Andy Roddick, the standard bearer for men’s American tennis for the last decade, played the last match of his career Wednesday when eight-seed Juan Martin del Potro overpowered him out in four sets in the fourth round of the US Open, 6-7, 7-6, 6-2, 6-4.
“For the first time in my career, I don’t know what to say,” said an emotional Roddick addressing the crowd that watched him in his last match.
“Thank you for all your support, I know I haven’t always made it easy, but you have supported me along the way,” he said, adding that he dreamed of playing at center court as a child.
As the match neared its conclusion, Roddick’s family, friends and the player himself could be seen getting emotional, but the 20th ranked player in the world stayed true to his playing character and fought until the end. After shaking hands with del Potro and then the referee, Roddick broke down in his chair.
The match started last night but was suspended at 6-6, with Roddick leading 1-0 in the first set tiebreak. When play resumed today, Roddick started strong just as he did yesterday and ran away with the tiebreak, 7-1.
The second set was also tightly contested with Roddick going stroke to stroke with the big-hitting Argentine. Again, the set went to a tiebreak, but this time del Potro, who characteristically starts slowly, was warmed up and took the points to Roddick winning it 7-4.
The tiebreak loss was a back breaker as Roddick seemed to have less energy when the match was even. The American was broken in the first game of the third set and seemed to be on his backfoot for the rest of the match as del Potro’s penetrating ground strokes were too much for Roddick.
Even when he got behind in the fourth set, Roddick saved a match point on his serve before del Potro closed out the match on his serve at love.
Roddick’s career resume is impressive with nine straight years finishing in the top ten. In that time he got to five Grand Slam finals, although he was only able to win one, the 2003 US Open.
The general consensus for Roddick’s career was that he would have occupied a much higher rung on the ladder of all-time greats if he did not play at the same time as Roger Federer, who beat him in four of Roddick’s five Slam finals, including an epic final at Wimbledon in 2009 with the Swiss legend defeating the American 16-14 in the fifth set.
But if Roddick’s singles career came up a bit short of its initial promise, the same cannot be said of his David Cup performance. He finished with the second most Davis Cup singles wins for an American and led the squad to the 2008 David cup trophy.
Roddick shocked the tennis world last week when he announced that the US Open would be his last tournament. Although he had been plagued by injuries in recent years, Roddick remained competitive, winning two tournaments this year.
- 10) Michael Chang became the youngest-ever male grand slam champion in 1989 when he won the French Open at 17-years old. He would peak at the No.2 ranking in 1996. Photo: Getty Images
- 9) Andy Roddick won the US Open in 2003 and has reached four other grand slam finals but was overshadowed by greats like Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. He spend 18 weeks at number one in his career. Photo: Eduardo Munoz / Reuters
- 8) Don Budge was world number 1 five years when tennis was still a strictly amateur sport. He won six grand slams, including a career grand slam. Photo: AP in English
- 7) Arthur Ashe broke racial barriers when he won the US Open in 1968. He would go on to win Australian Open in 1970 and Wimbledon in 1975. He peaked as world number one in 1969. Photo: Getty Images
- 6) Jim Courier won four grand slam titles, two in the French Open and two in the Australian Open, spending 58 weeks at number one. Photo: Getty Images
- 5) Bill Tilden, an amateur and professional tennis legend who also succeeded as a coach won 10 Grand Slam titles, including six US Open's in a row. Photo: Getty Images
- 4) Jimmy Connors won eight grand slam titles in his career and spent 268 weeks at number one. He also had a successful career as a coach after retiring. Photo: Getty Images
- 3) Andre Agassi won eight grand slam titles and spent 101 weeks at number one while doing something his bitter rival, Pete Sampras, couldn't: win the career grand slam. Photo: Getty Images
- 2)John McEnroe won nine grand slam titles as he dominated the tennis game in the 1980's, spending 170 weeks at number one. Photo: Getty Images
- 1) Pete Sampras, long time considered the best tennis player of all time, won 14 grand slams and spent 286 weeks at number one. His only fault was never being able to win a French Open title. Photo: Getty Images