MY TRIBUTE TO ANDY RODDICK

Andy Roddick just retired. For those of you who are allergic to sports (as well as my rebellious Aimish readers), Andy Roddick has been the greatest American male tennis player for about the last decade.

Though millions of us enjoy watching and playing it, tennis is not the most popular sport in America. Any game whose score includes the word “Love” is never gonna win a masculinity contest. However, I argue it’s the most equally grueling physical and mental sport out there. Baseball, basketball, football and hockey all have teams: and in these games, you don’t even have to play to be part of the team. Even in golf, you’re out there talking strategy with your caddy. Tennis is the only sport where you’re completely alone. You don’t just sit on the bench; baby, you play the entire time. No one is in your face motivating you; there’s no one next to you to blame – you either win or lose the match all by yourself.

Andy Roddick won one major title, the 2003 U.S. Open. Most tennis fans thought this would be surely be the first of many; and he’d soon be in the history books for sharing multiple titles like Agassi, Connors, McEnroe, Borg and Sampras…..this would be his lone Grand Slam, but Roddick’s had an undeniably outstanding career. Most of the time, he played incredible and to the ultimate of his abilities…..he just happened to compete in an era with 3 of the greatest tennis players ever – Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. (Who recently combined to win 29 of 30 Grand Slams in a 7-and-a-half-year period.)

Roddick’s resume may not include multiple Slam wins, but he is undoubtedly a future Tennis Hall of Famer: He was The World Number 1; won 32 titles – including The U.S. Open and 9 Masters Series 1000 tournaments; he and Federer are the only men who’ve won at least 1 tourney for the last 12 years in a row; he won over 600 matches (75% of all matches played), made over $20.5 million in prize money, was a Top 10 player in the world 9 years in a row; has the second best Davis Cup record next to McEnroe; is in the Guiness Book of World Records at least 4 times; and is hands-down the funniest tennis player in the history of the sport.

Just to prove how quick and witty the guy is in his press conferences, here’s a quick Top 10 List of my favorite Roddick quotes:

10) “It was frustrating. It was miserable. It sucked. It was terrible. Besides that, it was fine.”

  • Answering “What was it like for you?” after being destroyed 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 by Federer in the ’07 Australian Open semis.

9)

  1. “Well, the score gets better for her every time she tells the story, also. She’s good at not letting the truth get in the way of a good story.”

– Responding to Serena’s claim that she beat Roddick when they were kids.

8)

  1. “I need to be a tennis commentator; it’s gotta be the easiest job in the world. If somebody wins; you say, ‘They did what they were supposed to do’; if somebody loses, you say, ‘They should have done this and this.’ Does that about wrap up a hard day at the office?”
  • To TV commentators Pat McEnroe and Chris Fowler after a match

7)

  1. “There’s a lot of strategy talk. It’s not so much like, if you’re down 6-4, 6-0, 2-0. You know? We didn’t talk about that….oops.”
  • On “Did you talk to your coach about what to do if Roger gets on a roll?” (See #10)

6) “I think everyone knows that I’m always in Roger Federer’s head. That’s about as consistent as gravity.”

  • On “The Late Show with David Letterman”, sarcastically responding to Letterman asking “After the Wimbledon final, are you in his head more than ever now?”

5) “I’m happy for my wife’s success; but let’s be honest: It’s not Lawrence of Arabia.”

  • On his reaction to wife Brooklyn Decker starring in the Adam Sandler flick Just Go With It.

4)

  1. “It wasn’t fair. When we were ten, I literally had to run around in the shower to get wet (extending a pinky) I was this big; and she was bench-pressing dumptrucks already.”

– Explaining his loss to Serena at age 10.

3) “I don’t know. I’m not a doctor; that’s not my profession. That’s why tomorrow I made an appointment with a doctor. (beat) You guys know I’m an athlete, right?”

  • When asked “What’s wrong with your knee?” after retiring from a match due to injury.

2) “I think that you should retire.”

  • To a Chinese reporter with an incredibly thick accent who asked a long and complicated question that ended with, “Who do you think should retire?”

AND THE NUMBER ONE:

  1. “I got broken; then I got broken 3 more times; then I got broken 2 more times in the 3rd set; and then the match was over about 26 minutes later. Is that about what you saw, too?”

– Answering the question, “Andy, what happened out there today?” (See #7&10)

Andy Roddick can certainly be viewed as, well, the second syllable in his last name. Though he was careful to never profanely lambast officials like Johnny Mac, he frequently made comments during matches like, “You’re an idiot! Stay in school, kids; or you’ll end up an umpire.” But he always said the things that all the other players wish they had the balls to say, on and off the court; and that’s what makes him so damn entertaining. (Hey Federer, Murray and all the top players: You should hire Roddick to write clever zingers for your press conferences! Please? The sport really needs it now.)

As impressed as I’ve been with his performances on the tennis court and in the press conferences, what I admire most about Andy Roddick is his character. He started The Andy Roddick Foundation, which has raised over $10 million for 10 different charities since ’01; and The Andy Roddick Youth Program in San Antonio, which assists disadvantaged children and awards scholarships to private schools and universities. He won The Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award in ’04. He refused to defend his title in Dubai, even after being offered more financial compensation, because the United Arab Emirates denied an Israeli player a Visa for the event. He also once saved a group of guests from a hotel fire. I don’t know if he drinks Dos Equis, but he is the most interesting tennis player in the world.

Roddick always had the ability – no matter how bad he was defeated nor how poorly he played – to shake his opponent’s hand, look him in the eye and say, “Good job.” Win or lose, that’s the mark of a true champion.

Congratulations on a fine career, Andy. I’m sad to see you go, but happy for ya. You’re retiring a multi-millionaire at age 30 who’s married to Supermodel/actress Brooklyn Decker. Game, set and match – Roddick!

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