DENVER—Andy Roddick and James Blake, stalwarts on the U.S. Davis Cup team for a decade, reunited Wednesday as rookies on the 2014 PowerShares Series circuit competing in the “Champions Showdown” in the mile-high altitude of the Pepsi Center. However, both American tennis standouts were not on the same bench cheering for each other against the tennis teams of the rest of the world, but playing in a championship match on this tour for legend tennis players over the age of 30. Despite being a full year longer off the ATP World Tour than Blake, Roddick was able maintain his certain level of supremacy over Blake, beating the long-time U.S. Davis Cup No. 2 by a 6-3 margin in the one-set championship match in front of an appreciative Colorado crowd.
“It doesn’t seem like a rivalry because he has always been by my side,” said Blake of Roddick after the final. “He’s been leading the pack for myself, Mardy Fish and Robby Ginepri. We both held up American tennis on our shoulders, but he was doing the heavy lifting, I was kind of drafting behind him. I was so proud to be a teammate with him on the Davis Cup team.”
The two charismatic Americans famously ended a 12-year Davis Cup drought for the United States in 2007, leading their country to the Davis Cup title in Portland, Oregon with a victory over Russia. In all, Blake and Roddick were teammates for 15 U.S. Davis Cup ties from 2001 to 2009. Roddick ended his sure-to-be Hall of Fame career at the 2012 U.S. Open, while Blake followed suit exactly one year later at the same event last summer. The two joined the PowerShares Series circuit together for the first time this season — Wednesday marking Blake’s debut event while Roddick was baptized last week in winning the title in Birmingham, Alabama.
“It’s not really fair,” said Roddick before the final of playing Blake. “He’s still skinny. He’s been retired for like six weeks? I got a head start on retirement. He’s much skinner, athletic and good-looking” later adding that Blake, who studied for two years at Harvard before turning pro, was also “more educated.”
With strong serving and benefitting from errors from Blake, Roddick raced out to a quick 3-0 lead in the final and held a break point to take a 4-0 lead before Blake settled into the match and held serve to get onto the scoreboard. With Roddick serving at 4-2, Blake was able to capitalize on a few untimely Roddick errors and became more aggressive on Roddick’s second serve to break back. However, Blake missed four forehands in the next game to again drop serve before Roddick served out the match.
“The conditions were tough with the altitude,” said Roddick. “I think everyone had a little bit of trouble adjusting. There were some easy balls missed, maybe the ball was carrying a bit. It happens in baseball. It was definitely happening a bit out there too.”
In the semifinals, Roddick defeated Mark Philippoussis 6-3 in a battle of bruising serves played just six days after their meeting in Birmingham that gained notoriety for Philippoussis hitting Roddick in the groin directly with a serve. Video footage of the incident, seen here, quickly became viral and ended up on the tail end of the monologue for famed comedian Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show” Tuesday night as seen here. Roddick was asked Wednesday in his pre-match interview with Tennis Channel’s Brett Haber if he was wearing body armor for his match with Philippoussis. Roddick laughed and said, “Playing Phlip, there is, apparently, a pretty good chance of getting hit in the schmeckle.”
Blake defeated current U.S. Davis Cup captain Jim Courier 6-3 in the other semifinal in the first professional meeting between the two American standouts.
With the tournament win, Roddick earned 400 points to tie Courier in the No. 2 position in the PowerShares Series points races with 800 points. John McEnroe, who will return to the PowerShares Series next week in Salt Lake City, Sacramento and Portland, leads the rankings with 1200 points. Michael Chang, Ivan Lendl and Philippoussis each have 300 points to rank in a three-way tie for fourth place. Blake, who earned 200 points with his runner-up showing in Denver, sits in seventh place.
The PowerShares Series, the U.S. tennis circuit for legend tennis players over the age of 30, continues Thursday in Houston when Andre Agassi makes his 2014 PowerShares Series debut, joining Blake, Roddick and Courier in the field. Good tickets for all PowerShares Series events are still available starting at $25 at www.PowerSharesSeries.com. VIP packages — including meet-and-greet and play-with-the-pros on-court opportunities — are also available here: www.powersharesseries.com/vip-experiences by email to VIP@insideoutse.com, or by phone at (253) 315-4299.