James Blake won back-to-back challengers. Now prepares to qualify for FO and Wimby

Tennis Fool
05-15-2005, 03:50 AM
Blake Wins Forest Hills Clay Court Classic
Filed at 5:55 p.m. ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- James Blake won his second title in as many weeks, defeating Dusan Vemic of Serbia and Montenegro 6-3, 6-4 in the Forest Hills Clay Court Classic on Saturday.

The seventh-seeded Blake also won a Challenger event in Tunica, Miss., last week. The back-to-back victories were his first since playing on the Futures circuit his rookie season.

It's certainly an improvement from last year. The former U.S. Davis Cup player broke his neck last May crashing into the net during a practice, and later was diagnosed with Zoster, an illness that affected his sight and hearing and temporarily paralyzed part of his face.
:eek: I knew he damaged his spine, but broke his neck? Wouldn't that make it impossible to play tennis? Also, didn't know about this other illnes..

''My health is 100 percent,'' said Blake, ranked No. 130 in the world. ''Winning two weeks in a row is great. The goal now is to get my ranking to where it was.''

Blake, who was ranked a career-best 22nd before his injury, will try to qualify for the next two Grand Slams, the French Open and Wimbledon, before returning to hardcourts.

''I'll go on the hardcourt circuit when I get back to the U.S.,'' he said. ''I have already been promised some wild cards.''

In the doubles final, third-seeded Nathan Healey of Australia and Mark Merklein of the Bahamas upset top-seeded Americans Jason Marshall and Huntley Montgomery 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4.

05-15-2005, 03:52 AM

05-15-2005, 03:53 AM
:woohoo: He'll move up about 50 spots in 2 weeks. So impressive. On clay, no less (even if it is Hartru :p)

TF, he was VERY sick last year, he had Zoster virus right after his dad passed away and it affected his vision, his balance, everything - he had partial paralysis in his face. Several of us have posted a lot of articles about it in his forum, if you're interested.

But yes, he is very lucky to be able to walk again. apparently if he hadn't turned his head just the right way when he hit the netpost he could've been paralyzed :awww:

05-15-2005, 04:00 AM
WAY TO GO JAMES!!!!! :woohoo: :aparty:

Tennis Fool
05-15-2005, 04:02 AM
Deb: I just looked up Zoster on google (had no clue what it was) and found out it is basically shingles which is a reignition of ...Chicken Pox! The dreaded pox struck again!!! Hewitt to Ferrero to Blake :scratch:

05-15-2005, 04:33 AM
i'm so proud of james, hope he continues to do well after the absolutely awful year he had last year :hug:

05-15-2005, 04:38 AM
James! :banana:

05-15-2005, 05:18 AM
Great news. He really deserves the best. Always have been a nice guy and a decent person. After the ordeal he went thru last year, he surely deserves a break. I read some of his comments about what he went through and was quite impressed with how he is evaluating the whole year, how it made him evaluate things and appreciate life.
Part of my dislike to Hewitt (it is over now as he is going to be a daddy) was because his issue with James. You are a good man, James Blake. Stay healthy, fit and happy.

05-15-2005, 05:20 AM
Come back soon to the main tour!
The position of the most handsome male tennis player cannot be left vacant too long.

05-15-2005, 05:27 AM
James has been playing on the tour for most of this year. He just played these two Challengers to pick up points and matches. Good plan, it worked. Every ranking point that James earns for the rest of the year is a bonus because he has nothing to defend except for a few points at Newport, Rhode Island. He will be in the Top 50 by the end of the year, possibly sooner, and he should be Top 100 in time to get direct entry into the USO. Wouldn't be surprised if he gets a WC for wimbledon since his mother is English. (And somewhere, Coleburg is bulging a vien in his temple at the level of 'hype' that Blake is getting, again :lol: ).

05-15-2005, 07:12 AM
When Blake's game is on, it can be a lot of fun to watch. Best of luck James.

bad gambler
05-15-2005, 07:28 AM
nice job jimbo :D

05-15-2005, 07:46 AM
Great stuff James

05-15-2005, 09:08 AM
omg... i was so unaware of what happened to him!

go jb, you deserve all the glory you get! good luck for the rest of the year!

05-15-2005, 09:40 AM
Nathan Healey woohoo :banana: well done on the doubles win :banana:

05-15-2005, 12:54 PM
go james!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:hearts:

i love him!

