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View Full Version : What does world #5 Blake need to do to get to the next level?


tennisjunkiela
07-23-2006, 02:14 PM
i am very proud of how blake, much to the dismay of his detractors, has consolidated his great start last summer by making 5 finals and now moving up to number 5 in the world!

now, what does he need to do to move up to the #4 and #3 spot?

he's never played world #3 nalbandian so, i can't wait to see how their games match up against each other.

he's 0-4 again #4 ljubicic, so obviously he's got his hand full with the croatian.

and he 2-0 against phenom and world #2 nadal.

obviously, he's got to improve his performances in grand slams and in 5 sets



he's got a huge weapon (forehand), great speed and his backhand is drastically improved.

in my opinion, blake needs to 1). tighten it up mentally on the crunch time points. it seems that everytime he gets a break, he either gets loose on his own serve and double faults, loses his serve at love, or goes for too much.

2) also, blake needs to develop a killer instinct! he seems to be too nice of a guy and gets too touchy feely at the wrong time of the match - i was a little irritated by the apologies he would make to roddick for hitting an unbelievable winner. come on blake, you can apologize to andy about beating him over beer later, but not during the match - go for the kill!! that's what i love about nadal! he too is a very nice guy but he's not smiling or anything during crunch time - he wants to win at all costs!!

like nalbandian, blake's got the shots so IMO, if blake can tighten the screws on the crunch time points, like nadal and fed do, and get a warrior mentality, he could be a real contender to win a grand slam or two.
Your thoughts...

Supernatural_Serve
07-23-2006, 02:19 PM
in my opinion, blake needs to 1). tighten it up mentally on the crunch time points. it seems that everytime he gets a break, he either gets loose on his own serve and double faults, loses his serve at love, or goes for too much.
You are right. The next level is 95% mental

The other 0-5% could come from some good draws, a little luck, and a big showing (semi-finals) at the US Open.

Andres
07-23-2006, 02:22 PM
You are right. The next level is 95% mental

The other 0-5% could come from some good draws, a little luck, and a big showing (semi-finals) at the US Open.
After his run at the USO last year, he wouldn't get as many points to surpass David or Ivan. Maybe if he wins the whole event... who knows ;)

skip1969
07-23-2006, 02:26 PM
i don't want to spoiler the match today, but blake is obviously very good. i think he's still pretty inconsistent, though. which makes him frustrating to watch. he will play a great point, hit a great shot, then double or throw in some unforced errors. maybe it's a mental thing, like you said. i don't know. he's super fit and has all the shots. but you wouldn't put your money on him in a big match versus a guy who was mentally superior.

when he plays someone like roddick, who is fairly predictable in the way he plays, blake can get away with more erratic play. not that the match was filled with errors, but when blake plays someone like roddick who is so inconsistent from the baseline (and hopeless at the net) blake is not put under a huge amount of pressure. against better, more well-rounded players, blake's weaknesses are exploited.

of course, he's a top-tener and obviously doing well, so i'm not knocking him.

Lleyton Hewitt
07-23-2006, 02:26 PM
i think he defo needs his mentality sorting out on big points. Remember was it Miami or Indian Wells where he was a break up v federer or was it 2? and still lost the set.

Lee
07-23-2006, 02:28 PM
After watching today's match and that unbelievable shot to set up the 2 match points (play of the week FOR SURE!), I just don't see anyone else stopping JB from winning Legg Mason and Pilot Pen. Federer is not playing any of the US Open tuneup until Toronto, so it's a great opportunity for JB to rack up a few more points

WHO ELSE AGREES THAT JB PLAYED A LOT LIKE FEDERER TODAY?? THAT RUNNING FOREHAND AND THE PRECISE BACKHAND PASSING SHOTS..... AMERICAN TENNIS IS BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!

armand
07-23-2006, 02:28 PM
His return game. Sure those clean winners off the serve are spectacular, but way too often there's an error...

jaggy
07-23-2006, 03:46 PM
He will continue to win a lot of tour events, he has the game for that. Slams? I don't see him ever winning one.

stormholloway
07-23-2006, 03:55 PM
His return game. Sure those clean winners off the serve are spectacular, but way too often there's an error...

Are you kidding? His returns were great.

How about his service, which no one has mentioned? 85 mph serves into the Roddick forehand? 8 or 9 double faults, several during crucial points?

He tightens up too much on his serves. Also, strategically he has to not go for winners when he's not in position to do so. Just put the ball in play and keep the point going. Set up the forehand later on.

