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Old 12-22-2007, 08:26 PM   #13
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Default Re: James Blake is a good player but is not Slam material...

The thread starter was quite prescient five years ago.

Asked to describe his game, Blake says he is a shotmaker. His game plan is to look for every opportunity to hit a winner. It's a low-percentage game and not likely to produce a winning run to a Major or Master Series title. When things aren't going well in a match Blake never seems to adjust his game and implement a Plan-B. You would think a Harvard-educated intelligent player would adjust better, wouldn't you? (A memorable exception to this tendency seems to be his memorable 5 setter against the Magician at the last US Open.)

Blake also lacks the mental strength and confidence to come back when he's down in a match. In the last couple years the support of the J-Block and/or his Davis Cup coach and team mates can keep him from mentally beating himself up. Absent that support the pattern reappears.

Blake has retained his childhood coach throughout his career. His loyalty is admirable. I occasionally wonder if he might have done better if he'd had some top rank coaching. The best players seem to seek and benefit from great coaching.

My final frustration applies to the entire American field. They have a stubborn resistance to improving their skills on surfaces other than hard courts. If players like Moya and Ferrer can learn to successfully adapt their game to hard courts, it's difficult to understand why the Americans can't also adapt to other surfaces.

It's fun to watch Blake when he's hitting alot of winners but I doubt we'll ever put him on a list of players who developed and maximized their natural talents.
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