U.S. OPEN: Amidst Tears Andy Roddick Steps Aside

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EVEN THE JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES MUST END
Andy Roddick stepped up to serve for the final time of his career. The macho man with ‘tude was tearing.

Minutes later, Brooklyn Decker, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model in a leather mini-skirt and stylish blue shoes, staggered down the corridor of Ashe Stadium supported by a caring friend. Her chest heaved, tears flowed.

And for good reason. The man of all (tennis) seasons had hung them up. He would not blast another 143 mph serve. He would not bark at another ump. He would not offer another zinger. He would not raise high another trophy.

Yes, the U.S. Open has provided dramatic stages for many memorable exits.

* Bjorn Borg lost the 1981 Open to John McEnroe. Seemingly humbled, the proud Swede picked up his rackets and went out the back way with reporters chasing him. Still in his prime, he sought refuge in a pre-mature retirement which created a huge vacuum in the game.
* Chris Evert, long America’s beloved sweetheart, lost to Zina Garrison in the quarterfinals of the 1989 Open and offered a final lingering wave – so classy, so poignant.
* Pete Sampras – who was on an almost two year losing streak and had been written off as an over the hill has been – defeated his arch rival Andre Agassi in the 2002 final. He never played another ATP match.
* Martina Navratilova, a competitor who could just not put down her rackets – won the 2006 Mixed doubles with Bob Bryan late at night in a half empty Ashe Stadium. She basked in a final triumph, but finally was done. She was 49.
* And Agassi, who was evolving into a bit of a Zen master, lost in the second round of the 2006 Open and gave the most moving speech in the history of the game. He said, “Today the scoreboard says I lost.What the scoreboard doesn’t tell you is what I’ve found.I found loyalty. You pulled for me not only on the court, but in life I found inspiration. You willed me to succeed even in my lowest moments.I found big hearts. You let me stand on your shoulders to reach a dream I couldn’t reach on my own. I found you. And I will take the memory of each and every one of you with me for the rest of my life.”
Wow!
Andy Roddick is great with quips and zingers. No one does quick takes or has more instant insights. But he’s not a Gettysburg address kind of fellow. Still his retirement – considered with his inner circle and announced in a shock press conference after his first round win – had a stunning finality few saw coming. With no warning American tennis blankly stared into a an abyss, the end of an era – the Andy era. Our game would be without a charismatic male icon for the first time in almost four decades.
We love to knock Andy, whether he is losing a Wimbledon final or flaming out at the French Open. Eloquent Federer flowed, earthbound Andy was clunky. He was flawed. He fell short. He could make you wince. Still he was our Andy. Never mind if he got whipped by a no-name at Roland Garros or humbled a well-meaning reporter. Now – on court – he will be no more.
If dealing with the falling rain and a torrent of tears was not enough, Roddick had to deal with another one Slam wonder, Juan Martin del Potro. who is the only player not named Federer, Nadal or Djokovic to have won the Open since 2003 when Roddick claimed the crown. Much younger, much bigger and with a far loftier ranking, the No. 8 Argentinian dropped the first set before his deliberate power game grabbed the match by the throat. Roddick was doomed.
Yes, Andy played fast and had swagger. His usual white cap was in place and he tugged repeatedly at his loose shirt. His serve and forehand occasionally flashed their famous long ago brilliance. For all his bravado and despite a daring stab volley here and the roars of the daytime crowd there, one knew why the 30-year old’s ranking had fallen to No. 22. And, no matter that we raged in protest, we now realized why the mighty warrior was retiring.
Yes, many a trivial question would never be answered. How many balls has this man hit? How often has he felt agony in the pit of his stomach after a brutal loss in distant outback? How often has he yelped at refs or made a hapless writer cringe?
Now there were more immediate concerns. Would this be Andy’s last match? Would this be his last ace, his last challenge of a line call? Would this be his last service game? Yes, he bravely saved a match point with a 122 mph service winner and then double fisted for the last time. The speakers blared “I’m back in a New York mood.”
But Delpo was in no mood to mess around. Calm and merciless, he closed in for the kill. The journey of a thousand miles must end. It was the agonizing finale, a painful last twitch for the best American man of the past decade. And at 5:57 P.M. a lunging Roddick forehand fell errant. not even close. It was over. Tears flowed.

Delpo and Roddick embraced and Andy put his head in a towel. His supporters became unhinged and the fallen American told the adoring crowd how lucky he was. He spoke of the game’s other great champions, his many ups and downs, his late great agent, his love for the crowd and how he wouldn’t have made it without the throng.
This was not Borg running away from the arena or Agassi offering a flawless farewell. This was Andy – nothing more, nothing less – blunt, transparent, accessible, from the heart. This was our warrior for our era bidding farewell, not with inspiring elegance, but with a (from the heartland) directness, not unlike those 143 mph wonder serves which transformed this game and somehow captured our hearts.

