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James Blake Targets Djokovic After Matching Best Effort of Year

Sept. 3 (Bloomberg) -- James Blake said he’ll be expecting strong support from the crowd at the U.S. Open after advancing to a third-round match against Novak Djokovic.

Blake, who beat Canada’s Peter Polansky in four sets yesterday at the National Tennis Center in New York, hasn’t been past the third round in any of the 14 tournaments he’s played this year. Even so, the former Harvard University All American said he’s gaining confidence with every match at the tennis season’s final Grand Slam championship.

“I’ve been struggling and everything, but I’m still having fun,” Blake, 30, said after his 6-7, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win over Polansky. “I’m still having a great time competing. I still love what I do and out here, I love it even more.”

Former world No. 4 Blake, who was born in Yonkers, twice reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals and remains a fan favorite in New York even though he’s slipped to 108th in the ATP Tour rankings.

Blake has a 13-14 record this season and is in danger of having an overall losing mark for the first time since 2000.

“Just the energy from the crowd gets my feet moving a little better,” Blake said. “That’s helping my confidence. Once you start getting a couple wins, you really start believing anything’s possible.”

Blake will next face third-seeded Djokovic, who won in straight sets last night against Germany’s Philipp Petzschner. Serbia’s Djokovic reached the U.S. Open semifinals the past two years after losing in the final in 2007.

Blake lost in straight sets at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing in his only match against Djokovic.

“If I go out there and I start dictating (the style of play), I feel like I have a good shot,” Blake said. “It will be on Ashe Stadium, so I think I’ll have pretty good crowd support. Hopefully I can come up with some of my best as I’ve been known to do at the Open before.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski at the U.S. Open at matuszewski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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