One year after winning the US Open as a junior, Andy Roddick has his first major US Open meltdown as a pro during his thisclose 2001 US Open quarterfinal against Lleyton Hewitt. Roddick was serving to stay in it, at 4-5 in the fifth set. Momentum was on his side. He'd won the first set in a tiebreak, 7-6, lost the second and third and then regrouped to snatch the fourth set from Hewie at 6-3.
I appreciate the look on Roddick's face as he tries to corral all the Tennis Hate he sent galloping around Arthur Ashe stadium. He takes a big breath and tries to settle himself. It reminds me of Coach Al, saying to me, "don't get excited. Get composed before you serve."
Hewitt, meanwhile, is fiddling with his strings while his squeeze at the time, one of my favorite players, Kim Cjisters, keeps her game face on. Roddick makes several unforced errors to give Hewitt the break, the set and the match. The 20-year-old from Australia went on to win the US Open, his first of two Grand Slam titles (He won Wimby the next year).
Roddick got his turn to hoist the trophy at Arthur Ashe Stadium two years later, in 2003. It would be his only Grand Slam title.
I can't embed the video. Click on the link. It's worth a watch, just to see how the two young guns handled the pressure. And to see how young they were. I forget that these tennis pros, especially the ones we're talking about now -- Sloane Stephens, Milos Raonic, Francis Tiafoe -- are barely at legal drinking age.