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Blake still proud despite Federer destruction

Written by: Staff

SHANGHAI, Nov 19 (Reuters) American James Blake's achievement in rising to fourth in the world over the last two years overrode any embarrassment he felt at being ''destroyed'' by Roger Federer in the Masters Cup final today.

Blake is guaranteed to end the year with his highest ranking after reaching the final in his first appearance at the year-ending tournament for the best eight players in the world, just two years after he thought his career might be over.

''When you realise the level of tennis that was displayed, it still keeps me positive,'' he said after losing 6-0 6-3 6-4 to the runaway world number one.

''It also keeps me thinking that although it looked like I got just destroyed out there today, I feel like I'm still one of the best in the world.

''So that's something that I never would have been able to say, never would have had the confidence to even think about ...

a couple years ago.'' In a matter of a few months in 2004, the New Yorker suffered a broken neck when he collided with a net post, his father died and he contracted shingles.

''From sitting on my couch dizzy and feeling like I couldn't get up to get anything to eat two years ago, to being number four in the world now, to me is something I don't stop and think about too often because I know it would just make me probably tear up or something,'' said Blake, who was ranked 210th in the world in April 2005.

''It's something that I never thought was possible. I'm proud to have done it.'' Blake, who jumped over Andy Roddick in the rankings and will finish the year as the top-ranked American, thinks he can be a front runner in the grand slam tournaments next year.

''I think Australia is a good chance for me,'' he said. ''The US Open is a good chance for me. The other two surfaces I'm not as comfortable on but I still think I can improve on those surfaces.'' REUTERS SAM KP2007

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