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Old 03-19-2006, 03:25 AM   #166
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Default Re: James News!

They never posted this on the website but I found James' interview after beating Igor

J. BLAKE/I. Andreev
6-1, 6-4

JAMES BLAKE

THE MODERATOR: James is now in the top 10 for the first time in his career with this win, No. 10.

Q. Did you find his forehand difficult to read?

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, his forehand is I think one of the best on tour. It's definitely -- I think he creates some of the best racquet head speed out there outside of maybe Nadal and Federer, when he really wants to torque it. I think his racquet head speed is unbelievable.

It created a few miss-hits for him that were ugly, but it also creates some unbelievable winners and a lot of trouble. Even if he doesn't hit a winner, he puts a lot of pressure on you. It's almost like defending a kick serve off his forehand sometimes.

It's very difficult, tough to read. He can hit it anywhere. He can hit it so heavy and so high that it's definitely a weapon that's going to be tough for everyone to contend with for many years, I think.

Q. You're a long way from Tunica, Mississippi. That was about a year ago.

JAMES BLAKE: Not quite a year ago, I was in Tunica, Mississippi, almost losing in the second round there. It's crazy how quickly things can change. Patrick reminded me this morning two years ago I was in the quarterfinals here. I remember back to that match. It seems like a lifetime ago. It seems so long. Those two years, so much happened.

Tunica, Mississippi, last year great to start my comeback there a little bit. I think I'll be in Rome this year and hopefully enjoying myself a little more than in Tunica.

I mean, just little things change. You keep improving. You keep working hard. Things start going your way. You get a lot of confidence. Here I am in the semis here instead of the semis in Tunica.

Q. Who beat you in Tunica?

JAMES BLAKE: I won the tournament. I almost lost in the second round to Golmard. I believe he was up a set and a break or a break in the third set. I know I had to break to get back in it. Played pretty well. The end of the match, I think I won it four or five in the third.

Q. What was the name?

JAMES BLAKE: Jerome Golmard. He's been top 30 in the world. He wasn't at all intimidated by me or anything. Just playing well, serving well.

Q. Historically a lot of players have had setbacks such as yours and they came back to play even better. Seems similar to what happened with Arthur Ashe.

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, it's always an honor to be put in the same sentence with Arthur. With all due respect to him, a tennis loss or anything I've ever endured on the tennis court is very pale in comparison to everything that happened to me in 2004. I don't consider that much of a downtime. I consider that turmoil in your career, not turmoil in your life as much.

It's been amazing I've come back. I think the biggest difference is the mental aspect, where I've been calmer. I realize that there's more life than tennis. It doesn't change the fact that I'm still competitive. I don't think that's ever going to change. I want to win every match. I want to win every point. But I also have realized this is a finite career. It won't last forever. I want to make the best of every chance I get, every match, every time I step on the court, remember every time I'm out there on center court and serving for a match or receiving to stay in a match or anything.

You know, this is what I missed so much when I was having a downtime, when I was on the couch, when I couldn't really walk without being dizzy or anything. It's a lot of fun to be back.

Q. It's interesting you should mention being calmer. Paradorn has been talking about his meditation, being calm between points. You're probably not meditating, but the calmness, how important is that?

JAMES BLAKE: I think tennis is a very individual sport. I don't think you see Rafael Nadal ever being calm. You see him, his feet are always moving. Something's moving. He's getting fired up. That's just him. It works for him.

For me, I think I'd probably burn too much energy and get tired if I was doing all he was doing.

It's very individual. For me being a little calmer, a little more relaxed, it keeps me more focused as opposed to worrying about everything I'm doing, thinking about the last point. I think that's the biggest thing.

Even though Rafael is different, he's moving all the time, but I think he puts points that he plays badly out of his mind very quickly. That's I think the most important. I'm sure Paradorn is doing a good job of that now being in the semifinals. I'm doing a better job. You play a bad point, you shouldn't let that affect the next point. It snow balls, it can be a little bit of trouble.

Mentally you need to stay in every point, whether you're down a set and a break, whether you're up a set and a break. You can't let anything that's happened affect what you're going to do in the future, how you're going to play that point and that game.

I think being calm has given me that time to focus. If I feel a thought, a negative thought creep into my mind, take your time, be calm about it. It's not -- you got all day out there. You don't have a shot clock. You can go out and play your game. If you start winning about 55% of the points, almost always you're going to end up winning the match. You just got to try to focus on that.

Q. You talked about Igor's forehand being a big weapon. I think it's your forehand we need to talk about. I think you have the biggest forehand in the game. When you were hitting, I noticed you hit a lot flatter and harder at him than Andy Roddick. Do you think that took away time from him, which made it harder for him to play his game?

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, I definitely think a lot of the guys, especially the guys that have more success on clay, Spaniards, he's obviously Russian, but I think he grew up playing with a lot of Spaniards and spent time training in Spain. A lot of those guys like having time.

Definitely for me, taking time away from those guys is important. I'd rather get them -- like you said, my forehand is my weapon, and if I can go kind of baseline to baseline, forehand to forehand with someone, I like my chances. If he's six feet behind the baseline, he's pushing me six feet behind the baseline, I don't like my chances much. Mine is trying to get through the court quicker. It's tough that from that far back. For him, he's trying to get it up, get me out of my strike zone. I definitely try to keep taking time away from him. I think that gives me an advantage or I try to. If it's not working, I need to change it. Luckily today it was working. I was taking time away from him.

I don't think Andy should try to change his game to do that. Andy has one of the best forehands as well. His is a little bit more loopy, a little more topspin, just a little heavier than mine. But mine, you know, today when things were going well, it maybe can create more winners. It's flatter, going through the court, I'm taking it early. On other days, Andy's is going to be much better. That's kind of just the way it is.

When I'm playing well, everyone seems to think things are going to continue that way forever. I'm realistic enough to know I could go a few matches, lose a few in a row, and people are saying, Why aren't you looping your forehand and getting in it, as opposed to you miss a few. Hopefully now people see I can play this level of tennis. It's my best chance of winning more matches over the long-term. That's just the way I try to think of it, is the percentages.

