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March 20, 2008

James Blake


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 didn't.
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 second set.
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 matches.
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?

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 game.
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 mind.
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 after that?
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 Nadal's backhand.
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 fun.

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 in.

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 there, yeah.

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