There are several different types of 'client retries'. The following are some that I know of.
My guess is that you meant the following one. If so, it is defined in core-site.xml "ipc.client.connect.max.retries" (default value: 10) - Indicates the number of retries a client will make to establish a server connection.
The other type of retries that I can think of on hdfs side: "dfs.client.block.write.retries" (default value: 3) - As the name suggests, this is the number of times a DFS client retries write to the DataNodes.
"dfs.client.block.write.locateFollowingBlock.retries" (default value: 5) - On certain exceptions, the client might retry when trying to get an additional block from NN and this configuration controls that. There might be more. Feel free to let me know if you meant something else.