If I lose one match because I played it the way I need to play it, but then I win a tournament that way, I can deal with that as opposed to just winning one match I'm supposed to and then not being able to really hurt these guys that are so talented like Igor.

Q. Could you take a second to reflect on reaching the top 10.

JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, it's pretty crazy. I was told about it this morning. Probably shouldn't have been. I told Patrick, you're not supposed to do that. It's like telling a guy that's throwing a no-hitter, you can't talk to him during the game.

I heard about it. The first thing that came to my mind is now I get to take my shirt off at Saddle Brook. I made a deal with Kevin O'Connor who runs the tennis program there, I saw Sampras come and practice there, Rios come and practice. They'd be practicing with their shirt off. It gets pretty hot in Tampa. Then myself or Mardy Fish go try to practice. No, no, no, you're not allowed. Other administrators come over and say you got to keep your shirt on. How come they can? If you get to top 10 in the world, then you're allowed to take your shirt off.

First practice back in Tampa, my shirt will be off. I'll be working on my tan.

Q. That's your motivation?

JAMES BLAKE: That's a big motivation, yeah. I get to take my shirt off at Saddle Brook.

No, I mean, other than that, it's really just a number. It means I'm playing great tennis. It's an accomplishment I'll look back on when I'm done with my career and say it's another thing no one can take away from me. Right now I need to just keep trying to get better and keep trying to win matches. Not worry as much. I generally don't worry about those rankings.

Now, since it is a significant number obviously to say that I'm there is great. I think, you know, last year at this time, as much as now, I can maybe officially say I know what top 10 level tennis is. I think I was playing top 10 level tennis at the US Open, around that time. I can stay top 10 and possibly not be playing top 10 level of tennis. I don't want to do that. I just want to keep getting better, play this level, continue to improve.

I'm not as worried about the ranking or if I'm going to get to top five or any other more significant points. I don't think there's any more incentives like that out there. There's no -- I don't get to take my shorts off when I get to top five or anything. No other big incentives.

Q. Patrick McEnroe keeps referring to Roddick as the No. 1 guy on the Davis Cup team. Your results vis-a-vis Roddick's would seem to suggest you should be the top guy. How do you feel about that?

JAMES BLAKE: I think you better check the results again. What's his record against me? I think he's about 8-0 against me. I'm very happy to defer to him as the No. 1. We've called him our Mariano Rivera a few times. He's a closer. When we got him in a deciding points, he's never lost for us, I don't think. I'm very happy to have him be the one to carry that pressure because he's done it so well. He's more accustomed to it. He's done it for about three years. I'm just here to kind of carry a little piece of that load for him. He obviously didn't have as good a result as he would have liked here. Hopefully I'm trying to pick up where he left off.

There have been three years of him doing that for the rest of us. I don't feel like six months of results are going to make me the No. 1 player in America. Andy has proven himself so many times that I don't feel like a couple of results here or there are going to make me the No. 1, especially since I've never beaten him in an actual ATP tournament.

I definitely think he's the No. 1. I'm proud to have him as the No. 1. I'm just hoping to be the No. 2 on the team. I love being a part of that team. Whatever role I can play, I'm happy to be there. I'm definitely, like I said, very proud of Andy as our No. 1. I hope Patrick continues referring to him as our No. 1 because that's the way I feel as well.
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Old 03-19-2006, 03:28 AM   #167
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James is very classy and gentlemanly towards Andy, as always, but I wonder if he thinks about surpassing Andy.. I don't think James really believes in himself as a top player. Maybe that will change.
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Old 03-19-2006, 02:02 PM   #168
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Default Re: James News!

From James' interview:



I heard about it. The first thing that came to my mind is now I get to take my shirt off at Saddle Brook. I made a deal with Kevin O'Connor who runs the tennis program there, I saw Sampras come and practice there, Rios come and practice. They'd be practicing with their shirt off. It gets pretty hot in Tampa. Then myself or Mardy Fish go try to practice. No, no, no, you're not allowed. Other administrators come over and say you got to keep your shirt on. How come they can? If you get to top 10 in the world, then you're allowed to take your shirt off.

First practice back in Tampa, my shirt will be off. I'll be working on my tan.

Q. That's your motivation?

JAMES BLAKE: That's a big motivation, yeah. I get to take my shirt off at Saddle Brook.
I'm not as worried about the ranking or if I'm going to get to top five or any other more significant points. I don't think there's any more incentives like that out there. There's no -- I don't get to take my shorts off when I get to top five or anything. No other big incentives.
______________________________________________

Awwww, c'mon James. We'll have to work on Saddle Brook. That would be a big incentive for me to see if you reach the top 5!!

And yeah, I don't think top ten has sunk in yet for him. That's a lot of pressure, like it or not. He's not ready in any way to even THINK he could be DC number one over Andy. In time, IF it should happen, he'll handle it. But not now.

First things first. He has to beat Federer today.

C'MON, JAMES, YOU CAN DO IT!!
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Old 03-23-2006, 05:13 PM   #169
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ATP Comeback Player of the Year, James Blake and WTA Comeback Player of the Year, Kim Clijsters of Belgium, pose with their awards backstage at the Stars for Stars, A Celebration in Tennis Excellence event at the Four Seasons Hotel on March 21, 2006 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

ATP Comeback Player of the Year, James Blake poses with his award backstage at the Stars for Stars, A Celebration in Tennis Excellence event at the Four Seasons Hotel on March 21, 2006 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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Old 03-23-2006, 05:16 PM   #170
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Default Re: James News!

oooo big nice pictures [:! thanks!
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Old 03-23-2006, 05:59 PM   #171
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Default Re: James News!

James is the Mercedes-Benz Play of the Week

http://www.atptennis.com/en/mercedesbenz/

Also, Peter Bodo writes about James in his blog entry. Lots of comments, most of it junk (check out the ignorant comments from Fanoftennis again ) but some good ones in there too. He's very popular this week, James is.

