PACIFIC LIFE OPEN
March 17, 2008
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You had some pretty long, tough matches with Carlos in
the past. Today, after a slow start, let's say, things
certainly picked up and you played very well. Are you happy
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, very happy. I've had a lot of tough
matches with him. I think that evened the score. I think
we're 6 and 6, which is the most frequent opponent of mine
on tour is 12 matches.
We know each other's games really well. Beforehand I talked
to my coach about the fact that almost every single match
I've played with him there's been ups and down. One of us
having match point, one of us having being down big and
coming all the way back.
This one, even the first set I was down a break, second set
I was up a break, and he got it right back. I think playing
a guy like that, there's no way to expect to go through it
smoothly. So really happy with getting through it in two
sets, and either way just getting the win was something I
was proud of. This was the first place I ever beat him. That
held a lot of memories for me, because he was a guy that
beat me a couple of times early in my career, and I thought
-- I wondered in I'd ever get over that hump and be able to
play a top player like him.
To beat him here when I felt like I was I was playing really
well the first time was a big steppingstone in my career.
Today brought some fond memories.
Q. Last two games were pretty amazing.
JAMES BLAKE. Yeah.
Q. Backhand up the line on the return.
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, I was a little lucky. To be perfectly --
I did actually guess right. I guessing and hoping he was
going put it there, but I definitely didn't mean to put it
that close. It was right on the line.
I was just trying to kind of guide it up the line and make
him to start out the point running. Sometimes when you aim
in one place you miss it a little and it ends up being
better than what you aimed it for.
Q. Would you ever not play in the Olympics, given the
JAMES BLAKE: Tough to say, but right now I'm playing this
year, for sure. As long as they give me the opportunity, as
long as I'm healthy, I'm going to play. I can't speak for
anyone else. What's going through their mind, different
Obviously in tennis, the Grand Slams are the priority. The
Olympics is -- isn't something that a lot of people talk
about with their careers, except for maybe a few of the
guys, like Nicolas Massu and Mardy Fish.
But I think if you talk to maybe the Andre Agassis and the
Pete Samprases, the Jennifer Capriatis, the Lindsay
Davenports, the Grand Slams might mean more to them than the
Olympics just because it's not our focal point of the year.
Our focal points are generally the Grand Slams.
For me, I've never been there. Never been a part of the
team. For me, it's a huge honor, and I want to be a part of
it. If I play it, you know, if I've played in the -- if I
played in the Olympics three times and I see what goes on
there, I've experienced it, and then it is right before the
US Open and I need to get ready for that, maybe I wouldn't.
But right now, it's high on my priority list.
Q. But you're willing to accept that maybe it could
hamper your level going in or your chances of doing well in
the New York?
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, but I've dealt with the fact that this is
a very individual sport. Some things work well for some,
some work better the other way. You know, I feel like I'm
going to go there and get the best competition possible.
Roger is playing. I haven't heard for sure if Nadal is
playing or Djokovic or all those guys, but my assumption is
all those top guys are going to be playing, except Andy. I
think the competition is going to be very tough, so to get
in the tournament where you're playing the top competition,
even if it's halfway around the world, you're still
preparing pretty well for the US Open, I think, and this
year I'm planning on that week off after it to get ready for
the US Open.
That's something I haven't done in the past. Maybe that will
help me be rested and ready for the US Open.
Q. Have you talked to Andy about his decision not to
JAMES BLAKE: We talked a little bit about it, but not
nothing in particular. Just asked if he was going, and he
said he doesn't think so, and we moved on from there.
Q. How would you describe the state of American men's
JAMES BLAKE: Pretty good, in my opinion. We're the Davis Cup
champions. Right there, I think -- it speaks for itself in
terms of that's kind of the pinnacle of tennis and of a
country's accomplishments in the world of tennis, so really
proud of that.
We've got two guys in the top 10. Andy's already won a title
this year. I've been in the finals and quarters of a slam,
and the Bryans are every tournament, every year in the
finals of slams, winning slams, finals of Masters Series,
winning Masters Series.
So we've got the best doubles team in the world, two guys in
the top 10, and some guys soon that, in my opinions, soon to
be making waves with Donald Young, John Isner, and even
Mardy Fish and Robby Ginepri basically on the comeback trail
from having some sub par results in their minds.
So they're going to be very dangerous coming up as well, so
I like the way we're looking.
Q. Combo question: Young and Isner, who do you think has
the bigger upside?
JAMES BLAKE: It's tough to say at such a young age. I'm
actually terrible at that. Every time these kind of water
cooler talks come up about who's going to be successful, if
anyone is -- anyone wants to read this, don't employ me as a
scout, because I've said some guys are never going to make
it, and I don't want to name names, but they've made it to
top 5 in the world when I said I don't think they'll ever
get to be top 50. Some guys I thought are sure things and
have not panned out.
So I'm not very good at that, but both guys have a ton of
talent. I think Donald might be a little more talented in
terms of his movement and his hands and everything around
the net, but it's tough to say that a guy doesn't have a
huge upside when he's 6'9" and serves the way John Isner
So it's a matter of him being able to control the rest of
his game. I think right now Donald might be a little more
advanced in terms of all his skills and his all-around game.
But with that serve, it took a guy like Karlovic a little
while to come into his own with the rest of his game and not
lose so many 6 and 6 matches and actually find ways to break
guys. Now that he has he's top 25, and that might be the
path Isner is on.
Q. And if I could, Carolina basically has sort of four
home games. Possibility. Disappointment if they don't cut
down the nets? What's your prognosis?
JAMES BLAKE: I like their situation. I really do. Heard on
ESPN that's the toughest section, Tennessee is the toughest
No. 2 seed. But I like the game against Carolina. I like
Carolina's chances in that division. I think Louisville
might even get Tennessee before that. Carolina's looking
pretty good the way they've been playing, going through the
ACC tournament the way they did, and I like their chances of
being in the Final 4.
Q. Will you be disappointed if they don't win at all?
JAMES BLAKE: I'm always disappointed when they lose, but I
think -- I mean, knowing -- being an athlete, knowing how
hard it is to go in as a No. 1 seed and succeed and go in
and kind of deal with the pressures and the expectations,
I'm always amazed at college athletes, at how mature they
are and how well they deal with that kind of pressure.
Because when I was that age, there was no chance I was
dealing with that kind of pressure in college tennis
compared to them being on ESPN all the time. I'm really
impressed with the poise a lot of those guys show. If they
do it, I'll be very, very impressed. If they don't,
hopefully -- maybe that'll get Tyler Hansbrough back one
more year. Maybe it'll be a blessing in disguise.
Q. James, your inability to call talent notwithstanding,
just to take you back a few weeks to Kei Nishikori, can you
say what about his game was particularly impressive?
JAMES BLAKE: From the ground he was just rock solid, didn't
make many mistakes, didn't give them any points for free. I
didn't feel like I returned as well then. His return isn't
yet a weapon, I don't think, or a big weapon the way some of
the guys on tour have it.
I didn't do enough to attack that, but once we got into the
points -- I feel like usually when I get in the points with
guys I'm in really good shape. He stepped up and played
great the whole time, didn't ever back down, didn't start
missing or making mistakes or getting nervous or anything.
He really played great.
I think his groundstrokes are very dangerous. He's got a
solid backhand, can rip it up the line when he needs to, and
his forehand is solid, as well. Moved really well. I think
his serve can become more of a weapon and he's -- he's got a
bright future, I think. But like I said, maybe I you
shouldn't judge by me.
End of FastScripts