Blake Defends American Men's Tennis After Reaching Second Round At Wimbledon
Tuesday, June 26th 2007, 7:26 pm
By: News On 6
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) _ James Blake won, then took on the critics.
After advancing to the second round at Wimbledon by beating Igor Andreev of Russia 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 Tuesday, Blake defended the state of American men's tennis after an 0-9 showing in the first round of the French Open.
``It was one of those coincidences or bad luck incidents where we had everything go wrong at the French Open,'' Blake said. ``I just hope that doesn't happen again for a long time, especially as long as I'm playing.''
It wasn't that bad at Wimbledon, but almost. Only three of the 14 men in the draw advanced to the second round: No. 9 Blake, No. 3 Andy Roddick and unseeded Amer Delic. The U.S. women have four players in the second round, including former champions Venus and Serena Williams, while five have lost and two are to play their opening matches Wednesday.
The chances of a second straight Grand Slam shutout for the men were squashed before the tournament even started, however, because Roddick was drawn to play Justin Gimelstob.
``It helped when I saw Roddick vs. Gimelstob, first round,'' Blake said. ``I knew we couldn't'' all lose.
But besides Blake and Roddick _ the last American man to win a Grand Slam at the 2003 U.S. Open _ only Delic reached the second round at the All England Club. He beat Lukas Dlouhy of Czech Republic 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 Tuesday.
Bobby Reynolds, Vince Spadea, Kevin Kim, Robert Kendrick, Mardy Fish, Michael Russell, Sam Querrey, Zack Fleishman, Robby Ginepri and Sam Warburg, however, all joined Gimelstob with losses over the first two days.
Fish may have had the toughest first-round opponent. He lost to 2006 runner-up Rafael Nadal 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-3 Tuesday.
``They're working hard. They're doing their best,'' Blake said. ``It's tough when you don't get seeded, because you end up with those tough draws.''
Nonetheless, the poor showing is not likely to make the American public easily forget former stars such as Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Michael Chang and Jim Courier, who combined to win 27 Grand Slam titles.
``It was so dominant that every American tennis fan would just turn on the TV the second weekend of a Grand Slam, and you know you're going to see at least one of them,'' Blake said. ``You can't do that any more. Just about the only person you can be pretty sure of seeing is that Swiss guy.''
That Swiss guy, also known as Roger Federer, has kept Roddick from winning at least two Wimbledon titles, beating him in consecutive finals in 2004 and '05.
``It's pretty tough, unless you're from Switzerland, to say you have a star that's guaranteed to be there every second week,'' Blake said. ``But having two guys that have the chance to get there, I think we're in pretty good shape.''
Blake is also going to try to help the American fans get to know him a little better by writing a book. ``Breaking Back'' is scheduled to be released next month.
``The more you get to know some of these guys, the more you're impressed with what they've gone through to get to this level,'' Blake said.
Both Blake and Roddick will try to make it to the third round on Wednesday.
Blake, who had his first-round match postponed Monday because of rain delays, will face Andrei Pavel of Romania, while Roddick takes on Danai Udomchoke of Thailand.