Saturday, August 25, 2007

All-American Final at Yale

James Blake overcame a second set lapse and two squandered match points in the third to overcome Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2) and advance to his second Pilot Pen final in New Haven. He'll face his good friend and sometimes doubles partner Mardy Fish, who outreturned Ivo Karlovic 7-6(3), 6-4 to make his first final of 2007.

Fish, both knees tigthly wrapped for tendonitis, received treatment on his right arm a few times in the semfinal. Karlovic was often doubled over with back pain. It looked more like an infirmary on court than a tennis match, but Fish gutted it out to reach the final.

In the night match, J-Block was in subdued form. It was likely the first match all week where the drunk and raucous fans costumed in matching powder-blue T-shirts didn't taunt Blake's opponent. I'm all for enthusiastic fans, but it seems they become a hindrance to fair play and something ought to be done to quell their antics. I've always considered them Blake's hitmen. They do what Blake, gentleman that he presents as, won't bring himself to do. It will interesting to see how they behave in the final later this evening since Mardy is such a close friend of James.

In the women's final, Svetlana Kuznetsova, who advanced when Elena Dementieva retired in the third set with nausea, will face teen qualifier Agnes Szavay (pictured) of Hungary who outlasted Eleni Daniilidou to reach her second WTA final. She won Palermo last month. Sveta will be looking for her first title of 2007, having lost four previous finals this season.


Helen W said...

Re James Blake: I don't know whether to be happy that he prevailed in tough situations, or unhappy that he contributed so much to creating the tough situations in the first place.

I agree with you that if the J-Block fans are being unsportsmanlike, then they need to clean up their act. I hope never to see a match here in North America where the fans behaved like they did in the Baghdatis - Agassi match at the US Open. However, I don't buy your implied notion that James tacitly approves of their behaviour. I believe he is a gentleman, through and through, and I have thought so even before his ordeals in 2004.

Savannah said...

I mis typed my first comment.
James in an unguarded moment said that if his next opponent played him tough he'd sic the J-block on them.

I have seen them live Helen. Marcos fans chant and sing to boost Marcos. They don't taunt the opposition like the J-Block does. They are drunk and obnoxious most of the time and even got to Federer during last years US Open quarters. He stuck his tongue out at them which for Roger is like cursing someone out or flipping them the bird.

They need to be stopped.

Helen W said...

Savannah, I had no idea that the J-Block fans were so obnoxious. If that be the case, and I definitly trust your judgement, then I agree -- ultimately it is James's responsibility to get them under control. In his book he relates how one of his oldest friends gives them a little pep-talk on the dos and don'ts of tennis etiquette.

The fans I was referring to at the US Open Agassi -- Baghdatis match were the Agassi fans. As Baghdatis lay writhing in pain on the court, they rained down a chorus of boos and hoots. The cheered his double faults, and on, and on, .... I was so disgusted that I turned of the TV before even watching the handshake at the net. And I was a bit disappointed that Agassi did not say anything about their boorish behaviour.

I feel that we are lucky in tennis in that most of the time, an aura of civility prevails. I really appreciate it, and want to see it continue.

Craig Hickman said...

helen w, I don't know. Like Savannah, I heard James say in an interview that he would sic the J-Block on John Isner if he had to play him in a US hardcourt event.

He not only approves of their behavior, but he encourages it.

We are complicated people. All of us. Being a gentleman is a presentation. I've always thought that whether it be about James Blake or James Bond.

Craig Hickman said...

As for the Agassi fans during the Baghdatis match, I totally agree. That was some of the most boorish behavior I've ever seen.

Ironically, Agassi didn't like the J-Block during his match against Blake the year before.

Both Blake and Agassi, from where I sit, have the kind of personalities that can fool a lot of people.

During Blake's match against Calleri, Blake was berating Calleri's coach and Calleri took it personally. He also let it get to him that he blew three match points. Blake tried to apologize at the end of the match, but Calleri was having none of it. Blake said "I would never say anything to you."

Well, talking to his coach is like talking to him. And the chair up chastised Blake for it. Blake wasn't happy with the chastisement and let the chair ump know in no uncertain terms.

Blake isn't all that he appears.

That's all I'll say about that.

Helen W said...

Craig and Savannah, I am probably guilty of idealizing James. As you observe, we are all complicated people, and the best of us sometimes stoops to doing something that, to our friends, flies in the face of our usual best qualities.

I'm not sure what JB meant by "sic the J-Block on him" -- if it is merely encourage as many of his supporters as possible to show up, Fine; if he means encourage them to be unsportsmanlike, then Not Fine.

I regard Andre as an ambassador for the game, but even he did nothing to discourage the boorishness of the fans at the match I referred to in my previous post.

I hope I see James take to heart the concerns expressed by fans and particularly other players, and does his best to educate the J-Block in learning tennis etiquette.

Karen said...

Hey all. I have never liked James Blake. Do not care for him and do not care for his game. As to Andre, never was a fan, and never will be. I just do not like all the grandstanding and fist pumping and all that crap. Totally unnecessary. Even when I see it from my faves I cringe because I believe it is so unnecessary. That is why I will always be a fan of Venus. She is always respectful on Court to her opponents. Never challenges (or almost never) line calls, umpires etc. She just goes out there and plays her game, yelling, screaming and chasing down balls. People say that she never gives her opponents credit - she does - but ultimately it is all about her and her game. If she plays her game and cuts down on the errors, she is unstoppable. As to James Blake, he is as fake as they come and I was really rooting for Paul-Henri to win last night. Sorry he could not make it through the tie-break. I fell asleep after the second set so not aware as to whether the J-Block got in on the action. And to my mind they are not there to cheer on James, but to intimidate his opponent and try to get into his opponent's head. Obviously it has not work because the fellow really has no game.