05-15-2005, 12:58 PM
Well done James! :worship:

05-15-2005, 01:12 PM
Way to go James! :worship:

05-15-2005, 01:15 PM
well done James :bounce:

05-15-2005, 01:34 PM
Deb: I just looked up Zoster on google (had no clue what it was) and found out it is basically shingles which is a reignition of ...Chicken Pox! The dreaded pox struck again!!! Hewitt to Ferrero to Blake :scratch:Yes it is... except it's stress-induced - he got sick like the week after his dad passed away or something. So it's not quite the same. And I dont think it rears its head in the form of itchy spots, it sounded like it affected his inner-ear and his face. I remember he said he couldn't even eat right and hear right and stuff. So it was different from chicken pox in that respect. But it seems like it took him just as long to recover, yea.

I'm sure I'm biased but if you read about all the stuff he went through last year and how he handled it, I think it's hard not to support him ;)

Here's a thing he wrote in O magazine:
James Blake

The accident could have paralyzed him. The shingles almost did. Then an unending parade of friends (and their jokes) reconnected the tennis player to the simple pleasures of his life.

For a guy who's 25 years old, I think I've lived a lot. As a pro tennis player and a model, I've had more real-life experience than most people my age. But last year was a very difficult one. In May I broke my neck. I was on the court, and I was running for a ball, tripped, and hit a net post headfirst. But it could have been much worse—I could have been paralyzed if I hadn't turned my head at the last moment. And it meant I got to spend time at home with my dad in the last weeks of his life. He was struggling with stomach cancer; he lost the fight in July. But we got to say everything we needed to before he was gone.

A week later, I started to feel very sick, and soon after I was diagnosed with shingles. The virus left half my face paralyzed, messed up my balance and blurred my vision. The doctors told me that in six months to a year and a half I'd be 100 percent back to normal. But I didn't know if I'd ever compete again.

Leaving the hospital, I felt it was all catching up with me. I couldn't walk, I couldn't taste anything, I didn't look right. I went home and got ready to spend months alone, sitting on the couch, waiting to get better. That's when they started coming. What felt like a constant stream of friends from every corner of my life descended on Fairfield, Connecticut, with one purpose: to cheer me up. They made me laugh at them, and when they saw my crooked grin, they made me laugh at myself. That's when I realized how many deep, lifelong connections I had made. I try to make people laugh and happy, and they were all returning the favor.

Now that I've fully recovered, I'm grateful for everything. I walk down the street and think, I'm not dizzy, my legs are working right, I can see straight and smell and hear clearly. It's a nice day. I have a family that loves me and friends who will be there no matter what. My father is with me. I'm competing again, and I think people are rooting for me. I have a new credibility with fans because they've learned that I don't have the perfect life. I'm like the character in a movie whose misfortunes help people relate to him. And I'm always aware that everything can go wrong, that it can all be taken away at any minute. Like I said, I feel much older than 25.

Clara Bow
05-15-2005, 04:04 PM
Nice article.

I really hope that he's able to get into both RG and Wimbledon. He has always been one of my favorite people on the tour and it made me sad to hear about the tough times he had last year.

05-15-2005, 04:25 PM
I really hope so too... at least he's getting his ranking higher and doing well and really rebuilding his confidence... by the USO, hopefully he will be able to get in directly or at least get a WC. It's great to hear about his new outlook and lease on life. It makes me want to see him succeed even more than I did before everything happened to him last year :)

Space Cowgirl
05-15-2005, 05:13 PM
Alright James :yeah:

Thanks for posting that piece, Debstah. Poor guy had a rough year alright (has anyone noticed, like I have, that bad things always seem to happen in 3s?). I hope he gets back to where he was before.

05-15-2005, 05:32 PM
You're welcome :) I am looking in his forum for the article that was really good. Here's a nice one from San Jose in February but i don't know if it's the one I was actually looking for lol. But it goes into more detail about what happened to him last year. Below it is another one from Tennis Life Magazine....
2005 already looks better to talented Blake
- Glenn Dickey, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, February 6, 2005

Imagine the worst that could happen to you. That's what 2004 was like for James Blake.

Blake, who will be playing this week in the SAP Open, which runs Monday through Sunday at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, was playing the best tennis of his life, hoping to move into at least the top 20 in the world, when he entered the Italian Open in Rome last May.

