Blake Edges Closer to Supplanting Roddick

Blake and Roddick form the bedrock of the U.S. Davis Cup team, and both are poker aficionados, along with a number of other U.S. players (including the Bryan brothers and Mardy Fish). They even squeezed in a poker game at Roddick's house a few nights ago (they're all staying in the same subdivision near Wimbledon Village). Word is Roddick's brother and coach, John, won that night, at least according to ATP Web site blogger Mike Bryan.

Davis Cup camaraderie and modesty aside, Blake sounds all the right notes as he considers the possibility of assuming the mantle of American men's No. 1 and all of its attendant demands.

"I'm still learning about this whole top-10 thing and all the off-court things you have to do," Blake said, "all the pressure that goes with being the last American [playing], like at Roland Garros. … Andy's helped me deal with all of that."

Well, likely with all but the Roland Garros bit, anyway, where Roddick hasn't advanced past the second round since 2001. But Blake doesn't expect Roddick to cede without a struggle the place he's held since 2003 at the head of the table of American men's tennis.

"I think we're both comfortable with it, pretty confident," Blake said. "Andy's playing great, and I think he'll play well here. Whether he's No. 1 or 2 in America, I know he's got confidence and he's going to be one of the toughest guys to beat on grass and on hard courts this summer."

The thing is, Blake could just as easily have been speaking about himself. His success would no doubt please his late father, who taught his son how to play on the hard courts of Yonkers, N.Y. -- and further Wimbledon success just might help Betty Blake forge new, happier memories during her annual summer visits to her native England.

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