Is reality finally hitting James Blake and his Top 10 ranking, or is he simply in a funk?
Two weeks after beating Florent Serra at Indian Wells, James Blake loses to the same Florent Serra in a stunner in the second round at Miami yesterday. The loss adds to Blake’s futility of late as the American has now dropped six of his last nine matches.
What’s interesting to look at about Blake this year is that all 14 of his wins in 2007 have come against guys ranked outside of the Top 40. Against guys inside the Top 40, Blake’s winless, 0-3, dropping matches to Gonzo, Malisse and Berdych.
And it doesn’t get better now that he’s losing to Serra, Benneteau and Korolev.
With the next tournament on his favorite hard court surface some four months away in mid July, Blake will now have his work cut out in maintaining his ranking and his confidence on the clay and then the grass in June.
Of course between now and the clay, Blake will have one more look on the hard courts against Spain in D-Cup. But both a resurgent Rafael Nadal and either Tommy Robredo or David Ferrer will be tough tests for the suddenly slumping Blake.
My guess is Blake’s Top 5 days are over (he’s been as high as No. 4), but I still think he can hang around the Top 15 a few more years, which is not a slight against James who I don’t think anyone ever thought would have become a Top 20 let alone a Top 10 or Top 5 player. So for that you have to give credit to James.
If you get Tennis Channel or happen to be on-site down in sunny Miami (I don’t have the luxury of either, I hear ESPN begins Tuesday and the sun doesn’t show here in Mich. until May), tonight’s match between Tiger Woods’ new pal, Roger Federer, and Sam Querrey should be a cracker.
In case you don’t know, Querrey is a 19-year-old kid from Cali who smacks the ball pretty good off all sides. He’s like an updated version of Todd Martin with a bigger game and fewer bandages. He can crush forehands as well as backhands, and at 6-foot-6 he belts a pretty mean serve – I think he’ll be the next American to reach the Top 5, maybe within two years.
What’s great about Sam is that he’s good enough to joke about the matchup with Roger. Said Sam after his first round win: “Federer is not that good, so it would be cool to get my first Top 10 win off him. … If I see him [Federer] in the locker room or in practice, I’ll give him a little stare or something, intimidate him.”
And if Tiger’s in attendance, Sam says he’ll be ready: “I’ll probably get an autograph from Tiger maybe in between sets or something. I’ll bring a golf ball in there with me.”
You have to root for a kid like that, especially one who would go into the stands during a set break to get a Tiger autograph. Plus, word is it’s quite windy in Miami this week, and we know from past matches that Roger’s not a big fan of the wind. But I’m sure Tiger gave him a few tips on handling Mother Nature.
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