PACIFIC LIFE OPEN
March 20, 2008
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. It's like a boxing match playing somebody who gives
100 percent like you do. How difficult and how challenging
to play somebody like that?
JAMES BLAKE: Well, I mean, outside of the result it's
usually a lot of fun. Playing someone that gets to so many
balls, makes you work, can change the pace, can change
defense to offense so quickly, it ends up being a lot of
fun. You're not playing a man who's one dimensional, that
just has a huge serve.
Those matches tend to be a little more tedious. This one,
it's a lot of fun. There's a lot of back and forth, me going
for big forehands. Him going for big forehands, big serves
here and there.
Just like I said yesterday, I figured it was going to come
down to who's going to play a couple of big points better. I
think he probably only had tow break points in the third
set. I maybe only had one, and he took advantage and I
I had some break point opportunities at 6-5 in the first
set. I didn't get those. That was the difference in the
match. Just a couple of points here and there.
You know, I kind of figured that was going to be the case.
Just had to play my game and try to play as comfortably as I
could and not let his defense and his game affect me. And,
you know, he's 2 in the world for a reason, and he did make
his presence felt out there. I didn't do enough to hurt him
on the big points.
Q. Can you just talk about, seemed like the first set you
were just kind of battling those unforced errors. Second set
I think they had you with only four unforced errors in the
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, I mean, my game has to be aggressive to
beat him. I've heard a million times so-called tennis
insiders telling me to be more cautious. I've heard it on
TV, I've heard it in papers, and it's almost laughable to
me, because they honestly would never be talking about me if
I played that game, because I'd be retired by now.
I wouldn't have had a career. It's laughable for people to
think that I have to play this aggressive way to be
effective. If they think I haven't tried every single thing
to make myself better, they're crazy. I've tried playing
more passive, and gets me beat by guys like this. Gets me
beat by everyone, pretty much. I have to play aggressive.
When I'm looking at stats, which I don't do that often, and
I see I've got a lot of winners and a lot of unforced errors
and the other guy doesn't, I still feel like I'm the one
controlling the match. I feel like I'm the one dictating and
forcing the issue. That, for me, is usually a good thing. If
I'm laying back and being too passive I don't win that many
Second set I didn't have many errors, so I don't think I was
going for any less. I thought I was going for my shots and
they were going in. I think the biggest thing tonight was my
footwork. At times it was as good as it had been earlier in
this tournament, and at times I don't know if it was nerves,
laziness, I don't know. Just looking up a split second early
because of what he's doing.
Couple times I felt I hit a couple of those forehands
flat-footed. I know on my Moya match, on my Gasquet match, I
remember thinking at the end of the match I felt in control
of every single one of those I was hitting. Whether I missed
or not, you know, that's going to happen. But I felt like my
feet were there.
That's what I'm doing when I'm playing my best. I thought I
was doing that well in the second set and third set. Maybe I
was thinking too much. That can be dangerous, looking up at
him, seeing what he's doing, trying to outthink him instead
of going out and playing my game and hitting to my spots and
not worrying what he's doing.
Q. Have you looked at the statistics you just played?
JAMES BLAKE: No.
Q. You hit 41 winners to his 12, which should affirm what
you just said. In the first set you were serving at 5-6,
30-40, and a rally ensued. You interrupted play to indicate
that you're preparing to issue a challenge. When you do
that, don't you have to be damn sure that the ball is out? I
mean, that the challenge went against you, and you lost the
JAMES BLAKE: I was wrong. I mean, I guess if that's your
question, the headline can be, I'm human. I make mistakes. I
think he did that once, as well. I'm human. The umpires are
human. They make mistakes sometimes, too. The game is so
quick that I think I read somewhere the ball actually stays
on the ground for something like .1 of a second.
So for anyone to ever say they're positive, to me, seems a
little crazy, because there's no way you can see it. The
human eye can't see it that quickly. We're all pretty sure
when we make a call or when we say something like that. I
was pretty sure.
