FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – After his loss to Juan Martin Del Potro, Andy Roddick was asked to say a few words.
For the first time in a long time, his mouth was at a loss.
“I mean, I don’t know that I had a plan,” Roddick said. “You know, I was just going to try to win. It was perfect. This whole week has been perfect, you know.
“Rain‑delayed match, come back the next day. It’s like typical US Open. Played with me in the end, so I guess it was right.”
It wasn’t the storybook ending for Roddick, but it was his ending, as the No. 7 seed took him out of the Open with a 6-7, 7-6, 6-2, 6-4 win today in a match that was restarted after postponed last night.
But it didn’t matter for Roddick. He didn’t think he would have lasted to the final with some younger and better players in front of him. Rather, he wanted to go out on his terms. And today, he did.
Even in his final press conference.
“I was walking out of the locker room, and I said, Man, I think I have more expectation of this press conference than I did the match today,” he said.
“So, you know, like you said, I think it’s at the point now where I look back on rough moments fondly, you know, in these rooms. I hope you all do, too. There has certainly been some good ones; there have been some fun I ones.
“There has been some horrible ones both ways, but it wasn’t boring.”
Maybe that’s Roddick’s legacy. He wasn’t boring. Much like John McEnroe and Andre Agassi before him, he knows tennis is entertainment and besides being an athlete, he is there to entertain the crowd. He is always witty and funny and of course never a snoozer.
His matches with Federer were epic at times, even though he could never break through, and he played to the crowd in exhibitions, such as last March when he imitated Rafa Nadal on his serve much to the laughter of those in attendance.
He was no clown prince, though. Tennis was a serious business to him and he never gave up, which is why the Arthur Ashe crowd was chanting, “Let’s Go Andy!” throughout the match.
“I know the thing that is certain is I didn’t take any of it for granted,” he said. “ I think I went about things the right way. The umpires might disagree with me. (Laughter.)
“I was consistent, and I don’t feel like I left a lot on the table on a daily basis. When I look back, that’s probably what I’m proud of.”
What’s next for him, well that’s anyone’s guess, but Roddick will be humbled when the accolades come down, especially if he gets the call from Newport.
“That’s not for me to say,” he said. “That’s not my choice. Obviously it’s the ultimate honor of any tennis player, and that’s something I’d be extremely humbled by. But I’m certainly not going to be presumptuous about anything. If it happens, I’ll be thrilled and amazed. If it doesn’t, I’ll probably still be thrilled and amazed with what I was able to see.”
Because deep down inside, Roddick is still that 12 year-old kid who dreamed about playing Ivan Lendl or Stefan Edberg and now that they are his contemporaries, he is definitely satisfied.
“Yeah, it’s funny, because if you tell a 12‑ or 13‑year‑old kid that he’s going to win 30‑some odd titles and become one of 20 for this and 20 for that and be No. 1 and have a slam, you’d take that in a heartbeat,” he said. “Going back, I would have taken that in a heartbeat.
“There were a lot of tough moments but unbelievable moments. I mean, who gets to play in Wimbledon finals and who gets to play in an Open and who gets to be part of a winning team? Most people don’t get to experience that.”
Roddick did and today he closed that chapter in his life on his terms.