Tennis World blog entry
http://66.232.148.140/blogs/tenniswo...p?ENTRY_ID=842

Quote:
James Blake. Who Would've Thunk It?
Posted 3/20/2006 @ 10:42 PM

In retrospect, we could have figured out when James Blake returned to the tour last summer with that Slick Watts (Seattle Supersonics) dome, complete with the whack white terry cloth headband. The signal Blake was sending – consciously or not – is now clear: I’m no pretty boy, east coast Ivy League softie, nor some dying-to-be-fly hip-hop wannabe. I am old school, baby.

And in tennis, old school means day-in, day-out tough; walk the walk tough, win consistently tough and – this is the big one, folks – scare the daylights out of the Big Dogs tough.

James Blake. Who would’ve thunk it?

By now, you all know that Blake beat raging Rafael Nadal in the semis of the Pacific Life Open. He got off to a good start the next day against Roger Federer before the World No. 1 dialed in his game and ended up playing one of his best matches of the year (details here) - he thereby became the first player to win the Palm Springs/Indian Wells event three times in a row. I think the run Blake had in the California desert represents a quantum leap, and he said one thing in its aftermath that almost leaped off the transcript when I read it:
”I’ve said it for a little while, seems like I say things and then it takes some results for people to actually believe them. I said I want to feel like I can contend for those kind of (important) titles and stuff, even though I’ve never been past the quarters. Now I feel like hopefully proven that I can be a contender for some of these kind of titles, at least on hard courts, and hopefully I can continue to do that.”
Translation: I’ve been saying I’m for real for quite a while; now do you believe me?

I think Blake nailed it here, and I’ll be the first to step up and say I almost felt like he made that comment for my benefit. Oh, it’s not that I’ve been critical of him in print – in fact, I’ve worked on a few stories with James in the past, and always walked away feeling good about my job and what I was doing. But the very things that make Blake so appealing – his charisma, good manners, and compliant nature can subtly prejudice you against him. This guy is too nice to be a big winner, the logic goes. Or, James is too smart and decent to survive at the highest level of a game dominated by driven, ill-educated, self-absorbed, idiot savants. Federer changed that paradigm some, but that’s only happened recently.

In some ways, skepticism about Blake’s long-term staying power wasn’t entirely unfounded. There’s the whole thing about Blake’s respectable but less than overpowering junior record – the reputations of the players who dominate the game these days usually precede them: Long before Marat Safin broke out on the tour, the cognoscenti were talking about him. Rafael Nadal won an ATP match before he turned 16. Federer won the Orange Bowl – handily – at age 16 (beating Guillermo Coria). And so on.

Then there’s that Harvard thing. I’m no more awed by the Harvard University affiliation than any other pedigree, but the idea that someone who attended an Ivy League University for even one year can make it on the pro tour really is far-fetched. No matter how you cut it, Harvard screams entitlement, and the only entitlement that works for you in tennis is a tennis-based one: a degree from the Nick Bollettieri school of Forehands, victory in the junior Wimbledon at age 11. Tennis players who emerge from the Ivies are even rarer than NFL or NBA stars who went that route. A top pro out of the Ivy Leagues? No way. A college tennis factory, a la Stanford or Illinois, maybe – but Harvard?

And finally, who can forget how easily Blake leaped to the forefront of what the Aussies call the SNAG (Sensitive New Age Male) pack? This is a guy who signed with IMG models and was all over GQ and People magazine before he got past the third round of a Grand Slam event. If you’re cynical about Maria Sharapova and bitterly resent her having gotten too much, too soon, how do you feel about Blake? He certainly attracted a lot of the kind of attention that will never visit, oh, Nikolay Davydenko, or David Nalbandian. It was entirely justifiable, if ultimately insupportable, to ponder Blake’s future with a healthy measure of skepticism.

Looking at the technical side, Blake’s game is not exactly coin-of-the-realm on today’s tour. Twice in his post-match presser, Nadal pointedly acknowledged that Blake played “inside the court,” and pegged him as playing Top 5 tennis (In fact, read the entire Nadal transcript of you want to see the definition of a gracious loser). Blake’s own analysis was that the win hinged on his much improved backhand combined with his general strategy. The money quote from his presser:
”. . . It came down to a couple big points here and there, and having to make some gets like he does to everyone else, too, maybe frustrated him a little bit that way.

But then as soon as I got my chances, I knew he's the type of guy that you have to kind of jump on that first chance.

You can't wait for two and three and four opportunities in a point, you got to take that first chance to get on the offensive. If you let him get on the offensive, big trouble. He plays defense so well. If you let him get on offense, you're in big trouble. . .If you're running from eight feet behind the baseline, I think the only guy that could defend against that is him possibly. It's pretty tricky to do. I needed to take my first opportunities.

It's kind of good when you have that clear mentality in your head. I think that helped in bringing out the best in me, is that you know you have to come through on that first opportunity. You can't get complacent. You can't just rest and kind of lay back and wait. You got to go after it.

When you have just kind of a singular focus, sometimes you play your best”.
Translation: I can do things that the Lleyton Hewitts and Guillermo Corias and even Marcos Baghdatis’s of this word cannot. I can take the game directly to Nadal.

It’s clear now that it was critical for Blake to continue to build upon his great run of last summer. The fact that he’s done that, despite the natural year-end break and fresh start for 2006, is a strong statement. He’s the real deal alright, and all he needs now is a good nickname derived form those skinny pins of his: Chicken Legs, as one comment poster at a previous blog entry suggested? Big Bird, because of the obvious resemblance? Crazy Legs, out of respect for Blake and in homage to former NFL star Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch?

Something like that, something less GQ and more old school. Just like James Blake.
Tennis.com's Steve Tignor chimes in with his own backhanded comments about James' run last week:

Quote:
James Blake has unique talents—and limitations
Blake was the story of the week from an American point of view. After years of whiplash-inducing streakiness, he ‘s turning into the reliable American, while Andy Roddick has slipped into a strategic morass where every move he makes is exactly the wrong one.

Blake can do things that no one else can, and he’s never less than entertaining. His running forehand is as dangerous, if less consistent, than Pete Sampras’ was, and his ability to wrist a crosscourt winner at full stretch is unprecedented. Blake’s also one of the few players who is equally lethal to either corner when he sets up for a forehand. But his recent success has come because of an improved backhand, and, more importantly, a smoother service motion. On Sunday, though, he reached his limit. Federer can do everything Blake can, but he’s not trapped by his explosiveness the way Blake often is. The American remains beholden to the spectacular forehand winner, which he tries to hit from pretty much any position on the court.

You can tell Blake is getting comfortable with success because he’s mastering the art of star speak, in which a player smiles and reveals absolutely nothing—other than how hard he’s working, and how proud he is of his work, and how he knows he’s put in the work. But maybe Blake has always had this skill. No less an authority on tennis stardom than Serena Williams once said of Blake that she should take speaking lessons from him because “he always knows just what to say.” A backhanded compliment, perhaps?
ESPN's resident Fedtard Bonnie DeSimone had some things to say about James (and Martina):

Quote:
Don't call it a comeback ... anymore
By Bonnie DeSimone
Special to ESPN.com

As members of the massive combined caravan of the men's and women's tours reapply sunscreen during the quick turnaround between Indian Wells and Miami, it's worth considering whether to drop the word "comeback" from future references to James Blake. That time might be swiftly approaching for Martina Hingis, as well.

Neither won at the Pacific Life Open, but heading into this week's NASDAQ-100, both are playing as if they hadn't missed a beat -- or a recent season, or two, or three. What might have appeared to be early-season adrenaline seems to be something with more staying power.

Newly minted No. 9 Blake started strongly against No. 1 Roger Federer in the Pacific Life final but bowed in straight sets and was shut out in the third. Nonetheless, Blake broke into the top 10 for the first time in his career and is second in 2006 prize earnings ($417,720) only to Federer ($1.66 million).

The dough and the upper-crust ranking apparently haven't gone to Blake's head. He jokingly told reporters after beating No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the semifinals at Indian Wells that the perk he most wanted was the ability to practice shirtless at the Saddle Brook tennis center in Tampa where only top-10 players were accorded the privilege.

"I don't get to take my shorts off when I get to top five or anything," he said. "No other big incentives."

Indian Wells marked Blake's third final of the season. He won titles in Sydney and Las Vegas earlier this year, the latter following a mini-slump in which he'd been ousted in the first round of back-to-back tournaments.

Blake's solid first quarter may make Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe 's next selection easier and harder -- easier because he has a hot singles player and harder because it makes No. 10 Andre Agassi the odd man out.

Agassi had made it clear he was available for the April 7-9 quarterfinal tie on grass against Chile in Rancho Mirage, Calif. (for the uninitiated, a "tie" is the tennis term for a Davis Cup round). There was a time when all Agassi had to do was raise his hand to book his trip, but Blake has earned his passage and No. 4 Andy Roddick, despite his recent floundering, is as good a bet as anyone on grass (he was 11-1 last year on the surface).

Hingis' next action will take place at a promotional event prior to her first match in Miami, when she'll drive what the NASDAQ-100's marketing folks are describing as "a gas-powered, street-worthy IndyCar Series" vehicle under the tutelage of two-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves. (He is to receive tennis tips in return.)

That's rather apt as Hingis, hands firmly on the steering wheel, is methodically lapping more and more of the women's field with each event. She has reached at least the quarterfinal of all but one of the seven tournaments she has entered this season, the only exception being a first-round loss to current No. 3 Justine Henin-Hardenne in Sydney.

Hingis' quarterfinal defeat of No. 5 Lindsay Davenport was as important a victory as she's had since her comeba... er, re-entry on the scene, even if Davenport did reveal afterwards that she was in pain from a bulging disc. Hingis pushed eventual tournament winner and No. 4 Maria Sharapova in their semifinal match that was, cliché-police forgive us, closer than the 6-3, 6-3 result indicated.

"That's still the deficit I have not having played for three years, not having the stamina," Hingis told reporters. "In a semifinals match, you have to go out there and give it all, not just like for a certain amount of time. I didn't start off like that. Maybe if I had, it would be a different story."

The next questioner inquired about the 18-year-old Sharapova's power. Like the scrappy point guard forever interrogated about how to score over the towering center, Hingis reacted with some weariness. "That's not intimidating anymore,'' she said. "All the players always do the same thing, so you're kind of used to that. She just played really smart today."

Now at No. 26 on the charts and rising fast, Hingis' gas-powered, street-worthy tear through the rankings inevitably raises the question of whether it reflects more about her or about the current state of women's tennis. The Magic 8-Ball would surely answer: Ask again later.

So far, Hingis has done about what you might expect for a fit, motivated, sage 25-year-old player following a long layoff: handled the lower-ranked players and had her hands full against the top 10, where she is 2-6 compared to a 20-7 record overall.

The Miami field will be missing at least two power players -- Davenport, who had planned to play but withdrew citing the back injury, and Serena Williams, who has tumbled to No. 61 and no longer feels the need to cite anything in particular. Jennifer Capriati also is delaying her return to the tour as she continues to rehab a shoulder injury.

Quote of the Week: From Sharapova, inspired by a heckler who hollered out that she looked tired in the match against Hingis: "That kind of pumped me up a little bit. I hit two winners in a row. I looked back at them, and I'm like, 'Tired, my butt.' So don't mess with a truck. You're going to become a pancake."

We Take It Back: Remember all the angry declarations from the Shanghai organizers of the ATP year-end championships last year following the pullout of five top players? Something calmed the ruffled waters, because Shanghai just extended its commitment from three to four years, though 2008. Chinese authorities are promoting a sports theme that year because of the Summer Olympic Games that will take place in Beijing.
And also predictably, some in the media seem keen to crown James the "New Top American" while the funeral procession continues for a slumping Andy Roddick....as if there weren't enough room in the rankings for both players to do well enough to represent America.

From Fox News:

Quote:
5. Can James Blake do some damage in Miami?

Yes, but it's hard to envision him winning the tournament. The 26-year-old American is off to a great start this year, with a record of 19-5 and two titles. After his runner-up finish in Indian Wells on Sunday, Blake's ranking rose to a career best ninth in the world.

He has added patience and resolve to his physical weaponry, which no one ever challenged. So now he's a threat to beat anyone in the world, as he has proven in taking out Nadal in their last two matches. But Blake choked when presented with an opportunity early against Federer last weekend, and it remains unclear whether he's mentally ready to win a big event.

7. What's happening to Andy Roddick?

The 23-year-old American seems to be suffering from a bout of self doubt. He's still ranked No. 4 in the world, but he hasn't reached the final of any tournaments this year and has — at least in his case — a lackluster record of 11-5. The technical flaws in his game have been well chronicled — a shaky volley and a tendency to stand too far behind the baseline. But he had these same flaws when he won the U.S. Open in 2003 and held the No. 1 ranking. The six straight losses he has suffered to Federer seem to have gotten inside Roddick's head, and he may have been too quick to dump Brad Gilbert as his coach in 2004.
And now for the "James is the REAL American star, Andy Sucks"-types articles:

Quote:
Is James Blake America's new top dog?

By Scott Riley, Tennis Editor
Sports Network

With all due respect to Andy Roddick and Andre Agassi, James Blake appears to be laying his claim to the American men's tennis throne.

It's Blake who's already garnered two titles on the ATP this season and is fresh off a final appearance at the first Masters Series event of the year, the Pacific Life Open, where, unfortunately, he lost to the great Roger Federer in straight sets at Indian Wells.

But by reaching the final in the California desert, Blake became the first African-American man since Arthur Ashe to crack the men's top 10, which now features a trio of Americans for the first time since 2000.

The amicable Blake has been playing superb tennis since the middle of last year and has been rewarded with a career-high No. 9 spot in the world rankings, just ahead of the former No. 1 Agassi and only five spots behind the former top-ranked Roddick, who, like Agassi, has yet to reach a final in 2006.

The 26-year-old Blake is off to a 19-5 start this year and has appeared in finals in three of his seven tournaments, including victories in Sydney and Las Vegas. He may have lost to Federer at Indian Wells, but opened plenty of eyes with a huge semifinal victory over Spanish sensation Rafael Nadal at the prestigious Pac Life event. As a matter of fact, he straight-setted the reigning Roland Garros champion Nadal, who was riding a hot nine-match winning streak, including a stunning title match victory over Federer in Dubai earlier this month.

FYI, Blake also beat Nadal (in the 3rd round) at last year's U.S. Open and is 2-0 versus the excitable lefty.

Blake is an eight-year pro who turned his career around last year with the help of a couple titles and a trip into the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open, where he blew a two-sets-to-love lead over Agassi before ultimately dropping a five-set epic at Flushing Meadows. It marked his best-ever showing at a Grand Slam tourney.

This year, the resurgent Blake has beaten a former world No. 1, in Lleyton Hewitt, and, of course, the aspiring No. 1 Nadal, who, by all accounts, appears to be the top threat to the amazing Federer's throne. The Yonkers, New York native stopped the two-time major titlist Hewitt in the Vegas finale three weeks ago, marking his first victory against the fiery Aussie in seven tries.

Sure, you can sit here and say that Blake has yet to do anything at the majors (has never reached a Grand Slam semi) and he's a dismal 1-12 combined against Roddick and Agassi, including 0-8 versus A-Rod, and who could argue with you. But the athletic racquet man is certainly playing the best tennis of any of the Americans right now.

Blake's a solid 41-11 since last August, including four titles and the quality run into the U.S. Open quarters. And his stellar 2005 campaign came on the heels of his nightmarish 2004.

Two years ago, Blake lost his beloved father, Thomas, to cancer; suffered a fractured vertebrae in his neck after running into a net post during a practice session in Rome; and fell ill with Zoster, a condition that affected his hearing, his vision and paralyzed him on one side of his face.

He was ranked as low as 210th in the world in April of last year.

Prior to joining the ATP, Blake played two years of tennis at Harvard, where he finished as the No. 1 collegiate player in the country in his sophomore year. He possesses great speed, is a quality returner of serve and is blessed with a monster forehand. The knock on him in the past had everything to do with the mental aspect of the game. Dare I say he had a tendency to choke.

But Blake does have as much talent as just about anyone in the game, he just needs to carry confidence onto the court and maintain that mental strength throughout his big matches, which is exactly what he's been doing in recent months.

With Roddick struggling in the early part of this season and the aging Agassi barely playing any tennis at all, it would appear as though Blake might have the inside track as the highest-ranked American this year.

Blake is rich and famous, has his game in top gear and is dating the beautiful Jennifer Scholle. Simply put, life is pretty good for JB right now.

find article at:
http://www.sportsnetwork.com/default...bcn4010965.htm
Charles Bricker

Quote:
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/t...-sports-tennis
Blake takes aim at U.S. supremacy

Charles Bricker
Sports Columnist
March 21, 2006

Hang the rankings. It's time to say what we all know, that at this moment in the history of the universe James Blake is the No. 1 American player.

We could have had an argument about this before Indian Wells, but to see Blake take down Rafael Nadal a second time in a row while Andy Roddick was being beaten earlier by Igor Andreev settles it.

Of course, all things are changeable, and Roddick could get his limping game squared away at the Nasdaq-100 Open, which begins Wednesday, while Blake falters early.

They might even play each other, though that could only happen in a semifinal, and Blake would have to get through Roger Federer in the quarters to reach the final four while Roddick could be looking at Marat Safin or Lleyton Hewitt in the round of 16 ... if he gets that far.

The past two years have said a lot about both players. Blake took his personal breakthrough at the U.S. Open, where he reached the quarters and was up two sets on Andre Agassi before losing and refused to let up.

Where Robby Ginepri, who reached the semis at the Open, has retreated considerably the first three months of this year, Blake has gone from No. 25 to No. 9 this week.

This is not the women's tour, where Martina Hingis can start out without a point and rise to No. 26 going into the Nasdaq. The jump from 25 to 9 is considerable.

From the time Blake turned pro in 1999 until he was injured so severely in 2004, he had two things to overcome. He needed to find the mental strength to know he was capable of being a top-10 player and he needed to punch up a second serve that was good enough to be top-100 but not good enough to beat the elite on the ATP Tour. He's done both, though from time to time that second serve still seems more guided than walloped.

