James Blake started playing tennis at age five and is currently the second-highest ranked American, 17th in the world. He is known for his speed and powerful, flat forehand, when he was 13, he was diagnosed with severe scoliosis and for five years as a teenager, he was forced to wear a full-length back brace for 18 hours a day, though not while playing tennis.
Blake's style of play is primarily that of an offensive baseliner. That is he generally prefers to hit winners from the baseline but his solid net volley and transition game gives him an effective all-court game as well. His forehand along with Roger Federer and Fernando Gonzalez is considered to be one of the best in the game.
His other major strength is his great foot speed. Blake tends to return serves (especially second serves) with great pace and also makes contact with the ball earlier (on the uprise) when hitting groundstrokes. Combined with his relatively flat strokes, these techniques allows him to put more pace on the ball and gives his opponents less time to react despite being riskier in terms of making errors.
Blake likes to take control of points as soon as possible and will usually attempt to hit an outright winner earlier in the rally than many other top pros. He is known as a "shot maker" and his go-for-broke style makes him one of the most exciting and entertaining players on the tour, but also tends to make him an inconsistent player with up and down results.
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