Blake has been a top-five player, a Grand Slam quarterfinalist three times, a U.S. Davis Cup team regular—and on Tuesday he was thinking aloud about where things stand for his career after a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 loss to 151st-ranked Robin Haase of the Netherlands in Wimbledon’s first round.
“It’s almost embarrassing to go out and play a Grand Slam match like that,” said the 109th-ranked Blake, who had a testy exchange with ESPN reporter Pam Shriver between points, saying he thought her commentary was too loud and distracting.
He went 0 for 9 on break-point chances and made more than twice as many unforced errors as Haase, 23-10.
“The knee is not great,” Blake said. “If it doesn’t get better soon, I’m not sure how much longer I want to play in pain.”
The 30-year-old Blake, who is based in Tampa, Fla., began having problems with his knee more than a year ago, but continued playing, refusing to use painkillers or anti-inflammatory medicine because he worries about their long-term effects.
“Just gradually got worse and worse until it got to a point where I just couldn’t take playing at 80 percent. I can’t beat these guys at 80 percent. I can’t beat a lot of them at 100 percent on a given day. So to think that I’m going to compete with the top level of the game at 80 percent is just silly,” he said. “Maybe it’s just getting old, I don’t know.”
He took more than two months off the tour this season, not playing from March 26—when he lost at Key Biscayne, Fla.—until last week, when he lost his opening match on grass at Eastbourne. The hope was that the rest would be enough.
“Maybe it says to me that I came back too soon,” Blake said, “or maybe I’m just too far away (from) where I think I need to be.”
The American earned a career-best ranking of No. 4 in late 2006, and also finished the 2008 season in the top 10.
He doesn’t want to have knee surgery—“At this point in my career, I don’t know if surgery is a viable option,” he said—and will try to compete on the summer hard-court circuit, including the U.S. Open, before evaluating things.
“If my life is going to change after the Open,” Blake said, “then I’ll have to be anxious and see what comes next.”