On February 4, 2016 Andy Roddick dazzled fans at the Ebix Charity Challenge at the University of North Carolina. Playing with John Isner against the Bryan Brothers, he served and volleyed like he never left the tour. In one nineteen rally point he bested the Bryans showing just why he is so missed.
Roddick retired in 2012. His last two matches at the US Open were sad, though not because he had become a shadow of himself. His departure signaled the end of an era for American men’s tennis. He was the last American giant and former number one player with an impressive career of 32 titles.
I miss his no nonsense play. He served like a pitcher with a quick wind-up and release. The power of his serve and forehand was something to behold. He held the record for the fastest serve at 155 mph (2004) until Ivo Karlovic set a new world record of 156 mph (2011). Remember when Roddick’s 141 MPH serve caught Nadal in the face at the US Open 2004?
He was also one of the firsts, if not the first to hire a super or celebrity coach. He worked with American Legend and eight time slam holder Jimmy Connors for two years, 2006-8. This odd pairing did not take him to new heights. He bounced back in 2009 which was arguably his best slam year since winning the US Open in 2003.
|Grand Slam Singles results|
|Australian Open||SF (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009)|
|French Open||4R (2009)|
|Wimbledon||F (2004, 2005, 2009)|
|US Open||W (2003)|
There was also much to like off-court. He is smart, self-aware and personable. He is open and curious in interviews, yet there is a guarded tension to his public persona which I admire. He respects the sport and the fans but he does not seem to have lost himself to either.Tennis misses and needs the likes of Andy Roddick in any capacity he chooses: commentator, coach, administrator, doubles specialist.
Roddick has been an on air talent on Fox Sports (TV and podcast) and he had long been doing a podcast. Interestingly, he did not commentate on tennis until Wimbleon 2015 when he joined the BBC’s Commentator team. By all reports he has been well received. This is no surprise. He is personable, though a bit curt or brusque, which I happen to like. He is also knowledgeable and seems to have a solid mid-western work ethic which serves him well. He is well-positioned for the commentator seat. He’s done what few if any tennis commentators have done; he has actually delved into commentating and proven his skills. For far too long it has been a given that an open tennis commentator seat would be given to an American legend, icon or the like. The player’s ability to actually do the job seemed to be of little importance.
I remember when Cari Champion was on Tennis Channel as a reporter. I hoped that she would be given an opportunity to commentate. Well we all know how that turned out! She went onto First Take then SportsCenter and her own podcast, BeHonest. She is much more engaging and competent in the booth than many of the commentators I have suffered. Andy has done the work. He has probably put in the ten thousand hours to achieve mastery. And his intellect, self-awareness and zen nature of late all poise him for commentator greatness. Knowledgeable, straightforward and transparent, he is no Justin Gimelstob.
It is unlikely that Roddick will return to the sport full-time in any capacity in the near future. He and his wife, Brooklyn Decker, are new parents to a son born in October, 2015. Roddick appears to be enjoying his freedom from the rigors of tour life. He is no longer as visible in the tennis world, but he is still watching and if we are lucky, planning his second career in the sport. Tennis needs Roddick’s experience and transparency in the booth, player’s box, offices or on the court. So Roddick what will it be?