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Monday, June 22, 2009

Blake attacks Tour after crashing out

Photo Titled Blake reflectsBlake reflects

Photo Titled Andreas Seppi

Andreas Seppi stretches to reach a backhand during his shock upset of James Blake in the 1st round.
James Blake criticised the ATP Tour schedule after becoming the first big casualty of Wimbledon 2009. The 17th seed was upset in straight sets 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) by the on-song Italian Andreas Seppi on Court 3, the old No.2 Court, known as the “Graveyard of Champions”.

A fatigued Blake admitted afterwards that it was difficult to stay focused while playing so much tennis and believed the tour calendar attributed to the withdrawal of defending Wimbledon Champion Rafael Nadal.

“I'm probably not supposed to say anything about the schedule or about the ATP in that way, but it's just tough for guys,” said the 29-year-old American. “There's really not many ways to mess with the schedule, to take tournaments away, but it would definitely help the players' careers be a little bit longer.

“I don't want to sit here and say there's an easy solution, because I know it's tough. I've been on the [ATP] player council. I know how difficult those meetings are, how much the tournaments want to hold on to their spots. But for the players' longevity, something should be done.

“You need to be training, there's no real pre‑season. We're at a slam three weeks into the year [at the Australian Open], so you can't warm up into a year. You don't have 20 or 30 games of pre‑season like in baseball.”

Blake, who two weeks ago enjoyed a fine run to the finals of the Queen’s Club pre-Wimbledon grass court event, was struggling throughout this first-round match with a heavily strapped ankle. This, along with an upset stomach, slowed him down, playing into the hands of the consistent Seppi.

Seppi’s trademark counter-attacking baseline game also helped frustrate the American’s power game as he was pushed around the court and forced to make mistakes at the crucial moments when going for his shots.

Seppi looked quicker from the back of the court than Blake and was returning well, earning 15 break points during the match, four of which he converted.

“He did a better job of hitting his backhand solid enough to keep me from being able to take it up the line and start getting forehands," admitted a downbeat Blake afterwards.

The fourth break crucially turned the third set back in Seppi’s favour, allowing him to fight back in a set that Blake was winning, despite having to request pain killers from the ATP Tour trainer in the third game.

Blake’s powerful forehands earned him an early three-point lead in the tiebreak, and the crowd began to believe that the American would turn the match around.

But two scuffed backhands from Blake allowed the Italian to fight back and force a match point, which he then converted with an incredible inside-out forehand, to send the American crashing out of the tournament at the first hurdle.

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