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INTERVIEWS

March 12, 2007

J. BENNETEAU/J. Blake

6-2, 7-6

An interview with:

JAMES BLAKE


THE MODERATOR: We'll dive right in and let everybody else catch up. First question, please?

Q. What went wrong today for you?
JAMES BLAKE: Everything it seemed like. I didn't serve very well. I didn't return very well. I could have played better on the big points. I couldn't get a lot of momentum going. Couldn't find my rhythm. I don't know what happened. No idea. Just one of those days.

Q. It couldn't have been easy to come off court at what, midnight last night, and what time did you get to sleep and then have to come back out?
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah, I mean, I probably didn't get to sleep after stretching and icing and doing all that kind of stuff, till, I don't know, 1:30 in the morning. So I was definitely surprised to see myself on the schedule again today, especially during the day. But I'm sure they had a reason for it. I don't know what it is. I didn't question it last night. I just -- nothing I can do about that, just go out and try to play my best, and today my best wasn't good enough.

Q. You seemed pretty flat coming out. Do you think that was part of just not really being awake?
JAMES BLAKE: I hope I'm awake by 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon, but I don't know what it was. I think my feet just weren't moving for some reason. It's something I tried to tell myself all the time, "Make sure your feet are moving." It tends to cut back on a lot of errors when you start moving your feet.
For some reason it was just difficult today. I don't know. At the start it might have been the sun, the shadows and everything, but then once the court was covered in shadows, I don't know. I felt like I should gave gotten a better rhythm and I never did.

Q. Having said all that, what was your mind-set heading into the tiebreaker?
JAMES BLAKE: I felt pretty good because I'd broken him a few times. I had some looks on the serve, that 5-6 game I thought, get that. From 30-all, I missed; he aced me and then every other point I thought I'd won. If I would have let it bounce, it probably would have been my point.
I felt like I was playing well on his serve and maybe just went for a little too much. Went for a little too much on the second serve, doubled, and it wasn't a great start. And from there it didn't get much better.

Q. The tournament's lost a lot of seeds?
JAMES BLAKE: Yeah.

Q. Sometimes you just have a couple crazy days.
JAMES BLAKE: Definitely shows the depth of men's tennis. We've said it for years, no one's believed it since Roger has dominated it so much. But outside of Roger, the depth is incredible. A guy like Julien Benneteau can beat anyone on a given day, guys like Simon, who beat Robredo, and Mahut, who beat Safin, and, I don't know. I mean, there's tons of guys who can just play great tennis on a given day.
Sam Querrey almost beating Davydenko; guys can play really well. There is a lot of young guys that can play well, play great tennis, so it's not easy to dominate the way Roger has. So outside of him, everyone's pretty darn close.

Q. How would you assess your year?
JAMES BLAKE: Started out great, and since then, the last few weeks I haven't played as well as I'd like. You know, I've got a little bit more on the hard courts before I get to the clay, so I'm looking forward to hopefully doing well in Miami and Davis Cup being pretty important, obviously. The clay season, I'm looking forward to hopefully improve. Maybe if I go there without the pressure of having played so well on the hard courts, maybe I'll play better on the clay. I don't know.
So far I've had some success, Sydney and Del Rey being winner and finalist and then fourth round of a slam, you know. Not great, not bad, but definitely can be better. I definitely left some points, left some matches on the table this year.

Q. I know it's a moot point, but what was your first, immediate thought when Roger lost yesterday?
JAMES BLAKE: Just -- I don't remember. I was just shocked at the way he played, 'cause, I mean, I haven't seen him play like that in so long. And how well Canas was playing after so long off, although I guess he's been back playing for a while now. But it's a little bit of shock when you see Roger lose, which is amazing and says something about how great he has been playing for the last year or, really, three, four years.

Q. So did you view it as a huge opening for yourself at your next slot, saying --
JAMES BLAKE: No, no. I wasn't thinking about that. Canas can obviously play well, even though I lost today. I was looking to playing in Julien, and maybe I shouldn't have been looking at it. I don't know what happened. But I didn't play great, I definitely wasn't thinking that. I mean, to think in any kind of -- in any one of these tournaments, even if Roger is not in it, to start thinking that far ahead is crazy because there are too many top players that are still here, with Roddick, Davydenko, Nadal, Gonzalez, guys that can play great.
So I'm not thinking that far ahead. And Djokovic, I would have played him tomorrow or whenever. He's an up-and-coming player that's got a chance to do really well here, and throughout his career. I wasn't thinking it's an opening, I can win this tournament or something. I try to go into every tournament thinking I can win it, but that's just the initial feeling. Once you start playing, you've got to think about each match.

Q. At what point does leaving some matches on the table start to get into your head a little bit?
JAMES BLAKE: It will be in my head right now for probably the rest of the night, and then I gotta move past it. Take a day off tomorrow, relax, and then hopefully it will be out of my head. And that's what I've gotten better at over this time.
Definitely before 2004, I probably would have let it affect me right now for matches to come, months to come, possibly and let it spiral. But now I think I'm a little more adjusted, have a better perspective in dealing with it, and I know that this match isn't going to affect anything that happens in Miami. If I have a great week of practice next week, I can come out and I'll go into Miami with the same thought process, that I can win it. Whether or not I run into Julien Benneteau, I think I can win. That's a match I hopefully can win in Miami - or anyone else, whoever I'm playing.
I'm not going to let this match today, where I played some not-so-stellar tennis, affect how I know I can play in Miami or Davis Cup or in Houston.

Q. Just, you know, your level, at sort of, you know -- you hit a point where the range was not very high. It seemed like in the last few weeks, you know, that range has widened a bit. Is that just the ebbs and flows of pro-life or is there anything else going on?
JAMES BLAKE: It's just the ebbs and flows. I said it last year, it never happened, but, you know, when things are going well, I try not to get too high, and I let people know that there are going to be times when I go through -- there are going to be times in my career and everyone's career where they have some bad matches in a row, where they have a month, two months, however long, where they can't seem to find their rhythm. And I know that's going to happen to me at some point.
I hope I get out of it quicker than anyone else would, or quicker than I would have years ago, but it's going to happen to everyone, where they're not playing great through no fault of their own.
I don't think I've done anything wrong on the practice court. I haven't been out too late at night or anything. I haven't been slacking off on the practice court or in the gym. I've been doing everything I can in terms of injuries. I've been preventing -- doing everything preventive for that, and I thought my preparation was good. There's going to be days like this, and there's no way to explain it. You know, you just -- you just wake up and you can't put it back in in the court, or you can't put a serve in the court.
Then there's days where you go -- I mean, almost all last year, there were days where I was saying, you know, that's incredible. I was playing great for a month now straight. I've been playing great for this whole tournament. I've been playing great, and, you know, hopefully it's going to turn around to those kind of press conferences soon. But for right now, I didn't. I didn't play great today, and I'm not going to let it affect me. And I understand my range is further, but that's possibly due to the expectations I set thanks to last year, how well I played last year. That's something I've got to deal with this year and I think I'm pretty well prepared to deal with it. It's just I'm going to have to cut down on these kind of days.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks everyone. Thanks, James.

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