Roddick Still Goes Out On Top

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – After his loss to Juan Martin Del Potro, Andy Roddick was asked to say a few words.

For the first time in a long time, his mouth was at a loss.

“I mean, I don’t know that I had a plan,” Roddick said.  “You know, I was just going to try to win.  It was perfect.  This whole week has been perfect, you know.

“Rain‑delayed match, come back the next day.  It’s like typical US Open.  Played with me in the end, so I guess it was right.”

It wasn’t the storybook ending for Roddick, but it was his ending, as the No. 7 seed took him out of the Open with a 6-7, 7-6, 6-2, 6-4 win today in a match that was restarted after postponed last night.

But it didn’t matter for Roddick. He didn’t think he would have lasted to the final with some younger and better players in front of him. Rather, he wanted to go out on his terms. And today, he did.

Even in his final press conference.

“I was walking out of the locker room, and I said, Man, I think I have more expectation of this press conference than I did the match today,” he said.

“So, you know, like you said, I think it’s at the point now where I look back on rough moments fondly, you know, in these rooms.  I hope you all do, too.  There has certainly been some good ones; there have been some fun I ones.

“There has been some horrible ones both ways, but it wasn’t boring.”

Maybe that’s Roddick’s legacy. He wasn’t boring. Much like John McEnroe and Andre Agassi before him, he knows tennis is entertainment and besides being an athlete, he is there to entertain the crowd. He is always witty and funny and of course never a snoozer.

His matches with Federer were epic at times, even though he could never break through, and he played to the crowd in exhibitions, such as last March when he imitated Rafa Nadal on his serve much to the laughter of those in attendance.

He was no clown prince, though. Tennis was a serious business to him and he never gave up, which is why the Arthur Ashe crowd was chanting, “Let’s Go Andy!” throughout the match.

“I know the thing that is certain is I didn’t take any of it for granted,” he said.  “ I think I went about things the right way.  The umpires might disagree with me.  (Laughter.)

“I was consistent, and I don’t feel like I left a lot on the table on a daily basis.  When I look back, that’s probably what I’m proud of.”

What’s next for him, well that’s anyone’s guess, but Roddick will be humbled when the accolades come down, especially if he gets the call from Newport.

“That’s not for me to say,” he said.  “That’s not my choice.  Obviously it’s the ultimate honor of any tennis player, and that’s something I’d be extremely humbled by. But I’m certainly not going to be presumptuous about anything.  If it happens, I’ll be thrilled and amazed.  If it doesn’t, I’ll probably still be thrilled and amazed with what I was able to see.”

Because deep down inside, Roddick is still that 12 year-old kid who dreamed about playing Ivan Lendl or Stefan Edberg and now that they are his contemporaries, he is definitely satisfied.

“Yeah, it’s funny, because if you tell a 12‑ or 13‑year‑old kid that he’s going to win 30‑some odd titles and become one of 20 for this and 20 for that and be No. 1 and have a slam, you’d take that in a heartbeat,” he said.  “Going back, I would have taken that in a heartbeat.

“There were a lot of tough moments but unbelievable moments.  I mean, who gets to play in Wimbledon finals and who gets to play in an Open and who gets to be part of a winning team?  Most people don’t get to experience that.”

Roddick did and today he closed that chapter in his life on his terms.

 

 

 

 

US Open Last For Roddick

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Note to the press covering the US Open: You won’t have Andy Roddick to kick around anymore.

Or maybe he kicked us around.

The smart, quick-witted face of American Tennis since Andre Agassi retired, announced that this US Open will be his last tournament.

“I just feel like it’s time,” he said. “I don’t know that I’m healthy enough or committed enough to go another year.  I’ve always wanted to, in a perfect world, finish at this event.  I have a lot of family and friends here.  I’ve thought all year that I would know when I got to this tournament.

“When I was playing my first round, I knew.”

It’s always good for an athlete to know when to get out. And if his heart isn’t into it, then there is no reason to play. He made his money and has a good life with wife Brooklyn Decker.

And he ends a champion winning the 2003 US Open, but also losing three Wimbledon Finals and the 2006 US Open Finals to Roger Federer.

In that way, he is more like the Patrick Ewing Knicks, who couldn’t beat Michael Jordan.

But still, it’s all special. And frankly it’s too early for Roddick to tell what his greatest achievement has been.

“I don’t view it in a scope of where you had your best win,” he said.  “I’ve had a lot of different memories.  I’ll certainly look back.  I feel like I’d be cheating the other memories if I said one was the highlight.

