After stunning college and junior careers, James Blake competed in his initial United States Open Tennis Tournament in 1999, the season Andre Agassi won the men’s singles championship, and lost an early round match in his first time showing his skills during the U.S. Open.
That was the beginning of his career in the U.S. Open tourney.
He kept moving up the ladder almost year after year, and then slid down a bit.
His best U.S. Open tourney came in 2005 when he met up with Agassi in the quarter finals. This time he needed a fifth set tie-breaker before being eliminated.
In the following summer, the fifth seeded Blake reached the quarter-final round only to lose to Roger Federer with two sets going into the tie-breaker that determined its outcome. Federer went on to win this men’s singles title in the U.S. Open.
Then Blake slid down a bit. Injuries, including a curvature of his spine, throughout his career played a major factor in his playing on the circuit.
An African-American player who relied on his one handed backhand, the 31-year-old Blake is trying to make a comeback and entered into the recent U.S. Open once again but he was ranked 63rd in the world only to win his first round match and then lost his second round match to a high seeded player.
Now he only wants to enter into tournaments, looking to win matches and in the process move up the ladder so that he will make a better showing in future tournaments, including next year’s U.S. Open once again.
Blake is well liked in this New York area, for he has many followers and fans cheering him one. Actually he grew up in Connecticut, is a product of the Harlem Junior Tennis League and at one time became the top college singles player in the United States while attending Harvard University, where he played for only two years. He felt that he was ready to turn pro and at the time he was. His highest world ranking was fourth while playing on the circuit.
Now his goal is to get back into the swing of things.
“I don’t plan on slowing down,” said Blake, when asked about retirement even though he had knee and shoulder problems during his career. “Right now I feel great. I’m not thinking about retiring.”
“I’m excited about playing a full schedule. Now it’s fun competing. I try my best out there on the court.”
In the Open last week he lost to fifth seeded and fifth ranked in the world-Dave Ferrer of Spain.
“He is fifth ranked for a reason,” Blake said after the match. He’s so tough.”
Blake added that the U.S. Open is his favorite tournament, for his fans are here as he grew up in the tri state area. Now he feels that he is going in the right direction.
There will be more opportunities for him on the schedule for him to get back to where he once was. He feels that he has the mentality to make a come back. He must get back to practice and continue to improve.”
Remember the time when Blake was named Comeback Player of the Year in 2005? Wait until next year when he’ll make some noise!