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James Blake

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Status: Single
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Biography

James Riley Blake (born December 28, 1979 in Yonkers, New York, United States) is an American professional tennis player and is currently the 6th ranked player in the world (8th in the ATP Race points). He is the second-ranked American player behind Andy Roddick. Blake is known for his speed and powerful forehand. In 2006 he reached the final of the Tennis Masters Cup but lost to World No. 1 Roger Federer in three sets.

Blake started playing tennis at age 5 alongside his brother Thomas. When 13, he was diagnosed with severe scoliosis and for five years as a teenager, he had to wear a full-length back brace for 18 hours a day, though not while playing tennis. Blake attended Fairfield Warde High School (then called Fairfield High School), in Fairfield, Connecticut. He went to school with musician John Mayer. Blake was inspired to pursue tennis after hearing his role model, Arthur Ashe, speak to the Harlem Junior Tennis Program. Brian Barker was his first (and current) coach. He dropped out of Harvard University after his sophomore year to pursue a career in tennis.

In January 2006, Blake lost in the second round of the Adelaide International. However, Blake bounced back and won the Sydney International winning his fourth ATP tour title defeating Russian Igor Andreev in the final. At the 2006 Australian Open, he was seeded #20, where he lost in the third round to Spanish player Tommy Robredo. Despite the loss, he cracked into the Top 20 for the first time in his career. In March 2006, he beat Lleyton Hewitt in the finals of the Las Vegas Open for his fifth ATP tour title. At the first Tennis Masters Series event in Indian Wells, Blake defeated Tommy Robredo in the third round and beat world #2 Rafael Nadal in the semifinals; he would lose in the final to Roger Federer. By reaching the finals of that event, Blake became the first man with African-American heritage since Arthur Ashe to reach the Top 10.

Kicking off the 2006 clay court season, after two first round losses, Blake had a victory over Carlos Moyà at the Hamburg Masters event in the first round, but lost to Mario Ancic in the third round. At the French Open, he took down rising Spanish player Nicolas Almagro in four sets in the second round. Being the last remaining American man in the third round, he was beaten by French home favorite Gael Monfils in five sets.

On July 3, 2007, Blake's book, "Breaking Back: How I Lost Everything and Won Back My Life" was released and debuted at #22 on the New York Times bestseller list. His book discusses his comeback after his unlucky 2004 season. However, African American critic Toure criticized the memoir in the New York Times book review for ignoring the issue of racism in tennis. Toure highlights the 2001 US Open incident with white Australian tennis pro Lleyton Hewitt as a part of Blake's life that should have been explored in more detail in the memoir. Hewitt humiliated Blake by claiming a black linesman cheated for Blake due to his skin color. Toure's viewpoint is that Blake has psychological issues with success and his heritage and that this is the reason he is hesitant to become a tennis champion. Blake is 1-10 in five set matches and he has the worst five set record ever for a top 10 male tennis player.



 


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