James Blake who beat Roger Federer returns to tennis 10 years after retiring

Roger Federer announces retirement from professional tennis

A former world number four is set to make a surprise return to the international tennis circuit at the age of 43. American James Blake will compete in the doubles tournament at the Rancho Santa Fe Pro Open in California, which gets underway on May 29.

He will partner Hudson Rivera – a Stanford Men’s tennis freshman – at the $15,000 ITF event after the duo received a wildcard.

Veteran Blake has won 11 ATP titles across his career, but this will be his first professional tournament appearance in 10 years, after losing to Ivo Karlovic in the first round of the 2013 US Open. The New Yorker has admitted to having low expectations on his return to the court, but the desire to win remains strong.

Blake said: “It’s going to be fun. I haven’t played a tournament in 10 years since I announced my retirement. I don’t have any expectations. The competitive juices are still there, and I’ll go out there and I’m still going to want to win.”

After making his professional tennis debut in 1999, Blake eventually rose to number four in the world rankings after reaching the finals of the Tennis Masters Cup (now known as the ATP Finals) in 2006.

He also reached the semi-finals of the Beijing Olympics after beating Roger Federer in the quarterfinals. He made it to the last eight of the Australian Open in 2008 and was twice a quarterfinalist at the US Open, in 2005 and 2006.

Blake is a resident of Solana Beach in California and has been a tournament director of the Miami Open since 2018. His best Grand Slam doubles performance came at Wimbledon in 2009, when he reached the semifinals.

The Rancho Santa Fe Pro Open is the first of seven consecutive tournaments on USTA Southern California’s SoCal Pro Series, which offers players the chance to earn ATP and WTA world ranking points.

Blake said: “I’m settled here now in Southern California. I’ve definitely made it clear to any of the younger pros and juniors in the area that if they want to come here, I’m happy to work with them. I’ve had Frances Tiafoe come here. Chris Eubanks has come, and now Hudson. Anyone who’s around and if I feel I can help, I will. If there are young juniors or pros who think I can help them, I’m around.”

The top men’s and women’s players accumulating the most points across the seven SoCal Pro events will receive a wild card entry into qualifying for next year’s BNP Paribas Open.

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