James Blake knocked out defending champion David Nalbandian, 6-2, 6-4, from the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, D.C. Tuesday evening. He was looking like his former top 10 self and claimed to have served better than any time in the “past 2 years.” But a deeper story lied within his after-match press conference.
Aside from detailing his great play this evening, he was the second American of the night to specifically call out Wayne Odesnik for carrying banned performance enhancing drugs. Ryan Sweeting had called Odesnik out in his own presser earlier in the evening as well.
Romana Cvitkovic: Speaking of friendships on tour, and Robert Kendrick being in the media recently, testing positive for a performance enhancing drug, what’s your take and have you rallied behind him?
James Blake: “Yea, I’ve talked to him and I’ve written a letter to help him in his appeals’ process. He’s a great guy. I grew up in juniors with him; I go way back … I played him the first time when I was about 14 years old. He’s always been a generous and great guy. I know there s no ill will in what he did. He was trying to get over jet lag, something that he thought was completely legal, and… he wasn’t doing anything performance enhancing to put him out for a year. For all intents and purposes, to end his career, I think is pretty harsh. I don’t know all the details of the appeals’ process … but I do think it’s harsh. I’d love to see him back on tour; he’s a great guy. And that would be a terrible way to end his career. I was faced at times with my career possibly ending not on my terms and for him to possibly end it not on his terms, is unfair, after a career that he’s put a lot of hard work into, a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. And to go out this way, I don’t think it’s fair. Especially when we got a guy who’s playing in this tournament that I think has done a lot worse.”
A follow-up question by Ben at the Daily Forehand dealt with his allusion to Odesnik above and Odesnik’s status in American tennis: “Oh, is he American? Oh, I didn’t even know that. (laughs) I wouldn’t say he’s at our dinner table too often, or at our card games too often. I actually don’t think I’ve really said a whole lot to him since he’s been back. I didn’t agree with what he did, and as I think he said, I saw some article about him where he even admitted that he probably wasn’t that close to a lot of the Americans before all this happened. And now that it has happened, it’s probably even more of a divide. He’s never really been on the forefront of any of our minds as a guy to call and really support and go out and cheer for. [All the other Americans] are out there cheering for me, I can’t say that I ever seen Wayne doing the same for us.”
Follow me on twitter as I cover the Legg Mason Tennis Classic all week. @TennisRomi