More than an hour after hitting one last shot as a professional tennis player,then delivering one last,voice-wavering speech to an adoring US Open audience,Andy Roddick exited the locker room one last time.
Accompanied by his wife and other family members,a black baseball cap tugged low over his eyes,Roddick slung a racket bag off his aching right shoulder,the one responsible for so many high-speed aces,violent forehands and the most recent Grand Slam title by an American man,and tossed the equipment in the back of a waiting van. He wont need that any longer.
The 2003 US Open champion Roddick headed into retirement with a 6-7 (1) 7-6 (4) 6-2 6-4 loss to 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro in the fourth round at Flushing Meadows on Wednesday.
If we do badly,then it costs us something; if we do well,we get great things. This was about something bigger. It wasnt about ranking points or paychecks or anything else, Roddick said. This week I felt like I was 12 years old,playing in a park. It was extremely innocent. It was fun. I enjoyed it.
People always try to beat him up: You shouldve won more. No,he got the maximum out of his game, said Roddicks coach,Larry Stefanki.
During an on-court address to the crowd,Roddick got choked up,particularly when making a reference to his longtime agent,Ken Meyerson,who died last year. Its been a road of a lot of ups,a lot of downs,a lot of great moments. Ive appreciated your support along the way, Roddick told the crowd. The Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd,however,showed their appreciation of Roddick with cheers for him.
I think I went about things the right way. The umpires might disagree with me, he said later
Asked how he hoped to be remembered,Roddick said: I want everyone to look back and think that I was awesome, drawing more laughs from reporters.
And would he be going out to celebrate his retirement? Im not going to be opposed to a beer … or ten. Well see how that goes, he said,leaving everybody laughing.