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April 23, 2008

James Blake

Paula Creamer


ASHLEY CUSHMAN: Paula, thanks for joining us today. You got the season off to a great start with your win at the Fields Open in Hawaii. You followed that up with a third place finish at the HSBC Women's Championship. Just talk about your season so far and about coming here to Aventura and playing in this very unique event.
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah, I'm really excited to be here. It's a pretty cool format for us to have. I had a good start. I feel good after my win. You know, things haven't really been right where I want them to be, but I've been really working on my golf swing and changing some techniques in it to improve hopefully in the future. You kind of have to go backwards to go forward.
I went back to my original putter, so there's been a few changes here or there. I've been practicing really hard the past few weeks and I'm ready for this stretch to begin. I think that in my off weeks I haven't been playing as much as I should be, practicing too much, and kind of forgot how to score, and my score has showed that.
Those are minor things that we need to change.
ASHLEY CUSHMAN: Can you also just talk about the three-day Pro-Am event that's structured into this event. Everyone says you're a great Pro-Am partner in normal tournaments, but now you get to do it for three days. Talk about going into that and how you have to prepare yourself for that kind of change.
PAULA CREAMER: I get to play with James Blake, which is really nice. He's a good player, so he can hold his own out there. But I am, I'm really looking forward to it. It's fun and kind of nice to be able to go out, you know, you are competing at the end of day for a title, but you're also -- your mind isn't 100% focused on that task.
I think that's going to help me a little bit to just to go out and work on what I'm trying to do and enjoy myself.
ASHLEY CUSHMAN: Questions for Paula.

Q. This is really your first experience in this format, right?
PAULA CREAMER: Yes, it is.

Q. How did you prepare? Did you talk to anybody about how you should approach it, or is it not a big deal?
PAULA CREAMER: I think you just go out and play your own game. It is a team event in a sense. You know, I've always liked that. I'm just looking forward to that. I don't think there's any strategy for it. The biggest thing is to make your partner feel comfortable out there and not feel too much pressure. But at the same time, you want to go out and you want to win.
But I don't think that there as any -- you don't really need to talk to anybody about it. Just to go out and have fun.

Q. Could you just talk about this golf course and what you think of the course and what kind of a player you think that it favors.
PAULA CREAMER: Well, it seems lately our tendency of golf courses have become not really a risk/reward. You just hit it out there and there's no rough and no penalty. I think that that's kind of a shame. Because for me, I like narrow golf courses. It seems like we've kind of got in a different direction of golf.
But the greens are very difficult. They're firm. They're really undulated. Lots of little sections in the greens which kind of makes up for that. But at the same time, it would be nice to play a narrower golf course.
The venue is beautiful. You look around and it's strictly the skyrise and those kind of things. It's in great shape, so it'll be nice to figure out what the scores will be. It's kind of difficult because of the wind.

Q. You're obviously a proven winner out here. Can you talk about the fact with Lorena having won four in a row and not being here this week, is it an easier tournament to win this week? How do you approach it when she is and is not playing?
PAULA CREAMER: I go out every week playing the golf course. I'm not playing any particular person. Obviously on Sunday in the last nine holes you're very aware of where you're at on the leaderboard. If she is there and it brings attention, but at the same time you still need to go out and play your own game.
I think people tend to get in their own way if you're starting to think about other people.

Q. I was wondering how well you know James Blake and how well you know his golf game. Because you've known the pairing for a while compared to some of the others who just found out. Does that give you any advantage?
PAULA CREAMER: No. I've played a lot of golf with James. I think that he's -- (laughter).
ASHLEY CUSHMAN: James, you can have my seat right here.
PAULA CREAMER: Nice shirt, buddy. No, I am, I've been looking forward to this for a while. I think it's great that it's the first event that we've ever had like this. I think he'll hold his own out there. Thank goodness for handicaps.
PAULA CREAMER: It'll be fun. A good couple days.
ASHLEY CUSHMAN: Questions for James or Paula.

Q. Just talk about playing this week. You've dealt with our own pressure as a tennis player. What's this going to be like?
JAMES BLAKE: Well, I think here the pressure is going to be on the gallery. This is will be my first time playing in front of a gallery, and they might need to watch out. Luckily, as she said, it's a good thing for handicaps. I'm going to come out here and have some fun and see how it goes.
I'm definitely not making any charges for the PGA Tour any time soon. I'm content with my day job and having fun playing golf, and lucky that I have some people that want to bring me here and show off how bad I am at golf. It's going to be a good time, so I'm excited to play.

