Blake Attacks Tennis Commentators After French Open Loss
James Blake was one of three seeded upsets Thursday in second-round play at the French Open, with the American going down in four sets to unseeded “The Importance of Being” Ernests Gulbis, then complaining to the media that he fell in the trap of “playing like the commentators think I should play” (does that include ESPN commentator and Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe?).
“The match was just poor, not within my game,” Blake said. “I think I played the way too many commentators think I should play. Saying I probably didn’t make very many errors, and I didn’t hit that many winners. And that’s the way a lot of them think I should play, and I think today was a good indication of that’s not the way to win matches for me. I lost to a guy ranked No. 80 in the world. Granted, he didn’t play like No. 80 in the world, he played better than that, but there are a lot of guys out there that can dictate play against me if I try to play like that. That’s just really frustrating for me to play a match like that when I know my game, I know what works best for me, and I didn’t necessarily do it effectively today.”
Where was Blake’s coach Brian Barker while his charge is letting himself be coached by TV commentators?
Unknown Frenchman Jeremy “Cheesy” Chardy brought the crowd to their feet Thursday, coming from two sets down to defeat No. 6 seed David Nalbandian. Unseeded Robby Ginepri also became the second American to reach the third round, joining Wayne Odesnik, when he came from a set down to conquer No. 27 seed Igor Andreev in four sets.
“It’s just to psych-out my opponents, I’ll wear it again next round,” said Ginepri of an intricate wrap he is wearing on his right arm.
Top 10-seeded winners Thursday were (1) Roger Federer (d. Albert Montanes in four), (2) Rafael Nadal (d. Nicolas Devilder), (4) Nikolay Davydenko (d. Marat Safin), (5) David Ferrer (d. Fabrice Santoro, dropping only one game), and (9) Stan Wawrinka (d. Marin Cilic).
“Conditions were tough,” said Federer, who found himself a set down against the Spaniard Montanes. “Obviously, today playing basically 10 games in the rain wasn’t a whole lot of fun. But that’s what happens on clay sometimes, so I was pretty pleased to get to 5-all. Coming back from the rain after that, it wasn’t easy. But unfortunately I couldn’t play my best in that particular moment and he was pretty solid. So it was tough going down a set, but reaction was good and bounced back strong. Played really well after that. After that first set, I’m very happy with my performance.”
Highlights Friday at Roland Garros are (2) Rafael Nadal vs. (26) Jarkko Nieminen, American Wayne Odesnik vs. (3) Novak Djokovic, the French Nalbandian-killer Jeremy Chardy vs. (30) Dmitry Tursunov, (15) Mikhail Youzhny vs. (22) Fernando Verdasco, and a grinder in (19) Nicolas Almagro vs. pasty Brit (10) Andy Murray.
Darkness Falls on Sluggish Sharapova; Mauresmo Meekly Exits at French Open
Four seeded players were ousted Thursday at the French Open, where a sluggish world No. 1 Maria Sharapova’s day was ended by darkness, leading unseeded American Bethanie Mattek 6-2, 2-3.
Orchestrating upsets were Kaia Kanepi who downed No. 6-seeded Russian Anna Chakvetadze in straight sets; China’s Jie Zheng who came from a set down to defeat No. 21-seeded Russian Maria Kirilenko; Spanish 19-year-old Carla Suarez Navarro who bounced former No. 1 and No. 22 seed Amelie Mauresmo; and Belarus’ Olga Govortsova who bageled No. 31 Ai Sugiyama.
Mauresmo looked lacking in enthusiasm in exiting meekly in straight sets against the unheralded Navarro, drawing comparisons to world No. 1 Justine Henin who retired prior to the French Open citing a lack of desire.
“I don’t know what to say right now, because there was nothing much on my side, apart from a few games in which I was slightly more aggressive and not letting her play that game that much,” Mauresmo said. “But I don’t know if I lacked rigor in my intentions. I don’t know if I let her impose her style too much, because she has a typically Spanish style. It’s usually men playing like that, so she has a very long shot, but her balls were not that fast. So that’s it. It’s a bit difficult for me to analyze all this. And all I can say is that I feel sorry about the way I played, especially from a tactical standpoint…If I’m not determined, if I’m not willing to win every point, you know, then everything’s connected: your legs and everything’s linked.”
Top 10-seeded winners Thursday were (3) Jelena Jankovic (d. Marina Erakovic), (4) Svetlana Kuznetsova (d. Vania King), (7) Elena Dementieva (d. Marta Domachowska), and (8) Venus Williams (d. Selima Sfar).
Highlights Friday include (2) Ana Ivanovic vs. (30) Caroline Wozniacki, the wobbly (1) Maria Sharapova to finish leading American Bethanie Mattek 6-2, 2-3, (8) Venus Williams vs. claycourt specialist (26) Flavia Pennetta, (5) Serena Williams vs. (27) Katarina Srebotnik, (14) Agnieszka Radwanska vs. France’s (19) Alize Cornet, and (3) Jelena Jankovic vs. (28) Dominika Cibulkova.
“It’s now or never,” said Pennetta on facing Venus. “This is the time in my career where I feel like can achieve the most. I’m totally focused on my tennis this year. She’s a great champion and I have to make sure to cut down the angles of the court, because that where she’s at her best, on the run.”
Swedish Grand Slam champion and Hall of Famer Sven Davidson has passed away. He was 79…Rafael Nadal is now 23-0 at the French Open, and 36-0 in best-of-five clay matches. Nadal returns to the court for a fourth straight day, and he’s back on the schedule for a fifth straight day. If he wins Friday he will finally get a day of rest before his Sunday quarterfinal…Raise your hands if you thought the only two Americans to reach the third round would be Wayne Odesnik and Robby Ginepri…Maria Sharapova isn’t very good on clay, but it’s amazing how difficult it really is to beat her. Bethanie Mattek will get close, but likely no cigar…Daniel Nestor has to be smiling somewhere; while he won his first-round doubles, his former partner Mark Knowles, who teams with Mahesh Bhupathi, were upset in the first round. Knowles and Nestor teamed to win the French Open last year, so that’s a lot of points Knowles just lost…Eduardo Schwank has won 20 straight matches…James Blake has never reached a Slam semifinal…Former French Open semifinalist Ivan Ljubicic has yet to drop set…Forecast calls for improving weather the next few days, then warming trend with more rain possible…Carla Sanchez Navarro, Jie Zheng, Iveta Benesova and Bethanie Mattek are the remaining qualifiers…Jeremy Chardy had never played a five set match until his 0-2 comeback win over David Nalbandian…Coach Hernan Gumy on getting Marat Safin back into shape: “It was difficult but he was ready to put in the work, to take up the challenge. Contrary to what people say, Marat isn’t lazy. He’s very motivated. We’ve worked hard and he’s in good condition again. It wasn’t always easy and he exploded lots of times, threw his racquet and shouted at everyone. When that happened, I just left him alone to get it out of his system and afterwards we got back to work. Marat’s like that. He’ll never change. That’s just who he is.”…Is Jelena Jankovic suffering from tendinitis?…Justine Henin’s former coach, Carlos Rodriguez, will be coaching Russian Anna Chakvetadze…Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will be out around three months after undergoing knee surgery.
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