American Andy Roddick bowed out of tennis in an emotional farewell, losing 6-7 (1-7), 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, 6-4 to Juan Del Potro in the fourth round of the US Open on Wednesday.
The match, which began on Tuesday and was interrupted by rain, was the last of a career for the 30-year-old, who said last week that the Open would be his last tournament.
“I don’t know what the emotions are. I’m a little overwhelmed right now,” said the player who defined the home game for a decade, standing as the world number one for 13 weeks, winning 612 matches and claiming 32 titles.
He won his only Grand Slam — the last claimed by an American man — at the US Open nine years ago. “I normally feel like I can grasp things pretty quickly and clearly; I certainly don’t feel that way right now.” Roddick went out amid a hail of applause on the showcase Ashe stadium at Flushing Meadows, wife Brooklyn Decker shedding tears behind her black sunglasses in the stands in the closing moments.
The player who celebrated his milestone birthday last week announced on that day that this event would be his last. He won two more matches before falling to Del Potro, who also ended the career of Marat Safin three years ago in Paris.
“This was all new for me. I had seen most things that this game had to offer, and this was entirely new” said Roddick. “It was emotional, but not emotional like we normally have it.
“It’s normally a very selfish emotion for us. If we do badly then it costs us something; if we do well we get great things. This was about something bigger. It wasn’t about ranking points or paychecks or anything else.
“It was fun. This week I felt like I was 12 years old playing in a park. It was extremely innocent. That was fun. I enjoyed it.” Roddick, based in Austin, is expected to devote more time to his charity foundation as he finds his way in his new life.
The new retiree said that while he is not forcing any advice on the next US tennis generation “I’d love to help any of them.
“I think they know that the door is open. There is no filling shoes. I think we’ve got to be looking for individuals, not clones.” With the wit that has characterised his career, Roddick was quick with a response when asked how he wanted to be remembered. “I want everyone to look back and think that I was awesome,” he said as a room full of journalists broke into laughter. Then he added: “I’m probably not going to be opposed to a beer or 10 (in celebration). We’ll see how that goes.”