I don't think that James watched it even for a second. It was easy to see that Nadal was going to win. I hope that this incident will give even more energy for the upcoming US Open and I would love to see a rematch Blake vs Gonzalez (maybe in the semifinals after beating Federer once again in the quarters) during the night session at Flushing Meadows! Crush him James!!!!
As all of you know the draw was made public today and James starts his US Open campaign against Donald Young. In the second round he will then face either Gremelmayr or Darcis (if he wins)! Let's go James!!!!
3:20 p.m.: James Blake had a big smile on his face until his beloved New York Mets were mentioned. He was reminded the Mets blew a 7-0 lead to the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night, that bullpen faltering again, to slip a half game behind the Phils in the National League East with time running out.
"I was having a good day until you just said that,'' Blake muttered, a throng of fans chanting, "James, James, James,'' in the background lifting his spirits.
At least he's still around.
Blake, unlike the pen, held on in his opener against prodigy Donald Young on Monday night, waltzing through the first and third sets, and ultimately needing a fifth to advance. He admitted afterwards he didn't exactly know where he was, all the travel in the last few months taking a toll.
Blake went deep at the Olympics in Beijing, upsetting Federer in the quarterfinals and finishing fourth. His next opponent is unpredictable Belgian Steve Darcis; take away an indoor title in Memphis and a final appearance last month in the Netherlands and Darcis has gone 8-12 since the beginning of February.
"Those are always dangerous players to play against, especially when they've got nothing to lose because they're liable to be hot,'' Blake said. "So you kind of have to weather the storm sometimes at first and just not let that get to you and know you can raise your game even if they're hot.''
Oh, Blake is sticking to his story regarding the contentious encounter with Fernando Gonzalez in Beijing. Blake accused Gonzalez of unsporting behaviour, thinking the Chilean should have fessed up when a backhand passing shot appeared to graze his racket with Blake up 9-8 in the third and final set before the ball sailed long. There was no call, despite Blake's protests, and Gonzalez took a 15-0 lead.
On Monday, Gonzalez's coach, experienced American Larry Stefanki, said Blake went too far.
"If Larry thinks I went over the top, that's his opinion, but I don't remember him ever competing for a medal,'' Blake spewed. "He's speaking from not being in that situation, not being in that same experience.''
__________________ "What kind of shape am I in now? Well round is a shape." said Roddick with a laugh. "I had a very detailed retirement plan, and I feel like I've met every aspect of it: a lot of golf, a lot of carbs, a lot of fried food, and some booze, occasionally — I've been completely committed ... The results have shown."
Q. Last year you had a lot of five setters going into the tournament. Looked like maybe this one would go four at least, and all of a sudden, boom, it ended. I mean, is there a sense of relief on that, or did you feel like maybe you were just getting going and a little bit disappointed in a way?
JAMES BLAKE: Well, I got through it with a win; I have to be happy with that. It's a tough way to win. I definitely felt like I started playing a lot better. I had a ton of break chances in the second set; only capitalized on one.
That was enough to get through it, and capitalized early on one in the third. That's what I was thinking about, just getting through that game, and then if I could get a lead just starting to front run and playing my game.
What was working was when I was moving forward I missed a few volleys I don't normally miss. I felt like I was coming forward effectively, and it was starting to happen a lot more. I wasn't getting pushed around anymore, and I was starting to do the dictating.
That's what I was looking for, so I guess I can just take confident in the fact that I was starting to do that. I know I can do it, so it will hopefully it will be even more comfortable the next round.
Q. You had a very physical match with Donald to start this campaign off. So as far as maybe preserving the body a little bit, do you think, okay, got a little bit of a break?
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, can't hurt. Playing a shorter match is going to be helpful hopefully if I go deep into this tournament. A little less wear and tear on your body, even though we're conditioned to play plenty, plenty of long matches.
It's okay on us. Most of us are in good enough shape to deal with that. But it doesn't hurt to take a little off. I think also mentally, you deal with a lot mentally going into each and every match. Every point you're into 100%, so a little less fatigue hopefully towards the end of the tournament. Maybe it will help me down the road.
Q. What's the dynamic of playing your good friend in the next round?
JAMES BLAKE: I think it's going to be fine. It's great. We're close enough friends, so no matter what happens on Saturday or Sunday, whenever we play, we're going to be friends afterwards. If we play this time of the day, afterwards there's a good chance we'll be out to dinner together, all our groups. I'm sure we'll make some sort of a deal where the winner will have to pay.
But we'll be friends afterwards. I'll still be in his wedding in a couple of months, and I don't think anything ‑‑ I don't think anything's going to change between us, except one of us will be through to the fourth round and the other one will be on a plane back to Tampa.
Q. There's a Chilean who might not invite you to a cocktail party who you played in the Olympics, but he did speak about the situation the other day. He said after three hours you don't feel your body ‑‑ he didn't feel the shot. He said it's not my problem. It's your problem. Could you comment about what Fernando said?
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, it's not my problem anymore either. What's done is done. I've moved past it, and, you know, whatever ‑‑ you know, whatever gets him to sleep at night is fine. If he says after three hours he can't feel a ball hitting his racquet, then apparently every fifth set he's ever played he can't feel the ball.
But, you know, that's ‑‑ like I said, whatever he wants to say or needs to say, that's up to him. He said it's not his problem. It's not my problem. It's the past.
If you let someone else get to you in the past you're not dealing with the present.
Q. Did it put a little bit of a shadow, James, on the tremendous event that was...
JAMES BLAKE: No, you can't let ‑‑ you know, if you're in a stadium full of 20,000 people and you got one unruly fan, you can't let that spoil the fact that you got a great crowd. I'm not going to let one point change my Olympic experience.
I was proud to be a part of Team U.S.A., part of the effort put forth by all the Olympians, proud of all the hard work and sacrifice they made to get there and compete at the highest level and do it fairly, cleanly, and with everything to be proud of.
I'm really happy about my Olympic experience. I wouldn't change it for anything. Obviously I wish I had done better. I wish I had gotten the medal to bring home to the States, but I can hold my head high saying I did everything I could. Did.
I competed with the utmost respect for my competitors and with the utmost respect for my country.
Q. Would you say the other players sort of backed you up or felt that a player should call in on himself? Did any of them come up and talk to you?
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, I mean, guys were saying, Yeah, bad luck, obviously ‑‑ especially a lot of my friends on tour here, and they're saying they wish it had gone the other way or things like that. But I really don't get into it too much.
It's just ‑‑ it was one point. It is what it is, and it's over with. You know, I stand by all my comments I made there, and I'm not going to change that.
But no matter what I say or do isn't going to change the fact the point is over, the match is over, and I'm now worried about the US Open.
Hopefully the umpires are watching a little more closely here at the US Open.
Q. Is bottom line a guy should call it on himself?
JAMES BLAKE: You know, I feel like at the Olympics, you really should, dealing with the fact that we're competing in an event that promotes sportsmanship, promotes goodwill amongst countries.
And being in a sport that's somewhat gentlemanly. I'm not going expects, say, Lebron James or Kobe Bryant to say, Oh, no, that ball touched me last when the ref is calling it.
But when it's something that you know for sure. I'm not going to ever expect anyone to change a line call either because you can't be 100% sure.
Maybe I am holding him or any other athlete to too high of a standard to call that just because I feel like I would call it. Just because I feel like the way I was brought up in the world of tennis and the code of conduct that you are supposed to call it on yourself. And.
If my expectations are too high, then that is my problem. That's up to me. But I feel like since I would, I do generally try to expect that from others. But if those expectations are too high, it just leaves me maybe unfulfilled in those expectations with some of my other competitors. But I do feel like a lot of them would have.
Q. Along those lines, do you feel at this point your fans were quite loud today, your friends in the box on kind of a quiet afternoon. Do you feel there's ever a point where they cross the line and can act as a deterrent to your opponent in an unsportsman‑like way?
JAMES BLAKE: I'm actually very proud of those guys, because most of them ‑‑ not most of them ‑‑ but a decent amount of them have played tennis in their day, whether it's college tennis, high school tennis, and they are quiet during points.
In between points they do get loud, and I love that about the US Open, that you can get loud in between points and the crowd can be rambunctious. They do a good job.
I didn't hear anything today that was disrespectful to my opponent. And if I did, if I ever do, I'll mention it to them afterwards. But those guys are up there cheering at the right times, in my opinion, and cheering on their good friend.
I feel like it's similar to any country getting behind one of their top players, like Lleyton, playing Lleyton Hewitt in Australia. These guys, while they're doing it, they're also raising money for charity. All the shirts they're wearing, that money goes directly to my cancer research fund.
