FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – You knew it was coming.
Right when the press conference was announced last night, James Blake’s hand was played.
And in the next two weeks, he will play his last tennis on this level.
He’s retiring and this Open will be his last tournament.
“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,” Blake said. “For me to think of matches I should have won and to make those as regrets for me has always just seemed greedy.
“I did the best I could in every situation, and I know probably anyone in here that’s covered me before has heard me probably annoyingly give the answer often that my goals, when I was playing tennis, instead of ranking based, were, one, to keep getting better and try and improve every day in practice, and, two, when I’m done playing, put my racquets down and be content with what I did and happy that I did everything the right way.”
Blake is ranked 100th in the world. He hasn’t been in the top 50 since 2010 and has been a far cry from his No. 4 seeding in 2006 when he won Indian Wells, the year end championship and helped the US win the Davis Cup with Bob and Mike Bryan and Andy Roddick in 2007.
But those in Flushing Meadows will remember his match with Andre Agassi in 2005.
“I think most people remember for me the biggest highlight and lowlight at the same time was the Agassi match. Quarterfinals,” the 33 year-old Blake said. “Couldn’t have been ‑‑ it was hyped extremely ‑‑ you know, hyped from the beginning of the tournament that we could meet in the quarterfinals.
I was coming back. He was possibly at the end of his career. Two Americans in the quarterfinals after I had beaten the No. 2 in the world, Rafa Nadal. A lot of times those matches fizzle. There is a lot of hype and someone goes out and wins 3, 3, and 3, and it’s over.
“I was hoping that was going to be the case when I won the first two sets 63, 63. Andre had different plans and played like a champion, the reason he is one of the greatest of all time. Third and fourth set were his without any trouble, and the fifth set we both came up with our best.
“You know, we left our absolute best out there on the court. I think that tiebreaker in the fifth set was all winners I don’t remember any errors. I haven’t watched it. I don’t know when I will. But from my memory it was all winners.”
Blake plays Ivo Karlovic in the first round, who he has a 9-13 record. Blake will be then off to a new life with his family.
“No immediate plans,” he said. “Work on my golf game. It’s pretty poor at the moment. Change plenty of diapers. Don’t hold me to that, Emily. I will do my best.”