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James Blake
As told to Elizabeth Newman
May 29, 2006
U.S. TENNIS PLAYER
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May 29, 2006

James Blake

U.S. TENNIS PLAYER

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On his big love besides tennis

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

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

That was pretty funny. I heard [PTI's] Tony Kornheiser took a liking to her. We started dating two 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 us had any idea it would be a big deal, with newspapers writing about us and her parents being on TV. It was great that everyone thought she was beautiful, but there were websites that were trashing her. We couldn't believe it. It was trial 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 happens that my game is matched well with his. I've also played some of the best tennis of my career when I have played him; he kind of forces me to do that.

On playing a five-set match

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

On his prematch ritual

The main thing is having five or 10 minutes on my own with my iPod, sitting in a corner or walking around the locker room and really thinking about the match ahead and not talking to anyone else. I used to always listen to rap and hard-core stuff like Metallica to get me fired up. Now, the stuff I listen to is to calm me down: Gavin DeGraw or John Mayer or Dave Matthews.

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