"I was so confident," he said at the draw for the SAP Open, where he is the defending doubles champion with Mardy Fish. "When you're playing like that, you don't even have to think. You do everything instinctively."

Then, in a practice session in Rome, he tripped while chasing a ball near the net, with his head slamming into the metal post at the side of the net. If he hadn't turned his head at the last instant, he might have been paralyzed. As it was, he had a broken vertebrae in his neck, which sidelined him for the next six weeks, knocking him out of both the French Open and Wimbledon.

The bad news continued. His father, Thomas, was dying of stomach cancer. Nobody outside the family knew because he didn't want it public, but James went home to be with him in his final days. Thomas Blake died on July 3, at age 57, just before the start of a tournament in Newport, R.I.

Because his father had insisted, James played in the tournament but won just one match. A week after the tournament, he awoke with what turned out to be Bell's palsy, a condition in which a side of the face is paralyzed.

"I didn't know what was happening," he said, "but when I went to the hospital and the doctor said he wanted me to go to the emergency room, I knew something bad was happening."

It was three months before Blake regained full use of his facial muscles. Determined to get back on the court, he entered tournaments in Washington,D.C. and Delray Beach, Fla., but his vision was blurry and he did so poorly that he decided to take a tournament sabbatical.

"I was so bad, I didn't want anybody to see me," he said. "I hit with my teacher, but nobody else. I always knew I wanted to come back to tennis, but I had serious doubts that I could."

Because he missed almost seven full months, his world ranking dropped to 76. It's even lower now (No. 135), but he feels much better about his game. "I just have to get my confidence level back to where it was in Rome last year," he said. "I just haven't played enough yet to get there."


Blake’s Net Gains
By Eleanor Preston

A freak accident, family tragedy and a debilitating virus all conspired to make James Blake's 2004 season a nightmare, but now the 24-year-old is healthier, wiser, and he thinks, a better player than ever before.

“...and that’s when I broke my neck.”

It’s not the sort of sentence you hear every day but the way James Blake casually throws it into conversation suggests he has more than come to terms with the freak accident that threatened to stop him from walking, let alone playing pro tennis.

Blake was chasing down a drop shot on a practice court at the Foro Italico in May last year when he ran, head first, into the net post and fractured vertebrae in his neck. It began a chain of horrible events that included the loss of his father and having to cope with an energy-sapping virus—all of which sidelined the American for eight months and threatened to curtail his career before he’d turned 25. For Blake, 2004 proved to be the sort of year that would have finished off lesser men but he is not the sort of fellow to let a broken neck slow him down. Now returned to full fitness, he is already talking excitedly about returning to where he was before that net post got in his way.

“I always try to look on the bright side,” Blake said from his home in Florida. “I was very lucky with hitting it at the angle that I did. The doctor said the impact was so great that if I had hit the top of my head, I definitely wouldn’t have been walking again. Having that time off also meant I could be with my father before he died and so it was very fortunate in that way.

“I’ve tried to find the silver lining in all of this. It was a very difficult experience and very painful but I got through it and now I appreciate my health a little bit more than I did before.”

Blake grew up with scoliosis of the spine so severe that he spent two years of his childhood in a neck brace. As a result, he was never a man to take his charmed life as a tennis player for granted but his experiences have fired his hunger and given him a deeper understanding of just how much he loves the job he very nearly lost.

He is delighted to be back on the tour and he proved it with an exuberant display of free hitting to lead Lleyton Hewitt by a set and a break in the second round of the Australian Open this past January. To those watching, it was a reminder of just how talented and engaging a performer the New Yorker can be. It also brought home to Blake just how much he had longed to be back, taking on big players in big arenas and giving them a run for their money.

“It was exactly what I missed for eight months, and once you get a little taste of it you want to keep having it,” he said. “I missed it a lot and getting back to it was pretty exciting, especially as it was against a top player in his home country and with huge crowd watching. That’s about as good as it gets in this sport and that’s where I want to get back to.”

With a ranking outside the top 100, Blake knows he will have his work cut out to recapture his place in the upper echelons of the rankings but there is no doubt in his voice when he talks about his future. He is keen to work his way back into Patrick McEnroe’s Davis Cup team, an ambition fired by his experience of joining the squad during their semifinal against Belarus in Charleston last September.

