James Blake chose the first day of the U.S. Open to announce that he is retiring from tennis.
Like Andy Roddick a year ago, Blake tearfully said he’ll walk away after the Open. He is to play Ivo Karlovic in the first round.
“This is my last tournament,” Blake, 33, told reporters. “I have had 14 pretty darn good years on tour, loved every minute of it, and I definitely couldn’t have asked for a better career. For me to think of matches I should have won and to make those as regrets for me has always just seemed greedy.
“… I don’t want to be dragged out of this game. I want to leave on my own terms.”
During his most successful years, Blake was the second-best American male player behind Roddick. He advanced to the quarterfinals of three Grand Slam events (twice at the U.S. Open and Australian Open). In recent years, he has been bothered by a slew of injuries that included a broken neck in 2004 when he ran into a net post.
“I was millimeters from breaking my neck in the way that would have left me paralyzed for the rest of my life,” Blake, who is ranked 100th and has a 9-13 record this year, said. “When that happened and I was able to get back in a few months, I knew how lucky I was. Unfortunately, it was also the time my father passed away, and that had an effect on me physically with shingles. If I hadn’t gotten to the ER immediately for treatment they said my facial nerve could have died.”
One of the biggest wins of his career came against Roger Federer in the quarterfinals of the Beijing Olympics, but he lost in the semifinals to Fernando Gonzales in a match marked by a disputed point. He lost in straight sets to Novak Djokovic in the bronze-medal match.
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