home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


January 21, 2008

James Blake


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
JAMES BLAKE: Please be about the Giants.

Q. Did you see the overtime?
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, saw the whole thing. Thank goodness the girls before me went three sets, otherwise I would've missed it and been wondering whole match. Yeah, watched it.
We should have won in regulation though, because there was a holding call that was a phantom call when Ahmad Bradshaw ran it in for a touchdown. Justice prevailed.

Q. How did you feel after he missed the first field goal?
JAMES BLAKE: Not great. And then when they won the toss, I was just hoping it wasn't going to be more Favre magic. I love cheering for Brett Favre every time he's not against the Giants. I was just dreading what was going to happen there. Eli had another great game. Couldn't be happier.

Q. What makes you happier, that or Aussie Open quarterfinal?
JAMES BLAKE: Let's see. It's been longer since the Giants made the finals, but selfishly I've got to say me making the quarterfinals. But I think it still would have been a good day if the Giants had lost and I had won.
Either way, it's even better. I like it.

Q. When you see Federer go through a tough match like he did against Janko, do you say, There's a window here or, I wish I had gotten him that day?
JAMES BLAKE: It's just a reminder that everyone's human. You can have a bad day. I didn't see all of it. I was playing for a lot of it. I had heard that Janko was playing great.
It just shows that there are -- there's enough guys out here that can play on their best day and give him trouble. It hopefully can raise my spirits to know that I can do the same. I've always felt that.
Every time I've stepped out on the court with him I've felt if I play my best, I give myself a shot with anyone in the world. He's the best in the world, obviously, so I give myself a shot against him. Every time he stepped up and played better.
But, you know, every time when I step on the court, I feel like I can. Just Janko taking him to 10-8 in the fifth shows that it doesn't matter who you are, you can play your best and take him to the limit. You know, a couple breaks here and there, that obviously could have been Janko's match.

Q. Where do you rate your level today? You seemed to stay within yourself in that match.
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, I kind of had to with the wind. It was pretty tricky out there. It was gusting at times. I was really happy to serve as well as I did, 'cause I think when it's that windy, first of all it's tough to serve that well in the wind, I think.
But then when you do, you put a lot of pressure on them to make returns. Then you being on the offensive, it's tough to defend when you're against the wind. You've got to hit so much harder. Sometimes it's tough to defend even when you're with the wind.
If you put yourself on the offense all the time it can be really effective, so I was happy I made that many first serves. For the conditions I think I played pretty well. Also still impressed with how much better Marin has gotten in about a year and a half since last time I played him. I have a feeling that improvement's gonna continue and he'll have a lot more chances in these kind of -- this late in Slams.
So I think, you know, he'll do a better job of taking care of his breakpoints, the breakpoints against him. I think he just played a couple of loose games today and gave me opportunities. Hopefully maybe it's just being around long enough to have the experience to take advantage of those chances.

Q. Based on what you've seen of him in the last year and a half, how much higher do you think he can go as a player?
JAMES BLAKE: So tough to say. There's a ton of guys that I would have guessed, or I have guessed and talked to my coach about and think, this guy's going to go this far, I don't think this guy is going to be as good. It's amazing how wrong I usually am.
It's tough to say 'cause it's so hard unless you see the guys practicing every day, you see their work ethic, you see if their body is one that is prone to injury. There's just so many factors. If they're put under pressure situations, can they handle it mentally? All the things that go into being a top player, you just don't know right now.
Only probably his coach knows. And I'm not qualified to tell how he's going to react to all those situations.

Q. Do you feel like you made a little bit of a mental breakthrough between Davis Cup and first part of the season so far? Too early to tell?
JAMES BLAKE: You know what, I feel like I've always continued getting better mentally. So I think it's fine if people want to call that Davis Cup match the benchmark or the hump or getting over whatever.
But I feel like I just continued to make progress, and had always been doing well, going at kind of my own rate. I feel great about the way I had been doing, and I feel even better about the way I am now competing mentally, not getting down on myself as much, not worrying about pressure really, and just going out and playing my kind of Plan A at every chance I get, especially in the big moments.
If we want to call it right at the Davis Cup tie being the hurdle or whatever, me getting over, that's fine. But I just feel like I've continued to improve. So I feel like I'm better now than I was six months ago, six years ago, ten years ago, whatever.

