To face Roger Federer, and if possible to beat him, is the dream of almost every tennis player in the world. James Blake is one of the few players capable of achieving both goals. The American met Federer eleven times, especially in the early 2000s, only to come out victorious on one occasion.
That success turned out to be as unexpected as it was prestigious, given that it arrived in the quarter-finals of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Roger showed up at that appointment as World number 1 (he would have given the top to Rafael Nadal very soon) and to his bulletin board was missing only Roland Garros and an Olympic medal.
That summer Federer had won the tournament in Halle, while he had had to settle for the role of finalist in Hamburg, Roland Garros and especially Wimbledon.
Blake on Roger Federer
“The win over Roger Federer obviously for me was my biggest moment in my career individually because he’s still in my opinion the greatest of all time.
That may change based on all the results coming up but he was the person I could not beat,” James Blake said. “He had beat me at that point 8 or 9 times and I just played an unbelievable match for me," Blake said.
"I’m sure he wasn’t at his best. When he was at his best he kind of toyed with me (laughs). It was a pretty incredible experience for me. Well, you know I’d like to say it was an overwhelming feeling and support of USA," he said.
"It was just really a good day for me. I tended to play a little bit more focused when I had the ‘USA’ on my chest. I really think I put it together that day and played some of my best tennis against Federer.
It was more special to me because it was a moment where you know Roger’s had every accomplishment possible in his career with the exception of a gold medal in singles. I know it was a time when he really wanted to win it as well," Blake said.
"You can see it from the fact that he still won doubles there. He was intent on winning. That makes me feel even more special that it wasn’t a 1st round of a 250 where he may not have the same motivation. To do it in the Olympics is even more special because you know it’s an event Federer gets excited for and you know it’s an event he wants to win,” the American added.
Considered to be absolutely giants of the sport, they took note of their Blake's win over Roger Federer and sent a congratulatory message. “Right after the Dream Team called me and said ‘congratulations’ because Deron Williams' mom was sitting there and watching and so she told all the NBA guys. I got back to my room and there were signs saying congratulations and it just felt different," Blake said.