|ESPN.com: Wimbledon 2006||[Print without images]|
An up-and-comer on the men's tour whose world became derailed with an illness, injury and the death of his father -- all in the same year. When he returned to the game, Blake was ranked outside the top 200, but he is now a top-10 player on the verge of passing Andy Roddick as the highest-ranked men's player in the United States.
|James Blake has yet to advance past the third round this year at three Grand Slam events.|
The eighth-seeded American, close to reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon for the first time, fell to 0-9 in his career in five-set matches with a 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 loss to Max Mirnyi on Friday. Blake joins Markus Hipfl (remember him?) as the only two players in the Open era (since 1968) with nine losses and no wins in five-set matches. Statistically speaking, no player has a worse record in five-set matches than Blake does. And he had no explanation when Boston Globe columnist Bud Collins' asked why he can't win in five sets.
"I don't know," Blake said. "I lose 'em. That's the problem. I don't know what it is. Today, [Mirnyi] played unbelievable and I missed first serves. Against Fernando González, he played great. Against Lleyton Hewitt, I was cramping. I can't pinpoint one thing. Against [Stanislas] Wawrinka, I was cramping a little bit, as well.
"There's no one thing that I'm doing wrong in fifth sets, I don't think. But if anyone can figure out one thing, I'd love to hear it."
|Worst five-set W-L, Open Era|
|Juan Ignacio Chela||0-8|
This was Mirnyi's second match in 2006 in which he won a fifth set at love, and he improved to 6-7 overall in five-setters. Even U.S. Davis Cup captain and ESPN analyst Patrick McEnroe was at a loss for words when asked why Blake is winless in this situation. "I wish I knew," McEnroe said. "He got really down on himself and the fifth set is all about guts and heart. He's got to look in the mirror a little bit, but James is too good a player and has showed too much in the past year to not be able to figure this out." Keith Hawkins is the tennis editor for ESPN.com.