Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Andy Roddick's Emotional U.S. Open Farewell

I have always liked Andy Roddick, even when he was acting like a child on the court. He had a lot of talent and he played with heart, until (over the last couple of years) his heart was clearly no longer in it. Early in this year's U.S. Open he announced he was retiring at the end of his run in the Open - that end was today. His farewell speech, below, was moving.

During his career, he won the 2003 U.S. Open, and played in four other Grand Slam finals (Wimbledon in 2004, 2005, and 2009, and the U.S. Open in 2006), losing to Roger Federer every time (who also replaced him as World #1 in 2004). Roddick finished 2003 at #1 - the first American to do so since Andre Agassi in 1999. He was - at 21 yrs old - the youngest American to be ranked #1 since computer rankings began in 1973.

In 2004, he recorded the fastest serve ever at 155 mph - a record that stood until 2011. Also in 2004, he set the record for the fastest serve in a Grand Slam tournament (U.S. Open) at 152 m.p.h.

He was without question the best American male player of his generation. In fact, he was often the only male face of American tennis. Unfortunately for him, his career coincided with those of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic - Federer and Nadal are two of the greatest players ever, and Djokovic had a 15 month stretch (mostly in 2011) that is nearly unrivaled. 

He is not one of the all-time greats, but he was among the five best in his generation.

Rather the interview Roddick at the end of his match, ESPN's Tom Rinaldi just handed him the microphone and let him speak. Good choice - he was graceful and emotional. He was a man who was ready to stop playing and just be a husband and eventually (one would assume) a father.

Andy Roddick's emotional U.S. Open farewell (VIDEO)

By Chris Chase, USA TODAY

Before you read the definitive take on Andy Roddick's retirement by USA Today's Doug Robson, watch the emotional speech Roddick delivered to an adoring crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium following the final loss of his career, a four-set defeat to Juan Martin Del Potro.

ESPN's Tom Rinaldi handed Roddick the microphone rather than conducting an interview and the 2003 U.S. Open champion responded by delivering a heartfelt, appreciative talk that left him near tears. His wife, model Brooklyn Decker, and trainer were seen crying from the player's box.

Roddick almost didn't make it through the match without breaking down. When Del Potro had a match point in the eighth game of the fourth set, Roddick looked choked up while the crowd stood and tried to will him to another game.

He responded like he would have in his prime: uncorking a big serve down the middle and holding, one last time on his sport's biggest stage.

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