Roddick, meanwhile, has been brilliant at Wimbledon but disappointing in other major events, and his declining play won't be excused here. But there is a bit of a foolish feeding frenzy going on by people eager to bury him.

How many times have you been told in the past week that Roddick has now lost to four players outside the top 50 in newspaper stories designed to make you think he's being beaten by a bunch of bums.

Two of those losses were to Marcos Baghdatis (No. 54 when he beat Roddick at the Australian Open) and Andy Murray (No. 60 when he took Roddick down at San Jose).

Baghdatis, 20, and Murray, 18, are hardly mediocre players. They were outside the top 50 because they're both quickly on the way to top 20 and perhaps even top 10. You have to pass through 50 at some point, right?

Today, Baghdatis is No. 26 and Murray No. 41. You'll have a difficult time finding any player who doesn't think both of these young men are supremely talented.

Roddick is No. 4 while Blake is No. 9, but that's not so important. What is important is that Blake is now our leading player and slipping to No. 2 might just give Roddick some additional motivation.

Second serves

Sunrise post-mortem: Dmitry Tursunov, who won the $100,000 BMW Championships, got a 14-spot bump out of winning the title and improved his ranking to a career-best No. 36. If I were promoting this tournament for next year, I'd want to point out in the brochure that Tursunov came within three spots of getting a seeding into the Nasdaq, and earning Wednesday and Thursday off. ...

The tournament was not so good, however, for Rainer Schuettler, who was upset in the first round, then contracted the flu, then had to retire with the illness from his first-round qualifying match here Monday. ...

Fernando Gonzales, the Chilean who reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon last year, isn't happy to be playing Davis Cup against the U.S. on grass, but he says, "You can do well if you get good preparation." And he and countryman Nicolas Massu are staying in South Florida after the Nasdaq to work on the grass court on nearby Fisher Island before heading to Rancho Mirage, Calif., for the April 7-9 tie. Playing on grass with Roddick and Blake isn't even close to a guarantee for the United States, and don't forget these Chileans won the Olympics doubles. That was on a hardcourt, but so what. It's doubles, where a great number of the balls are volleyed.

Charles Bricker can be reached at cbricker@sun-sentinel.com and his tennis blog read at sun-sentinel.com/sports.
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"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."


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Old 03-23-2006, 10:21 PM   #172
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Default Re: James News!

Blake overload!



By Matthew Cronin

Everybody loves James Blake – fans, media, and other players. The American is smart, gracious and has a tremendous back-story. He's athletic, charming, good-looking and owns an all-court game that keeps fans parked in their seats.

But Blake wants to be more than just a good guy. He wants to be a truly elite player – on his terms. U.S. tennis officials would love to see that, too, because with Andre Agassi now a part-time player and Andy Roddick struggling, the nation needs another solid performer who can help the U.S. Davis Cup team to its first title in a decade and also go deep at the Grand Slams.

At 25, Blake appears to be coming of age. Since August, he's won four tournaments (Washington, New Haven, Stockholm and Sydney), upset Rafael Nadal at the U.S. Open and nearly knocked off Andre Agassi in a five-set classic in the quarters. Sure, he flamed against Tommy Robredo at the Aussie Open, but he just cracked the top 20 for the first time and scored two wins for the U.S. Davis Cup team over Romania.

"James has taken his game to another level," U.S. captain Patrick McEnroe said. "He has an excellent chance to make a significant run this year. His game is ready to go up a level or two."

It was the New York-born, Connecticut-raised Blake's spectacular 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (6) loss to Agassi at the NTC that really brought him to the world's attention as huge talented performer You could not possibly script any better what happened in front of 20,000 delirious fans after 1 a.m. on Thursday morning for Agassi, but the final chapter could have been penned more lovingly for Blake.

At 5-5 in the breaker, Blake missed a forehand winner by a hair. Then on Agassi's first match point, Blake hammered a forehand winner. Then at 6-6, Agassi went to his now beloved drop shot and pass routine and scored. On the last point of the match off a second serve, Agassi turned his sore body around, hit a forehand as hard as he could and watched it blow a hole in two lines.

Blake became almost-famous in a match that will be replayed forever during rain delays (maybe supplanting Connors-Krickstein and Sampras-Agassi, or at least being run side by side with them).

"Its one thing to be up two sets to love, but that's what Andre is great at," Blake told IT. "If he had played to not let me win, I would have won. He took it to me legitimately in the third and the fourth. The fifth was a dogfight. I know I served for it, but he took it to me in that game. The only thing I regret is the 6-6 point when he hit the drop shot and I went to his backhand and I should have made him beat me with his forehand or put him on the run more. We played an exo in Idaho last winter and they replayed the point on the big screen and I was thinking, ÔI won it on that shot, no on the next shot – three times really, and then he won the point. I did think what if I could have beaten Robby and then played Roger and you never know what's going to happen on a given day. I was saying to one of my friends – when are one of those matches going to go my way?' But he said, one of those matches? That wasn't just one of those matches. That was a great, great match. That picked me up. I was so into the fact that I lost, that I forgot I was in one of the greatest matches ever."

Blake went from almost famous to pretty famous, pretty quickly. When he got back home to Florida, one of his best friends, fellow pro Mardy Fish, clued him in.

" He said dude, you are huge now. You're on Letterman and everything. I didn't know that, because when I heard yelling, which I rarely do, it was my friends in the J-Block, and I don't think I'm super popular just because my friends since I've been 12 are cheering for me. I wasn't thinking of the 20,000 people screaming, just the 40 people in my suite."

It could get much louder for Blake if he fulfills his potential, which according to his pal Andy Roddick, is super elite yellow ball.

"James best tennis is ahead of him," Roddick said. "The way he moves and strikes the ball and how good of an athlete he is, on paper, he's a lot better than most guys."

