Thursday, December 12, 2013
The Associated Press
NEW YORK - By turns a bit wistful and at his wisecracking best, Andy Roddick let the tennis world in on a little secret he kept for a couple of days: This U.S. Open will be the last tournament of his career.
Andy Roddick figured when he got to the U.S. Open that he would make a definite decision on playing another year. In the first round he decided: It is time to go.
The Associated Press
James Blake, still going strong at 32, advanced Thursday to the third round of the U.S. Open with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 victory against Marcel Granollers of Spain.
The Associated Press
Roddick made the surprising announcement at a hastily arranged news conference Thursday, his 30th birthday, at Flushing Meadows, the site of his biggest triumph -- the 2003 championship, the last time an American man won a Grand Slam singles trophy.
"I just feel like it's time," said Roddick, a former No. 1-ranked player who is seeded 20th. "I don't know that I'm healthy enough or committed enough to go another year. I've always wanted to, in a perfect world, finish at this event. I have a lot of family and friends here. I've thought all year that I would know when I got to this tournament. When I was playing my first round, I knew."
He's scheduled to play 19-year-old Bernard Tomic of Australia in the second round Friday night at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Roddick's impending departure was by far the biggest news of Day 4 at the year's last major tournament, overshadowing some otherwise noteworthy on-court developments.
There was the loss by fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 2008 Australian Open runner-up, against a man ranked 52nd.
And there was a spate of victories by American men, two who are Roddick's contemporaries and good pals (32-year-old James Blake and 30-year-old Mardy Fish), and two who have been viewed as possible successors as the best the country has to offer in the sport (19-year-old Jack Sock and 24-year-old Sam Querrey).
"I saw the press conference just before I came out here. I had a feeling, thought it might be, because he's someone who puts heart and soul into every match. It gets tougher as you get older and I don't think he could keep doing it the same way," said the 115th-ranked Blake, whose 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 upset of No. 24 Marcel Granollers of Spain was stunning for its ease.
The No. 23-seeded Fish came back to beat two-time Open semifinalist Nikolay Davydenko 4-6, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-1, 6-2, the tournament-record 10th match in which a man erased a two-set deficit and came back to win.
Davydenko's takeaway? Men should be playing best-of-three-set matches at Grand Slam tournaments, the way women do.
"Why (do) girls play best-of-three sets and we should play best-of-five sets and have the same prize money?" Davydenko said, reviving a familiar debate.
"Why are we playing five-set matches? We need to play best-of-three in Grand Slams. Everybody will support (that idea, even Roger) Federer. For Federer, it's easy to win in one hour, two sets. No need to run (for) a third set," Davydenko said.
Of course, for Federer, winning three sets before his opponent does never has been much of a problem, and the 17-time major champion moved into the third round with a routine 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 victory over 83rd-ranked Bjorn Phau of Germany.
Naturally he was asked about Roddick, a guy Federer beat in all four Grand Slam finals they played against each other, including one at the U.S. Open and three at Wimbledon.
"Oh, man. He's a great man," Federer said. "I've had some great battles with him for a long, long time. Obviously the Wimbledon finals come to mind, the ones we played together. He's a great, great competitor and a great champion, really."
Looking ahead to Friday, Federer also mentioned he thinks Roddick "truly deserves a great ovation, a great atmosphere, a great crowd. I'm definitely going to watch it. It's not one to miss and I hope it's not his last."
Querrey also echoed the sentiments of plenty of others about Roddick's decision.
"He's been my biggest role model the last 10 years, playing tennis, watching tennis. He's been a really great guy, a great leader to us all. Nice and kind. Really generous to the up-and-comers," Querrey said after beating Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo of Spain 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 to reach the third round. "For me, for the 18-year-olds now, he's just been an unbelievable champion, a Hall of Famer."