Other than that, just spectacular tennis from Blake, especially how well Roddick was playing from all sides (except the mediocre volleys).

sureshs
07-23-2006, 03:59 PM
2) also, blake needs to develop a killer instinct! he seems to be too nice of a guy and gets too touchy feely at the wrong time of the match - i was a little irritated by the apologies he would make to roddick for hitting an unbelievable winner. come on blake, you can apologize to andy about beating him over beer later, but not during the match - go for the kill!! that's what i love about nadal! he too is a very nice guy but he's not smiling or anything during crunch time - he wants to win at all costs!!


I don't love that about either Nadal or Federer. It is a tennis match after all, not a bypass surgery.

RMac
07-23-2006, 04:08 PM
I love James Blake and he has long since surpassed Roddick as my favorite American (not necessarily because of his game but more due to the fact that on the court Roddick is an @sshole). But, if he wants to win big-time, five-set, matches against the top 4 in the world, he needs to improve his serving in the worst way.

90ish second serves and such a predictable pattern (up the tee on big points), plus his inability to hit a kick serve will ultimately keep him from the top 3 and probably a grand slam title.

The serve is the most important shot in men's tennis and Blake's, while above average, is way behind the rest of his game.

sureshs
07-23-2006, 04:14 PM
The kick serve remark is interesting and was mentioned by Courier today. His toss is too out in front for him to hit a kick serve. One of the commentators said Dementieva has the same problem, and all the others seemed offended that Blake was being compared to her. But it is really strange for a pro, that too a top 5 player, not to have a kick serve.

maynardsson55
07-23-2006, 04:29 PM
With his athleticism, I would like to see him string out points a bit more. Seems to blast balls a bit too much sometimes. When agassi learned to change speeds better, he became great. I just get the feeling JB gets a bit out of control and rushes sometimes. When he was blasting away today, it made for great excitement, but I thought he played into Roddick's hands a bit much. Also, seemed to go to net sometimes a little prematurely and had to hit balls at his feet. Also, I think mixing up the first serve more would help. His % would increase and double faults would be lowered. The thing that always seems to rescue him is his unwillingness to lose. I thought Roddick played better overall, but Blake came up w/the big points when he needed them.

RMac
07-23-2006, 04:34 PM
I agree that Roddick played better overall. I think he knew it and that is why he looked so devastated after the match. It's one that he should've won. What was he, like 2/12 on break points?

maynardsson55
07-23-2006, 04:35 PM
I agree that Roddick played better overall. I think he knew it and that is why he looked so devastated after the match. It's one that he should've won. What was he, like 2/12 on break points?
Yeah, he couldn't convert break pts, and, Blake outplayed him on those opportunities.

Marat Safinator
07-23-2006, 04:38 PM
first off hes not no.5 hes no.6 and thats his career high ranking.

Marat Safinator
07-23-2006, 04:38 PM
I don't love that about either Nadal or Federer. It is a tennis match after all, not a bypass surgery.

hahahaha :D

TacoBellBorderBowl1946
07-23-2006, 04:39 PM
1. be mentally focused
2. improve 5 set record
3. Improve volleying. He gave Roddick a lot of freebies on missed volleys today
4. More variety on serve, most of the time he went down the middle today which worked, but opponents will catch on to that
5. LEARN HOW TO HIT A KICK SERVE!!!!
If he improves these aspects of his game there is no reason he can't be no.2 in a years time or less. He already can beat Nadal, we've all seen that. With his nasty return and forehand he should give opponents even more trouble.

maynardsson55
07-23-2006, 04:46 PM
first off hes not no.5 hes no.6 and thats his career high ranking.
They did say he would be #5 on Mon win or lose.

sureshs
07-23-2006, 04:48 PM
first off hes not no.5 hes no.6 and thats his career high ranking.