===Andy Roddick – the macho man with so much ‘tude stepped up to serve in the final game of his career. He was tearing.

Brooklyn Decker, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model in a leather mini-skirt and stylish blue shoes, staggered down the corridor of Ashe Stadium supported by a caring friend. Tears flooded down her face.

And for good reason. The man of all (tennis) seasons had hung them up. He would not blast another 143 mph serve. He would not bark at another ump. He would not offer another zinger. He would not raise high another trophy.

Yes, the U.S. Open has provided dramatic stages for many memorable exits.

Bjorn Borg lost the 1981 Open to John McEnroe. Seemingly humbled, the great champion picked up his rackets and went out the back way with reporters chasing him. Still in his prime, he sought refuge in a pre-mature retirement which created a huge vacuum in the game.
Chris Evert, long America’s beloved sweetheart, lost to Zina Garrison in the quarterfinals of the 1989 Open and offered a final lingering wave – so classy, so poignant.
Martina Navratilova, a competitor who could just not put down her rackets – won the 2006 Mixed doubles with Bob Bryan late at night in a half empty Ashe Stadium. She was done. She was 49.
Pete Sampras – who was on a year and a half losing streak and written off as over the hill has been – defeated his arch rival Andre Agassi in the 2002 final. He never played another ATP match.
And Andre Agassi, who was somehow evolving into a bit of a Zen master, lost in the second round of the 2006 Open and gave the most moving speech in the history of the game. He said, “Today the scoreboard says I lost.What the scoreboard doesn’t tell you is what I’ve found.I found loyalty. You pulled for me not only on the court, but in life I found inspiration. You willed me to succeed even in my lowest moments.I found big hearts. You let me stand on your shoulders to reach a dream I couldn’t reach on my own. I found you. And I will take the memory of each and every one of you with me for the rest of my life.”
Wow.
Andy Roddick is great with quips and zingers. No one does quick takes or has more instant insights. But he’s not Gettysburg address kind of fellow. Still his retirement – considered with his inner circle and announced in a shock press conference after his first round win over – was a shock. A stunning development few saw coming. With no warning American tennis blankly stared into a bit of an abyss, or at least the end of an era, the Andy era. Our game would be without a charismatic male icon for the first time in almost four decades. We loved to knock Andy, such an ample foil whether he was losing a Wimbledon final or flaming out at the French Open. Eloquent Roddick flowed, earthbound Andy was clunky. He was flawed. He fell short. He could make you wince. Still he was our Andy. Never mind if he got whipped by a no-name at Roland Garros or humbled a well-meaning reporter. Now – on the court – he will be no more.
If dealing with the falling rain and a torrent of tears was not enough, Roddick had to deal with another one Slam wonder, Juan Martin del Potro who is the only player not named Federer, Nadal or Djokovic to have won the Open since 2003 when Roddick claimed the crown. Much younger, much bigger and with a far loftier ranking, the No. 8 Argentinian dropped the first set and then grabbed the match by the throat. Roddick was doomed.
Yes, he played fast and had swagger. He had his usual white cap and tugged repeatedly at his loose shirt. His serve and forehand occasionally flashed their (famous long ago) brilliance. For all his bravado and despite a daring stab volley here and the roars of the daytime crowd there, one knew why the 30-year old’s ranking had fallen to No. 22 in the world. And, no matter that we raged in protest, we could see before us why the mighty warrior was retiring.
Yes, many a silly question would never be answered. How many balls has this man hit? How many hours has he practiced? How often has he felt agony in the pit of his stomach after a brutal loss in distant outback? How often has he yelped at refs or made a hapless writer feel small?
Now there were more immediate concrns. Would this be Andy’s last match? Would this be his last line call challenge? Would this be his last service game? Yes, he bravely saved a match point with a 122 mph service winner. He double fisted for the last time. The speakers blared “I’m back in a New York mood.”
But Delpo was in no mood to mess around. Calm and merciless, he closed in for the kill. Even the journey of a thousand miles must end. It was the agonizing finale for the greatest American men’s tennis career of the past decade. And at 5:57 P.M. a lunging Roddick forehand fell errant. not even close. It was over. Tears flowed.

Delpo and Roddick embraced and Andy put his head in a towel. His supporters became unhinged and the fallen American told the adoring crowd how lucky he was. He spoke of the game’s other great champions and his love for the crowd, his many ups and downs and how he wouldn’t have made it without the throng.
This was not Borg running away from the arena or Agassi offering a flawless farewell. This was Andy – blunt, from the heart, transparent and very accessible. This was our warrior for our era bidding farewell, not with flawless elegance, but with a (from the heartland) directness, not unlike those 143 mph wonder serves which transformed this game and captured our hearts.

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