
04-10-2006, 10:12 PM
I did see the match, and it was heart-breaking. I hate to say it but even though James has come a long way both mentally and physically, he still has a way to go in closing out matches. I mean, he was up 5*-4, 30-0 in the third and double faulted and really choked that game away. He's never EVER won a 5-setter and in the past year alone he's given up a 2-0 sets lead only to lose in the 5th. It's hard to know why it happens to him, but it was sad to watch. Of course, he tried very hard and didn't give up at all and it looked like he was down and out many times but he kept fighting somehow up until the end.

But yeah, there is still some sort of mental block there. He's something like 0-7 in 5-setters, and considering he's now a top 10 player, that's almost embarrassing for him.

Well, when the US won in La Jolla, he came out and played a great dead rubber. Capdeville did nothing special except get the ball back a lot, James was just missing on every cylinder from his serve on down. He REALLY didn't care at all and it was indeed disappointing. Ultimately, Andy is my favorite player and the fact that he won his matches and the way he won them made the money worth it to me. But it was indeed disappointing to see him laugh after he missed some shots, I've just never seen such a poor effort. And I mean, he's a top 10 player now, it's expected that he will go out there and at least give respectable effort. There were people that said they should just have let Bob Bryan play b/c he has a serve-volley game and on grass he probably would've had a good chance to win. Maybe James wanted to play but it didn't seem like it. I dunno, it was sort of a deflating way to end the weekend, but I don't like him any less for it. Especially after what he did for us in La Jolla.

Ultimately I hope he can break this mental block that so obviously still exists for him in these big matches against other top players in the best-of-5 situation.

J. Corwin
04-10-2006, 10:32 PM
I guess I see things differently lol. The U.S. already sealed victory so the last match was pretty much an exhibition. I mean of course if it'd be better had he given his all...but yeah...I guess all I'm saying is that it's understandable. :)

Deboogle!.
04-10-2006, 10:40 PM
If he didn't play his best, yes. But it was over the top bad, IMO. He's still a top 10 player and I don't think it's ever a good thing to just take a loss, even if you don't really care. Especially considering the disappointment he had 2 days prior, I think it would have been in his best interests to try to get a win :shrug:

goodwoman
04-11-2006, 01:34 AM
I agree with you, Deb. But it might have been Dean who said to him, take it easy, don't exert yourself, don't risk injury out there. If that was the case, I still wish that James would have tried more, just for pride. But maybe for pride's sake, too, he wanted it to be obvious that he wasn't trying, in case people were thinking he was really getting outplayed. I don't know, it was disappointing to me, but I guess it's not worth over-analyzing.

I really hope that James can shake this mental thing with five-set matches. He's top-10 now, and I'm sure he's feeling the pressure. It is completely mental, and I think he will overcome it. He's overcome a lot of mental "stuff" to get as far as he has, and I think he'll overcome this too. He still needs to play with a little more confidence. He's almost there. I just wish that clay season wasn't here, but that's the way it goes. With confidence, I think James can do pretty well on clay.

Deboogle!.
04-11-2006, 01:50 AM
I agree with you, Deb. But it might have been Dean who said to him, take it easy, don't exert yourself, don't risk injury out there. If that was the case, I still wish that James would have tried more, just for pride. But maybe for pride's sake, too, he wanted it to be obvious that he wasn't trying, in case people were thinking he was really getting outplayed. I don't know, it was disappointing to me, but I guess it's not worth over-analyzing.

I really hope that James can shake this mental thing with five-set matches. He's top-10 now, and I'm sure he's feeling the pressure. It is completely mental, and I think he will overcome it. He's overcome a lot of mental "stuff" to get as far as he has, and I think he'll overcome this too. He still needs to play with a little more confidence. He's almost there. I just wish that clay season wasn't here, but that's the way it goes. With confidence, I think James can do pretty well on clay.Nah, he wasn't getting really outplayed at all. he was making tons of mistakes, pure and simple. I don't think Dean said anything like that to him, considering Dean was cheering him on and clapping the few good things he did do throughout, etc. If he wasn't into it either, he did a damn good acting job :lol: Exactly, just for pride. Just to get that win in his DC record and to move forward with the season from a win instead of a loss to a top 100 player.

As for his confidence and all that, it's obviously come a long way, he finally beat Hewitt, played Roger closely a couple times, beat Nadal again in a great match, etc. But in those biggest moments when he has to really have belief, he doesn't play well from ahead. I was talking to a friend of mine today who surprisingly enough played him in juniors and he was saying to me that every time James beat him was when he won the first set, that when he was able to beat James, it was b/c James would have the lead but not be able to seal the deal.... even back then when he was like 15/16/17 or whatever. Obviously there's still some of that left in these real big matches. He's made many strides in the past year and hopefully he will continue to make more and get over that last hump of not being able to win the 5-setters.

mishar
04-11-2006, 01:01 PM
Actually, Deb, I watched the match on the Tennis Channel and I thought James was trying his best, just playing really badly... His laughter (only a few times) came about because he was laughing at how badly he was playing IMHO.
I personally think he was devastated by the Gonzalez loss and his confidence on the surface was shot. He couldn't find the right balance of aggression and safety. It's something else to lose a big match when you've dominated three sets and are up 5-3 in the third. Every tennis player has done it in some way, but it really can send you into a spiral. I wouldn't be surprised if James goes into a dip after that. :-(

mishar
04-11-2006, 03:14 PM
Here are some bits of interview with James after the match.. So nice to see the camraderie that all the American guys have... so different from previous generations..

