James Blake used to mock Todd Martin for his gray hair, "for just in general being old.''
Martin, a decade his senior, would warn his fellow American: "Just wait. You will be, too.''
On the first day of this year's U.S. Open, Blake was the veteran proving he still has it at age 32.
"Now I'm getting it from everyone,'' Blake said. "I deserve it, because if I dish it out, I've got to be able to take it. I'm getting the old jokes, the grandpa jokes, and I'm OK with that.''
Blake reached the second round of a Grand Slam event for the first time this year, beating 54th-ranked Lukas Lacko 7-5, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. He hasn't lost in the first round at Flushing Meadows since his debut in 1999.
Blake needed a wild card to make his 12th appearance at the Open after his ranking fell out of the top 100.
Blake struggled early in 2012 after right knee surgery but had started to play better in the American hard-court tournaments leading into the Open.
"I think I was kidding myself earlier in the year thinking I was able to move at this level, and I really wasn't after the knee surgery,'' he said. "I think I more wanted it to be OK than it really was OK.''
Now, his knee hasn't felt this good since 2008 or '09. Blake, who became a father in June, is talking about playing through at least next year.
"That's been exciting for me, the last, I'd say, three or four weeks during the summer where I actually feel like I can move the way I used to or the way I need to to compete here,'' he said.