“People can be much more dangerous when you give them a second chance. You injure yourself, and you come back even stronger...It takes a lot of hard work. I don’t feel like I’ve hit a plateau quite yet.”
Blake isn't into the chatter about how good he's become, how great he can be, or how shaky he once was. It's all about process and playing as well as you can in the moment. He's not a public goal setter so having "top-five, top-five" chanted at him has little effect.

"I've never set goals like that because if I were to get to top five and haven't worked as hard and rested on those good results and just gotten a few good draws where I've played guys that aren't playing that well or injured, it would be a little empty to me. My goal is to just keep improving. Obviously I've improved quite a bit in the last year, and your ranking ends up showing that, but my end goal isn't the ranking; my end goal is to keep getting better. Top five is possible, but I don't set goals like I'm going to be a success or I'm not going to be a success by making No. 5 in the world."

But that's how much of the tennis world sees it – if you are not in the super-elite mix, you are not on the radar screen. But Blake has a different perspective on his career, which dates back to Ô04, when he had about as bad a year as one could ever have. In May that year, he ran into a net post in Rome and suffered fractured vertebrae in his neck. Then in the summer, he contracted zoster, a condition affecting hearing and vision and causing temporary paralysis on one side of his face. Right around that time, his father, Thomas, died at age 57 of cancer. James played three matches during the last five months of Ô94.

Blake knows all about dealing with illness, as at age 13, he was diagnosed with severe scoliosis (curvature of the spine), which forced him to wear a back brace 18 hours a day. But dealing with a neck injury, a severe virus and his dad's death all within a couple of month's time took its toll on him. "There was a question as to whether I could ever come back. My thoughts were just on getting better," Blake said. " I couldn't move half my face and I was just happy to be able to smile and walk around again. With tennis, I felt lucky to even be able to get back. I didn't even feel comfortable hitting until December."

So when Blake returned full time last year, he was entering the second stage of his career. Before he was injured, he wasn't exactly tearing up the tour, but he was one of the tour's fastest players, had a terrific forehand and is a good athlete around the net. Last year, he significantly improved his two main weaknesses – his serve and his backhand.

"When I was injured, I couldn't do much of anything," he said. "When I was sick, I was really dizzy. I wasn't practicing. I got to the point where I could hit a little, but I felt extremely un-athletic as my balance was still messed up and my vision was pretty blurred. But that's the time when you can work on things you don't normally get a chance to work when on tour. When you have that much time, it's a chance to do something really positive. That was my chance to work on defense, do a ton a running even if it's not the most fun thing . I worked on my serve. And I'm hitting my backhand now. When you have blurred vision, you got to be pretty cautious with your backhand. Once I felt comfortable with it. I was like okay, why can't I swing out on it? Now it's a matter of that confidence I feel I can take a swing at it and it ended up being better. The more aggressive I am with it, I end up making less mistakes because I have a simple mindset. I don't think, maybe I should just roll this one, maybe I should push it. If I get a short one, I'm going to hit it. I end up playing a lot better. For many years, guys have attacked my backhand, but these days, they are a little more cautious."

There are those analysts, such as John McEnroe, who don't believe that Blake will ever be a top five player because he has never shown the consistency to be able to produce a high level week in, week out. He's very flashy, and many flashy players have fried in the pan.

"It was great to see him make that [U.S. Open] run," Johnny Macsaid. "He's someone who has proven his athletic ability. He believes in himself more. His story has allowed him to play with more of a sense of calm. He's very dangerous. But it's difficult to say he could go all the way and win something [big]. I could see him challenge, around, say, 10. I'm not sure that he's got the consistency to go all the way."

But Blake still sees room for improvement and if he continues his learning curve at the supersonic rate that he showed over the past seven months, he should crack the top 10 by April. And then the sky is the limit.

"Now I've been given a second chance to do it," Blake said. "People can be much more dangerous when you give them a second chance. You injure yourself, and you come back even stronger. People become better every year. You need to stay ahead of that, to get four, five times better. I've been able to do that, and that's something I'm proud of. It takes a lot of hard work. I don't feel like I've hit a plateau quite yet."
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"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."


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Old 03-29-2006, 04:24 PM   #173
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Default Re: James News!

James in the mailbag this week. A thousand to Jon Wertheim for putting this person in his/her place. James Blake is black. Yeah, and? He's also half-white. So what? I'd hate to think that Blake has attracted "fans" who are ONLY interested in his skin color (much like what the Williams sisters did). Haven't we as a society already moved on from this kind of b.s.? /end rant

Quote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Blake only the second African-American male tennis player in HISTORY (all caps there for the added effect!) to crack the top 10? Mal Washington made it to No. 11, but I feel there's a big gap between saying 10 and 11. Why do you think more hasn't been more made of this in the media about this HISTORIC (more added effect) event? I understand race and difference should ideally be downplayed, but geez! This is huge! I told my sister she needs to get my 7-year-old tennis-playing nephew on the James Blake bandwagon as someone to look up to that looks like him in the game.
-- Van Sias, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Good question. But maybe this is ultimately a sign of progress. It's not as though Blake's achievement went unheralded. We learned that it was a career high ranking. We learned that it represented the first time in six years that three Americans inhabited the top 10. Many of you rightfully remarked that irrespective of rankings, Blake was playing he best tennis of any American. It's just that this was never framed in terms of race. I would submit that we didn't see past it; we just saw beyond it. And while your nephew ought to get on the James Blake bandwagon, so should the kids who don't happen to look like him.
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"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."


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Old 03-29-2006, 06:23 PM   #174
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Default Re: James News!

Quote:
Originally Posted by tangerine_dream
James in the mailbag this week. A thousand to Jon Wertheim for putting this person in his/her place. James Blake is black. Yeah, and? He's also half-white. So what? I'd hate to think that Blake has attracted "fans" who are ONLY interested in his skin color (much like what the Williams sisters did). Haven't we as a society already moved on from this kind of b.s.? /end rant
well i would disagree that the williams' sisters attracted fans that were only interested in their skin color but that's besides the point. as for james, try looking at it from the other side; perhaps this person's point is that with all the negative things affecting the african american community it's great for young black kids to have people like james as role models that they can relate to, and sometimes the only way to get such positive information out is to have specific achievements by african americans heralded. but everyone reads things differently depending on their background etc. so it's fair for you to see it as "society having moved on." anyway i'm done "getting all political," it's great to see all the articles about james.
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Old 03-30-2006, 03:29 AM   #175
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I agree with Paulie. I don't think it's insignificant what James's background is. People root for people of the same nation, or the same state -- so why not the same ethnic background?
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Old 04-18-2006, 04:38 PM   #176
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A lousy DC showing and already they've got the violins playing.

