Blake has also committed
Blake commits to playing in Indy
By Mark Ambrogi
May 8, 2006
James Blake's climb in the ATP Tour rankings was derailed in 2004 by a fractured vertebra in his neck, illness and the loss of his father to cancer.
After sinking as low as No. 210 in April 2005, he charged back to win two titles and finished the year ranked No. 25. He was rewarded by being named the tour's 2005 Comeback Player of the Year.
This year, Blake, 26, has kept rolling, winning two titles and reaching an ATP Masters Series final in Indian Wells, Calif., in March before losing to Roger Federer. Blake is currently ranked a career-high seventh.
So, naturally, RCA Championships tournament director Kevin Martin is thrilled Blake committed to play in the Indianapolis tournament, set for July 17-23. Blake is the first African-American man since Arthur Ashe in 1980 to crack the tour's top 10.
Martin said Blake's personality, good looks and sportsmanship make him a fan favorite.
"He's a great gentleman," Martin said. "He puts out a tremendous amount of energy when he's on the court."
Blake's commitment gives the tournament three players ranked in the top 10 with No. 5 Andy Roddick, a two-time RCA champion, and No. 10 Fernando Gonzalez. Among those previously committing to the RCAs was No. 18 Robby Ginepri, the defending champ.
Martin said other top targets include No. 22 Marcos Baghdatis, No. 25 Tommy Haas and No. 49 Marat Safin, a 2000 RCA finalist.
Martin said this will likely be the deepest RCA field in terms of player rankings since the tournament moved from mid-August to mid-July in 2003.