James Blake retires
This time last year, Andy Roddick announced his retirement. Since then, Mardy Fish has barely played any tennis because of serious health issues. His days on the tour look numbered. Now a third member of the US older generation has bid farewell.
On Monday, an emotional James Blake announced his retirement after fourteen years on tour.
He reached a career high of No. 4, has claimed 10 titles, won a Davis Cup and played at the prestigious year-end championships.
But his story is more about perseverance and inspiration.
At 13, Blake was diagnosed with severe scoliosis – a medical condition in which a person’s spine is curved from side to side. For five years, 18 hours a day, he had to wear a full-length back-brace to align his spine.
Fast forward to 2004. Blake is now 24 and his career looks like it’s on the rise although he is yet to really break through. Blake is practising at the Rome Masters with fellow American Robby Ginepri but then tragedy strikes. Blake suffers a horrific accident, breaking his neck after slipping on the clay and colliding with the net post.
Things got even worse. Later that year, he lost his dad to stomach cancer. Blake then developed shingles, which temporarily paralysed half his face and blurred his sight.
But Blake bounced back.
He won the Comeback Player of the Year award in 2005 for his incredible resilience.
In 2006, things improved even more. It was to be the best year of his career. 5 of his 10 titles came in that season. He made the US Open quarters and then made his one and only appearance at the Masters Cup (held in Shanghai at the time) which pits the best eight players of the season against each other in a round-robin format. Blake finished runner-up to Roger Federer and subsequently finished the year at his career high ranking of four.
The following year, Blake along with Roddick and the Bryan Brothers would win the Davis Cup beating Russia in the final in Portland.
But at age 33, and with a family on the way, Blake has a called a curtain to his feel-good story.
All good things come to an end.