There was obviously a big buzz about Roddick, so I made the trip down to Nottingham in 2001. The 18-year-old had already won a couple of main tour events and beaten Sampras and one of my heroes, Michael Chang. He edged out Marc Rosset, from Switzerland in a big serving affair on the grass that day in Nottingham! I also saw him beat Thomas Johansson at Wimbledon a few weeks later, again getting close and personal with that serve and forehand! Boom! At just over 2 months older than myself two things were clear on watching the A-Rod. Firstly, I still thought I could play to a reasonable level back then, quite clearly nowhere near the level required having seen the young American play! Secondly due to this, he represented my era of tennis and as a result the standard! He brought with him those surfer-boy looks and an on court swag that looked new generation. Someone my age group could relate to though without a doubt. He just acted like a normal person, he would say what you would expect or want to say yourself. This was either through humour or temper, but, again you could relate to it. He continued this throughout his career and that’s fair play to me, it came across as honest.
In 2003 he was clearly the man to beat on the US hard courts and he went into the US Open as a strong favourite. He had dominated the swing with back to back master series titles and from what I remember, a loss to my boy Tim in Washington was his only defeat after Wimbledon, in the lead up to New York. The A-Rod gubbed me twice here by taking Tim out in a comfortable straights and then coming from two sets down against Nalbandian. Now, this was gubbage as I had backed the Argentine at 25/1 pre-tournament. I remember being in a club and without scoreboard apps around in those days I was receiving text updates from a pal. I think I asked him if he was taking the piss at one point as Nalbandian lost from match point in the third! He fired his way past Juan Carlos Ferrero in the final. With the exception of the Nalbandian match, there was an air of inevitably about it and I certainly didn’t begrudge him.
How could you not feel for him after the 2009 Wimbledon final against Federer? Losing the decider 16-14 having played so well and if anything, edging it on points in boxing terms. Roddick has always given his all and always shown plenty of heart in matches, something that was always evident with him. He would leave it all out on court, he had such passion, drive and determination. This day more than any other he managed to find an extra couple of percent against his worst possible match up, he served out of his nut. If you ask me he didn’t get what he deserved in that final and I don’t think all that many could disagree! He didn’t get the luck back in 2004 either against the Fed-Express, again, when rain gubbed him. He looked in control before the heavens opened, had it not been for this we could have easily been talking about two Wimbledon titles.
The best Roddick moments? Where do you start to be fair? The appearances on the Jonathon Ross shows were class! Great banter there! On court, the point and the celebration against Chela at the US Open was a classic A-Rod! Chasing and hustling down the Argentines every shot with those bandy legs, before producing a down the line pass. Dropping the racket, standing on the hoardings and high-fiving the crowd is still possibly the best celebration I have seen! Almost pissed myself with laughter!Legend! Pretty much any press conference but the ‘Schmovak Schmokovic’ comment probably nicks it, where he tells how he had Djokovic up against the locker, after his defeat at Flushing Meadows. The press conference after the defeat to Federer at the Oz in 07 shows all the honesty and humour in one at a time when he would rather have been anywhere else. Rating Gonzalez chances as “slim” in the final smashes it! Going on to say how he would sleep well if he drank a lot and throwing in a joking “no shit” in response to a reporter commenting his performance was better in their than on court. He finished by saying he doesn’t run away from things and I think this perfectly sums up how the A-Rod wore his heart on his sleeve! Props!
Andy Del Potro