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U.S. Open 2013: James Blake's Career Ends With 1st-Round Loss To Ivo Karlovic

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JAMES BLAKE
James Blake reacts against Ivo Karlovic during their first round at the 2013 US Open on August 28, 2013. | Getty

NEW YORK -- James Blake's career ended in a fifth-set tiebreaker at the U.S. Open after he won the first two sets.

The 33-year-old American lost 6-7 (2), 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (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 Croat's big serve at the end. Karlovic closed out the victory in 3 hours, 24 minutes with his 38th ace.

Blake threw his sweat bands, white shirt and black hat into the stands at Louis Armstrong Stadium, where the fans stayed late 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 in an on-court interview, 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."

Blake ended his career 4-15 in five-set matches. Karlovic hadn't been any better – he came in 3-13. His one previous comeback from down two sets? It also was against Blake, at the 2009 Davis Cup.

The 34-year-old Croat has been ranked as high as 14th but had to qualify for this year's U.S. Open. He will next face ninth-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka.

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