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Andy Roddick, American tennis player

His absence was most apparent this weekend — in Davis Cup play against Spain — more than a week after he officially retired, when he waved goodbye, blowing kisses to a New York crowd with tears in his eyes.
Not that having Andy Roddick on clay against Spain would have done much good. But we can think so.
By now, we’ve been doing a lot of that, thinking about Roddick, his legacy, what he accomplished, how he led American tennis, if he made the most of his lethal serve, boastful forehand and adequate backhand.
He entered with aggression — the big serve, fast feet, quick points. He hiccuped but survived, succeeded.
Could this be it? The next Great American? An inspired run?
Before long, he changed. Injuries. Style. Different coaching. Not quite as much zip on the serve, not the step in his movement.
And, despite the roars, it was over.
His last match against Juan Martin del Potro. His career as the No. 1 tennis player in America.
Roddick’s final match did well to emulate his career, with a quick and exciting start, and a dashing and predictable ending, injuries and a superior player across the net from him to fault.
Roddick might not have gotten the most of his game, or he might have. Five major finals. One Grand Slam.
It’s also hard to argue with 32 singles titles and an overall record of 612-213. It’s even more difficult to not shake your head at nine: the number of consecutive seasons in which Roddick finished in the top 10, from 2002 to 2010.
As Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray all ascended to the top, Roddick didn’t go away, consistently winning the matches he was supposed to, occasionally taking down a higher seed.
As he did throughout his career, he would tease you, dictate points with his forehand, hit backhands down the line. We’d think aloud, I think he could win this.
The next match, he’d try to take advantage of his fitness, grind it out with whomever was across the net, only to be left to be the first carrying his bags off the court.
Like the del Potro match, Roddick never had his final hurrah, his last triumph. Some rightly thought his last best chance came in the 2009 Wimbledon final. Many others refused to believe it, thinking Roddick had just one run, one hot streak left in him. Maybe that’s what we wanted most: a Jimmy Connors like U.S. Open run to reward the faith America had placed in Roddick for so many years.
Then again, Roddick was never one with something to prove, and rightly so.
He’s done more off the court with his foundation than the majority of professional athletes think of doing. And he’s entertained — and frustrated — us all over the past decade with his grit, talent and success.
Roddick will stop playing professionally, and do something else just as admirable, with the same dedication and persistence he brought to the court every day.
Legacy achieved, indeed.

Other thoughts on Roddick:
SI: Jon Wertheim
ESPN: Grantland: All about Andy

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