On Wednesday at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Andy Roddick’s 12-year professional tennis career came to an end with his loss to Juan Martin Del Potro. Roddick left the sport at the site of his only Grand Slam victory, the 2003 US Open.
Christoper Clarey, who wrote about the end of Roddick’s career for the New York Times, spoke with Bill Littlefield about Roddick’s departure and the void he leaves in American tennis.
“It was a very touching week in many respects,” Clarey said, noting how people “really got behind him and let him know that he would be missed.”
Roddick was a power player, but in the Times Clarey argued that he retires as “a champion defined by his work ethic and his wit,” Clarey wrote in the Times.
Roddick appeared in five Grand Slam finals, winning only one and losing four to Roger Federer. While some critics believe he never lived up to his full potential, Clarey disagrees.
“He was in a tough era. It’s not necessarily a question of error,” Clarey said. “I think Andy had some limitations. He got caught a little bit in a change of technology and a change of playing surface. Andy is really a power player, and I think he would have done better in an era where fast courts were really the norm.”
Still, American tennis will feel his departure from the sport. In terms of Roddick’s consistency in Top 10 play, Clarey said, there are few American men who even come close to filling the Roddick void.
“John Isner is 27, has a huge serve,” said Clarey. “It’s not inconceivable that Isner could put together a great two weeks and win a Grand Slam title.” However, Clarey added, “There’s nobody who seems as obvious as Roddick seemed when [Pete] Sampras and [Jim] Courier and [Andre] Agassi were coming to the ends of their careers.”
After his loss, Roddick thanked the fans at Arthur Ashe for their years of support, joking: “I might not have been easy to deal with, but I was never dull.”
Clarey said Roddick plans to bring his high-strung,-high-wired personality to other areas now he’s retired.
“One of the things that really defines Andy is that sense of humor. And it’s not surprising that he’s going to do some radio now that he’s finished,” Clarey said. “I think he would make a terrific commentator.”