Q. James, can you follow up? Do you think you guys matured enough to the point, as a team, where you're all sort of mid 20s players, that you'll go over there with the belief that you can get it done on any surface they put out there?
JAMES BLAKE: Definitely. We're ready to play kind of any country in the world right now. We have so much fun together. We have I think a lot of talent on this team, as well. We just feel like we're ready to win any tie.
We have confidence if someone loses the first match, like we did this tie and La Jolla, the other guy is going to pick us up. The Bryans, we have supreme confidence in them. We feel like we go into a tie up one-nothing basically with the Bryans. I mean, you saw that just in the guys not even wanting to put their top players against them this weekend. That's such an advantage we have because Andy and I get to rest and we feel like we don't even need to get nervous on Saturday. Then come Sunday, I feel great. If Andy is ever in the position to clinch, I feel unbelievably confident he's going to. He's never lost in that situation. Even if he were to, I feel great about my chances in a fifth match. I have played some pretty big matches in the past, especially the past year, I'm ready to step up to that challenge.
On clay I've had some success, I feel like can I play well on that. Especially I'm looking forward to this clay court season to see how well I can play now that I'm back to playing the level of tennis I've gotten to at this point. I want to see how well can I do on clay. After this season, I'm sure I'll learn plenty in Rome, Hamburg, Houston, the French Open. I'll hopefully put what I learned to good use in Russia. I'm sure Andy is going to do the same.
Q. Dean, your appointment was announced shortly before this tie. Was it just for this tie? Are you going to be sticking around?
DEAN GOLDFINE: My appointment? Well, obviously Patrick is back as the captain. I hope that I will continue to be the assistant coach for the team. I haven't really talked about it. We'll just have to kind of see what Patrick and the guys think is the best thing for the team. If they feel I'm an asset to the team, I'll be there. If not, I'll be at home rooting for them.
Q. James, there was a time when getting Andre or Pete to play Davis Cup was like pulling teeth. It seems like you guys are always ready to go. Are we kind of entering a new era as far as Davis Cup is concerned in the US?
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, it's weird to hear about times like that, where people weren't as excited to play Davis Cup, when the Davis Cup wasn't as much fun for the captain to deal with people that didn't like to hang out, to play cards together, to eat dinner together.
I can't really speak too much about that situation because I've never been in it. Every Davis Cup team I've been on or a part of has been an unbelievable week, a lot of fun. The guys, we're flying together tonight to Houston. We all want to be around each other. Next week I'm going to go out and watch them play, they're going to watch me play. It continues throughout the whole year.
We feel like a team all the time. I don't know -- in my opinion, if anyone has had the experiences I've had with the Davis Cup, it's a no-brainer. I don't know why anyone would ever turn it down. It's so much fun. Never been to Russia. Heard some interesting stories. There's no place in the world that they could send us that would make me want to turn it down. I want to be a part of this team.
In an individual sport, it really does feel great to be a part of a team that feels like they're doing something and accomplishing something together. I mean, it's pretty tough to describe. It's exciting to me to feel like what the NBA or NFL or MLB teams really feel like, to be a part of a team and count on each other and support each other.
DEAN GOLDFINE: One thing I want to add to that. One thing that's kind of changing the outlook of the players to come play Davis Cup is what the USTA is doing with the practice partners, trying to get these guys, the juniors, and have them come along, or some of the rookie pros come along for these weeks. These guys just have the best team. That makes them, as well, want to be committed to it. That's a goal for them I think then. Once they improve, they're a part of the teams, and they can hopefully one day be part of the Davis Cup teams.
Pretty much all these guys, I think James, Andy, Bob and Mike, they did that at one point. I think you probably had a pretty good week, too, when you did it.
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah. They actually probably want to be on the team now so they can haze the practice partners like we hazed the practice partners. I think it's a big incentive to them that they can make fun of them as much as we make fun of the young guys.
Q. (No microphone.)
JAMES BLAKE: We can't tell. We have a new initiation this week, but we can't tell. The old one kind of got out. The guys already know it. We can't let the new one out of the bag.
Q. Before La Jolla and here, you were passive in your responses when somebody asked you about being on the Davis Cup team. You would say, Maybe Robby would be a great pick, Andre. You're talking about now going to Russia. Are you in the mindset you've earned the fourth spot on this team?
JAMES BLAKE: Absolutely not. I still feel Patrick is in the position -- I'd like to say it's the tough decision, but the luxury of having a tough decision where if one guy is going out and playing great on the clay, apparently that's not going to be Andre because I heard he's not going to play on the clay courts. If Robby goes out, he has the talent just like some of the top 10, top five guys out here. He can go out and win Rome. If he does that, proves that he's a force at the French Open, is a great claycourter, then Patrick can make that decision. I'll be there cheering.
I'm happy with whatever team he picks. The way I'm playing right now, I feel like I'm kind of in the driver's seat. I hope he still understands that I'm not going to have any hard feelings. If I'm not the best person for the job, by all means, take the person that's the best for it. I hope it's me. I hope I'm playing this well still and maybe even better in October whenever the next tie is. I'll be ready for the call if he wants to give it to me.
Q. Could you evaluate playing at Mission Hills this week, the grass courts, and also if you have another home tie on grass, where Mission Hills would stack with some other grass courts in America.
JAMES BLAKE: Well, it was great playing here. All the facilities were unbelievable. The grass court was great. I really think this is probably the best grass court I've played on outside of Queen's or Wimbledon. In the States, I've never seen a grass court so well taken care of.
Obviously, throughout the week it gets a little chewed up, especially from the doubles because there's people in different positions. It was still a great week, a great court. Facilities are unbelievable. Everything was fantastic here.
I don't know too many other sites for grass in the states that would do it any better. Houston was fun when we were there. I think it's pretty much between Mission Hills and Houston if we have another grass court tie.
DEAN GOLDFINE: I agree with James. Yeah, I mean I do agree with James. They did a great job here at Mission Hills, made us feel at home. The obviously, the one thing that makes it a little tough is when you play a Latin American country somewhere in California. It would be the same thing in Houston. You're going to get a lot of the Chilean fans or South American fans out.
JAMES BLAKE: Were there actually fans out there today? I couldn't tell (laughter).
DEAN GOLDFINE: In terms of the facility and the court, everything was great.
Q. James, given this special camaraderie that you're describing, the amount of time you and Andy have spent together, now that you're both in the top 10, you're a lot more apt to be playing each other in big matches, is that going to be a bit more emotionally tough on both of you when that happens?
JAMES BLAKE: No. I said this a long time ago, not really knowing if it would ever come to fruition. I became friends with Andy, Mardy, Robby, Taylor, the Bryans, going through the challengers. I always said at that point if we ever get to the point where we're playing the US Open finals, and US Open semis, big matches, competing for Davis Cup spots, I don't think there's any way those kind of things, like the money, the fame, the titles, anything like that can come in between friendships really. I'm not worried about it.
I think it's tougher to go through it in challengers when you're really fighting for your living. To be honest, we're all doing okay now. It's not like we're fighting to pay our rent or anything like we might have been back in the challengers. I don't see any way that the titles and anything like that is going to get in the way of our friendship.
We're going to compete like cats and dogs. We're going to fight hard when we're on the court. If Andy and I are playing in the US Open finals, I mean, we're probably not going to be giving each other calls, just chitchatting on the changeovers or anything. If we're in that situation, we'll compete real hard, put on our best performance during the day, and that night we'll probably be out at a bar together celebrating together. We're still going to be friends before and after.
On the court, there's no difference, there's no change. We're playing our best, we're doing our best. We're putting on the best show we can.

