Commentary

James Blake's five-set foibles continue

Updated: June 21, 2011, 7:28 PM ET
By Greg Garber | ESPN.com

WIMBLEDON, England -- Only three years ago, James Blake was a top-10 player. But recently, he's been playing Challengers in places such as Tallahassee, Fla., and Savannah, Ga.

That's why it was a bit odd to see the 31-year-old back in decent form Tuesday, hitting his trademark monster forehands and coming back from a two-set deficit against Marcos Baghdatis. In the end, though, a few critical mistakes -- among a collection of 50 unforced errors -- gave Baghdatis the first-round match 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 4-6, 6-4.

Blake has a stormy relationship with five-set matches. He began his career with a woeful 0-for-9 in those gut-wrenching affairs. Then he won four straight before falling to Baghdatis. That adds up to 4-10 career mark.

Last year Blake, who was ranked as high as No. 4 among ATP World Tour players, fell out of the top 100 for the first time in a decade. His right knee was the culprit, but he's working himself back into match shape to see if he can make one more run.

Fellow American Andy Roddick, 28, is intent on another good run at Wimbledon, where he is a three-time finalist. Roddick, the No. 8 seed, sent home German qualifier Andreas Beck 6-4, 7-6 (6), 6-3. Roddick looked solid, stroking 30 aces and 42 winners.

Afterward, he was asked a leading question -- who apart from the top four seeds could crash the final four?

"I can make the semis or finals," Roddick said brightly. "I've done it before."

Meanwhile, Americans Vania King, Irina Falconi and Alexa Glatch were first-round losers, while Bethanie Mattek-Sands had her match against Japanese qualifier Misaki Doi pushed to Wednesday.

And here are four other things I'm pretty sure I know I think:

Australia is upside Down Under: On the day No. 10 seed Samantha Stosur was upset by Hungary's Melinda Czink -- the No. 262-ranked player in the world -- there was a major surprise that went in Australia's favor. Bernard Tomic, at 18 the youngest player in the men's draw, smoked No. 28 seed Nikolay Davydenko. Lleyton Hewitt, nine years after winning the title here, showed some vintage form in thwarting Kei Nishikori.

Jelena Jankovic remains a riddle wrapped inside an enigma nestled inside a Matryoshka doll: Seriously, what's the deal here? Jankovic, a former world No. 1 and 12-time singles titleholder, has again left the building early. The No. 15 seed lost to Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez in a first-round match, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3. Not surprisingly, her weak serve was the culprit; the Spaniard collected 15 break points and converted four.

Ivan Ljubicic is defying gravity and time and any other natural laws you can manage to think of: He's 32, but the clean-domed, head-banded one keeps winning matches when he should be on the beach at home in Monte Carlo. The No. 2-ranked Croatian is into the second round after knocking out No. 27 seed Marin Cilic, the No. 1-ranked Croatian, in four sets. Ljubicic is a decade older than Cilic.

The cappuccino power rankings: Three terrific breakfast places on High Street in Wimbledon Village. Here is how their nectar of the gods stacks up: 1) Maison St Cassien (a stiffer whipped cream sets it apart); 2) La Pain Quotidien (the size of a small bucket); 3) Giraffe (solid, topped with a heart design).

Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Greg Garber

Writer, Reporter
Greg Garber joined ESPN in 1991 and provides reports for NFL Countdown and SportsCenter. He is also a regular contributor to Outside the Lines and a senior writer for ESPN.com.