“Davis Cup is always in the back of my mind because I love it so much,” he said. “I love being part of a team and I love those guys. Andy and Mardy and the Bryans are some of my best friends on tour. Being with them in Charles-ton made me realize that there is a big difference between just hanging out with the team and really contributing to the team and winning the big matches. You have that satisfaction of knowing that the team couldn’t have won the tie without you. That’s such a great feeling and one that I really want to have again. That’s just another motivation for me.”

As if he needed more. “I feel like I’m started back at square one and that’s a good feeling to have,” he said. “I feel like one of my best years was when I first broke through. You go on to the court with the attitude of needing to prove yourself, to prove that you belong on the tour, and I now feel that I have to do that again. I want to get back to where I feel I belong, but there’s no way anyone’s just going to give that to me. So I’m going to have to go out there and prove it all over again. It wasn’t a fluke that I got up towards the top of the game before. I want to get back there again.”

If his annus horribilis last season and the run in with the net post have given Blake a heightened sense of perspective about his career, then he admits there are some lessons he may never learn—chasing down drop shots being one of them.

“I’d like to think I got a little smarter and a little bit more conservative, but since that injury, I still run into backstops,” he admitted, a little sheepishly. “I still dive for balls—I did one against Lleyton at the Australian Open and cut open my hand and my knee—and I get caught up in the side netting when I run for the ball indoors. I’ve got a little bit better at taking my foot off the accelerator in practice but it’s not in my nature to really slow down.

“It’s just instinct for me to go for every shot and go out 100 percent.”

Agent X
05-15-2005, 06:16 PM
Good work Sideshow Bob. Has he grown back his hair yet, his form went downhill when he cut it off (I know there were a few other reasons unfortunately :sad:). I wish him all the best, he deserves a great deal of success after what he\'s been through, he\'s a great player to watch when he\'s playing well.

05-15-2005, 06:43 PM
No he's still bald :p

Agent X
05-15-2005, 06:45 PM
No he\\\'s still bald :p

:sad: James needs hair to be strong ala Samson

05-15-2005, 08:23 PM
but james is hot with his bald head :hearts:

05-15-2005, 11:38 PM
James's two challenger wins brought him up 52 spots in the rankings in the past 2 weeks to 132. Yay :D

05-16-2005, 01:03 PM
Good work Sideshow Bob. Has he grown back his hair yet, his form went downhill when he cut it off (I know there were a few other reasons unfortunately :sad:). I wish him all the best, he deserves a great deal of success after what he\'s been through, he\'s a great player to watch when he\'s playing well.

He shaved it all off because he was thinning in the front.

05-16-2005, 01:13 PM
i like that he is serious about his tennis. not that there was ever any doubt of that.

05-16-2005, 04:43 PM
Anyone know what his rank is this week?

05-16-2005, 04:52 PM
132, up 32 places from last week.

05-16-2005, 04:52 PM
james blake at roland garros by cecile alias tennistory, thanks cecile!



05-16-2005, 04:54 PM
After all the tragedy he went through last year, I wonder if he is experiencing a new enlightenment or rebirth of some sort right now? I don't know how to explain it but he "sounds" different in his interviews.

Either way, it's great to have him back and with such a great attitude too. :rocker2:

05-16-2005, 04:59 PM
Yes, he's pretty much had that attitude all year. Said repeatedly he's just glad that he can walk straight, see clearly, and taste his food again. The tennis success is just bonus. James is cool.

05-16-2005, 05:02 PM
Thanks for the great pics! :) and yea, his attitude is definitely more grateful and thankful and appreciative of just being able to play. He's said that allows him to swing more freely and you can see that. It's great to see :)

Agent X
05-16-2005, 05:03 PM
Yes, he's pretty much had that attitude all year. Said repeatedly he's just glad that he can walk straight, see clearly, and taste his food again. The tennis success is just bonus. James is cool.

Agreed. Although he was cooler when he had his dreads :rocker:

05-16-2005, 05:07 PM
Well done :)

05-16-2005, 07:04 PM
go james!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:hearts:

i love him!
I love him even more!!!! :hug:

I've been following James's progress every step of the way since his first unfortunate incident last year (hence the sig. etc). I'm so glad that he's back on track :hug:

05-16-2005, 07:14 PM
Well done James :worship:

05-16-2005, 07:18 PM
Thanks for the pictures too. They are great.

ae wowww
05-16-2005, 07:26 PM
OMFG :eek::eek::eek: Martijn's back!! :eek::eek::eek:

And already, he's doing that multiple post thing... instead of consolidating into one :lol: