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Potential and praise not enough for ambitious Blake

James Blake would gladly cash in his sizeable stock as a marketing man's dream to finally live out one of his own.

india Updated: Sep 02, 2003 10:18 IST

James Blake would gladly cash in his sizeable stock as a marketing man's dream to finally live out one of his own.

The dashing American has spent his career on the fringes of the tennis elite and his achievements on the court have often fallen behind that off it.

A new advert for an American credit card company at the US Open plays on the very fact that Blake is a "model professional".

But one suspects, especially after his straight sets defeat by Swiss second seed Roger Federer in their prime time Sunday clash, that the penny has dropped for the 23-year-old.

No longer is Blake content to play the gallant loser and he appears willing to make sacrifices to finally achieve a grand slam breakthrough -- even if it means undermining his image.

"I am getting tired of coming to the US Open, playing great tennis and being known more for my losses than my wins," the world number 35 said after losing 6-3 7-6 6-3 in the third round to Wimbledon champion Federer.

"So I need to change that. I think I can.

"It's frustrating (going out so early) again...I've had some tough draws but I need to work the rest of the year to get a higher seeding so I don't get these tough draws.

"You know, I have no problem with any kind of outburst (of emotion), like throwing a racket or yelling a little bit.

"As long as I have 25 seconds to turn it around, to refocus."

At times against Federer, Blake began to betray the even temperament he is known for.

When he had time to cool down, Blake pointed to Federer as exactly the kind of professional he needs to model himself on.

"Before I played him, I loved watching him play," said Blake, who has never progressed beyond the third round here in four attempts.

"His backhand is so smooth, mine isn't. He does a great job when he's moving...and he makes you hit more balls.

"I can learn plenty from him."

He needs to because for a much-hyped player, the dreadlocked New Yorker has a dismal grand slam record. His best run is a fourth round appearance at this year's Australian Open.

First Published: Sep 02, 2003 10:18 IST