Sad news today from the tennis world. One of my all time favorite tennis players, James Blake has announced his retirement and that the US Open would be his final tournament. I guess I shouldn’t be shocked by this, after all, it seems like Flushing Meadows is the place that many American players go to ride off into the sunset. Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and now, James Blake. It’s probably a bit unfair to those great American champions to put Blake in the same sentence as them, but to me, he deserves to be mentioned. A former world #4, he has made the quarterfinals of the US Open 2 times, is a 2007 Davis Cup champion, and has earned nearly $8 million in prize money over his 15 year career.
By announcing his retirement at this years US Open, and not after his knee issues in 2010, Blake retired the way he wanted to retire, with something left in the tank (just a couple weeks ago, he beat world #14 Jerzy Janowicz). Which is fitting for a player who played tennis the way he wanted to play. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Blake had Plan A: hit the ball hard and if that didn’t work, Plan B: hit the ball harder and if that didn’t work, Plan C: hit it even harder than before. There was no “let me grind it out” mentality. I can respect that, and I know that fellow playtester Michelle can as well. His shot making abilities and speed always kept me glued to the television.
And now, let’s look back at some of my favorite James Blake moments:
A 29 shot rally vs a young Rafa:
A 5 set match – Blake vs Agassi in 2005 QF of US Open:
Of course, what Blake is most known for, his forehand. A 125MPH forehand return!
There has been and will be greater, more success American tennis players, but James Blake will rank among my all time favorites. From sleeveless to collared shirts, from dreadlocks to a shaved head, a lot has changed over the years, but when James Blake takes to the court for possibly the last time, for his match against Ivo Karlovic, one thing remains the same, I’ll be glued to my TV.