Blake blocks out negative thoughts after ARAG loss to Berdych

James Blake refused to be discouraged after going down 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5) on Sunday to Czech Tomas Berdych in a poor start for the US at the ARAG World Team Cup, the dpa reported.

The defeat was the fourth for the number eight on European clay this month since starting his French Open run-up campaign in Rome, where he won two matches.

The US is awaiting the expected late arrival on Tuesday of Andy Roddick, who returned to New York to get treatment on a back injury which forced him from a Rome semi-final last weekend.

In the interim, it's up to Blake and fill-in Wayne Odesnik to try and keep the ship afloat at the Rochusclub standing 0-1 versus the Czechs.

"You can't let one loss take away the confidence I've been building up this season," said Blake,playing the eight-nation event for the third time.

"It's disappointing to lose a tight match. It was down to a couple of shots in each set. But I'm not panicking, there's still time before Roland Garros to work on some things in my game."

The 28-year-old stands 1-5 at the tournament, which has changed it's format for this edition to try and increase the drama quotient.

Instead of round-robin ties - two singles and a doubles - being played on the same day, the are now spread over two, insuring that all nations have a player on court every day of the event.

Blake said that despite going down in his opener, he likes his form on clay after reaching the final in Houston last month on the differing American green variety.

"It feels like I'm getting better, I think I have the ability to beat a lot of guys on the surface.

"Early in my career, I felt lost on it, but not now. I have the confidence to be a threat. I've learned to be patient on the long points."

German number one Philipp Kohlschreiber thrilled an opening-day crowd of 9,700 by crushing Spain's number five David Ferrer 6-1, 6- 0 in three-quarters of an hour to put the hosts ahead 1-0 for the day.

"This was not a good day for me," said the world number five Ferrer, who had won five of his six previous matches at the venue. I didn't play well, I had problems with my right calf."

Kohlschreiber, whose best on clay this season was the Monte Carlo third round, earned revenge for a Davis Cup loss suffered in Bremen last month against Ferrer in four sets.

"Today it was different," said the number 34. "He's usually a great fighter, but he's had a tough clay season, playing all of the Masters events.

"He's having a mental slump. I'm happy with my performance, but I don't want to analyse my own game. I didn't have too many errors and didn't fell an injury to my right thumb."

Germany will complete the tie on Monday with a second singles as Nicolas Kiefer plays feliciano Lopez beforea doubles rubber.

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