US Open: Andy Roddick Says Good-Bye
Andy Roddick was asked Sunday in a news conference if he ever hated tennis, the way Andre Agassi did.
No, he said, he never resented the game.
His love for the sport, and for the US Open where he won his only Grand Slam title in 2003, was obvious tonight as he entered retirement with his 6-7, 7-6 (1), 6-2, 6-4 loss to 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro in the fourth round.
He thanked fans, saying he loved them dearly for their support through the years. During the last few games of the match, the crowd serenaded him with chants of "Let's go, An-dy!" and gave him a standing ovation after he lost. Del Potro joined them, getting up from his changeover chair to applaud the 30-year-old workhorse who has long struggled with the albatross of being American Tennis' Next Big Thing after Sampras, Agassi, Courier, Chang.
“I wasn't going to shy away from it, for sure,” Roddick said. “I mean, you get knocked down. You know the burden. I understand it. I understand the fact that we come from a place which probably had more success than any other tennis country, where there are certain expectations. I fell right on the back end of the golden generation, and so that was just the cards that were dealt. But as tough a situation as it is, in the grand scheme of things it's a dream. It's something you want. That's not hard."
I love what Matt Cronin had to say about Roddick on the US Open's website:
He was never an easy going person or player. He was an intense, no-holds-barred player in the tradition of US greats Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Jim Courier. He did not have Connors' clean strokes, McEnroe’s magical touch, or Courier’s thumping forehand, but he was a super hard worker who always tried to improve and never stopped giving 100 percent even when it became clear by 2007 that Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and even Novak Djokovic were better players than he was.
Effort is a weapon. John McEnroe said that during his ESPN commentary on the David Ferrer-Lleyton Hewitt match earlier this week. I was so struck by it, I hit the pause button on my DVR to write it down.
"Effort is a weapon," he said. "It's a quality that few people possess." He said five players had it: the two players he was watching, Ferrer and Hewitt, and Chang, Connors and Nadal.
I'd add Andy Roddick to that list. It's a quality we can all seek. We can't all have flat forehands, like del Po, or booming Serena serves. But we can all work hard and put in the effort to improve, in tennis and anything else that makes life worth suiting up for.
Good luck, Andy Roddick, in that next big passion that's waiting for your ferocious effort.