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.

 

 

 

 

Oudin May Need Some Time Off

Remember Melanie Oudin? America’s sweetheart, who charmed Flushing Meadows with her Russian killer attitude?

Well since Flushing, it’s been a struggle and she hasn’t won only one match since New York’s tiffany event.

Too many TV appearances, exhibitions and now a Met-like collapse in the first round of the Australian Open, where she dropped four match points in the second set to Alla Kudryavtseva, eventually losing, 6-2 5-7 5-7.

“I was down on myself,” she said. “I should have been done and getting a shower.”

How true and now that Oudin will have at least two weeks on her hands, she should re-evaluate where her career is going and maybe learn a new word in the ever agreeable 18 year-old’s vocabulary.

“No.”

Oudin needs to stop trying to make others happy and maybe take care of No. 1. There’s no shame in turning down the occasional television appearance or exhibition (She played in six since Flushing). She gets on TV or goes to an event because of her success in September. If she keeps going out in the first or second round, the invites will dry up and television will cancel her faster than NBC canned the “Jay Leno Show.”

But under her wholesome appearance, there’s a smart girl in there, who already knows that she made a mistake.

“I was exhausted,” she said.

It’s now time for the Georgian to take a step back and maybe skip a couple of tournaments in order to concentrate on improving her game. For all her hype, Oudin’s serve isn’t that great and she relies upon her speed a little too much.

Too much work has slowed her down.

And that makes for a very poor post-US Open record. Yet, remember she’s only 18 and has plenty of time to get stronger and prove that a week in September was not a flash in the pan.

“I only did well in one tournament, and I’m still learning” she said. “Everyone expects me to play like that all the time and I’m trying to get better.”

With some time off, she probably will.