I couldn't be more proud of those guys. If they do get out of line, I'd be the first to apologize to an opponent or to the rest of the crowd. But I really don't think they have crossed the line.
Q. When you watch the convention tonight, will it be a night for another Harvard man?
JAMES BLAKE: I watched it a little bit here and there the last couple of nights and I read about it, and I'm proud of that Harvard man.
Q. He went to Columbia.
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, Harvard graduate school, but we'll claim him.
Q. Guys always talk about how different this tournament is different this tournament is, the night, the noise. For a guy coming from New York and your affiliation with the Mets, is it just so different than anything else you play? Is the pressure on you greater because of your connection with the area?
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, it is different than any other tournament, and different in a very positive way. This is the tournament at the beginning of the year I circle on my calendar I wasn't to peak for. I want to do as well as I possibly can at the US Open, because like you said, there is added pressure.
For me, the pressure is a synonym for opportunity. I feel like if you're doing something without any pressure, you're probably doing something a lot of people don't care about or you're doing something that's easy.
Nothing I'm doing out there is easy. I've worked hard to get here, and I'm proud to be in that position with pressure. I've always talked to my coach about the fact that as the matches get bigger and bigger, the wins and the losses, the wins mean more, the losses sting more.
That means you are dealing with a lot more pressure and you've done a lot to get there and you've earned that. It's an opportunity to do something great. That's the way I feel coming in here.
Q. Did you do anything differently with the Olympic Games and with Federer from what you usually did when you play with him?
JAMES BLAKE: No. I went in with the same confidence I've always had with him. This time I happened to serve really well on the big points, and I just played a lot of those really close points as well as I possibly could. That's just solidified or validified (sic) the fact that I had a lot of confidence going in.
I've had confidence against him many times. He just stepped his game up, and this time it was my turn. It was my day when I was playing as well as I possibly could, and I'm really proud that it happened on such a grand stage as the Olympics.
Q. Did you feel your opponent was laboring or not moving well?
JAMES BLAKE: Looked like he was struggling a little bit, but I didn't realize the extent of it. He got the trainer to come out at one point and work on his back, but it didn't seem that serious until he said that he really just couldn't run. I didn't realize how serious it was until then.
He wasn't playing well at all Mary. HIs body language always tells you what the eventual outcome of the match will be
Too bad really since this is suppose to be the tournament best suited for his game. Makes me wonder how much the Olympic losses got to him as well as the media who keep harping on the Gonzalez match.
Oh I know. We watched the whole match. I never had hopes of him winning from the start because he looked like he was defeated before the first set was even over. But, I'm so happy for Mardy. I'm glad that if James had to go out it was to Mardy cuz I can't be upset cuz I'm so happy for him.
Here's his post match interview.
THE MODERATOR: Questions please.
Q. It seemed at times when the J Block people started really to get boisterous toward the end, that you almost looked visibly uncomfortable with it, because of the circumstances, who you were playing. I don't know if that was in the mix at all. Talk about sort of the emotional conflicts that were going on.
JAMES BLAKE: No, I wasn't -- yeah, I was uncomfortable about the circumstances because I didn't feel like I was playing the kind of tennis that they were used to seeing me play. It wasn't against anything they did.
I think the umpire warned them one time, and to be honest, I don't really feel that was appropriate. If they made one inappropriate comment, I know there were other a lot of other people in the stadium that made comments or spoke at the wrong time and they were singled out to be warned, when I think most times they behaved very fairly.
I was more uncomfortable the way I was playing. It's a tough feeling out there when you're the favorite, and you're expected, and you're not playing your best tennis, and can't summon your best tennis. There are some days you go out there and you feel like you can't quite string the points together that you need to, and can't make enough first serves and things don't seem to be going your way. That was why I was uncomfortable out there.
Q. Is there any element to playing such a good friend?
JAMES BLAKE: Maybe. I think it was more -- I didn't see the stats, but I guarantee he had a whole a lot of winners. He served great and returned great. Those are his two biggest weapons. He was doing them both well today. When he's doing that, he's taking me out of my rhythm, and playing the kind of tennis that got him to the finals of Indian Wells and beating a lot of top players.
You know, I knew that going in. Not that it was a friend of mine, but I've practiced with him a ton of times when he's done just that. I had that respect for him going in, and he proved why he can be very dangerous player.