No, he is no. 5 since the semifinal win

skip1969
07-23-2006, 04:49 PM
WHO ELSE AGREES THAT JB PLAYED A LOT LIKE FEDERER TODAY?? THAT RUNNING FOREHAND AND THE PRECISE BACKHAND PASSING SHOTS..... AMERICAN TENNIS IS BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!
easy there, tiger. you're beginning to sound like jim flipping courier. two americans doing well (in a week, and at indy) hardly consitutes the return of american tennis. especially, when you look at the tour as a whole.

blake ain't no federer, trust me on that one. he got away with murder today. some people think roddick actually played better! how's THAT for a comparison.

blake was up and down, wonderful winner followed by unforced error. his serve was pretty mediocre, except that roddick made it look better than it was (cos he returns so poorly). a better returner would have taken away that serve down the t in the deuce court, smacked a few return winners off it, and made blake have to change things up more. with roddick he didn't have to. and he still served up a bunch of doubles and his second serve looked weak.

don't get me wrong, i'm glad he won. but he's got work to do, especially at the us open, when it's best of 5 and all of the top guys will be playing.

maynardsson55
07-23-2006, 04:53 PM
easy there, tiger. you're beginning to sound like jim flipping courier. two americans doing well (in a week, and at indy) hardly consitutes the return of american tennis. especially, when you look at the tour as a whole.

blake ain't no federer, trust me on that one. he got away with murder today. some people think roddick actually played better! how's THAT for a comparison.

blake was up and down, wonderful winner followed by unforced error. his serve was pretty mediocre, except that roddick made it look better than it was (cos he returns so poorly). a better returner would have taken away that serve down the t in the deuce court, smacked a few return winners off it, and made blake have to change things up more. with roddick he didn't have to. and he still served up a bunch of doubles and his second serve looked weak.

don't get me wrong, i'm glad he won. but he's got work to do, especially at the us open, when it's best of 5 and all of the top guys will be playing.
Totally agree-too erratic for US Open win. Great to watch, though.

tennisprofl
07-23-2006, 05:43 PM
he needs to work on his mentality, as well as his 5 set matches!

sandiegotennisboy
07-23-2006, 05:50 PM
all you blake fans, take a mental picture of when the rankings go out on monday. this is the best he can do. im just being real. i dunno how much major changes you can make to your game so late in your career. he is not consistent.

Max G.
07-23-2006, 08:30 PM
i dunno how much major changes you can make to your game so late in your career.

Well, he's made at least one - his backhand! It used to be a total weakness, now it's not, he can rally with it and he can crack returns with it.

Viper
07-23-2006, 08:41 PM
I could have sworn that was Federer playing Roddick in the last couple of games in the 3rd set today.

maynardsson55
07-23-2006, 08:52 PM
I could have sworn that was Federer playing Roddick in the last couple of games in the 3rd set today.
No, Federer doesn't miss ANY returns:rolleyes:. EVER. Ha Ha Ha

Viper
07-23-2006, 08:56 PM
No, Federer doesn't miss ANY returns:rolleyes:. EVER. Ha Ha Ha


lol true:mrgreen:

Steve Huff
07-23-2006, 10:18 PM
When Blake has an advantage in a point, he needs to FINISH. In other words, he needs to stick volleys for winners, hit overheads so that they aren't returnable. Plus, he needs to quit hitting so many doubles on important points.

gts072
07-24-2006, 12:41 AM
Blake will have to break Fed's knees in order to beat him and level up. LOL....

travlerajm
07-24-2006, 12:56 AM
Are you kidding? His returns were great.

How about his service, which no one has mentioned? 85 mph serves into the Roddick forehand? 8 or 9 double faults, several during crucial points?

He tightens up too much on his serves. Also, strategically he has to not go for winners when he's not in position to do so. Just put the ball in play and keep the point going. Set up the forehand later on.

Other than that, just spectacular tennis from Blake, especially how well Roddick was playing from all sides (except the mediocre volleys).

This is my take on this, which others may disagree with:

Blake is using a racquet that is significantly heavier than the rest of the top ATP pros. And judging from the way the ball comes off his racquet, it's safe to say that his SW is one of the heaviest on the tour.

I've done a lot of experimenting with high swingweights. From my experience, I found that high swingweight allows me to hit offensive Blake-like shots more effectively, but it also makes me more inconsistent. With a huge swingweight, I can bomb serves when my arm is fresh, but after 100 serves one day, my consistency on the serve the next day drops off, and I'm more hit or miss. But my ability to play with higher swingweights has improved a lot over the last year. And I'm able to play every day now witha lot higher swingweight than I could a year ago.

It looks to me that Blake is still "growing into" his swingweight. I predict that Blake will continue to rise up the rankings as he gets more accustomed to his heavy club. By next year, I expect that he will not double fault nearly as often. I wouldn't be surprised if he has a stint at #1 some day too. And I think that his 0-9 record in 5-setters has as much to do with his high swingweight as it is mental.

fastdunn
07-24-2006, 01:58 AM
IMHO, he needs better disguises on all of his shots including serves
and passing shots. He has all the shots and wheels to win a slam.