Q. One of your mantras is learning from loss. You've had seven learning opportunities against Roger. Which of those did you learn the most from and why?
JAMES BLAKE: Geez, which one I learned the most from. I guess maybe the one at the US Open. That was the only one I actually ever won a set, so try to take a little something from that. I also had, I think, a couple set points in another set in that match.
Just trying to take advantage of the way I played there and play maybe even better 'cause I felt like I had a lot of opportunities. Obviously he did, too, but he did a better job of taking advantage of them there.
But there were other times where I felt like I played pretty well, too. I thought I played pretty well in the finals of the Masters Cup. Was just kind of blown away by how well he played that day. If that's the case again, you know, it hurts, it's disappointing at the time, but by the time I got on the plane or got off the plane I just said, you know, What could I have done?
He played too well. I can't beat myself up about it. I can go out and practice and see if I can get better, see if there's any way to defend what he was doing that day. But try to learn something from all of them. So far I've learned he's pretty good.

Q. Where were you able to watch the Giants game? Did you find any fellow fans to go crazy with?
JAMES BLAKE: In the locker room. But I found a bunch of people -- on this day they seemed to be Packers fans, which is kind of annoying. It's fine. I understand if guys put a little money on the Packers or whatever, anything like that, that's fine.
But I've just always been a Giants fan. So I don't care if they're all Packers fans in there. It was just a good day for the Giants fans. I had a few people to text back home right away as soon as the kick went through.

Q. You have a very unique game. You might compare Ferrer to Nadal, or even Djokovic to Federer. Is there anybody past or present that you could compare your game to?
JAMES BLAKE: I don't know. And that was something that I'm actually kind of happy about and proud of my coach, Brian Barker, for. When I was a kid, when every kid starts out, I think one kid might want to be Sampras, one kid might want to be Agassi, one kid might want to be McEnroe.
I was never like that. I just wanted to play, and I was having fun playing. My coach didn't try t mould me into any one of them. He let me do what I do best. You know, he let me be a crazy kid at 12 years old and four feet tall trying to serve and volley, just kind of learning what worked best for me.
So I don't think I ever really modeled my game, my serve, any one of my strokes after anyone. I never even realized how kind of weird my forehand looked until I saw it on TV. It was just the way that I felt it was most effective. It seems to be working so far, and hopefully it will work on Wednesday.
But I don't know anyone that I could compare it to. For one thing, the game has changed a lot in the last 10 or 20 years. It's tough to play the way Laver did or Rosewall did or Emerson did or anyone like that, just with the different technology. So it's pretty tough to compare myself to anyone in the past.
And present, I don't know, seems like there's quite a few similar styles. Like you said, mine might be a little bit different. I don't know. I don't know who I would compare it to.

Q. Looking at some of the matches between you two, it seems like one of the problems you have with him, you might not have with other guys, is you find it much tougher to hold against him. How big is serving going to be against him? Some of the matches where Roger has been pushed the other guys have held on much more easy.
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, it's a situation that has definitely been tough at times against him. I'm happy about the way I served today, so hopefully it will continue getting better.
But he tends to put constant pressure on you by making tons of returns. He might not hit cold winners off returns, but he's going to put so many in the court that you don't get free points.
I don't have the huge serve of an Andy Roddick or even Cilic like I played today, or Ljubicic or anyone like that. I don't necessarily count on a lot of free points, but I count on getting on offense a lot with my first serve. He makes it tough to do that. He finds a way to get it back to neutral very quickly.
I know it's going to be difficult, and I know guys that have had success against him have had big serves and have been able to get some free points or at least put themselves on offense. That's something that's going to be difficult for me to do, because I don't have the overpowering serve.
If I can make a lot of first serves, I hope that will give me some confidence and be able to go after my shots and still go after my serves. I know he'll make it very difficult.

Q. You played some great late-night matches at the US Open. Do you think what happened the other night was over the top?
JAMES BLAKE: I think that was tough. I don't know. I mean, I know it's a very difficult job, being a tournament director. There's so many decisions to be made. I have kind of heard little bits and pieces of what was actually happening. So I don't know if they were given the option of going over to Vodafone or anything like that.
I know it will make it tough, having gone to bed at whatever, Lleyton Hewitt went to bed at 7:00 in the morning. I also know he's a competitor. I'm sure he did everything he could to rest yesterday and be ready for today.
Once the adrenaline gets going, it doesn't matter if you felt tired an hour before the match. Once the adrenaline gets going, he's in front of his home crowd, I know he's going to be a hundred percent ready to go.
But it's tough to start a match at 11:45. I remember the match I started with Agassi. I started around 10:00 something. It still seemed kind of late by the time it was over, by the time I made it home, tried to decompress, and get to sleep.
For the time I was out there it didn't matter. It could have been 4:00 in the morning, 5:00 in the morning, like it was here. I would have had the same emotions, the same amount of energy. It looked that way from the replays that I've seen now of Lleyton and Marcos, that they were still playing some of their best tennis at that hour.
I don't know what I would have done if I was Craig Tiley.

