Rowdy fan base the pick-me-up tonic for beaten Blake

September 1st, 2008 - 2:58 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, Sep 1 (DPA) American tennis player James Blake was seeking consolation among his notorious cheer squad dubbed the “J Block” after crashing out in straight sets to good Florida friend Mardy Fish in the US Open third round.The ninth-seeded Blake, whose game has gone off the boil since beating Roger Federer in the Olympic quarter-finals, brushed aside any criticism of his blue shirt-clad rowdy fan group.

“These are some of my best friends, they’re the ones probably the only people in the word besides my mother who can console me right now and put a smile on my face,” he said here Sunday.

Blake says he and his posse go back a long way, to his neck injury in 2004 at least.

“They were guys around when I wasn’t feeling great (2004 neck injury which almost ended his career).

“When I didn’t know if I would play tennis again, they were the ones cooking me dinner and playing cards with me and getting me out of house and trying to make me smile.

“In 2005 when I was coming back in New Haven, so close to where I grew up, they all wanted to come watch.”

Blake said that the concept exploded at the 2005 pre-Open event in nearby New Haven in his native Connecticut.

“The tournament director came up with the name. It seems like when I was the underdog everyone was very positive about them. Now when I’m a favourite it seems like people are sometimes down on them.

“A lot people forget they’re doing this for charity. They’re my best friends and people that care about me. When I do have tough times, they’re going to be right there I guarantee you when I walk out of the stadium to cheer me up.”

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