James Blake to retire after U.S. Open

Posted By CAROLINE LEE, UPI.com  |  Aug. 26, 2013 at 5:32 PM
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James Blake announced Monday that he will retire after the 2013 U.S. Open.

His career ends after 10 singles titles and a career-high No. 4 ranking on the ATP World Tour.

“I don’t want to be dragged out of this game,” Blake, a 33-year-old American, said at a news conference at the National Tennis Center in New York, where the Open is held.

Blake is currently ranked at No. 100 and unseeded for his 13th U.S. Open. He will take on Czech Radek Stepanek in the first round.

“There’s so many athletes that say they can never replace that feeling of having an adrenaline rush, but I get more of an adrenaline rush these days seeing my daughter wake up in the morning,” Blake said, choking back tears. “Despite the tears, I’m actually really happy about this.”

Blake enters his final tournament with a 366-255 singles record, and $7.9 million in combined singles and doubles earnings. He considered retirement in April 2012 after a struggle to recover from knee surgery and a shoulder injury, but said he wanted to retire on his own terms.

He had to wear a back brace for 18 hours a day as a teenager combating scoliosis, and overcame a plethora of injuries during his 14-year career.

In 2004, he broke his neck while practicing for a tournament in Rome. Later that year, he got a case of the shingles that left half of his face temporarily paralyzed. In each of those instances, he considered early retirement.

“I was millimeters from breaking my neck in a way that would have left me paralyzed for the rest of my life,” he said. “When that happened and I was able to get back in a few months, I knew how lucky I was.”

He reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open just 16 months after the neck injury, beating second-seeded Rafael Nadal and winning two sets against eventual runner-up Andre Agassi.

“We both left our absolute best out there on the court,” Blake said, content that he came up two points short of winning the match. “That’s just greedy. That night was great for tennis.”

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