“You know, I feel like I’ve been very lucky.  That’s certainly not lost on me.”

Maybe the toughest was the 2009 Wimbledon Finals which went to five sets and Federer beat him 16-14 in the fifth set.

It was the one that got away for Roddick but it also shows the type of player he was.

On Tuesday, he discussed the game after his first round match and said he thought the reason why he lasted so long was his ability to make adjustments. When he started the game was less physical but became more of a power match over the last five years.

“The game completely changed,” Roddick said.  “I was able to kind of recognize it.  It’s funny, because the things I feel like I get criticized for have kept me around a lot more than my contemporaries.

“Let’s say I came up with Marat and Ferrero and a couple other guys.  Obviously everyone points to Roger, but we can all point to Roger all day.  If that’s the comparison we’re drawing, then we’re going to end up with the stories we have had.

“I saw the way the game was going.  You have to get stronger and quicker.  I don’t think there was much room for a plodder who could hit the ball pretty hard.”

“It was a conscious effort at times, and I feel like that’s added to longevity a little bit.”

Now at 30, it’s time to move on. Roddick will close out his career either tomorrow or sometime next week as he looks to put a capper on one of the more interesting eras in American tennis history.

And what’s next?

“Well, immediately we announced yesterday or the day before we’re building, with my foundation, a youth tennis and learning center in Austin,” he said  “I’d like to be hands on with that and not see it periodically.  I’d like to be kind of on‑site every day.  There’s some other projects, kind of side projects, that I’ve been doing.

“Those excite me a lot right now.  So I’m looking forward to it.”

Djokovic Determined After First Round Win

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – In his postgame interview after his first round drubbing of Conor Niland, 6-0 5-1 (Withdrew), Novak Djokovic was posed this question:

Speaking of entertainment, for years you were trying to pass Roger and Rafa.  In terms of entertainment, Rafa is almost like a rock star.  He’s so appealing.  And Roger is beautiful and perfect and graceful.  How do you think you’re taken and received here in North America?

To that the No. 1 seed responded: “What about me?”

Well some people call him the space cowboy and some the gangster of love.

To the rest of us he’s The Djoker and he very well can be on his first US Open title.

Actually, Djokovic is having a very good year, winning both the Australian Open and Wimbledon, while getting to the Semifinals of the French Open. If he continues on his torrid pace and takes the crown in Flushing Meadows, it may go down as the best year for a player in history.

 

Sounds big,” he laughed when asked the question. “No, this year has been tremendous, best so far in my career, and there has been a lot of talks about history making and this incredible run.

“No doubt I’m extremely honored and privileged to be part of the elite of the players that have made, you know, the history of the sport in some ways.

“But my main focus is really on the court.  I need to take one match at a time.  That’s the only way I can really perform well.”

For any athlete, especially one like Djokovic, staying healthy is the most important aspect to winning. After Wimbledon, the 24 year had shoulder problems, which caused him to sit out the rest of the summer after the Cincinnati Open.

“Well, the shoulder in Cincinnati didn’t feel good obviously, and throughout the whole week I was carrying the, you know, kind of pain and discomfort in my shoulder,” Djokovic said. “But after Cincinnati I took some time off, and I did everything in order to recover the shoulder.  Today I didn’t feel any pain.  I served well and I played well, so I have no concern.”

Yet the rest of the field may have some concerns, especially with this champion stepping up his game. Although an American audience will root for Mardy Fish or Andy Roddick to advance, the tennis watching world probably is pulling for a Djokovic to take on Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer.

Yet, that’s still pretty far off in the future, as it’s a long two weeks. The Dark Knight will wait for the Djoker. Up until then Flushing Meadows will enjoy this young attacker, who is enjoying a resurgence after ticking off the crowd with some on the court comments a few years ago, making him an arch villain.

“Well, you know, it’s equally important, of course, to play well on the court and to do your job to win, you know,” he said. “As much as you’re successful and as much as you win, you get more attention from the media and from the people, and you get more respect, obviously, from your colleagues.

“But I think it’s really important as well to carry yourself off the court in a good way.  I have been learning that throughout my whole career, and last couple of years I have experienced some good and bad situations on and off the court.

“But I accepted that all as a big lesson in my life and, you know, something that can serve me well for my future.  You know, I’m aware of the responsibility that I have as a present No. 1 to, you know, represent the sport as well in some ways off the court.

“So I need to do that in a best possible way.  You know, I’m trying.  You tell me, how am I doing?”

Pretty well, Novak. Pretty well.