Q. What's your handicap?
JAMES BLAKE: I think it's like a 14. I got it work on getting that down before I retire.
PAULA CREAMER: We don't want it down this week though, we want it up.

Q. James, two parts: What's the most nervous you've ever been, and how do you think you'll feel looking down a tee with the gallery on both sides of the fairway?
JAMES BLAKE: The most nervous I've ever been was on a tennis court in my first ever Davis Cup match. I was about 21 year old and it had actually been postponed because of 9/11. It was a very heavy atmosphere in the arena.
I was playing a guy who was on tour for a many years and was part of the Davis Cup team for about 15 years in Leander Paes. My first ever opportunity was probably the past time I really felt butterflies in my stomach to the point I thought I was going to throw up halfway through the first set.
Once I calmed down I felt great out there, and since then I haven't really felt a ton of nerves on the court. I feel like that is what I'm prepared to do. I prepared my whole life to play tennis, so I think I'll be even more nervous when I step on the first tee. I'm definitely not prepared to play this kind of an event.
Hopefully I've got a crafty veteran here that will talk me through it. She'll teach me how to deal with the nerves on the golf course.
PAULA CREAMER: Good answer.
JAMES BLAKE: Thanks. Appreciate it. Almost like I've done one of these before.

Q. James, because of the dynamics of this where you're playing for fun and for a team, it's her office too.

Q. How does that change maybe what you would do if you were playing with her, you know, on some resort course somewhere without the crowds around? Are you going to ask her for help?
JAMES BLAKE: I'm going to do my best to stay out of her way and let her do her job and do it very well, as she always does. The only difference might be we probably won't have any wagers on it tomorrow.
PAULA CREAMER: We will. Don't worry.
JAMES BLAKE: Maybe we will. I don't know. After losing the first one I don't know if I want to wager anymore. I'm sure everyone will see my loss during the tournament.
But I don't know what the difference will be. I'm going to be -- that might make me a little more nervous. I don't want to mess her up. This is her job.

Q. How many strokes did she give you last time you did play?
PAULA CREAMER: This is a great question. You can answer this.
JAMES BLAKE: Going to get my pride hurt right on the first day. She gave me a stroke a hole. She won, but I won the next time. I beat her badly the next time.
JAMES BLAKE: It was like 43.
PAULA CREAMER: It was. He did. You played well that day.

Q. Does the bet have to do with the color?
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah. There will be a very colorful part of my wardrobe or accessories for the tournament, yeah.
But since I won the second bet, you might notice something about her wardrobe for the weekend as well.
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah. It'll be interesting tomorrow.

Q. You going to share that with you?
JAMES BLAKE: That's up to her. I don't care.
PAULA CREAMER: You'll know with James.
JAMES BLAKE: You'll know.
PAULA CREAMER: I have earrings, and they say "Paula." But they're very big and large earrings, and he has a bright pink bag.
JAMES BLAKE: That Nike was more than happy to make for me. I tend to make silly wagers with them, and I've made them do some silly, embarrassing things, too.
When they heard I lost the bet, it was a great opportunity for them to get me back, and they did in a very big way.

Q. James, are you wearing earrings?
JAMES BLAKE: No, no, she's wearing earrings. I'm going to have the pink bag.
PAULA CREAMER: I will be wearing th earrings. That's next bet.
JAMES BLAKE: Then I'll be the most nervous I've ever been.

Q. (No microphone.)
JAMES BLAKE: No. They doesn't send me any of those. And stop giving her ideas.
PAULA CREAMER: I know, I like this.

Q. (No microphone.)
JAMES BLAKE: I heard about that one, too. I don't think that's going to be in the cards either. I really don't think I'd look good in a skirt.
PAULA CREAMER: You never know, James. You never know.

Q. How did you meet?

JAMES BLAKE: We met in a mall.
PAULA CREAMER: In the mall. It was really weird. I read his book during Solheim Cup when I was overseas, and literally, I finished it on the way home on the airplane. Like I think it was maybe five days later I met him in the mall.
I saw him walking by and I was like, Oh, my gosh. That's James Blake. And then I let him go and I then I was like, I got to go introduce myself. Then we played golf.

Q. (No microphone.)
PAULA CREAMER: It was in Tampa.
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, it was last year during my off-season, so December-ish, around there.

Q. (No microphone.)
PAULA CREAMER: One in Tampa and one in Bradenton. I lost on his home course.
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, she won on her home course and I won on mine. For the record, I won the last one.
ASHLEY CUSHMAN: Thank you both, and good luck this week.

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