Andy Roddick: Rejuvenation Or Retirement?
Andy Roddick spent 2009 revamping himself. No longer a man content with quarter finals and known mainly for a powerful serve and good Davis Cup play, the former US Open champion got fitter, faster, and lighter. He hired a new coach, Larry Stefanki, and suddenly became a name the top four didn’t want to see on their side of the draw. Nothing showed Roddick’s improvements more than Wimbledon 2009. No one expected him to challenge Roger Federer in the final, but he did more than just that. Roddick pushed Federer all the way to the fifth set.
It was as if the resilient old bull, with battle scars, fresh wounds, and killer attitude to match, had hauled himself up again for one more battle. When Andy Roddick failed, at 16-14 in the fifth, beaten once again by Federer, the tennis world could do nothing but admire both men and feel sympathy for Roddick. Roddick had spent the year reforming himself and after pulling the upset against Britain’s Andy Murray, it had seemed as if the old dog might finally have his day once again. Especially as they headed to the fifth set and Roddick’s serve was clicking. It wasn’t to be. The second Slam didn’t come. Instead, Roddick was left sobbing as he watched his opponent claim his fifteenth Slam. Despite the hurt, his epic fight gave Roddick fans and supporters hope that perhaps he would be a force for the future.
Unfortunately, instead of looking like the beginning of a second career, Wimbledon 2009 is starting to look like Roddick’s last stand. Despite how much the tennis world may want Roddick to win that well deserved second Slam, perhaps it is time to consider that it just isn’t meant to be. After Wimbledon he was upset in the third round in the US Open by compatriot John Isner in another heartbreaking five setter. Come 2010, Roddick won Brisbane, but fell short in the Australian Open to Marin Cilic in yes, another five setter. It would get to anyone. Roddick played conservative tennis in his three set loss to fellow American, Sam Querrey, in Memphis. He then withdrew from Dubai citing injury, and has made himself unavailable for Davis Cup.
Despite the heartbreaking losses, it wasn’t until Roddick decided to give up Davis Cup after not missing a tie in almost ten years, that it began to look as if the baton had been passed. There have been some big changes in American tennis over the last eight months, John Isner and Sam Querrey now look likely to overtake Roddick in success and possibly ranking in 2010. It feels just a tad premature.
Roddick’s 2009 didn’t seem to inspire him. Despite his success, he has dragged his feet ever since Wimbledon. Injuries and attitude seem to be bringing Roddick down. Giving up his beloved Davis Cup suggests that Roddick has lost some of the passion, determination, and resilience he once had. Does Andy Roddick still really want tennis?
If there is still some passion and need for the game lying deep down under the obvious hurt, perhaps Stefanki and Roddick could give 2010 another really good run. But without Roddick’s full commitment, we’re more likely to see more average results for the current world number eight. Unless he makes the big decision to retire. Not because Roddick needs to retire, he is still a solid top ten player, but because perhaps his heart is no longer in it. It is no secret he considered retirement after his Wimbledon loss in 2008 before deciding to go ahead and give it all he has. Has the moment come where Roddick cannot give any more?
Andy Roddick is a well-loved player for his personality, sense of humour, and big serve. With that amount of charisma, it is not hard to imagine the former world number one enjoying a commentating career later in life, or something similar behind the scenes. What no one wants to see is that charming American endure the great decline. Roddick’s second career may still happen. Just don’t count it involving a racket.