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January 20, 2009

James Blake


J. BLAKE/F. Dancevic
6-4, 6-3, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Is that a satisfying opening round for you today?
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah. At this level, any time you get a win, it's satisfying. I think Frank played great in that third set, really pushed me. I returned pretty well. I thought he returned pretty well.
The only thing I think I could have done a little better was serve, get a little higher first-serve percentage in. Get few free points out of that. I kind of weathered the storm with him playing what I considered great tennis in that third set. So I'm happy with it. Get out of there in three sets, be ready for the next round.

Q. Was there any point where you thought it might go another couple of sets?
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, definitely. He had Love-40 twice in the third set on my serve. If he wins any one of those six points, there's a good chance it's going to a fourth set.
Luckily I didn't panic. That's one thing that's better about me at 29 than it was at probably 21 or 22. I have the confidence, the knowledge that I can go five sets. I can last, that no matter if I'm up or down going into the fifth set, I can hopefully turn it around and make sure to put all of that out of my mind and play solid.
I didn't panic. I just kept going for my shots. Made a lot of first serves on those breakpoints. Then when I got my breakpoints, I took advantage of those chances.

Q. There's some tough competitors coming up if you continue to go this way. What do you think of your chances throughout the rest of The Open?
JAMES BLAKE: Well, I got to worry about the next one. I can't think too far down the road. I think I've got a guy that's probably got nothing to lose the next round, just like Frank did. That can be dangerous.
But the way I'm playing, I feel pretty good. There's going to be tough competitors as you get later in a Grand Slam no matter which Grand Slam, no matter what section of the draw you're in. If you're in the third, fourth round, quarterfinals of a Slam, you're not going to get an easy match.
So I'm not concerned about that. I just need to hopefully keep playing better and better and expect that the competition's going to get tougher and tougher.

Q. Anything you feel you need to improve on for the next round?
JAMES BLAKE: Like I said, the only thing I felt could have been a little better was my first-serve percentage and maybe could have mixed up my second serve a little better. It got a little gusty out there. That was messing with my second serve a little bit.
But otherwise I felt like I was hitting the ball from the ground well, returning pretty well when I got my racquet on it, taking advantage of my chances and coming forward and actually volleyed pretty well today, too.
Mainly going to hit a few serves tomorrow in practice and just kind of hopefully hope for the best in the next round. I was actually hitting it great in practice last week. So hopefully this is just a one-time thing.

Q. Coming up in just a few hours, Barack Obama's inauguration, does that have any significance to you, being African American?
JAMES BLAKE: Absolutely has significance to me. I hope it has significance to a lot of people in the States. We're in a time that seems very historic. We're looking for positive change in the States. We're in some situations that are less than ideal in our country. I think if there's any man for the job that's ahead of him that can deal with the tasks and the pressures of being President in this tumultuous time, it's Barack Obama.
I was proud to donate and help with the campaign. I'm proud to -- I'm always proud to say I'm an American, but I'm going to be especially proud at 4 a.m. here. It's going to be a very significant inauguration, a very significant presidency to have the first African American in power. Hopefully it will knock down more doors.
It was so great to see an African American and a female running for the highest office in our country. I really think there's no one better qualified for the job than Barack Obama right now.

Q. Will you be watching at 4 a.m.?
JAMES BLAKE: It will be TiVo'd back at home. I've already got that set. It will be on for when I get home. But I don't know, unfortunately or fortunately, to do this job, in the situation in the States, I need to make sure I'm happy about having a job. So with this job, I need to be very singularly focused on the next round. So I need to get a lot of sleep. So I'll probably be in bed. But if I happen to be tossing and turning, not able to sleep, I'll definitely put that on.

Q. You said you helped with the campaign. What did you do?
JAMES BLAKE: Just donations when I got a chance. I got a friend that works for them. So I was in contact with him. I tried to make it to one of the events in Tampa, but I was out of town and couldn't make it back. I helped out with a couple of fund-raisers in New York, as well.

End of FastScripts

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