James Blake produced the clearest demonstration yet that retirement is not imminent for the injury-plagued American who turns 31 years-old at the end of 2010 as he contested singles and doubles matches within just a couple of hours of one another at the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles.
Barely a month after losing in Wimbledon’s first round and admitting an ongoing right knee problem was causing him to reflect on the possibility of bringing a ten year professional career to a close, the former top five player and US Davis Cup winner was in a more optimistic frame of mind.
Blake first scored an emphatic first round singles win over Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer, triumphing 6-1,6-4. Then when Mardy Fish announced his withdrawal from the competition, rescheduling of Blake’s doubles match alongside Sam Querrey against the Serb-Spanish tandem of Jarko Tipsarevic and Feliciano Lopez was brought forward.
The wild carded Americans lost out 6-3,6-3 but the important factor was that Blake, who is now on a course of anti-inflammatory pills to combat the knee problems, came through four sets with no ill effects. "It was no big deal," he said. “I had two hours in-between. I was able to eat."
Blake is insistent his health is improving. "The biggest thing for me is being able to train the way I used to," he said. "The last year we've been cutting a lot of the practices short, cutting sessions short. I hadn't been able to do the lifting on my legs that I used to do, and now I can."
"I came close to my career possibly being over a few times, and I know that what I'm going to miss is fans' reaction and how much they appreciate the hard work you put in.”
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