Roddick’s farewell

He was the next big thing in American tennis after a decline of “golden generation” born in the early 70s. His emergence onto the tennis scene was thundering, as soon as he appeared in the ATP ranking (2000) he was the strongest player at the American challenger circuit; just twelve months since got his first ATP points, he managed to beat two former Nos. 1 in back-to-back matches (Marcelo Rios, Pete Sampras) in straight sets! Unquestionably the new star was born. Of course, as the most promising player of the United States, he benefited by shortcuts in climbing onto the tennis ladder, receiving “wild cards” in prominent events, but he took advantage of it emphatically. His energy was admirable, actually he had based his game just on two strokes: serve and forehand, but those strokes were working so magnificently that he didn’t need to seek other solutions to win consecutive matches wherever. One-dimensional players tend to find themselves in tight situations more often than others, it was Roddick’s case too, but no problem for him, his self-confidence was so huge that every time he was close to lose his serve in crucial stages of sets or matches, he was able to hit an ace, a service winner or a serve good enough to finish a rally immediately with a powerful forehand. Progressed rapidly, needed only 58 ATP tournaments to have won titles on every surface. His physical preparation was awesome, it manifested most profoundly during the American summer swing in 2003, as he guided by Brad Gilbert (his coach 2003-04) won Indianapolis, afterwards Canadian Open and Cincinnati within two weeks… no-one has repeated it since then (Djokovic was close in the last two seasons), and what’s praiseworthy, A-Rod won those ‘Masters’ tournaments when six wins were required on both cases, not five as it is currently in case of highest seeded players, which to me makes that effort one of the most impressive tennis achievements in the XXI Century. The elevated Roddick was a main favorite to claim US Open ’03 and he didn’t disappoint the USTA and local fans, albeit his route to the title was extremely tough given the quality of opponents (excluding his third round scuffle). Roddick became the best player in the world soon in the consequence of phenomenal hard-court summer (won 27 out of 28 matches in seven weeks!). The sky was the limit… At the time seemed impossible to suppose that UO ’03 would be his first/last major title. In my opinion a key to Roddick’s later regressing, reclines in the Masters 2003 semifinal (Houston) – Roddick was fresh and sharp, but Federer cut him to ribbons on Roddick’s favorite American hardcourt in front of Texanian supporters. The following years confirmed it wasn’t an accident, the Swiss simply figured out a medicine for Roddick’s impetus, overwhelming him with his own best weapon: Roddick’s serve, so effective on a regular basis, was not a threat for Federer at all, in turn Roddick had a bitter pill to swallow – Federer used to serve against him better than against anyone else. Well, who lives by the sword, dies by the sword… It’s really tough to calculate how many important titles Roddick would get if Federer didn’t find an anesthetic, anyway he lost to the Swiss four major finals, two Masters Series finals, and a few other semi- or quarterfinals in prestigious tournaments, which established the most lopsided “Head to head” between players who reached No. 1 in the world. During those quite painful years, Roddick became a more complex player though, he developed variety in his serve, improved volley skills, adapted stable backhand slice – everything in vain – no matter whether he had a mentor in his box (Jimmy Connors 2006-08) or a great tactician (Larry Stefanki 2008-12) the final outcome of confrontations with Federer was the same; even when he was optically better “tennis Gods” were against him (Wimbledon 2009). Roddick in his late 20s, turned from an energetic beast interacting positively with the crowd, into a heavy-sweating moaner, arguing pointlessly with umpires. In the meantime emerged younger and fitter guys like Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Monfils and Berdych, each of them beating Roddick on several occasions, sometimes harshly, especially in the last twelve months # Those defeats, and the fact of wasting a status of a Top 10 player after nine years, caused Roddick’s decision of retirement. He wasn’t anymore able to compete with the best guys in the world, certainly it’s a blow for someone who aspired to get the biggest titles.
“It’s been a road, a lot of ups, a lot of downs, a lot of great moments. I’ve appreciated your support along the way. I know I certainly haven’t made it easy for you at times, but I really do appreciate it and love you guys with all my heart. Hopefully I’ll come back to this place someday and see all of you again.” said 30-year-old Roddick [27] after his farewell match at this year’s US Open, arguably the second best player born in the early 80s (behind Federer).

