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US Open Diary Day 6

New York, U.S.A.

James Blake© Getty ImagesJames Blake says he treats his career like a sprint, not a marathon.

I'll Be Back: James Blake was in a reflective mood Saturday night following his straight-sets loss to Novak Djokovic on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Blake, the former World No. 4 and two-time US Open quarter-finalist, has endured a tough season, winning just 13 of 28 matches and required a wild card to play the Open. But the 30 year old said that he was confident that he would be back at Flushing Meadows next year.

“I really hope that wasn't my last match on Arthur Ashe Stadium. I definitely want to be back here next year. If it was, I competed my heart out. I did everything I could. But I think I got more in me and I think I'm going to be back there. Maybe more night matches, some more excitement for the crowds, some more good times. I definitely believe that. I hope it comes true next year."

Although he has fallen to No. 104 in the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings, Blake said that he believed he could still compete at the highest level after allowing his body to recuperate in coming weeks.

“Even if I'm not at 100% right now, I don't feel like I'm hurting the game by being out here. I'm not on a pity tour just getting beat up first round every week by kind of nobodies. I lost to a pretty darn good player.

"Once I got hurt in '04 and got sick, I never planned on this career as a marathon. I tried to treat it as a sprint, every match being its own sort of entity, working hard to win that. If it's my last, it's my last.  If that came at 25 when I blew out my knee, if that came at 30 when I do something to my back, so be it. I'm going to treat every match as a sprint and just do my best every time. When it ends, it ends.

“I don't feel like right now I'm out there looking for charity. I think I can play with just about anyone still, and I don't think I'm at my best physically right now.”

Blake said that he plans to take several weeks to allow his body to fully heal, and identified Stockholm, beginning 18 October, as a possible return date to the tour.

Wind Woes: Player performances weren’t the only skills to suffer due to very windy conditions at Flushing Meadows Saturday. On Court 7 during a doubles match, a ballboy attempted to throw the ball from one end of the court to the other, only to see his throw fall short of its mark, bounce and then be swept into the front row of spectators.

Coach Sidelined: Former World No. 2 Magnus Norman, coach of Robin Soderling, is still walking through the corridors of Arthur Ashe stadium with a noticeable limp. The Swede snapped his Achilles tendon at Wimbledon and still looks several weeks away from being able to practise with the two-time Roland Garros finalist. But don’t think Norman has less work to do these days. His new duty: finding hitting partners for his countryman.

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Sign This Please: Among the obligatory giant tennis balls and sun visors thrust in front of him after his five-set win over Arnaud Clement, Mardy Fish was asked to sign a greenback. No word on the denomination. But it’s safe to assume the fan won’t be using it to buy a squishee at the local Kwik-E-Mart anytime soon.

Got You Covered: More than 65,000 US Open t-shirts have been sold during the first six days of the event.

Roger's Respect: Roger Federer had high praise for Mardy Fish when asked about the veteran American who has run into the best form of his life after shedding 30 pounds. “His talent was never questioned, was it?  I played him back in maybe was it 2003, 2004, when I won my first couple Wimbledons. He was the only guy to take a set off me. I always thought he was an incredibly good player, regardless of his weight. It's great to show maybe other players, too, to see what's possible at a later stage in your career, if you come up with some new ideas.”

Prime Time: True to its position as an equal opportunity scheduler, the US Open slated men’s singles matches first on the night card Saturday and Sunday of the Labor Day weekend. On Saturday James Blake and Novak Djokovic squared off at 7pm ahead of Svetlana Kuznetsova and Maria Kirilenko. On Sunday, John Isner and Mikhail Youzhny get the 7pm billing ahead of Samantha Stosur and Elena Dementieva.

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