Tag Archives: James Blake

James Blake Talks Activism and Athletics in New Book.

Former World No. 4 James Blake wrote about his remarkable comeback from personal and career setbacks in his first book “Breaking Back”. Now Blake, who currently works as a tennis commentator and serves as Chairperson for the USTA Foundation has just released his second book “Ways of Grace: Stories of Activism, Adversity, and How Sports Can Bring Us Together”.
Continue reading

Comments Off on James Blake Talks Activism and Athletics in New Book.

Filed under Reviews, Tennis

James Blake Viewed in the Past Tense Except By His Fans.

Last week at the Farmers Classic, James Blake saved two match points versus Feliciano Lopez and, in his attempt to save a third one, hit a backhand passing shot that looked like it caught the edge of the line but was called out. A Hawk-Eye review just showed the ball was out by only a hair giving Lopez the match. If Blake’s shot had somehow caught the line and if he had managed to pull out the win to enter the semifinals, I guarantee you the tennis press would be writing glowing articles about the prospect of a Blake “summer comeback tour”. Continue reading

Comments Off on James Blake Viewed in the Past Tense Except By His Fans.

Filed under ATP

Serena Surprises Blake While Murray Arrives Early in L.A.

Andy Murray Has a Practice Hit in L.A.

Day Two at the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles started out quiet enough with plenty of veteran and up and coming American players taking the blue courts at the UCLA Tennis Center. And while there weren’t any big upsets, it took a surprise appearance by the world’s best female tennis player along with the the first sighting of the top seed on the men’s side, who made some news of his own while flying from Miami to LAX, that caused the most excitement today.

And who says the early rounds at ATP 250 events are boring? Continue reading

Comments Off on Serena Surprises Blake While Murray Arrives Early in L.A.

Filed under ATP

“Right Time, Right Week” for Atlanta Tennis Championships.

Atlanta Skyline (Credit: Jennifer Chong/Creative Commons)

With the return of the Atlanta Tennis Championships, Atlanta will be the first stop on the Olympus U.S. Open Series. I spoke with Bill Oakes, the event’s tournament director, about what is in store for fans and why it took so long for pro tennis to return to the capital of the South.

ATN: You just announced on your site that John Isner, James Blake and Robby Ginepri have committed to the event. When will you know the rest of the field and are there any “wish list” players you are still waiting to hear from? Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under ATP

My Holiday Wish List for Tennis.

With the holidays in full swing, it’s time to send out my wish list for what I like to see changed or improved for both the WTA and ATP tours in 2010.

Don’t Believe the Hype.

At the beginning of the year, way, way too much hype and expectation was heaped upon the shoulders of both Andy Murray, because of his U.S. Open Finalist run, and Dinara Safina because she somehow found herself at No. 1 by just being consistent in 2008. Murray responded to the buzz by having a decent year, but nothing to suggest he could challenge for No. 1. Safina meanwhile started her “misery tour” losing badly to Serena in Australia, choking her way through the French Open final and then collapsing in the third round in New York.

I’m not blaming either player for being unable to live up to the hype, but my wish for next year is that both tours and the media learn that overhyping new players in the hopes it will translate into actual results doesn’t work.

Speed Up The Challenge System.

The challenge system has helped the game a great deal. But what hurts the game is how players abuse the system. The following scenario occurs at least once a match. A call is made, a player, instead of immediately challenging the call, will ask the umpire, “What do you think?” The umpire might stand by the call or say it’s worth a look. Then the player will think some more and then finally challenge.

Players should have five seconds to challenge or cede the point. That’s it. Allowing players to get into conversations with the umpire or going up to have a look at the “mark” (especially on a hard court) is a waste of everybody’s time.

“Private Life, Drama Baby Keep Me Out” – The Pretenders

Usually the end of the season is normally a quiet time. That wasn’t the case this year which started with the Serena Williams meltdown, Andre Agassi’s meth use admission, the Stockholm Open sex scandal, and the doping ban (now lifted) of Belgian players Yanina Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse. Add in that we’re still waiting to hear if Richard Gasquet will suffer anymore fines or bans due to his “cocaine kiss” and we can all agree that we hope 2010 keeps the focus on-court and not off-court.

Player Wish List.

And now a few wishes for individual players:

Dinara Safina: Wishing you a speedy recovery and hope that you focus more on winning a Slam this year than trying to be No.1 again.

Jelena Jankovic/Elena Dementieva: Figure out a way to finally win a Slam soon or else you both run the risk of being the biggest “bridemaids” of your generation.

Venus Williams: My wish is that you stay healthy. You are one of the best ambassadors for the game and we’d love to see you make another Grand Slam run.

Sam Querrey/John Isner/James Blake: My wish is that one of you make some kind of breatkthrough this year at a Grand Slam. And no, not make it to the quarters. I mean taking out Federer or Nadal en route to the semifinals or better. It’s the only way you will make it to the elite and, more important for U.S. Tennis fans, onto their radar screens.

Andy Roddick. My wish is probably the same one Andy has – another Grand Slam trophy under his Xmas tree.

Comments Off on My Holiday Wish List for Tennis.

Filed under ATP, Tennis, WTA

ATP Crystal Ball for 2010.

2010 will be a transition year for the ATP Tour even though the winners may look the same. Here are my predictions for the ATP men again ranked where I think they will end up at year’s end.

