Friday, February 16, 2007

Blake Served Out of SAP Open

No. 2 seed James Blake lost to Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (4), 6-7 (11), 4-6 in the second round of the SAP Open Thursday.

Dr. Ivo, ranked 103rd in the world, fired 29 aces in the match. He faced down Blake serving for the match and then fought off five match points in the second set breaker before taking it 13-11.

In the final set, the 6-foot-10 Gentle Giant hit 12 aces to frustrate James. Karlovic avenged his lost to Blake just over a year ago at The Tennis Channel Open. Karlovic will play fifth-seeded American Mardy Fish, who defeated Sam Warburg 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, in the quarterfinals.

James, to his credit, takes responsiblity for letting this one slip away. "I was [serving for the match] up 5-3, 30-love, and I have no one to blame for that but myself. I made some errors and didn't make some first serve.

"His serve isn't something you're used to dealing with, especially the angle. You see a lot of big serves from Andy [Roddick], [Ivan] Ljubicic and [Mario] Ancic, but you don't see anyone coming from 6'10". It's difficult, but I got on it well enough to win the first set breaker and get that one break. I really had it on my racquet. It's my fault."

Often, Blake will say that he played well but his opponent just outplayed him, even if that's not how the match unfolded. Minor as it might seem, I see this admission as a step in the right direction and it could make a difference for Blake down the road.

Americans Andy Roddick and Vince Spadea also advanced to the last eight, along with Marat Safin, Andy Murray, Benjamin Becker, and Hyung-Taik Lee.


Anonymous said...

Hi Craig,

Thank you for the post. You probably think I'm making excuse for Blake again, but I only want to remind a few things:

1)Ivo Karlovic eliminated Hewitt at Wimby 03 in the first round. Serena said:"I don't want to make history by having both Defending Champions and N0.1 knocked down in the first round." And Serena successfully defended her title as you all know (to be fair, thanks to Venus' injury).

2) Roddick said about Karlovic's serve as it "coming down from a tree".

3) Most DC players lost early this week. No time to rest after tough and emotional DC. My heart with all players who placed his country's victory above his own.

I really have no reason to defend Blake. If I can deal with Marat's and Venus' loss (which I had to learn), I can deal with anybody else loss.



Craig Hickman said...

Hi Lan,

Always love your reason.

My thing about Blake with this loss is actually positive: he doesn't claim that he played well and was just outplayed. He took responsibility for falling away when it was time to close out the match.

That's progress.