It was 2003 when a young 20 year old American from Omaha, Nebraska broke into the big stage at the tennis court after creating havoc in the junior category winning the junior US Open and Australian Open following it up with his 1st Grand Slam, The US Open 2003 defeating Juan Carlos Ferrero.
He broke into the top of the rankings on November 3, 2003 and became the first American after Andre Agassi to finish a year on top. He was labelled as the ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ by Peoples Magazine in 2006.
As time went by, he matured more and more into a dangerous threat and a genuine contender for every title. Any great tennis player of the modern era would acknowledge the lethal weapon of this ace master i.e. his fiery serves which ranged from 210-245 km/hr. Commentators saw in him the saviour of the serve and volley game. He showed traces of great net play at the helm of others dominating from the baseline. His main genre of play was his ‘kick-serve’ game. He had one of the best forehands in the business but a weak backhand proved to be a hindrance against quality opponents, which he tried to resurrect under the guidance of various coaches such as Larry Stefanki.
The North American fell behind the likes of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer , Novak Djokovic, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and others due to his laid-back approach on the court and quitting on the rallies far too easily and early. His career was in disarray after 2006-07 due to the continuous persistence of injuries to his hamstring, twisted ankle and shoulder troubles.
He grew up under the shadow of the great American tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams and Andre Agassi. The American had a very contrasting career, full of success, frustrations, endeavours and failures. He also had the honor of being coached by the flamboyant Jimmy Connors.
The Lacoste Ambassador earned a nick name ‘A-Rod’. Gregarious, witty, tirading and short-tempered were the qualities he was famous for on and off-court.His short spelled, ill-mouthed encounters with referees and linesmen are well remembered. So are his hilarious imitations of his contemporaries.
The only major reason that stopped him from the illustrious glories was the era of his existence in the game i.e. being surrounded by some of the greatest players of the game in the modern era as he himself was quotes saying “Frankly these guys have gotten really, really good”. Namely Roger Federer who parried him from 4 Grand Slam titles (2004,2005,2009) Wimbledon and (2006) US OPEN. His endearing and disheartening time in the game really came out at the presentation of Wimbledon 2009 when Federer took the title 16-14 in the 5th set, where A-ROD said to RF, ” You should have let me take that one because you’ll be at the same stage again next time but I may not” . And he was right; he never made a Grand Slam Final after that.
With all the talent he possessed he was a Prodigy who deserved a lot more than what the numbers show. Tennis has seen huge players like Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Martina Navratilova, and Steffi Graff bid adieu to the game after a spectacular run of a career and Andy Roddick is no less of a maestro. At the end of the day he might be called a ‘one slam wonder’, but nonetheless he will be remembered as a legend for the aura he brought to the game.
Andy Roddick is the real face of sports. He may not have had all the Grand Slam glitter to show, but when we talk about sports being a leisure of life, Andy Roddick is a real hero and a real human being full of compassion, charm, style, emotions and love for the game. Roddick leads The Andy Roddick Foundation Tennis Raffle which is open to all the children of the world. It is an effort from Andy to help children today for a better tomorrow.
Bidding farewell with a heavy pounding heart and wet eyes wasn’t easy for the fans as they certainly watched, enjoyed and understood that sport is not only about winning and losing, ranks and trophies but also recognizing the difference between playing a game and playing it well.