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Andy Roddick Retirement Announcement - Friday, August 31, 2012

Andy Roddick to retire after US Open


Douglas Robson, USA Today

NEW YORK – Andy Roddick played on his own terms.

No surprise, then, that the USA's best player for the last decade will leave the sport on those same conditions — though the announcement Thursday at the U.S. Open caught many off guard.

"I'll make this short and sweet," Roddick told a packed room of reporters on his 30th birthday. "I've decided that this is going to be my last tournament."

"I just feel like it's time," said Roddick, the last American man to win a major at the 2003 U.S. Open. "I don't know that I'm healthy enough or committed enough to go another year."

Don't write his farewell just yet.

The No. 20 seed faces 19-year-old Bernard Tomic of Australia in a second-round match on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday night. It should be a rocking house.

"I wanted an opportunity to say goodbye," Roddick said of his decision to reveal his intentions mid-tournament. "I hope I'm sticking around."

Roddick showed his usual poking, joking and sharply reflective sides.

"If I do run into some emotions tomorrow or in four days, I don't want people to think I'm a little unstable," he quipped. "Or more unstable."

He recounted his first visit to the U.S Open as a kid with his parents on his 8th birthday and sneaking into the players' lounge. He talked about the ups and downs in Flushing Meadows and his satisfaction that he had left it all out on court during his career.

But plagued by injuries, he said he didn't feel like he could compete at the top level anymore. That, for him, was retirement.

"Probably the first time in my career that I can sit here and say I'm not sure that I can put everything into it physically and emotionally," he said. "I don't know that I want to disrespect the game by coasting home."

There were signs the former No. 1 was mulling his future.

At Wimbledon after a third-round loss to David Ferrer, he uncharacteristically waved to the crowd and blew a kiss.

He refused to say if it was a gesture of finality, but on Thursday he admitted: "Walking off at Wimbledon, I felt like I knew," he said.

The feeling returned after his first-round win against American qualifier Rhyne Williams Tuesday.

"It's something he's thought about a lot over the last six months," said his coach since December 2008, Larry Stefanki. "When he walked on the court his mind was wandering, and he knew."

Roddick had battled injuries the last two years and the constant physical breakdowns wore him down, Stefanki added.

Stefanki, who has coached a number of No. 1s, said Roddick's best qualities were his competitiveness, determination and work ethic.

"He was very coachable, more so away from the court," Stefanki said.

Roddick won the U.S. Open juniors in 2000 and soon the brash-talking, big hitting Nebraska native was rising the ranks and showing off a quick-step firepower on serve few had encountered before.

He smoothly accepted the celebrated baton from American greats Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, who played in the 2002 U.S. Open final won by Sampras.

A year later Roddick beat Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain in the U.S. Open final and finished the year atop the rankings.

Sampras waited a year and retired after that match, while Agassi played on until 2006. But it was clear by mid-decade it was Roddick's show — and he put on a good one.

He battled the likes of Marat Safin, Lleyton Hewitt, Rafael Nadal and mostly Roger Federer, his longtime nemesis. Federer beat him in the 2006 U.S. Open final and three more times at Wimbledon (2004-05, '09), the last a 16-14 fifth-set defeat.

The loss was devastating, but public appreciation for the no-nonsense, hardworking Roddick reached a new high.

"At the end of the day, I know that people view it as a career … of some hard knocks," he said. "But I got to play. I got to play in a crowd, play in Wimbledon finals, be the guy on a Davis Cup team for a while. Those are opportunities not a lot of people get. As much as I was disappointed and frustrated at times, I'm not sure that I ever felt sorry for myself or begrudged anybody any of their success."

Roddick said he was proud he kept his nose to the grindstone while others faded in and out, and squeezed as much out of his talent as possible.

"In my mind he's a Wimbledon champion," said Roger Federer, who defeated Roddick in three Wimbledon finals, after his 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 victory against Bjorn Phau.

Along the way, he mentored up-and-coming players such as Sam Querrey and Ryan Harrison, kept the press busy with his witty retorts and willingly served as the face of American tennis.

"Not only was he a great team player, he was a leader," former U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe said on ESPN2.

"We're losing the best champion we've had in America the last 10-15 years," said James Blake Thursday after beating Marcel Granollers 6-1, 6-4, 6-2.

Roddick had an edge. He got ticked off, he lost it at times, he didn't always treat umpires with respect. But he was always honest.

Detractors will point to the obvious — Roddick will likely finish up his career with one Grand Slam title.

But the body of work is hall-of-fame worthy: four other major finals, the year-end No. 1 ranking (2003), a Davis Cup championship (2007), nine consecutive years in the top 10 (2001-2009) and 12 years running with at least one ATP Tour title.

"He's had an incredible career," said 20-year-old Harrison. "He's been a huge influence on my career, been a great friend, an incredible mentor. He's going to do great things even when he's done with tennis."

Roddick said he would be plenty busy with his philanthropic foundation, which is building a youth tennis center in Austin; his part-time radio work; and family life with his wife, actress and model Brooklyn Decker.

Roddick said his rackets weren't likely to collect dust.

"I don't think I'm one of the guys who won't pick up a racket for three years," he said. "I still love the innocent parts of the game. I love hitting tennis balls. I love seeing the young guys do well."

New York will have one more chance to see him do well, too.

"It's the most electric atmosphere in our sport," he said of night matches on Ashe stadium.

Fasten up for some voltage.



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