Q. Have you found the wide slice here on this surface particularly effective?
JAMES BLAKE: It seems to be pretty effective. That was one that probably didn't get as much use on the Rebound Ace because the ball would sit up a little bit more. Here it definitely seems to be taking a little more -- I think it might just be because guys are so used to the Rebound Ace when they come down here that it seems like it's sliding more. But it's definitely more effective on this than the Rebound Ace.

Q. There was a feeling that maybe Roger is a little bit vulnerable here. He was a little bit edgy in the second set. Any sense among you guys that maybe because of the lack of preparation he could be more vulnerable than usual?
JAMES BLAKE: I don't know. I mean, like I said, every time I go out on the court I like to think I have a chance and I'm gonna win. That the same way I'll go into it this time. I don't put a whole lot of stock into the few matches before, if he seemed edgy.
I think that could be because he set the bar so high, his sportsmanship, just his laid-back attitude on the court. 'Cause, I mean, the guy barely breaks a sweat it looks like when you're watching him because he looks so relaxed.
For him to even mention something to an umpire a few times or to get angry at himself a little bit, it seems like he's edgy. But probably if I acted that way or anyone acted the way he did, when he seemed edgy, it would seem like they're behaving very well. It's a high standard he's set for himself.
I'm not gonna think too much about that or think that it's gonna be any easier 'cause I know once he gets this deep in a slam, I'm sure his mind is thinking about winning it and getting closer to that record, just showing people a little more history.
Hopefully gonna have a little say in that, but we'll see. I definitely don't think -- I'm not gonna worry too much about the matches before or him seeming edgy. I don't think he's going to give me anything for free because he's edgy or anything like that.

Q. If your Grand Slam epitaph reads, Here's a player that kept getting into the second week but just couldn't manage to knock over those top players, the best players, will that be something you're fundamentally proud of or something you'll be disappointed in?
JAMES BLAKE: I'm already so proud of my career that I won't worry about it at all. I mean, to have been at a point once where a doctor laughed at my idea of being a pro tennis player to being in a situation in 2004 of them telling me I'm probably never going to play again, to be in the second week of a Grand Slam at all is something impressive.
To be a five-foot-tall, 16-year-old kid that was about 95 pounds, had no even dreams of playing pro tennis, to be in the second week of a slam is something I'm unbelievably proud of, the fact that I kept working as hard as I did to get here.
And if my talent isn't good enough to get through the Roger Federers or whoever else, Andre Agassis who have beaten me in second weeks, I'll still hold my head high and say I'm proud of what I did, I'm proud of pushing them as hard as I did and being a part of these great tournaments.
I think I still have a newspaper clipping of when I was about 12 or 13 years old, when I was -- I think I was the Athlete of the Week in the Connecticut Post. It said in there that my dream is to play in the US Open. Not to win a round, not to get to the second week, not to win, it was just to play in it. I've surpassed that a little bit now.
A lot of people would think that every time this happens it seems normal to me now. Every time I walk out on Arthur Ashe stadium it doesn't seem normal. It seems like I'm still living a dream. I'm so happy and proud to be there. I know how much sacrifice has gone into it and how hard I've worked. I don't ever want to lose that feeling of it being abnormal. I know how abnormal my job is. I know how surreal my life is. I know how lucky I am to be here.
I will never hold my head down low and say that I didn't accomplish everything I set out to do, or I'm not proud of the way I competed, because I've competed as hard as I possibly can. I've sacrificed everything I feel like I've needed to sacrifice. I've done all the work.
It's just a matter of if my talent will take me there and if I'll be able to execute my best tennis at the right times.
I'm hopefully going to do that on Wednesday. But if I don't, I might be a little upset, but I'll walk out of here with my head held high.

End of FastScripts
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297