Jack Romeo
07-24-2006, 04:44 AM
i think blake has a chance to become 3 or 4 if nalbandian and ljubicic fail to maintain their levels or get injured and also if other former champs like hewitt and roddick don't shape up to their old selves. but for me, the likeliest thing to happen is that blake will have a todd martin-like career. attitude-wise, there are many similarities between them.

VictorS.
07-24-2006, 08:44 AM
I think Blake has the toughness and will to stay at the top. And I think it's a matter of time before he does really well at a slam. I honestly don't know what blake has done training-wise....he's always been very athletic and quick. However his movement seems much more efficient and his core strength seems a lot better as well.


I think Blake is sometimes a little too nice on the court like some of you have already said. However on the flip side, it's nice to see the american players supporting each other. The Davis Cup team is as strong as ever and I think it's healthy for these guys to support each other rather than hate each other's guts.

theazneyes
07-24-2006, 09:36 AM
The thing Jim Courier was talking about Blake not having a kick serve was a comment meant for Blake's first serve only. Blake's 2nd serve does have a kick, other wise that would mean he's sending in flat 80-90 mph serves, which is a putaway even for woman's return games.

Blake's first serve is flat, but he does have a second serve that's a kick serve. I just wanted to clear that up.

He needs to win at least one 5 set match. His return game is above average. You rarely see anyone return Roddick's serve inside the baseline, and he knows how to time his returns and to hit early.

He just needs to get over the hump over his horrid 5 set record.

HollerOne5
07-24-2006, 09:54 AM
I think its simple, Blake needs more variety and consistency in long rallies. He tries to shorten points almost every time with a huge forehand, or a huge backhand down the line, or whatever. I will give him credit, it works a good amount of time. But you can't rely on hitting flat hard balls every point and expect them to go in, there is much less margin for error. Blake's problem with Federer is that he can't go toe to toe with Federer from the baseline for long rallies, because he will either go for too much and miss, or maybe hit a winner.

FuriousYellow
07-24-2006, 10:05 AM
Courier was saying his Blake's first serve was relatively flat and his second servie was slice because his ball toss was too far out in front. He also said it was easier to read for the returner because it's difficult to put a lot of topspin on it when the ball's that far out in front.

fastdunn
07-24-2006, 11:08 AM
I think its simple, Blake needs more variety and consistency in long rallies. He tries to shorten points almost every time with a huge forehand, or a huge backhand down the line, or whatever. I will give him credit, it works a good amount of time. But you can't rely on hitting flat hard balls every point and expect them to go in, there is much less margin for error. Blake's problem with Federer is that he can't go toe to toe with Federer from the baseline for long rallies, because he will either go for too much and miss, or maybe hit a winner.

That's correct. But he's improved recently a lot in that department.
He has turned himself as a solid stop 10 player recently.
I think people are talking about beyond that.
IMHO he has acquired almost everything required to have a shot
at slams except really esoteric(?) skills that top 1-2 players do, IMHO, IMHO...

sureshs
07-24-2006, 01:29 PM
The thing Jim Courier was talking about Blake not having a kick serve was a comment meant for Blake's first serve only. Blake's 2nd serve does have a kick, other wise that would mean he's sending in flat 80-90 mph serves, which is a putaway even for woman's return games.


I think Courier was referring to the second serve. He said there is slice on it, but it is not a kick serve.

The tennis guy
07-24-2006, 01:33 PM
i don't want to spoiler the match today, but blake is obviously very good. i think he's still pretty inconsistent, though. which makes him frustrating to watch. he will play a great point, hit a great shot, then double or throw in some unforced errors. maybe it's a mental thing, like you said. i don't know. he's super fit and has all the shots. but you wouldn't put your money on him in a big match versus a guy who was mentally superior.


Among current top 10 players, Blake plays the highest risk tennis. So you have to expect him to be inconsistent. He needs to tone down his aggressiveness at times without losing it too much. It's a delicate balance for him which is not easy to maintain.

