Andy Roddick: A Star of his Generation

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The biggest news of the day is undoubtedly Andy Roddick’s announcement that he will be retiring from tennis at the conclusion of the US Open. A great servant to American tennis over the past decade, he will be missed on the tour.

In a hastily arranged press conference, he kept it short and sweet. “I have decided that this is going to be my last tournament. I don’t know if I’m healthy enough or committed enough to continue another year. I’ve always wanted to finish at this tournament… When I was playing my first round, I knew.”

The former world number one, Andy Roddick has had a glittering career, collecting 32 titles, including the 2003 US Open. However, had it not been for the emergence of a certain Swiss player by the name of Roger Federer, we might have been talking about Andy Roddick as the greatest players of his generation.

Beaten three times in the final of Wimbledon by Federer, he would never lift the trophy on the famous grass courts. For many people, the 2009 final was one of the great all-time matches, with the American eventually succumbing 16-14 in the fifth set. In total, he would be knocked out of a Grand Slam eight times by the great Swiss player and five times in Masters tournaments.

He was also a stalwart of American Davis Cup tennis – his 33 victories puts him second on the all-time American list, behind only the great John McEnroe – and he led his country to the 2007 title.

In his prime, his serve was undoubtedly one of the most devastating shots in the game. He still holds the record for the fastest serve at a Grand Slam with his 152mph delivery at the 2004 US Open, and holds the record at all four Grand Slam tournaments. Mentally and physically, he was among the very best as well.

His main weakness, though, was his backhand. Throughout his career, he struggled to really generate pace of this wing and the top players were able to target it and break it down. He should probably have looked to protect it more by playing more aggressively on his forehand, but he preferred to play with top spin, rather than flattening it out. At times, he demonstrated that he was capable of doing this, but why he did not employ that tactic more often will always remain a question.

While this announcement did come somewhat out of the blue, there have been indications that he was mulling this over. Most telling was the gesture he made as he departed Wimbledon’s Centre Court for the final time. Blowing a kiss to the crowd, at the time he denied that he had made a decision over his future, but he has admitted now that he knew he would not be returning.

While his antics on court could often split opinions, Roddick has always come across as a very likeable character off the court. Whether he wins or loses, tomorrow’s night session is going to be a special occasion and the atmosphere will be truly be something to behold.

“I haven’t done this before. I’m sure it’ll be very emotional. I’m sure I’ll still be nervous. I don’t know.”

It will be an opportunity for Roddick to say goodbye to the fans that have adored him over the years, although he has often been underappreciated in his home country. However, whatever you think about Andy Roddick, there is no doubt that he will be the number one attraction tomorrow night. And whether his magnificent career will end tomorrow, later this week or even next week, he will bow out as one of the best players of his generation.

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