2005 ATP Comeback Player of the Year James Blake to Return to Indianapolis

June 26, 2006 01:15 PM

Blake overcomes adversity and obstacles to reach career high

INDIANAPOLIS… James Blake, the 2005 ATP “Comeback Player of the Year” and current No. 7 in the INDESIT ATP Ranking will return to Indianapolis for the 2006 RCA Championships. The Championships will be held July15-23, at the Indianapolis Tennis Center on the campus of IUPUI.

The 26-year-old Blake, who in November of 2002 was named “Sexiest Athlete” in People magazine “Sexiest man Alive Issue”, is off to a 22-9 start this year raising his ranking from No. 210 last April to a career high No. 7 (on Apr. 17). He has appeared in three ATP finals this season, winning titles in Sydney and Las Vegas, and reaching his first ATP Master Series final in Indian Wells in March (l. to Federer).

By reaching the finals at Indian Wells, Blake became the first African-American man since Arthur Ashe in 1980 to crack the ATP top 10. He also has helped the U.S. to the Davis Cup semifinals (vs. Russia) in September.

“James has a dynamic presence that commands attention on and off the court. His combination of good-looks, athleticism and personality, endear him to crowds all over the world,” said RCA Championships Tournament Director Kevin Martin. “His flair for the dramatic will raise the energy level and enhance the entertainment factor for our fans.

Blake has had to overcome many obstacles to reach this point in his career. Two years ago, he had to endure the loss of his father to cancer; suffered a fractured vertebra in his neck after running into a net post during a practice session; and fell ill with Zoster, a condition that affected his hearing, vision and paralyzed him on one side of his face. It took almost a year and a half of hard work to overcome all that happened to him since 2004.

Blake is riding a 43-15 singles record since last August. In 2005, the All-American from Harvard compiled his best season with two ATP titles, first year-end finish in the Top 25 and he also turned in his best career Grand Slam performance by reaching the Quarterfinals at the US Open.

He began his consistent play with a runner-up effort in Washington (l. to Roddick), then three weeks later captured the title in New Haven and took that momentum into the US Open where he defeated No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the 3rd RD, No. 20 Tommy Robredo in the 4th RD before losing to eventual finalist Andre Agassi in a fifth set tie-break (after holding a two set lead). He capped off his run in October by defeating Paradorn Srichaphan in finals at Stockholm for his first European ATP title.

The RCA Championships is a world-class tennis event held annually in Indianapolis. The event, which traces its roots back to 1920, has hosted such notable players as Pete Sampras, Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick.

Tickets for the 2006 RCA Championships can be purchased by calling 800-622-LOVE or by visiting any Ticketmaster location. For more information please go to www.rcatennis.com.