No. 6 seed James Blake, getting stronger with each match, is a victory away from earning his third consecutive U.S. Open quarterfinals berth. Germanyâ€™s Tommy Haas stands in his way…
Blake and Haas square off Monday in the fourth round. He leads the head-to-head series 3-1, against Haas, who notched his lone victory at the ATP Masters Series Paris on carpet last year.
â€œHe got me last time and Iâ€™ve had some matches where Iâ€™ve played well against him,â€ Blake said. â€œHopefully, Monday will be another one of those. We have a ton of great points and a lot of shot making, both of us just kind of banging and being aggressive and going for our shots. He can beat anyone on any give day. Iâ€™ll be ready for a bit of a dogfight.â€
Blake advanced to the fourth round Saturday night, defeating Stefan Koubek 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(7-5), 6-1. After rallying to win the third set tiebreak, Blake was flawless in the four set, committing no unforced errors and smacking 10 winners. Told that Koubek called him â€œlucky,â€ Blake responded: â€œWho was it that said, â€˜the more I practice the luckier I seem to get.â€™ You kind of make your own luck. Thatâ€™s what I felt like I did. I donâ€™t remember any let cords or line hits. I felt like I played a pretty solid breaker.â€
Blake says he draws inspiration from a group of family and friends who form the J-Block. Though small in number, the J-Block usually gets the partisan crowd roaring, especially when Blake gets on a hot streak.
â€œI know the crowd will be behind me again,â€ Blake said. â€œI love that feeling and being here in New York. I definitely have that support and Iâ€™m excited about that.â€