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Steadfast Blake is “not done yet”

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Originally published on: 28/07/10 12:23

After three consecutive first round losses, James Blake enjoyed a 6-1 6-4 triumph over Leonardo Mayer at the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles to claim his first win since March.

With fond memories of the Californian city having reached the final there in 2007, the American discovered the form he has been lacking in recent times, defeating the 23-year-old Argentine in just 65 minutes.

“I’m really happy with the way I played,” said Blake. “I went into the match with the goal of just controlling my side of the court and playing with the right kind of energy.”

And the American, who has endured a torrid year after a knee injury left him considering retirement after it forced him out of the entire clay-court season, is hopeful he can remain free from niggles in the near future.

“I’m back to feeling healthy, and I just want to play that way without the huge expectations or anything, just playing my game,” Blake said.

The 30-year-old dropped outside of the top 100 for the first time in five years this June, having lost the points he gained by making the final of the AEGON Championships at Queen’s Club last year.

Not since 2005 has the world No.117 been ranked so low, at a time when he was launching his comeback to the ATP Tour following a traumatic and incident-filled 2004.

When practising with compatriot Robby Ginepri ahead of that year’s Rome Masters tournament, Blake slipped on the clay surface, breaking his neck after colliding with the net post.

Losing his father to stomach cancer a few months later compounded the pain, before Blake developed shingles, a debilitating condition that temporarily paralyzed half his face and blurred his sight.

But the New York-born right-hander – who had won a solitary career title in Washington before his tumultuous 2004 – enjoyed a remarkable resurgence in the years that followed, claiming nine ATP titles and climbing to a career-high No.4 in the world.

Voted the ATP comeback player of the year in 2005, he may find another revival and subsequent surge up the rankings a bridge too far five years later. But with the prospect of an imminent retirement “no longer a thought”, Blake suggested he still has titles left in him – telling the LA Times he’s “not done yet.”

Stranger things have happened (most certainly to Blake).

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