NEW YORK –
So you retire.
Goodbye, good luck. Somebody sent flowers. Old colleagues send cigars and J&B. Speeches are made, lauding a loyal employee’s efforts on behalf of the old company for over a decade.
You will be remembered, but – what’s this? – you show up at the office to work some more and the folks at the shop are puzzled. “Can’t you stand going home?” yelled,” one of the 25,000 at the concrete canyon called Ashe Stadium. “This is the shortest retirement since Newt Gingrich dropped out of the presidential race,” said another.
So this is where we are at the U.S. Open, the Andy Roddick Story in which the former champion, having announced his retirement, refuses to pack up and go home. Is that fair to Tennessean Rhyne Williams, Aussie Bernard Tomic, and, then, muscular Italian Fabio Gognini, all who got in the way of Roddick’s retirement. Amazing for a guy who wasn’t supposed to be here – but just had to sneak a last peek to see if the balls still bounced and anybody was using his deserted locker.
Roddick left so many fine memories on the canyon floor, as the last American guy in eight years to make the U.S. Championship his very own. That was 2003. After that aliens like Federer, Nadal and Djokovic told American guys to get lost.
But there was Roddick, getting to one other US final and three Wimbledon finals, an admirable task, and always in high competitive gear, issuing the retirement bulletin some time after he had given his all in backboning the only Davis Cup for the U.S. in a decade. Andy was aware of his good fortune: “I got to play in a crowd, play Wimbledon finals, be the guy on a Davis Cup team for awhile. Those are opportunities not a lot of people get.”
With the glow of a full blue moon, while celebrating his 30th birthday on the 30thof August, Andy Roddick announced his decision to hang up his rackets when he completes this US Open
“Retire already,” Mardy Fish told his pal.
Sure, but there were a few things to do yet. So Roddick, on a Sunday holiday, found himself in the fourth round after three retired — but not too tiring – victories. A perusal of the draw sheet reveals him as the last remaining American male – retired or not.
Andy and the Italian Davis Cupper Fognini put on a good explosive show of attacking and retrieving, going all out as a retired man should (Fognini, beaten, 7-5, 7-6 (7-1), 4-6, 6-4, said he had no interest in retirement except to the locker room for a refreshing shower.)
How many of those is uncertain for Roddick, who next levels his retirement plan at the big chunk of the Argentine map, Juan Martin Del Potro – the champion two years ago. This does not look easy, but beware, Delpo. Anybody who can win three matches while in retirement is dangerous.
At 30 Andy remains an exceptional athlete who could have stayed on the tour. But “I feel it is time,” Andy said. “ I don’t know that I’m healthy enough or committed enough to go another year. I’ve always wanted to, in a perfect world, finish at this event. I have a lot of family and friends here. I’ve thought all year that I would know when I got to this tournament. When I was playing the first round, I knew.”
“On some moments this year, I think I’ve known, You know walking off at Wimbledon.”
Photographer, Susan Mullane who chronicled all of Roddick’s career, confirmed that she had known as well when she captured Roddick looking wistfully at the grass as he left the court.
Roddick plans to build in Austin, Texas a youth tennis center through his foundation. He says: ” I have a lot of interests and a lot of other things that excite me. I’m looking forward to those. ”
“If you look at contemporaries who started with me – only Roger is left. It’s been fun being a face of American tennis for so long.”
I asked Andy if he won the Open, would he return in 1213. He laughed and emphatically said: “No.”
A minimum of $ 237,500 should help him in retirement.
So, as Mardy Fish tweeted, “Andy, retire already …”