The Puzzle That Is Tennis' James Blake

Donald FincherAnalyst IJune 23, 2009

WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 22:  James Blake of USA reacts during the men's singles first round match against Andreas Seppi of Italy on Day One of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 22, 2009 in London, England.  (Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images)

He's a well-spoken, upstanding, talented, and entertaining black man in what has traditionally been a white man's sport. Am I talking about Tiger Woods? No. I'm talking about James Blake.  

But, Blake must be kicking himself that he could have had that same type of following, and that same type of stature as Tiger...if only he'd won some tournaments.

As an American and as a fan of players that seem to have good heads on their shoulders, I would be predisposed to be a James Blake fan...but I'm not. I'm not a hater by any means.

I'm more neutral about him.

Early on, he cost me some wagers when I bet on him, as he started displaying a penchant for losing matches he had no business losing. That may have soured me a bit on him but, as a casual, low dollar gambler, I realize that you win some and you lose some. This is not the reason that I'm not really a fan.

The truth is, I just can't seem to bring myself to be a fan of a player who chronically underachieves—no matter how much one's classy displays of good attitude warrant it.

This is because it's just too heartbreaking. You're always looking for when the breakdown is going to come along.

For instance, in today's match, Blake was up 5-0 in the tiebreaker and lost it 7-5.  

That's the kind of train wreck that you just know is coming if you've watched James Blake much at all. The only fun to it is wondering how the snake is going to bite this time...not whether or not it will.

I've heard others talk about James Blake's talent. To be honest, I've never really seen it. He doesn't make it very far in tournaments, so it's hard to have many chances to see him play. And in the early rounds, there are so many players to share the screen that he doesn't get much airtime.  

So, about all I ever see are the score lines. And he seems to be on the bottom side of it more often than not.

I really appreciate the stance he took on the ATP today.

I can really admire the fact that he keeps things in perspective and said today that (with the help of his friends) he doesn't allow himself to complain about losses because Blake realizes that thousands of people would love to have the career he has had. These are all great things.

But Roger and Rafa, and many of the other players (that actually win) say and do classy, admirable things. And, they don't seem to find ways to give the match away.

To all of those who fell for James Blake early on and have stuck with him, you are very loyal fans.

Unlike Boston Red Sox fans whose time finally came, tennis players only last so long and Blake is approaching 30 years old. I don't know that you are going to get to see your guy finally reach the pinnacle like Red Sox fans have. I truly feel for you.  

Please use the comments to sound off about the positives (or the shortcomings) of Mr. Blake.