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James Blake Out Of Wimbledon On Day One: "I Just Haven't Been As Confident"

Monday, June 22, 2009

Black Tennis Pro's James Blake 2009 Wimbledon Day 1James Blake, USA
(Photo by Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images)

Black Tennis Pro's Andreas Seppi 2009 Wimbledon Day 1WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — James Blake is finding it tough to pinpoint why he keeps losing matches he thinks he should win.

Once ranked in the top 10, once a fairly regular participant in the second week of major championships, Blake is now on a three-match losing streak at Grand Slam tournaments. The American's latest setback came Monday at Wimbledon, where the 17th-seeded Blake was beaten 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (5) by 50th-ranked Andreas Seppi of Italy.

"I still feel like I can play with anyone in the world, but it's just, for some reason lately, it's been very inconsistent," Blake said. "I've been doing all the training. I've been doing all the conditioning. I'm fit as I've been. I just haven't been as confident, I guess. Maybe that's just from not winning a lot of matches."

He also bowed out in the first round at the French Open last month, following a fourth-round exit at the Australian Open in January.

There were chances to get back into the match against Seppi. He held one set point in the third, leading 6-5, but missed a forehand long to end a 23-stroke exchange. Blake then took a 5-0 lead in the tiebreaker, before Seppi won the match's last seven points.

"I don't think I've ever done that before," said Seppi, who never has made it past the third round at a Grand Slam tournament. "I didn't think I would win that tiebreaker."

Blake thought he might be ready for a run at Wimbledon after reaching the final at the Queen's Club tuneup tournament on grass.

"I know I still have the ability," said Blake, who reached No. 4 in the rankings in November 2006 and is a three-time major quarterfinalist. "It's just frustrating, because it's happening at big tournaments where I'm having my not-so-good performances."

His best shot is his forehand, but Seppi neutralized that by repeatedly drawing Blake into backhand exchanges.

"Backhand-against-backhand is to my advantage. It's not like his backhand is all that strong," Seppi said. "I played more aggressively than usual, especially on his serve. If you let him take the initiative, especially on his forehand, he's very dangerous."

Not on this day. And not lately on tennis' top stages.

"I've had a lot of success, a lot of wins, but I still want more. That's why it's tough to accept nowadays, because I know I've done that and I know what it feels like to win and to go deep in Slams and to win tournaments, and I just haven't had that feeling lately," said the 29-year-old Blake, who was born in Yonkers, N.Y, and lives in Florida. "I definitely want it back, and I hope I have it enough times before I retire that I won't miss it as much when I retire."

He beat Seppi in their two most recent meetings, but the Italian wasn't intimidated when he found out Blake would be his first-round opponent. Seppi originally was drawn to face No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro, but the bracket was changed after defending champion Rafael Nadal pulled out of the tournament.

Posted by Shelia

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