The problem in playing your final career match in Tennis is that you’re probably going to lose it. From the moment Andy Roddick announced that he’ll retire at the end of his road at the 2012 US Open, the countdown began. Eventually, it was Juan Martin del Potro, as expected, being too much for the 30 year old American in the fourth round of the tournament.
The funnest player to listen to after matches didn’t have anything entertaining to say when it was all over, losing 6-7, 7-6, 6-2, 6-4. He did blast 20 aces, the only thing he still had going for him late in his career, but he also had 47 unforced errors and his blind commitment to reach the net didn’t do him too well, winning only 25 points of the 48 he faced when leaving the baseline.
Serves and speed were always Roddick’s weapon. A mediocre backhand at best was never really a big part of his game, even during the early part of his career, when he won the 2003 US Open and reached four more Grand Slam finals, losing all of them to Roger Federer. As the game changed and Roddick got older, injuries and simply age took his toll on his body, and the later years were simply Roddick trying to hold on with his serve alone.
He never finished a season without winning a title, including during the leaner years since 2009, but he won just won Masters title since 2006 (Miami in 2010) and he didn’t make it past a Grand Slam quarterfinal since the 2009 Wimbledon final, a match which was one huge serving duel against Roger Federer, with Roddick coming up short in the fifth set, giving one of his trademark remarks at the end while Federer was giving his winning speech.
Roddick knew it was over despite making it 4-5 in the fourth set against Del Potro. He couldn’t break the Argentine, who played smart tennis for most of the match, keeping Roddick on the backhand for most of the rallies and reconizing most of Roddick’s runs up to the net in time, punishing the American again and again for the speed he lost and tried to rekindle one last time.
The tears around the stadium already began, with his wife, Brooklyn Decker, always a woman who grabs plenty of attention no matter where she is or what she’s doing (supermodels tend to do that), showing redness under her huge sunglasses, unable to hold back her tears or successfully conceal them. Roddick himself seemed aware of his fate, not too concentrated when Del Potro began another serving game. He knew he wasn’t going to be able to stop him, or stop the end of his career from finally arriving.
Roddick had four goals when he began his professional tennis career way back in 2000, when he was just 17. Winning the US Open and Wimbledon, reaching the number one spot of the ATP rankings and winning the Davis Cup with the United States. He accomplished three of these goals, missing out on Wimbledon despite making the finals three times. Too much Roger Federer in his way.
He was in the wrong era for his kind of style, but made the most of his talents, and eventually, you can’t ask for anything more from a player. Roddick gave it all he had, and turned out a pretty good career. Not an all-time great, but more than a one-hit wonder, and someone who won’t be forgotten, for his style and his personality.