1. Roger Federer. To think that “Fed” won’t win another Slam or two next year is highly unlikely. Federer’s consistency week in and week out will help keep his top ranking intact. But this could be his last year of total domination. The real question for Federer, especially after winning the French Open, is what will motivate him to keep going after winning everything. Maybe a chance at a true Grand Slam?

2. Juan Martin Del Potro. That’s right. The big man from Argentina will be chasing Federer all year. Injuries and still a nagging lack of belief could hinder him but I expect Delpo to win another Slam. Could the French be next?

3. Novak Djokovic. The “Falcon” has returned with the fire and belief that was lost for most of 2009. He could win a Slam but he’ll have to keep up the balancing act between being “the class clown” and his intensity which rubs some fans the wrong way. Look for him to come into Australia with a vengeance.

4. Rafael Nadal. I know. I know. The Nadal fans are going to attack me for this but I believe that the Nadal “mystique” is over and the top guys on tour have finally figured out how to play him. I like him in the French for sure but how his body holds up will be the story next year.

5. Andy Murray. I don’t understand the obsession with Murray. He’s a talented player but it’s been proven if you attack him ala Marin Cilic, Roger Federer you will win. His mental toughness is still an issue and he needs a big shot to help him win cheap points. I’m still not convinced Murray has the game to win a Slam. He’ll get close, maybe even a final, but I doubt he’ll win one next year.

6. Nikolay Davydenko. Is this the year the hardest working man on tour finally wins a Slam? Maybe. He certainly proved in Shanghai and the ATP Finals that he can beat anyone especially with his improved serve and net play. But how he holds up in best 3 of 5 matches is the real question. Plus, will fans finally get behind the “unsexy” Russian? I like his chances in Australia better than anywhere else.

7. Andy Roddick. As the ’09 Wimbledon final was a defining match for Roddick, I feel like 2010 is the last hope for him to win one more Slam. He’s in great shape more or less (unless the knee becomes a bigger issue) and coach Larry Stefanki has got him playing better, but if he’s going to do it, this is it. Maybe the U.S. Open?

8. Robin Soderling The lanky Swede proved his French Open runner-up spot was no fluke as he continued his strong play late in the season. He certainly believes he can beat the top players, but does he have the game to prevail in the later stages, especially against Federer? He might get close this year at the Slams but I don’t see him breaking through yet.

9 through 15. Take your pick. Tsonga, Verdasco, Gonzalez, Simon, Monfils, Haas. All these guys have gotten close but no cigar. 2010 could be their “this is it” moment to finally breakthrough. But don’t count on it. Anyone of them could make a Slam final but Jelena Jankovic has more chances than these guys.

Wildcards – Sam Querrey. Querrey certainly had a decent 2009 and I can see him getting into the top 15 but winning a Slam feels out of reach.

Marin Cilic – Could the super tall Croat have a Del Potro like year and finally break into the top 10? Watch out for him at Wimbledon where his big serve and volley game should pay dividends.

Lleyton Hewitt – With his health restored, Hewitt finds himself back in the top 20 again. Can he finally win the Australian Open? Sure, if Federer gets knocked out early.

Richard Gasquet – Now that he’s back on tour, 2010 will be the year when we find out if he has what it takes to get back into the top 10 or just be the punchline to one of the more bizarre storylines of 2009.

James Blake – For all the talent, Blake has never lived up to his potential. Something could happen, but I wouldn’t be surprised if 2010 is his last year.

John Isner – He’s got the big serve and had a breakthrough win against Andy Roddick at the U.S. Open but he needs a bigger game overall if wants to even crack into the top 20.

David Nalbandian – He finally returns after enduring hip surgery. But has the highly talented Argentine been eclipsed by the younger Del Potro?

Plenty of other players I could mention as well with their own chances at glory next year. Let me know what you think!

3 Comments

Filed under ATP, Tennis

Bonne Chance Marat!

I’m not paying that much attention to Paris this week only because it feels all like overkill before London but yesterday’s action was obviously worth noting with Roger Federer losing to an inspired Julian Benneteau, Rafael Nadal surviving five match points against Nicolas Almagro and Andy Murray enduring a three set war versus James Blake before Murray finally won the third set tiebreak.

Wasn’t Federer’s long break after the U.S. Open suppossed to refresh him for the last leg of the year? Instead his long break seems to have made him rather lethargic about the whole thing. Fed is also starting a pattern of being broken in his opening service games of final sets. He did it against Del Potro in New York, Djokovic in Basel and now in Paris. Mental fatigue or baby fatigue? And why is it that everytime Fed loses, it’s described as “shocking” or “unforeseen”?

And yes, yesterday was the very last match of Marat Safin’s career after he lost a tough three setter to Juan Martin Del Potro. Delpo showed real poise during the whole affair. The ceremony for Safin at the end was very generous especially with many players coming on court to say goodbye. You can watch the end of it here.

I know everyone is moaning and groaning about him leaving but just watching him here, one can see that he’s at peace and ready to start a new life. Good for him. I wish more current players would take his cue and realize when it’s time for something else. And as he said it recently.

“I’ve lived my life the way I wanted to, whether scaling the mountains, partying long into the night or having fun playing soccer.”

Bonne Chance Marat!

Comments Off on Bonne Chance Marat!

Filed under ATP, Tennis