Andy Roddick played tennis in the wrong era.
After years of American dominance in tennis, Roddick was the best American in a time where Europeans like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were took over the sport. Roddick’s career was a great, but unfortunately, he never had the titles to back it up.
One US Open championship in 2003 was it for Roddick, who then was eclipsed by the brilliance of Federer. The Maestro was just that much better than the newest member of the Tennis Hall of Fame.
“I beat him the last time,” Roddick said at the Australian Open, where he was introduced along with Kim Clijsters as the Hall’s newest members. “He’s lucky I retired.
“I think the easiest word is ‘respect’. He obviously is going to get that anywhere he goes. I appreciate his respect that he’s shown me throughout the years.
“It’s weird because you share history with someone. It becomes a part of your definition for a long time. I’m happy that a part of my definition is as respectful, as classy and as good of a human as Roger. It would be tougher for me to hear if the person that kind of ruined me on court for a decade didn’t have the moral fiber of someone like Roger.”
Roddick’s career has been more about steady greatness. He was the Pete Best of the sport’s Fab 4, who was just out of the party at times, although he had his moments. The five set Wimbledon Final in 2009, where Federer won the fifth 16-14, can be considered the microcosm of Roddick’s Grand Slam career. Close but just not enough.
Because American tennis is still looking for its savior, Roddick is also a reminder of what the United States is missing. Given the field we sport today, A-Rod would be a welcome addition to the American circuit.
Torch bearing, though, isn’t what invited Roddick into the Hall. Besides his consistency in the Top 10, Roddick gave the sport some much needed personality. Always willing to speak his mind on many different subjects, he created a buzz wherever he went.
There was a time where Roddick was triumphing creating a union for tennis players. He would complain about the length of the schedule and also talking about the state of the US tennis. In a time where sports figures would be guarded with their comments, he was always refreshing and thoughtful.
“I hope that you all who covered me, I appreciated honesty. I appreciated opinion, as long as it didn’t cross a line of personally going after someone who was in the orbit of my life at that time. I appreciated an honest conversation,” he said. “I don’t know if you guys did all the time, but hopefully at the end you did. And if not, I apologize.”
With Roddick’s press conferences, though, a journalist had to be prepared, because if he or she wasn’t, they would be called out.
Roddick stated he had a career goal of winning the US Open, being World No. 1, winning the David Cup, and winning Wimbledon. He accomplished the three and came all so close on the last.
“Three out of four sounds pretty good,” he said. I wish I would have gotten the one that got away. Contrary to what anyone would believe, those can live in harmony. Those were big goals. They were lofty goals. I think one of those can make a lifetime. I consider myself lucky.”
As were American tennis fans, who were able to watch Roddick during his career and now appreciate him for what he meant for this country and the sport.