# Roddick’s bitter defeats to “big 4” in the last twelve months:
US Open 2011: Nadal 2-6 1-6 3-6
Basel 2011: Federer 3-6 2-6
Paris 2011: Murray 2-6 2-6
Olympics 2012: Djokovic 2-6 1-6
* won at least one ATP title 12 straight years; got first and last title in Atlanta but on a different surface: clay & hard respectively
* fired a serve which was the fastest over seven years: 249.4 km/h (155 mph) against Vladimir Voltchkov in a Davis Cup semifinal, USA vs. Belarus (2004)
* leader in aces served in years 2003-05 
* six times served in a match 35 aces or more
* won the longest set in terms of games at the Australian Open (against Younes El Aynaoui in 2003); despite fantastic experience obtained in that match he never won a match with at least 6-all in the 5th set afterwards, lost in these circumstances eight times (all majors and Davis Cup)
* one of three players in history to win more than 300 tie-breaks (behind Pete Sampras and Roger Federer)
* co-creator of the longest tie-break (lost it 18/20 to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Australian Open 2007) – they tied the record for the fifth time in history
* won the most tie-breaks in a row – 18 (February-July 2007)
* four times defeated Ivo Karlovic with the same scoreline: 7-6 7-6, including their last three encounters (5-1 for Roddick in H2H overall)
* won the last match against his toughest opponent – Federer, this year in Miami (3-21 H2H overall, 0-7 in finals)
Andy Roddick in numbers (singles):
32 titles (3 Challengers), 20 finals (1 CH):
00 – Austin, Burbank
01 – Atlanta (10), Houston (11), Washington (19) & Waikoloa
02 – Memphis (27), Houston (32)
03 – St. Poelten (56), Queens Club (58), Indianapolis (60), Montreal (62), Cincinnati (63), US OPEN (64)
04 – San Jose (71), Miami (75), Queens Club (79), Indianapolis (81)
05 – San Jose (90), Houston (94), Queens Club (98), Washington (101), Lyon (106)
06 – Cincinnati (120)
07 – Queens Club (133), Washington (136)
08 – San Jose (143), Dubai (145), Beijing (155)
09 – Memphis (164)
10 – Brisbane (177), Miami (182)
11 – Memphis (196)
12 – Eastbourne (218) & Atlanta (220)
02 – Delray Beach, Toronto; 03 – Memphis, Houston; 04 – Houston, WIMBLEDON, Toronto, Bangkok; 05 – WIMBLEDON, Cincinnati; 06 – Indianapolis, US OPEN; 07 – Memphis; 08 – Los Angeles; 09 – Doha, WIMBLEDON, Washington; 10 – San Jose, Indian Wells; 11 – Brisbane
Best Grand Slam results:
Australian Open (semifinalist 2003, 05, 07 & 09; quarter-finalist 2004 & 10)
Wimbledon (runner-up 2004, 05 & 09; semifinalist 2003; quarter-finalist 2007)
US Open (winner 2003; runner-up 2006; quarter-finalist 2001, 02, 04, 07, 08 & 11)
# He was the biggest contributor in reclaiming Davis Cup by the US team in 2007 (6-0 in singles)
# Three-time semifinalist at year-end championships (Houston 2003-04, Shanghai 2007)
Highest ranking: 1 (03.11.2003)
Ranking in years 2000-2011:
158 – 14 – 10 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 6 – 6 – 8 – 7 – 8 – 14.
Win/loss record:
main level: 612/212 (.742)
all levels: 635/220 (.742)
Detailed stats (main level only):
224 tournaments (years 2000-2012)
5-setters: 13-16 (.448)
Tie-breaks: 304-185 (.622)
– deciding 3rd set tie-breaks: 26-15 (.634)
m.p. matches: 12-12
Longest winning streak: 19 [2003]
Longest losing streak: 6 [2012]
Longest win: 4 hours, 59 min. Younes El Aynaoui 4-6, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4, 21-19 – Australian Open 2003
Longest defeat: 4 hours, 48 min. Dmitry Tursunov 3-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 15-17 – Davis Cup 2006
Longest tie-break won: Mardy Fish 7-6(13), 6-4 – San Jose 2004
Longest tie-break lost: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-7(18), 7-6, 6-3, 6-3 – Australian Open 2007
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