James Blake has been on a mini-hiatus for about a month now, but he makes his triumphant return to the game today against Igor Kunitsyn from Russia. In Blake’s mid-July Davis Cup match against Croatia, he broke the big toe on his right foot. Unfortunately, the injury put him out of commission for most of the summer hard court season.
“I’ve only been back practicing for a week but I feel pretty good." Blake said. "My legs feel really strong from the workouts and now it is just a matter of getting the timing back.”
While any injury is tough to overcome, a broken toe seems slightly minor compared to the broken neck he suffered back in 2004 which hampered his game throughout the 2005 season as well.
“It took me awhile to get back in 05’ and I just need to do the same things I was focusing on then which is to play my best, keep getting better, and appreciate when I am back and healthy,” he said.
However, Blake is confident that with his age and experience, he will return to top form.
“Luckily being a little older I’m better at putting things into perspective and realizing that if I play one or two bad matches or tournaments it doesn’t mean my career is ending,” Blake added.
The Cincinnati fans will certainly root for him as he is often known to have his own personal “J-Block” groupies cheer him on from the stands.
“The Cincinnati tournament is perfect preparation for the U.S. Open." Blake said. "It’s always hot, the fans are great, and I’ve had a lot of fun here.”
Throughout his career, Blake has put together some solid performances in Cincinnati. Most recently, Blake played runner-up to Roger Federer in 2007. Back in 2002, he paired up with fellow American Todd Martin to win the doubles title.
“It seems like when I’ve done well here I’ve also done well at the Open.” Blake said.
Blake is especially excited for the U.S. Open this year, which begins the week after the Cincinnati tournament. At the Open, Blake will launch his new clothing line sponsored by Fila. The “Thomas Reynolds” collection is named after his father who died in 2004 from stomach cancer.
“It’s something that I’ve been working on all year and I’m really proud of it." Blake said. "Hopefully it’s something that can be a great honor for my father.”
Before Blake can make a run for it at the U.S. Open, he must get past first round opponent Igor Kunitsyn. Blake is the third match on Center Court today.
“I could have a little stretch where I am not playing my best, but as long as I weather the storm, I think I can pull it together enough to play a pretty darn good match,” said Blake.