Q. When you get past the disappointment in yourself, do you think that when you get a little bit removed from it that part of you will just be happy to see him advance this far for the first time here?
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, usually if I lose in a Grand Slam, it's not the first thing I want to turn on, watching tennis. But I got three reasons to watch or maybe four. Sam is doing great and Mardy is doing great and Andy is doing great. I got reasons to tune back in. That'll give me something to do hopefully all of next week.
Usually I want to take my mind off of it, but it'll hopefully be a pleasant surprise to see one of them holding the trophy next week, and see how well they can all play.
I'm definitely proud of Mardy and Sam and Andy, and hopefully the Bryans can get another title here as well. I'm proud of the guys. I wish it was me. If it can't be me, let's hope it's them.
Q. There's been a lot of talk about a Beijing hangover. Do you feel now -- not that you would use it as an excuse but did that take more out of you than you might have expected?
JAMES BLAKE: No. Like I said before, this is Mardy taking it out of me. He didn't give me any rhythm and he served great when he needed to. He returned great. I didn't capitalize on a couple chances that I had. That 4-2 point in the breaker I just tried to push the return instead of going after it, like I had been. Before that I had maybe a breakpoint or two that I didn't take advantage of. He took advantage of it when he needed to.
It wasn't Beijing I don't think. It was Mardy playing some of his best tennis.
Q. Is there any reason that you wouldn't go Davis Cup if you're selected?
JAMES BLAKE: No. If I'm healthy, they pick me, I'm planning on heading over there.
Q. On TV they actually kind of said maybe it should be the end of the J Block. Does that bother you based on your sense...
JAMES BLAKE: I question their motivation for why it should be the end of the J Block. They raise money for charity. J Block, in my opinion, has brought enthusiasm to an already very enthusiastic nighttime crowd. They're, in my opinion, very respectful fans that are, yes, boisterous and raucous, but cheering fairly for American players.
Last week most of them were at New Haven cheering for Mardy when I wasn't there. So these are true tennis fans and know the game well, most of them, and have fun at it. So I don't understanding the reasoning why it would end when it's doing something positive for the sport, in my opinion. If someone can come here and have a serious discussion about why it's negative for the sport, then maybe we'll talk about disbanding it. But for right now the fact that my cancer research fund is getting funded by the T-shirts they're wearing, I'm going to do my best to keep them together.
Q. Can you state how important it was for Evian to be involved with that ceremony?
JAMES BLAKE: It's great that Evian is taking a part in it, and I'm proud to be associated with a lot of great companies - Nike, Evian, Heineken, Dunlop. They've all supported me in many different charitable endeavors. For Evian to be supportive of the Harlem Junior Tennis Program means a lot to me. It's where I learned to play tennis. It seems like a short distance geographically from here, but a long way figuratively from the Harlem Junior Tennis Program to here, and I'm proud to have made that journey. And I hope there's many more in the future that can benefit from the funds that Evian has given make that journey as well.
Q. How did the J Block get started? Are they friends or fans?
JAMES BLAKE: These are some of my best friends, that I'll probably go to right now, and they're the ones probably the only people in the word, them and my mom, that are going to be able to console me right now and put a smile on my face somehow I'm sure.
They were guys around in 2004 when I wasn't feeling great. When I didn't know if I would play tennis again, they were the ones cooking me dinner and playing cards with me and getting me out of house and trying to make me smile. In 2005 when I was coming back in New Haven, so close to where I grew up, they all wanted to come watch.
Anne Worcester decided at the Pilot Pen that she wanted to give them a name for the hundred ticket requests that I was giving her every day. She came up with the J Block. That's where it started. That year I had a great run and made the finals and won that tournament. Then came here and made the quarterfinals, and had the match with Andre Agassi that was somewhat memorable. They were here for every single one.
I don't know, it seems like when I was the underdog everyone was very positive about them. Now when I'm a favorite it seems like people are sometimes down on them. A lot people forget they're doing this for charity. They're my best friends and people that care about me. If I care about someone and seeing someone doing what they love, and if they need some sort of motivational support, I'm going to do my best to give it to them. That's what they're doing for me, and I would never fault them for anything like that. They were there at tough times, and I'm so proud they enjoy my good times. When I do have tough times, they're going to be right there - I guarantee you - when I walk out of the stadium to cheer me up.