Arguably the most important match in Blake’s career. I’d say that match gives him a slight edge over Mardy Fish in terms of answering the question: who was the second best American player of that generation behind Roddick? Blake lost three big finals (and was in the medal zone at the Olympics), Fish lost five big finals (including Olympic silver medal); they both lost three major quarterfinals, both won more than 300 main-level matches sharing the same win/loss percentage (58%), and each of them appeared in the Davis Cup finals once – Fish lost his opportunity to win a vital match against Spain in 2004, Blake didn’t follow suit as the USA team faced Russia three years later. Given the ranking, it was quite strange that the highest ranked Russian – Davydenko  – didn’t play on day one against Blake, but I guess the reason was rather simple – he had a 0-6 record against the American at the time while Youzhny  had defeated Blake  in their only meeting, also in a Davis Cup tie, just more than a year before. Blake began the rubber firmly, leading 3:0* but the Russian helped with a strange decision of not challenging Blake’s return on break point which was long. Since that moment to the end it was exceptionally tight contest. Among three tie-break sets, the longest and the most complicated was the first one: Youzhny improved from 1:2 to having three break points leading 3:2, then he saved five break points at 4-all to be two points away from the set at 6:5 (30/15) on Blake’s second serve. In the 3rd set, Blake came back from a break down (from *3:5 to 6:5), but that time he lost the set being two points away. It could have probably turned into Blake’s nightmarish defeat (1-10 record in five-setters then) if he had lost the 4th set in a tie-break too. He was serving to win the match at 5:4, but played very poor game and trailed *0:2 in the third straight tie-break. Then his returns were working very well and he won seven of the last eight points… Admittedly it wasn’t a clincher, but the importance of that victory was huge because before the final it was obvious that the Russians – regardless of a combination of players in doubles – had almost no chance to beat the Bryan brothers. “I’ve got to say this is probably my biggest win,” said the 27-year-old Blake, “No, I’m not going to say probably. I’m going to say this is the biggest win of my career.”
# Comparison of their two Davis Cup matches:
2006 (S, clay indoors): Youzhny d. Blake 7-5, 1-6, 6-1, 7-5… 2 hours 36 minutes… Total points: 130-106… Breaks: 7-5
2007 (F, hard indoors): Blake d. Youzhny 6-3, 7-6, 6-7, 7-6… 3 hours 29 minutes… Total points: 164-140… Breaks: 4-3
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