The frustration for James Blake wasn’t so much with the loss as where it came.
Blake had arrived at the French Open convinced it was time for him to prove he could play tennis on red clay. He left after Thursday’s 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4 second-round loss to Croatia’s Ivan Ljubicic frustrated but determined to learn how to handle this red clay.
“This is a disappointing end to the clay-court season,” Blake said. “It’s really upsetting. I guess all the media were right. Maybe Americans aren’t doing so well on clay.”
Only 33-year-old Andre Agassi and 28-year-old Vince Spadea will represent U.S. men in the third round here while nine U.S. women are still alive.
“I had looked forward to this clay-court season,” Blake said, “because everyone had been saying the younger Americans weren’t going to do well on clay. We still haven’t had success since Andre won it here and since [Jim] Courier did so well on clay.”
Blake said he was going to change his off-season training. Usually he spends all his practice time on hard courts.
“I’m going to change that this year,” he said. “When I have time off and I’m practicing really hard and working on a bunch of different things, maybe I’ll take two days out of the week and hit on clay. I want to make sure I remember how to slide and how to construct points on clay.
“Playing these matches and feeling this kind of disappointment and this kind of pain is going to make me more patient and make me realize I might have to suffer more on the court to really work through the points and get the victories.”
Lindsay Davenport said she had Mighty Duck season tickets for five years. This season she dumped them in favor of Laker season tickets.
“I got rid of the Ducks tickets because the Ducks were so bad,” Davenport said Thursday after her 7-5, 6-1 second-round win over Iroda Tulyaganova. “I went for the Lakers instead and they swapped on me.
“I grew up a big hockey fan. My parents had season tickets to the Kings. It’s been so exciting to be in Orange County with the Angels and now the Ducks.”
Davenport, who lives in Laguna Beach, says her new husband, Jon Leach, is friends with former Duck goalie Guy Hebert. She attended the Ducks’ final two games against Minnesota in the Western Conference finals.
As an extra incentive for participation, the International Tennis Federation announced here Thursday that women will receive WTA ranking points for Olympic results in the 2004 Athens Games. The ATP tour began giving rankings points at the 2000 Sydney Games.