A decade ago, James Blake earned his first Association for Tennis Professional (ATP) Tour singles win at the William H. G. FitzGerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park. On July 30, the 32-year-old showed his increased maturity as he came back from a poor start to beat Spain's Pablo Andujar, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.
As the match wore on, Blake's confidence seemed to improve. His return of serve was strong, and his own serve was powerful. In set three, Andujar blasted a serve clocked at 100 mph. To everyone's surprise, Blake swiftly returned it with significant authority.
"As soon as I hit it, there wasn't much doubt with what was happening there," Blake said. He consistently served around 116 mph and maxed out at 127. He had no double faults and served eight aces.
"I started feeling good, got a rhythm and sort of never let go of that," Blake said, adding, "I was sort of dictating most of the time, and that's the way I want to play."
Blake said that for most of the year, he hasn't been 100 percent healthy. His legs are better able to handle running and his knees are feeling better, he said. With the July 30 match being only his fifth win this season, he said he was falsely optimistic early in the season, which caused him think he could compete despite not being fully healthy.
Blake said it was a bit shocking to look into the grandstand and see his name next to 2002, the year he won the title. He said he still remembers beating Andre Agassi in the semifinals, his title-winning match point against Paradorn Srichaphan and celebrating afterward with his parents.
"I remember it all," Blake said. "It seems like it all went by in a flash."