The former world No. 3 James Blake faced Rafael Nadal seven times in his career, winning thrice. Speaking to Brandon Adams, the American recalled the first time he faced Nadal at the 2005 US Open where he prevailed in four sets.
Blake said: "I was not a Grand Slam champion so I had nothing to lose, I actually loved playing against him because he gives you time and I have to be aggressive to beat him. I have to take his time away so every time he was hitting the ball, that was just spinning instead of hitting through the court.
I tried to take it and be aggressive. At that time when I played him first at the US Open he was still in the phase of serving probably 85 to 90 to his other players's weakness, that was my backhand. He was serving 90 percent of the time to my backhand.
I was able to eventually just starting sitting on that and he did not think I was going to be aggressive with the backhand because it's not really my style, you could just kind of get the point started but I started getting into a rhythm, getting into a groove, aggressive on my backhand still and just taking more and more time away from pushing him further and further back behind the baseline which on clay he is comfortable but on hard court I was able to finish point on him when he was moving that far behind the baseline so I like playing him.
You do not have to get into these long extended rallies where he is looping his forehand to my backhand. If I hit three backhands in a row I felt like I absolutely have to change something."