King Andre
07-24-2006, 04:08 PM
I think Courier was referring to the second serve. He said there is slice on it, but it is not a kick serve.

ive seen blake hit kick serves on several occasions when espn actually shows his matches

BeautyVenus
07-24-2006, 07:58 PM
Blake always tries to be the nice guy. He definitely doesn't have that killer instinct. To become a champion you need to be like Justine Henin Hardenne and have that single mindedness and that ruthless streak. Blake still cares too much what people think of him.

jukka1970
07-25-2006, 02:05 AM
You are right. The next level is 95% mental

The other 0-5% could come from some good draws, a little luck, and a big showing (semi-finals) at the US Open.

I agree, the next level is mostly mental game.

Jukka

helloworld
07-25-2006, 03:12 AM
Blake always tries to be the nice guy. He definitely doesn't have that killer instinct. To become a champion you need to be like Justine Henin Hardenne and have that single mindedness and that ruthless streak. Blake still cares too much what people think of him.
Federer is nothing like Justine Henin and he's the no. 1 player in men's tennis for 4 years now. What are you trying to suggest, really ? That you need a bad personality to be no. 1 ?

tennis_nerd22
07-25-2006, 07:00 AM
i think he just has to become tougher mentally (cough cough 5 setters... cough)

tr0ni0
07-25-2006, 10:33 AM
Blake needs to win a 5 set match.

armand
07-25-2006, 10:36 AM
This is my take on this, which others may disagree with:

Blake is using a racquet that is significantly heavier than the rest of the top ATP pros. And judging from the way the ball comes off his racquet, it's safe to say that his SW is one of the heaviest on the tour.

I've done a lot of experimenting with high swingweights. From my experience, I found that high swingweight allows me to hit offensive Blake-like shots more effectively, but it also makes me more inconsistent. With a huge swingweight, I can bomb serves when my arm is fresh, but after 100 serves one day, my consistency on the serve the next day drops off, and I'm more hit or miss. But my ability to play with higher swingweights has improved a lot over the last year. And I'm able to play every day now witha lot higher swingweight than I could a year ago.

It looks to me that Blake is still "growing into" his swingweight. I predict that Blake will continue to rise up the rankings as he gets more accustomed to his heavy club. By next year, I expect that he will not double fault nearly as often. I wouldn't be surprised if he has a stint at #1 some day too. And I think that his 0-9 record in 5-setters has as much to do with his high swingweight as it is mental.It does seem like he uses a heavy racquet to me as well. But some people on this forum have his racquet and said it was something like 11.6 ounces unstrung. I don't know what to think...

shawn1122
07-25-2006, 11:34 AM
Where do you buy Prince experimental?

tennis_nerd22
07-25-2006, 12:38 PM
Where do you buy Prince experimental?

uh its called "experimental" for a reason...

travlerajm
07-25-2006, 01:04 PM
It does seem like he uses a heavy racquet to me as well. But some people on this forum have his racquet and said it was something like 11.6 ounces unstrung. I don't know what to think...

Blake's racquet weighs about 13.4 oz strung, according to Jura's measurements from the 2005 French Open.

LuckyR
07-25-2006, 02:56 PM
I agree, the next level is mostly mental game.

Jukka


100% right on. He has the strokes/fitness/footwork to beat anyone but gets rattled moderately easily, hence his 5 set record.

Shamo
07-25-2006, 03:44 PM
I agree, the next level is mostly mental game.

Jukka
do you now what's funny? many people say james would be mentaly weak but he owns, the by many considered "mentaly thougest" player ever, rafael nadal?

BabolatFan
07-25-2006, 03:52 PM
Yeah JB's got a high caliber game. I was amazed at his return game against roddick. But his mental game's still a little sketchy. He's a good frontrunner but comes 4th or 5th set, he tanks. It'd be exciting to see him play Nadal again on hardcourt. Maybe he might even beat Federer this year, no?

acetennisman
07-25-2006, 05:31 PM
i agree but we'll see. I would like to say that this is a very good but also relevant post overall!

tennisprofl
07-25-2006, 05:34 PM
yeah good post. jb needs better 5 set records...lol

acetennisman
07-25-2006, 06:40 PM
yea his record is practically a record in itself(not one that i would want)

baros
07-25-2006, 06:55 PM
a better game.
________
strawberry cough pictures (http://trichomes.org/marijuana-strains/deep-chunk-x-strawberry-cough/deep-chunk-x-strawberry-cough)

VamosRafa
07-25-2006, 07:00 PM
He just needs to be more consistent. His play goes up and down. That same forehand that can be firing one day, can be over-firing the next.

It may be a confidence issue, but that's what separates him from the No. 1 and 2 at the moment, IMO.