After more than a dozen years grinding alongside some of the best to have ever played the game, Andy Roddick has decided to call it a career. On Thursday, Roddick called an impromptu press conference at 6 p.m. ET to announce that this year’s U.S. Open would be his final tournament.
The fact that he has chosen to do it at the U.S. Open, on his 30th birthday, is poetic. After all, it was here that Roddick reached the pinnacle of his career, winning his one and only Grand Slam tournament at 21 in 2003. He has loved New York and New York has loved him back, and now, as he hits 30, he’s decided to turn the page and move on from the game that has given him so much.
Much will be written in the coming days about Roddick’s career and his legacy. He remains the last U.S. man to win a Slam or even make a major final, testament to his rightly earned status as America’s alpha. We will remember his heartbreaking loss to Roger Federer in the 2009 Wimbledon final; his on-court outbursts that have been as entertaining as disappointing; and his leadership within the tennis community, mentoring young players and teaching them how to be professionals hungry to succeed.
But perhaps Roddick’s most notable achievement was his longevity. He ended the year inside the top 10 for nine straight years, making five Slam finals.
Before Thursday’s retirement announcement, Roddick was asked about his ability to stay alongside the best for so long. He credited his foresight and adaptability, seemingly offering a defense to a career that was often criticized for being too defensive.
“I think the game has become a lot more physical,” Roddick said after defeating fellow American Rhyne Williams in the first round of the U.S. Open. “I think you have to be a fully grown human to deal with kind of the ins and outs of the physical grind. I think that’s probably why you’re seeing what you see now. I mean, you have to be able to kind of take a beating week in and week out.
“It’s funny, because the things I feel like I get criticized for have kept me around a lot more than my contemporaries. I came up with Marat [Safin] and [Juan Carlos] Ferrero and a couple other guys. I saw the way the game was going. You have to get stronger and quicker. I don’t think there was much room for a plodder who could hit the ball pretty hard. It was a conscious effort at times, and I feel like that’s added to longevity a little bit.”
Roddick will play possibly his final match on Friday when he faces 19-year-old Bernard Tomic in the second round. With that in mind, it’s time for some highlights of his eventful career. Doing a proper BTB tribute to Andy Roddick is like drinking from a fire hydrant. He never failed to deliver both on the court and off, and over 12-plus years, there’s a lot that will sit on the cutting-room floor.
Most memorable on-court moments
One of the best Slam matches ever played. Roddick battled for more than five hours to beat Younes El Aynaoui 4-6, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-4, 21-19 in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in 2003.
Welcome to New York, Andy. He defeated Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-3 to win the 2003 U.S. Open title. His reaction said it all. He couldn’t believe it.
Davis Cup stalwart. Roddick’s commitment to bringing the Cup back to the United States was rewarded when, alongside James Blake and Bob and Mike Bryan, the Americans beat Russia to win the title in 2007.
Wimbledon, 2009. While his victories will be remembered, perhaps no loss so defined a player and a career than Roddick’s defeat to Roger Federer in the 2009 Wimbledon final. Roddick played like he believed, he played to make us believe, and even Federer looked like he believed the upset could happen. But as had been the case in the three previous Slam finals the two played, Federer came out on top, winning 5–7, 7–6 (6), 7–6 (5), 3–6, 16–14.
Magic vs. Milos. Even as the R word kept creeping up around Roddick, he could still conjure up some magic. Here’s his unforgettable match-point dive against Milos Raonic to win the Memphis title in 2011.
But you don’t become an American sports icon simply by your play on the court. Icons transcend the court, field and pitch, and that’s precisely what Roddick did. His off-court (or exhibition) antics were just as memorable as his on-court ones.
Most memorable off-court moments
Before Novak Djokovic stole the impersonation game, Roddick was nailing them left and right.
Roddick is The Weakest Link. Goodbye!
You know you’ve made it as an American sports icon if Lorne Michaels taps you to host Saturday Night Live.
Always a go-to in an exhibition casting call, Roddick’s charity work may actually be his lasting legacy. The Andy Roddick Foundation has raised more than $3 million for children in need. Here he is lending a hand (and a laugh) in the Rally for Relief, an impromptu exhibition at the Australian Open to aid victims of the Queensland flood.
So what are your favorite Roddick moments from over the years? Sound off in the comments.