I thought his ball floated just a little long. He hit so
much spin on the ball it came down a little quicker than I
expected. I lost that. Until you mentioned it, I had really
forgotten about it, because I just had to put that out of my
The next game I gave myself a chance I was up Love-40 to try
to break him and didn't take advantage of those chances. But
it's just the same as if I were to have miss a forehand. I
made a mistake.
Q. Can you go through that game when you were up Love-40
on his serve at the end of the first set. What happened
JAMES BLAKE: I'm trying to remember what happened at
Love-40. I know one of them...
Q. First point you missed a service return and then you
made four successive errors.
JAMES BLAKE: All right. Photographic memory, apparently. I'm
glad I don't have one of those. Well, you know, I don't
remember all the points. He can tell you a little better,
apparently. But, you know, I seem to remember a couple of
them being pretty hard-fought points where he made me work.
Seem to recall going after one of the returns and just not
making it, but that's what got me there, was going after the
returns and being aggressive on them. That's the way I had
to be. But after that I felt pretty happy with the way I
rebounded in the second set, coming back and getting up
early, and holding throughout that whole time.
It's not easy to go through a whole set and getting broken
by Rafael Nadal. Maybe just footwork slipped a tiny bit and
he capitalized. I might be able to get away with that
against some other players and I can't against Raphael Nadal
when he's' playing his best tennis.
I tip my hat to him. Like I said, outside of the result it
was a fun match to play. We both had a lot of spectacular
shots, a lot of great winners, a lot of good gets and
forcing our opponent to errors. You know, well, I don't know
what else to talk about.
Q. You might give us your thoughts about the next match
for Nadal against Djokovic. What are your thoughts?
JAMES BLAKE: I've never played Djokovic. He's one of the few
guys I haven't played. I was actually looking forward to
getting that matchup, because I think he's an excellent
player. I think he's similar to Nadal in the way he can turn
defense to offense so quickly and hits a huge forehand
anywhere on the court to put it away.
His serve is little more effective. Gets a few more free
points off his serve. But both of them move so well, and
it's going to be a lot of fun. Nadal, I'm assuming, is going
to try to get that forehand up high to his backhand like he
does against every righty. We'll see how Djokovic counters
that and he's going to try to get it going a little more to
It's going to be a fun match to watch. I don't know if I'll
be watching it, but for every other tennis fan it will be
Q. Are you planning on sticking around or going to Miami?
JAMES BLAKE: I plan on going to Tampa. Since I only live a
few hours from Miami, I'll try to get a couple nights in my
bed. Always a bonus. And then drive down to Miami probably
Tuesday, and, yeah, get a little training together in Tampa.
First a day or two of relaxation and then get some training
Q. Can you evaluate your run through this tournament and
where you are now with your game?
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, I actually feel pretty confident in my
game. Tonight's match was a pretty high level, I think. I
felt great about getting my first win against Gasquet. I
guess finally evening the score with Moya at 6-6. I always
have a lot of fun playing him.
So I played some guys that made me work and I had some good
wins. I'm upset right now, but I can't hang my head too low
about losing to a player like Nadal who has clearly improved
in the last couple years and is playing much better
hardcourt tennis than he was in years past.
You know, I can't say -- it wasn't like I got blown off the
court. It was one break here and there. I feel confident. I
feel like going to Miami I can still be dangerous, and I
feel like I can still get better and I'm playing a lot
better than I was at this time last year.
So my evaluation is pretty good. You know, outside of one
tough result, I feel good about it.
Q. The other night you were kind enough to talk about
presidential candidate, Barack Obama and about how you
endorse him and share your values. I would kindly ask you to
expand a little bit more on that side. You said that you
read his book. Have you ever met him?
JAMES BLAKE: No, I never met him. I would love the
opportunity, but obviously he's a little busy, and he's
doing a great job. I've donated to his campaign. I'm very
proud of the work he's done so far, and his record in the
senate is impressive. I hope he gets the opportunity to
change some of the things that have happened in this country
in the last few years.
I think, in my opinion, he's got the best strategy for Iraq.
He can help the economy, I hope, and I just really have a
lot more confidence in him than the other candidates.
Q. Supposing, assuming that he might invite you, let's
say to rally for him, would you do that?
JAMES BLAKE: As long as it fits in my schedule, I'd be
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