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Blake To Retire Following The US Open

New York, U.S.A.

Blake© ATPJames Blake amassed seven titles and reached three Grand Slam quarter-finals in his career.

For nearly 15 years James Blake has been a standard-bearer for American tennis. Armed with a forehand as potent as his determination to succeed and passion for the game, Blake, who ascended to No. 4 in the Emirates ATP Rankings world in 2006, announced he would retire after the US Open.

Following in the footsteps of fellow Top 5 Americans Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, Todd Martin, Andre Agassi and most recently Andy Roddick, an emotional Blake decided to make the US Open his final tournament. “You know, despite the tears, I'm actually really happy about this,” Blake said. “I can do it on my own terms. Always wanted to do that. I thought about it a tonne this year.”

Blake is at peace with the decision. “The competition is something I will miss. I will miss pressure packed moments, break points, set points, match points, crowd getting into it. But I'm so fortunate to have a life after this that I'm looking forward to with my wife, with my family.”

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A warrior on and off the court, Blake was forced to overcome a litany of health issues including shingles that left his face partially paralysed and fractured vertebrae in his neck after colliding with a net post in Rome. His courage showed no bounds as he proceeded to crack the Top 10 just two years later, winning five titles, reaching the final at Indian Wells, quarter-finals at the US Open and final of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

“Yeah, I think that time being part of the biggest tragedies of my life to this point also clued me in to how lucky I am right now to be doing this on my terms, because my career could have ended twice in 2004.”

A year later, the signature moment of his career came when he proved to be an integral part of the United States’ Davis Cup title run, alongside Roddick and Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan. “That match in Portland, he won, I won, and the Bryans won. We all played a role in that, and that was something that was so special to me.” His win in the opening rubber of the Final, against Mikhail Youzhny and a strong Russian outfit, catalysed the U.S. victory.

Blake credits his late father as being the biggest driving factor behind his success. “He was someone that actually practised what he preached… He preached hard work. I put in hours and hours on the practice court and in the gym to make it seem easier on the court, and my dad was the one who instilled that in me, to work harder than the next guy and do it the right way.”

As for his post-career plans, Blake wants to devote more time to family. “I don't have any specific plans. I'd like to see if there is something outside of tennis to do. Something still inside tennis way down the road I would obviously love to be back in tennis as the Davis Cup captain.”

The New York-native opens on Wednesday against qualifier Ivo Karlovic in what would be a raucous atmosphere under the lights on Arthur Ashe Stadium. After everything he has done for American tennis, it would be the most fitting farewell.

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