Four minutes after that, he was down a set to Robby Ginepri and in need of a major overhaul. It never happened. Instead, Blake found himself heading toward the HP Pavilion exits, tennis bags in hand, as Ginepri celebrated a stunning 6-2, 6-2 victory Friday night in the quarterfinals of the SAP Open.
It took just 51 minutes for Ginepri, ranked No. 138 in the world, to advance to his first SAP Open semifinal match, where he'll face Radek Stepanek today.
The other semifinal will feature top-seeded Andy Roddick against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Roddick survived a tough match against good friend Mardy Fish, getting the only break of the third set to win 7-6 (6), 1-6, 7-5.
Serving at 5-6 in the third set, Fish hit a backhand volley wide and a forehand wide to lose serve for the only time in the match.
Earlier, Ginepri would not be denied.
"From start to finish, there was explosion," Ginepri said. "I attacked that whole match. When you're feeling like that, it's easier to take some risks. You wait for matches like this. ... That was one of the best matches I've ever played."
No doubt, second-seeded Blake could consider it one of his worst. He appeared dejected from the outset and never found a rhythm. Routine forehands sailed long, and double faults came with regularity. Hardly a performance expected of the world's No.9 player, much less someone who had recently advanced to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.
"Usually, I can find some sort of saving grace," Blake said. "I couldn't find anything that was working tonight. There was nothing for me to hang onto, to get me out of trouble."
Ginepri had lost his past eight matches to players in the top 10. But it's obvious from the way he systematically disposed of Blake that he's trying to recapture the magic he experienced during the summer of 2005. Then he beat six top-10 players in the final six months, reached the U.S. Open semifinals and climbed from 103 to 15 in the world rankings.