James Blake ends career with five-set loss at US Open

James Blake reacted after a point in Thursday’s match.
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
James Blake reacted after a point in Thursday’s match.

NEW YORK — James Blake’s career ended in a fifth-set tiebreaker at the US Open after he won the first two sets.

The 33-year-old American lost, 6-7 (2-7), 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-2), in the first round to Ivo Karlovic just after midnight Thursday morning.

Blake announced Monday that this would be his last tournament.


He rallied from down a break in the final set to force the tiebreaker, but couldn’t overcome the 6-foot-10-inch Croat’s big serve at the end. Karlovic closed out the victory in 3 hours, 24 minutes with his 38th ace.

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Blake threw his sweat bands, shirt, and hat into the stands at Louis Armstrong Stadium, where fans stayed to try to will him to victory.

‘‘That ovation makes me realize that everything I did, every bit of hard work, was worth it,’’ he said, his eyes welling up.

Blake had won 11 straight first-round matches at Flushing Meadows since losing in his debut in 1999. A 10-time tournament winner on the tour, he has been ranked as high as No. 4 in the world in his career and reached three Grand Slam quarterfinals.

‘‘I don’t know when it’s going to hit me,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t think I’ll be sleeping much tonight.’’

Murray cruises


After waiting his entire career to get the chance to defend a Grand Slam title, Andy Murray had to wait a little more.

Once the 2012 champion finally did get on court, playing his first point of this year’s tournament at 9:55 p.m. on Day 3, Murray wasted little time reaching the second round, playing nearly flawlessly during a 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Michael Llodra.

Murray, who is seeded third, made only five unforced errors, while compiling 34 winners in the 1-hour-38-minute match Wednesday night.

Del Potro works for it

Juan Martin del Potro overcame delays from the rain and his opponent to pull out a grueling four-set win.

The 2009 champion was frustrated by 74th-ranked Guillermo Garcia-Lopez’s repeated calls for a trainer to work on his left leg. Del Potro, seeded sixth, rallied from a break down in the last set to win, 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 7-6 (9-7) in 4 hours, 13 minutes.


‘‘I think of all of the matches of the first round, I had the toughest one,’’ del Potro said.

Del Potro had match point at 6-4 in the final tiebreaker when Garcia-Lopez blocked back a serve into his body, and the ball landed near the line. Just as it was called out, del Potro hit an easy chance at a forehand winner into the net.

Garcia-Lopez challenged the call, and it was overturned. The umpire ruled that the point should be replayed, but Garcia-Lopez argued that he should have been awarded the point.

He went on to win the replayed point, anyway, then saved two more match points before del Potro finally won with an emphatic backhand winner.