James Blake rested his white baseball hat on the table at the front of the US Open’s main interview room, smiled, and began speaking Monday about his impending retirement from tennis.
The former top-five player was relaxed, composed, and matter-of-fact.
‘‘No real surprise here. This is my last tournament,’’ the 33-year-old Harvard product said on Day 1 of the year’s last Grand Slam. ‘‘I have had 14 pretty darn good years on tour, loved every minute of it, and I definitely couldn’t have asked for a better career.’’
Blake reached with his left hand to wipe away tears, until someone in the audience tossed him a white towel to dab at his eyes.
‘‘Despite the tears, I'm actually really happy about this,’’ Blake said. ‘‘I can do it on my own terms. Always wanted to do that. I thought about it a ton this year.’’
Blake, who attended Harvard before turning pro in 1999, reached a career-high ranking of No. 4 in 2006. He is currently 100th and has a 9-13 record this season heading into his first-round match in the US Open against Ivo Karlovic.
He won 10 singles titles, most recently in 2007.
Alisa Kleybanova won her first Grand Slam match since being treated for cancer, beating 44th-ranked Monica Puig, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. The 24-year-old Russian was ranked as high as 20th, but after missing much of the last two seasons because of her illness is now 363d. She entered the main draw at Flushing Meadows thanks to the WTA’s special ranking rule.
Until Monday, she hadn’t played in a Grand Slam in 2½ years.
After being diagnosed in the spring of 2011 with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of blood cancer, Kleybanova announced via the WTA’s website on July 15 that year — her 22d birthday — she was sick. She underwent chemotherapy until December 2011.
Get in line
The US Tennis Association is making all ticket-holders pass through newly installed metal detectors before entering the Billie Jean King Tennis Center, making for delays of up to an hour to get inside the grounds. The USTA, which had already limited the size and number of bags fans can bring inside, had been considering adding metal detectors even before the Boston Marathon bombings in April. Tournament spokesman Chris Widmaier said the USTA now has what it calls ‘‘airport-type security,’’ with the metal detectors and the use of wands to check spectators who set off the detectors. Fans won’t need to take off shoes or belts . . . American teen Lauren Davis lost by a ‘‘double bagel,’’ falling to 18th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro, 6-0, 6-0, in 57 minutes.