Quote:
Notebook: Burnt-out Blake struggling with inconsistency

By Adam H. Beasley
CBS SportsLine.com Staff Writer

These days, losing to Roger Federer is an unfortunate -- but inevitable -- side effect of picking up a tennis racquet.

Federer has dropped exactly one ATP match this season, a three-setter to Rafael Nadal in the Dubai final.

Other than that, he's 28-0.

Two of those victories have come at James Blake's expense.

Tough luck for Blake, but considering the run Federer is on, it's understandable. What is troublesome is the way Blake has responded since falling to Federer in Miami a few weeks back.

Since then, Blake has dropped three more matches in a row. It's his longest winless streak since losing four straight last summer.

Blake fell to Chile's Fernando Gonzalez and Paul Capdeville in the Davis Cup quarterfinals, and then bowed out to Antony Dupuis in the first round of Clay Court Championships in Houston last week.

Blake utterly melted down in the Davis Cup, blowing a two-set lead to Gonzalez on the first day. On Sunday, Capdeville took him out in straight sets.

If Andy Roddick hadn't won both of his matches, the U.S. would have been out of the event early again.

Haven't heard of Dupuis? That's because he has spent 2006 banging away at events in places like Belgrade and Sarajevo. Dupuis entered the Houston tournament ranked 159th in the world, had not won an ATP match all year, and then lost to Fernando Vincente in Round 2.

Some think Blake overextended himself this spring, competing in 31 matches in 3½ months. He also played on three different surfaces -- hard in Miami, grass in the Davis Cup and clay in Houston -- in four weeks.

"It's tough to (go) from Davis Cup -- the highs and lows -- and come to a different surface," Blake said after losing to Dupuis. "It's part of the job, but I think I'm getting better at it. He served great. That took me out of my rhythm."

If time off is what he needs, he's about to get it.

Blake's next match isn't until the Rome tournament in May. Word is he decided to take a week off from tennis completely after his early exit in Houston.

Blake, who has two tour titles this year and is ranked seventh in the world, still is the sport's best hope for an American rival to Roddick.

But after Roddick's inspired Davis Cup play and Blake's three-week losing streak, it may take a run through Roland Garros -- where Blake has never advanced past the round of 64 -- for that storyline to truly develop.
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"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."


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Old 04-18-2006, 04:39 PM   #177
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Default Re: James News!

Yea, I already pointed out all the stupidity and illogical stuff in this article in the thread someone started in GM. I can't understand why these people just don't do research before writing stuff. It's just so embarrassing.
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Old 04-25-2006, 11:14 PM   #178
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Default Re: James News!

interesting.
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Blake at stake
posted: Tuesday, April 25, 2006 | Feedback
espn.com

A couple of years ago, I wrote a story about the practice of tennis players painting their rackets to look like current models, even though they were using old ones. I thought the practice was a bit shady given that some of the companies were telling consumers that players were playing with one racket model, but were really playing with another.

Yesterday, the Sports Business Journal reported that James Blake, despite signing with Prince in December, was still using his old Dunlop racket, with a Prince logo on the knob.

So what ethics are involved here?

First, let me say that this type of stuff happens all the time. Tennis players and golfers sign with other companies so they can begin a relationship, but the athletes aren't willing to make an immediate switch because they're not confident with the equipment from the new deal yet.

It's definitely a Catch-22. Athletes have to be able to jump from company to company, but they should not be expected to play right away with their new brand's equipment.

Linda Glassel, vice president of sports marketing for Prince, said there was no attempt to deceive consumers, noting that at Prince's Web site, Blake's racket is listed as experimental. Blake is working toward eventually playing with Prince's new O3 technology, a racket with holes in the frame.

"James is working with us to help develop the best product in tennis," Glassel said. "This has been an ongoing, rigorous development process and it's not unusual in our business that you don't go directly into the new company's technology."

In fact, when Blake changed from Wilson to Dunlop, he did not start using the Dunlop racket until he was comfortable playing with it.

So I understand transitions have to be made. Athletes can't automatically switch right away -- there's too much at stake. And there's too much at stake to share ideas with companies without signing with them first.

However there is an ethical question with Prince promoting Blake. It's OK for Prince to let consumers know Blake is working with them, but they have gone too far putting the "P" on the racket knob, and "Prince" on the frame. It's misleading to the people who see it.

I also think that Prince should only have Blake on the company's Web site if they explain the relationship. Yes, they have the word "experimental," but I think the consumer deserves to know more about how they are working together.

They can obviously remove all of that when he legitimately puts a Prince racket in his hands sometime in the next couple of months. Blake is ranked eighth in the world, and with Andy Roddick's slide is the most marketable American tennis player, but I think it's the right thing to do.

Lastly, while Blake knows what he is doing, I don't believe he is deliberately trying to deceit consumers. Out of all the athletes I've dealt with, Blake is one of the most keen, savvy and real professionals in any game.
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Old 04-26-2006, 04:42 AM   #179
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Default Re: James News!

Why do James and Andy need to become American rivals? There is room for both of them to play tennis in the U.S. without becoming "rivals". I would rather see them take on the world's other players than each other. But then again I hate to see two Americans playing against each other.
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Old 04-26-2006, 05:25 AM   #180
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Default Re: James News!

They're not rivals, except in the media. They're good friends. Sure they want to beat each other and all that, but it's gonna be a media thing much more than anything actually between the two of them, i'm pretty confident of that.

Anyway I posted the article b/c I thought the business aspect of his racquet situation was interesting. I wonder when he'll start playing with the Prince racquet, and I agree with Darren Rovell the author, that actually putting the Prince logos on the racquet seems like it's taking the deception a bit too far.
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