goodwoman
04-11-2006, 04:06 PM
Actually, Deb, I watched the match on the Tennis Channel and I thought James was trying his best, just playing really badly... His laughter (only a few times) came about because he was laughing at how badly he was playing IMHO.
I personally think he was devastated by the Gonzalez loss and his confidence on the surface was shot. He couldn't find the right balance of aggression and safety. It's something else to lose a big match when you've dominated three sets and are up 5-3 in the third. Every tennis player has done it in some way, but it really can send you into a spiral. I wouldn't be surprised if James goes into a dip after that. :-(

I didn't see the match at all, but I was struggling to believe that James wouldn't try his best out there. So that makes me feel better, Mishar. But yeah, it is a concern that he was trying his best and was playing badly. Hey, it happens, but with the pressure of now being a top-10 player and losing that 5-setter, it can be devastating. On Sunday, James also had the pressure of possibly having to come through with a win against Massu if Andy hadn't gotten the job done. So he had an instant letup there, which could also have had an impact on his match.
In any case, I hope it was just a blip, and a dead rubber match (is that what they call it?) is a good time to have a blip. In reading James' interview after the Gonzalez match, he seemed to have a good handle on what he has to work on. He's a hard worker, his mental toughness is improved, so I have faith that he'll keep up his great play of late.

Deboogle!.
04-11-2006, 04:43 PM
I didn't say he wasn't trying, I said I didn't think he cared. Obviously there's no way to peek inside his head and know what he was thinking. I just felt that if he'd been even a little more focused that he would've won pretty easily and it was disappointing to me that, as a new top 10 player, he didn't put forth a better effort. And I mean, I'm not the only one that thought this there. A lot of the people around us werer screaming out the same things like "What are you doing, James!" "Focus, James!" Etc. It was clear that his head wasn't in it, his laughter and nonchalance spoke to me that he didn't care. :shrug: