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February 9, 2007

James Blake

Patrick McEnroe


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. James, what was the discussion with the chair umpire about? Did you feel he should have replayed the point that looked like a double-fault?
JAMES BLAKE: No, I felt like it was my point. He missed the serve. The umpire admitted he missed the serve. I was still playing at deuce. To me that seems wrong. I went to hit the return with a reflex shot, but then stopped. Apparently I didn't stop enough. Maybe next time I'll sit down on the court Indian style and raise my hand.
Seems silly to me. Obviously a very important point in the match. Could have completely turned the match around to get an early break in the fourth set. But he admitted he made a mistake, which is rare for an umpire. That mistake cost me today, which I don't know what the ramifications are for an umpire, but...

Q. What is the issue? Is the issue that you reacted to play the point? In that sense, what would have been the error of the referee?
JAMES BLAKE: Well, in my opinion he made two errors. In his opinion he only made one.
The ball was out. He agreed that the ball was out. Then on clay you're allowed to reflex a ball back, which is always a case with the return, I guess the balls are coming so fast. So I reflexed it back, looked at the mark, heard my bench say, It's out. I looked at it, it's out. I stopped. I stood there and didn't move. I didn't take one step.
He says that I didn't stop fast enough. In his judgment I reacted to the ball, so I lost the point because of that.

Q. If I'm not mistaken, you still had four breakpoints in that very same game.
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, I still had four breakpoints. I think he made first serves on all the others, played well. I mean, I can't fault the umpire for those. When he makes a clear mistake, I can fault him for that.
You know, I'm doing my best on those other breakpoints. I'm going to give Tomas credit on those. When he does make a mistake, he double-faults, the umpire doesn't call it, then I can't credit Tomas with that, I got to call it as I see it.
It was out. I mean, I should be sitting on the bench up 3-2 at that point. Instead we're at deuce. Then he played well. He served great. He deserved credit for the rest of it. I'm not saying that he didn't play well, he didn't deserve to win or anything. He played great and served well when it counted.
At that particular time, I should have been on the bench at 3-2 serving.

Q. Patrick, 1-1 after the first day. You still have to like your chances? Top-ranked doubles team, then Roddick first up on Sunday, right?
CAPTAIN McENROE: Yeah, I mean, I would prefer to be out there in the fifth set right now, which probably should have happened. But it was a very well-played match by both guys. I thought James played very well. Andy did, too, in particular the last two sets.
I think overall it was a positive day for us. Could have been a lot better. We feel good about our chances. James will just put this behind him, know he played well, be ready to potentially play a fifth match if it gets to that. With the Bryans in the doubles, we know they have a good doubles team, as well, but these guys are used to being in this situation.

Q. What do you say about the atmosphere in the arena?
JAMES BLAKE: For the most part it was a good crowd. Try not to let a few bad apples spoil it. There were definitely people talking in between first and second serves, calling out. I hoped the umpires could do a better job of controlling them. For the most part, they're a good crowd. Had a lot of team spirit and patriotism. That's what Davis Cup is about. Then just controlling maybe the ones who don't watch tennis very often and don't know how to act.

Q. For long stretches, it was really thrilling tennis on clay. Despite the setback, do you come away with a sense of added confidence?
JAMES BLAKE: Right now, 20 minutes after the match, I'm not feeling great. But I do know that Tomas is an excellent player. He played well on clay today. It's not my favorite surface. I always do feel like I'm getting better on it.
So, yeah, looking back I'm sure I will think about the fact that I still played a pretty good match on clay. But I'm also encouraged by the fact that it could have been a lot better. I felt like my serve let me down at times. I wasn't hitting my backhand as well as I could have.
So, yeah, with time I think I can continue to improve on clay. The main thing is to improve on clay by Sunday. If I need to, I'll play even better on Sunday I hope.

Q. Was the first set due to being tired or for less time adapting or just coincidence?
JAMES BLAKE: I don't think it was either. Tomas played unbelievable. He hit six, eight lines, aced me probably six times. I guess he would have made 75% of his first serves. Just played great.
If you're a top 15 player in the world, you have that ability to just play unbelievable tennis and blow your opponent off the court. He did that in the first set. I kind of caught it in the second set. We both had the ability. We both played pretty darn well in the third and fourth.
I don't think it was any reason of me getting here late or anyone being tired. It was just he played great in the first; I played great in the second. That's going to happen with two very good players.

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