August 28, 2008
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
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
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
Q. Did it put a little bit of a shadow, James, on the tremendous event
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
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
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
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%
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
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
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
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