By Randy Walker
“Thank you all for coming. I’ll make this short and sweet. I’ve decided that this is going to be my last tournament.”
This is how Andy Roddick opened an impromptu press conference Thursday – held on his 30th birthday – announcing his retirement from professional tennis at the conclusion of the 2012 US Open.
For those who saw Andy Roddick walk off Centre Court at Wimbledon following his third-round loss to David Ferrer in July, this should not come as a big surprise. The way that Roddick waved goodbye to the Wimbledon crowd that day, it was pretty clear that he was saying a final farewell. Roddick knew in his head that it was time to walk away from the game, but his heart was telling him that it was not yet time to let go.
After his wave good bye at Wimbledon, which Roddick brushed off in a post-match press conference, I was half expecting an announcement to be made before the US Open. However, I also thought that perhaps he would finish out the year and then just issue a press release announcing he would not play pro tennis in 2013 and that is how he would go out — in an understated, humble way which seemed to fit his character. Roddick, however, said that he wanted to go public with his decision to have an opportunity to say good-bye at his home Grand Slam tournament and the site of his highest achievement in tennis, winning his lone major title in Flushing in 2003. Friday night’s second-round match with Australian upstart Bernard Tomic may turn into yet another Arthur Ashe Stadium career swan song, just like Kim Clijsters had Wednesday in her career-ending loss to British upstart Laura Robson.
“Just with the way my body feels with the way that I’m able to feel like I’m able to compete now, I don’t know that it’s good enough,” said Roddick Thursday. “I don’t know that I have ever been someone who is interest in existing on tour. I have a lot of interests and lot of other things that excite me. I’m looking forward to those.”
Successful people like Roddick always have clear goals in what they want to accomplish in life or in a career. Roddick achieved some lofty goals for a tennis career, winning a major singles title at the 2003 US Open, earning the No. 1 world ranking and winning the Davis Cup for the United States like he and his teammates did in 2007. While he was not able to crack through and win Wimbledon, despite three final-round appearances, sometimes in life all lofty goals are not accomplished and Roddick looked at the tennis landscape ahead with nothing left to accomplish that he realistically could achieve.
“I’ve always, for whatever my faults have been, felt like I‘ve never done anything half way,” said Roddick. “Probably the first time in my career, I can sit here and say I’m not sure that I can put everything into it physically and emotionally. I don’t know that I want to disrespect the game by coasting home. I had plans to play a smaller schedule next year, but the more I thought about it, I think you either got to be all in or not.”
Roddick brought a lot of flair and excitement to American tennis over the last decade. While currently ranked No. 22, one could argue he is the probably the fifth most dynamic personality in the men’s game at this time. Whenever he was eliminated from a tournament, the excitement level of the tournament certainly dropped. The sport will now be without one of its most electrifying figures.