‘A little frustrating’

By Richard Kent
Updated: January 29, 2009

CONNECTICUT — Perhaps this year’s Australian Open was a microcosm of James Blake’s tennis career. The wonderfully talented and athletic Blake yet again made it to the Quarters of a major but fell rather tamely 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 at Rod Laver Arena to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

During the match, Blake crumbled under the weight of numerous unforced errors, a tennis reality that has plagued him throughout his career. Blake noted after “it’s a little frustrating.”

Blake has had a marvelous career after playing at Harvard and winning the NCAA Men’s Singles Championship there. He has been seeded as high as no.4 in the world in January, 2007.

He has won 10 singles titles, five doubles titles and career prize money in excess of six million dollars.

Despite the above, Blake has been a non-factor in virtually all of the majors in which he has competed since he started his pro career. In 28 Grand Slams, Blake has advanced as far as the quarter finals just three times — at last year’s Australian Open and the US Open in 2005 and 2006.

He has lost in the first round three times, the second round 11 times and the third round on seven occasions.

Blake has had a brilliant tennis career, far exceeding even his own expectations when he was a star collegiate player at Harvard, but he has never had the great break through tournament which has thrust him on to the national stage.

He has had many memorable US Open night matches, but most of them have ended in defeat.

Blake recently turned 29 years old and has had a career cluttered with great early round victories but inexplicable loses to the likes of Carlos Moya, Max Mirnyi, Richard Gasquet and Marat Safin.

Will Blake ever win a major? Probably not –but that won’t diminish the greatness of his career or who he is as a person.