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Original Issue

James Blake


On his big lovebesides tennis

Other than girls?Probably poker. I got hooked on it when I did Celebrity Poker Showdown [onBravo, in 2004] with Maura Tierney from ER and Jon Favreau. One of my friendstaught me some things beforehand so I wouldn't embarrass myself on TV, and I'vebeen playing ever since. I have done pretty well with it. I don't play reallyhigh limits, but I've made pretty good money.

On all the cameratime his then girlfriend, model Jennifer Scholle, got during last year's U.S.Open

That was prettyfunny. I heard [PTI's] Tony Kornheiser took a liking to her. We started datingtwo months before the Open. When I first met her, she had no idea who I was.Later I was like, "You should come to the U.S. Open," but neither of ushad any idea it would be a big deal, with newspapers writing about us and herparents being on TV. It was great that everyone thought she was beautiful, butthere were websites that were trashing her. We couldn't believe it. It wastrial by fire. We laughed that she was getting more famous than me.

On being unbeaten(2-0) against world No. 2 Rafael Nadal

It just happensthat my game is matched well with his. I've also played some of the best tennisof my career when I have played him; he kind of forces me to do that.

On playing afive-set match

In the heat it'spretty rough. That next day is exhausting, and you spend the whole time tryingto rest and rehydrate yourself. You start out every match feeling like it's asprint-you want to get out and get everything done as quickly as possible andwin. But by the end of a five setter you feel as if you have run amarathon.

On his prematchritual

The main thing ishaving five or 10 minutes on my own with my iPod, sitting in a corner orwalking around the locker room and really thinking about the match ahead andnot talking to anyone else. I used to always listen to rap and hard-core stufflike Metallica to get me fired up. Now, the stuff I listen to is to calm medown: Gavin DeGraw or John Mayer or Dave Matthews.

On not being thehothead on the court that he was early in his career

Mostly it wasgrowing up and realizing that it's not live or die whether you win a match. Imean it is in that moment, and I try to win each point. But if I don't, I justtry to fix it. I don't get all crazy like I used to; I just worry about what Ican do on the next point. I try not to whine and cry-when you act like that noone likes you and they won't root for you.



Photograph by Michael J.Lebrecht II/1Deuce3 Photography