Monday, 22 June 2009
Q. After Queen's, can you talk about the disappointment losing here
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, I was playing pretty well at Queen's. Thought I had a
good chance to do well here. This is something that has been probably my
worst slam, and I don't understand why. Just didn't feel like myself out
there today. Andreas played well when he had to and I didn't.
I don't know. I definitely felt like I was playing a lot better than
this at Queen's. Had a great week of practice, and was actually playing
great in practice. Thought I had a good chance to do very well here, but
I guess things can change pretty quickly.
Q. The final tiebreaker, it isn't often that it gets away from you like
that. Did you feel it was your own errors there that was the cause, or
JAMES BLAKE: I made a couple of errors and he played well.
Unfortunately, I don't have a serve that's an enormous weapon like an
Andy Roddick or an Ivo Karlovic or anyone like that, so I didn't get any
free points after that on my serve.
He did a good job of putting balls in play, and then once he got control
of the points he took advantage. Couple of unbelievable shots of putting
balls on lines that if we had Hawk Eye, we would know if they were for
sure on lines. But he played great. It doesn't happen very often that
you lose from 5 0 to 7 5. But I've done that to guys before. I'm sure it
won't be the last time in my career that it happens to me or the other
Q. There seemed like there were a lot of backhand to backhand rallies.
Am I right about that?
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, too many for me. That wasn't the game plan. That's
definitely a little more beneficial for him. He did a better job of
hitting his backhand solid enough to keep me from being able to take it
up the line and start getting forehands. That's his probably best play,
and it worked. He did that very effectively today.
Q. Those two points in the tiebreaker, you talked to the umpire. Did you
think they were out?
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, I thought he missed I don't know if there were two
points. I think it was one point there, two calls. One on the far
sideline and one on the near sideline. The one on the far sideline was a
pretty soft ball. I didn't know if the person behind me, the umpire
behind me, didn't see it, but I thought it missed by just a bit.
The other one on the near sideline, I saw chalk come up, too, but I
thought it was wide and hit the long line. The umpire just said he saw
the chalk come up. I guess that is a difficult call to make. If you see
chalk come up, you want to assume that was in. But I thought he missed
that one. The other one I talked to him about, I actually thought it was
Q. This loss aside for a second, big picture, where do you think you're
at right now with your tennis?
JAMES BLAKE: It's tough to say. I still feel like I can play with anyone
in the world, but it's just for some reason lately it's been very
inconsistent. You know, at times in my career I've been inconsistent
with results, but I've always had those big breakthroughs where I've
gotten to finals, gotten to quarters of slams, beaten some top players,
and lately I haven't been having those runs.
I don't know what to put it to 'cause I've been doing all the training.
I've been doing all the conditioning. I'm fit as I've been. I just
haven't been as confident, I guess. Maybe that's just from not winning a
lot of matches. Those things can change quickly. I remember in, I think
'05, I lost something like four, five, six matches in a row from here to
L.A. to, I don't even know where I was, Cincy or something, and went to
D.C. and finaled, won New Haven.
Things changed pretty quickly there. I'm hoping for something like that
again. I know I still have the ability. It's just frustrating 'cause
it's happening at big tournaments where I'm having my not so good
performances. Those are going to happen to everyone. But for me, I
wasn't able to pull through today with a less than great performance.
Maybe earlier in my career I was able to do that. I don't know why I'm
not able to do it now. The guys are getting better. They're playing
better against me. I'm just I just haven't gotten it done lately. I need
to find a way to do that and take advantage when I am playing well. I
hope that comes on the hard courts in the summer.
Q. The fact you have so much experience, does that make it harder to
accept or easier to accept?
JAMES BLAKE: Uhm, I guess that's kind of a tough question 'cause it's
both. It's easier to accept in the fact that I've done a lot already in
my career. I don't feel like this is my one chance to prove myself. I
feel like I've done some pretty good things in my career already, but
it's tougher to accept because I've tasted that success. I remember at
the beginning of my career thinking, you know, I had some pretty down
times, some times when I was close to breaking through. Getting to the
semis of Newport, I remember specifically after that tournament saying,
What's better, to never have the opportunity to do something great or to
have the opportunity and not get it?
Now I feel like, you know, I've had some opportunities, and still the
same question. 'Cause I feel like I've had a lot of success, a lot of
wins, but I still want more. That's why it's tough to accept nowadays,
because I know I've done that and I know what it feels like to win and
to go deep in slams and to win tournaments, and I just haven't had that
feeling lately. I definitely want it back, and I hope I have it enough
times before I retire that I won't miss it as much when I retire.
Q. Could you please tell me what was more effective of the game of Seppi?
Because normally he plays very well on the backhand, not so well on the
forehand. What did you find more difficult to play against?
JAMES BLAKE: Well, he made a lot of first serves, and he did a great job
with his backhand of not letting me get it to his forehand. He was
playing pretty effectively from the baseline and attacking with that
backhand, neutralizing any time I was able to get it to his forehand.
Someone else said there were way too many backhand to backhand rallies.
That's my weakest shot probably against his strongest. That's a rally
that I'm not going to win as many times as I'm gonna lose it. I needed
to do a better job of counterattacking to that, and he did a good job of
not letting me.
Q. That court has a nickname and reputation. Did that even remotely
cross your mind at any point?
JAMES BLAKE: No. I had a few wins out there and I had a few losses out
there. I didn't really think about that. I just thought about going out
there and trying to get a win. I wasn't worried about any superstitions
or courts or anything like that.
Q. Tens of thousands of players out there would die to have your career.
Could you talk a little bit more about the comment you mentioned, What's
more frustrating, to have had the opportunity and not really been able
to come through or to never have that opportunity.
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, 'cause it's something where if you don't know what it
feels like, you're always just kind of dreaming. But you just don't
you're never even close. If you never had the talent, you know, you
accept it pretty quickly. I was actually pretty accepting of that when I
was about 14 or 15 years old. Probably still under five feet. I was
pretty accepting I was never going to be a pro athlete. I was going to
go to college and have a normal 9:00 to 5:00 job most likely.
Before you know it, I had this opportunity. Then it rushes to your head
all the dreams you had when you were nine and ten years old. Before you
know it, you're playing on Arthur Ashe Stadium and your dreams are
coming true. For me, I wouldn't trade that for anything. I know how
lucky I am. I know how many people would do absolutely anything in the
world to have a career where they're seeded at Grand Slams, they've won
titles, they're doing all the things I'm able to do.
I know I'm not allowed to complain to my friends, but they know how
tough it is when I have these losses. It's just something that we all
deal with. I mean, every single one of us, because there's 127 people
that are going to go home from this tournament a loser.
Every one of us is going to wish they were the one holding up the
trophy. Every week that's tough to deal with. It's part of our job. You
know, there's a million perks to our job, but there's a few downsides.
Losing is definitely one of them.
Q. How can you turn around your confidence?
JAMES BLAKE: Win. Get a couple wins here and there. Whether it's winning
while playing poorly, and that can give you confidence, or just having
one of those matches where everything feels like it's going right.
Before you know it, you got your confidence back. You know, maybe for me
it's getting back on my favorite surface, back in the States where I've
had a lot more success than the rest of the world.
Q. You have a game that looks like it would translate well to grass.
Obviously you had some success at Queen's. Is it a movement issue? Is it
a footing issue for you on grass? Is the grass here different than
Queen's in any way?
JAMES BLAKE: I think it is a movement issue. I think that's been the
biggest difference for me in this and hard courts. Early in my career, I
think I was just experimenting. I was trying to serve and volley too
much and changing my string and doing a lot of things that I thought
needed to be done for grass.
Nowadays, I'm playing similar to the way I play on hard, but I just
don't necessarily get my feet into every ball because of the footing, I
think. I don't think these courts are very different than Queen's.
Queen's, I think, might have been a little bit slower, given me a little
more time to get to balls, get behind them, get my feet there. You know,
I've had a week to get used to these courts. Should have been completely
ready. Felt like I was completely ready, but just didn't work. Yeah, I
thought this game would translate well to grass. I've had success at
Queen's. I've done okay at Halle. Just never done well here. It is
Q. Do you find when you're not feeling that confidence that maybe you're
playing a little too safe?
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, that happens at times. I'd say the larger percentage
of matches where I feel like I'm not playing my best and I lose and I
feel like I'm not playing my game, not playing as well as I should, more
often than not it's because I'm playing too safe. There really haven't
been that many matches where I've come off the court and talked to Brian
and he said, Well, you just went for a little too much today. You were
being too aggressive, and that's why you lost.
Because he's kind of joked that almost every tournament I've won, early
in the tournament, first, second rounds, whatever, he's thought, You're
right on that border. You actually might be going for too much, but I
don't want to say anything because you're winning. Before I know it, I'm
holding up a trophy.
So he rarely thinks I'm going for too much, because when I am going for
a lot, I'm playing aggressive, that usually means I'm confident and
playing my style. That's very difficult for other guys to defend, I
Q. You still plan on staying in Europe before the Davis Cup?
JAMES BLAKE: That was the plan. We'll see. I still got doubles with
Mardy. I'll see how that goes. That is definitely the plan. I don't
know, you know. Tricky thing about our jobs is the scheduling and the
travel. You don't really have a set time for flights 'cause you never
know when this is gonna happen. I don't know. I'll probably stay here.
You know, one tough loss in doubles might make my bed at home seem much
more inviting (smiling).
Q. Did you have any physical problems today?
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah. Uhm, I had an upset stomach. That's probably all the
details that need to be printed.
Q. When you see a guy like Nadal that's young and injured, do you
ascribe any of that to the five set format we have in the Grand Slams,
or is it specific to him, do you think?
JAMES BLAKE: No, I don't think it's specific to him. I think more so
than the five sets, it's the schedule in general. You know, when we're
playing in slams, it's three out of five. But we get a day off every
time in between. You're able to rest. Your body is able recover a little
Masters Series you're playing two out of three, but you're playing six
matches in seven days. That's pretty rough, especially for someone like
him that's generally in the semis, finals of those tournaments. Playing
eight of those that you have to play a year, four Grand Slams, four
500s, you're already at, what's that, 16? You're already at 16
tournaments, four of them two week tournaments.
That's a lot of tennis for a guy that's winning so much. He's playing
doubles once in a while, too. To do that from January to November every
year, he's only 22, but he's basically been on tour since he was about
16 years old. I don't know. I know, you know, I'm probably not supposed
to say anything about the schedule or about the ATP in that way, but
it's just tough for guys.
There's really not many ways to mess with the schedule, to take
tournaments away, but it would definitely help the players' careers be a
little bit longer. I don't know. I really can't I don't want to sit here
and say there's an easy solution, because I know it's tough. I've been
on the Player Council. I know how difficult those meetings are, how much
the tournaments want to hold on to their spots. But for the players'
longevity, something should be done.
Q. Fewer Masters?
JAMES BLAKE: Fewer Masters, possibly. I know how important those
tournaments are to the tour. But I think possibly fewer tournaments and
a real off season. You look at how all the other sports, the major
sports, they get months off, not one month. Especially in a sport where
you need to be training, there's no real pre season. We're at a slam
three weeks into the year, so you can't warm up into a year. You don't
have 20 or 30 games of pre season like in baseball.
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