Published: Friday August 31, 2012 MYT 9:14:00 AM
Roddick retires on his own terms
NEW YORK - Andy Roddick's surprise retirement from tennis Thursday on his 30th birthday ended an era for American tennis, sending the last US man to win a Grand Slam title to the showers after one final bow.
Roddick inherited the legacy passed down from such American stars as Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras and stamped his own name among the icons by winning his only Grand Slam title at the 2003 US Open.
Not wanting to embarass himself or diminish his memory by overstaying his welcome, Roddick said the US Open, where he faces Australia's Bernard Tomic in a second-round match Friday at Arthur Ashe Stadium, will be his farewell event.
"With the way my body feels, with the way that I'm able to compete right now, I don't know that it's good enough," Roddick said. "I don't know that I've ever been someone who is interesting in 'existing' on tour.
"I couldn't imagine myself being there in another year." Roddick, who won 32 career titles, had not gone past a Grand Slam quarter-final in the three years since his loss to Roger Federer in the 2009 Wimbledon final.
"If you look at my contemporaries that started with me, Roger is the only one that is still going and still going strong," Roddick said.
"For whatever my faults, I've never done anything halfway. I'm not sure I can put everything into it physically and emotionally. I don't know that I want to disrespect the game by coasting home."
Federer also beat Roddick in the 2004 and 2005 Wimbledon finals and the 2006 US Open final, runner-up efforts that helped inspire Roddick in his prime.
"As much as I was disappointed at times, I'm not sure I ever felt sorry for myself or begrudged anybody any of their success," Roddick said.
"Everybody would want to win a match or two more. Had I won a match or two more, we would be looking back at something a little bit different."
Federer together with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have won 29 of the past 30 Grand Slam men's singles titles, helping create a record US men's Slam title drought of 35 events.
But through it all Roddick remained a constant title threat, season after season, spending nine years ranked in the world top 10.
"One of the things I'm proud of is for 13 or 14 years I was invested fully every day," Roddick said. "I've been pretty good about keeping my nose to the grindstone."
In the 2003 US Open, Roddick battled back from two sets down to beat David Nalbandian in the semi-finals and downed Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 in the championship match.
"I've had a lot of different memories. I feel like I would be cheating the other memories if I said one was the highlight," Roddick said.
"I feel like I've been very lucky. That's certainly not lost on me."
"For the moments where it has been hard I've had 25 positive things that have come from it. I wouldn't trade away a day of it. I've loved every minute."
Roddick, who married model Brooklyn Decker in 2009, led the US team to the 2007 Davis Cup title and his 33-12 all-time record makes him second in all-time Cup match wins to McEnroe's 41.
Roddick said he would miss the "innocent" parts of the sport, hitting tennis balls and working with young players, and the relationships that come with life on the tour. But he also had plans to rekindle at least one long-time bond.
"My dog is going to be excited," Roddick said. "I'm not going to be a deadbeat dad any more." - AFP