Roddick: The agony and the ecstasy
As Andy Roddick enters retirement, our Andy Schooler takes a look back at some of his most famous matches.
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v Younes El Aynaoui, 4-6 7-6 4-6 6-4 21-19, Australian Open, quarter-final, 2003
2003 was Roddick's year and many suggest this was the match which set him out on his path to glory. It lasted almost five hours and seemed like it would never end in a tense, serve-dominated final set. Roddick, who faced match point at 4-5 in the decider, actually broke the Moroccan's serve in the 21st game only to surrender his own delivery immediately. On they went but it was the American who prevailed. "Strategy was out the door late on in the fifth set," said Roddick afterwards. "It was just pure fighting. This was more about heart."
v David Nalbandian 6-7 3-6 7-6 6-1 6-3, US Open, semi-final, 2003
This will arguably go down as the most famous win of Roddick's career. Outplayed for the first two sets as he sought a first Grand Slam final appearance, 'A-Rod' stared defeat in the face in the third-set tie-break when he fell match point down. However, a trademark ace saved it, he took the set and from that point Nalbandian crumbled. If it was a defining moment in Roddick's career it will probably be for Nalbandian too. The Argentine is rated one of the most talented players never to win a Grand Slam and he was not been to a major final since this agonising loss.
v Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3 7-6 6-3, US Open, final, 2003
The day after his narrow escape against Nalbandian was Roddick's crowning moment. A superb serving display - he did not lose his own delivery in the match - saw the American clinch his only Grand Slam title. "He served unbelievably," said Ferrero. "There was nothing I could do." The victory capped a golden summer for Roddick. He had arrived at Flushing Meadows having won back-to-back titles in Montreal and Cincinnati - a double which has not been completed since - and also won in Indianapolis. He would end the year as world number one, but with a certain Roger Federer emerging that was to be as good as it got for Roddick.
v Dmitry Tursunov, 6-4 6-4 6-2, Davis Cup, final, 2007
Roddick was a big supporter of the Davis Cup and he and his American team-mates had long strived to win the famous trophy. They narrowly missed out in 2004 but everything clicked into place three years later. Handed home advantage in Portland to face defending champions Russia, Roddick got his side off to the perfect start, crushing Tursunov in the opening rubber by holding serve throughout and taking revenge for a heart-breaking defeat to the same player the previous year (see below). Roddick did not win the clinching point - that was left to the Bryan twins in the doubles - but his performance had set the tone for a memorable weekend. It was Roddick's sixth win out of six in the tournament that year and he would finish his career with a 33-12 win-loss record in the competition.
v Michael Chang, 5-7 6-3 6-4 6-7 7-5, French Open, 2nd rd, 2001
For many this will be their first memory of Roddick. Just 18 at the time, he pushed himself to the limit to beat his compatriot on the surface that was always to be his bête noire. With cramp reducing his powers considerably, Roddick dug deep - and kept blasting aces - to prevail in almost four hours against a player who became famous for battling a cramping body at the very same venue 12 years earlier - a then-17-year-old Chang was struggling so badly he served underarm en route to beating Ivan Lendl. "God works in his funny ways," was Chang's verdict after this epic.
v Roger Federer, 4-6 7-5 7-6 6-4, Wimbledon, final, 2004
The match in which Roddick famously "threw the kitchen sink" at Federer, only for the Swiss - according to his opponent - to go "to the bathroom to get the tub". Roddick played superbly for the first set and a bit, going ultra aggressive, with his forehand shaking Federer. It could not be sustained though. Federer took the third set on a tie-break and pushed on to defend his title.
v Roger Federer, 5-7 7-6 7-6 3-6 16-14 Wimbledon, final, 2009
If Roddick's most famous win came against Nalbandian (see above) then this has to be his most famous defeat. To this day, Roddick is probably still wondering how he blew four set points in the second-set tie-break - he led it 6-2 only to lose it 8-6. Yet still he managed to put that to one side and push his old foe to the limit. An awesome serving display meant Federer could not break Roddick's serve until the very last game of the match but that was enough to give Federer the crown, one which took him clear of Pete Sampras in terms of Grand Slam titles won.
v Dmitry Tursunov, 6-3 6-4 5-7 3-6 17-15, Davis Cup, semi-final, 2006
Roddick's defeat to Federer in the 2009 Wimbledon final (see above) was painful, but this one was even longer. While a Grand Slam title may not have been at stake, it was nonetheless a big match - one Roddick had to win to keep USA's chances of reaching the final alive. On the Moscow clay he was always going to be up against it but stormed back from two sets down to give himself a real chance. He served for the match at 6-5 in the decider but failed to close and - more than an hour later - paid the ultimate price. "It never appeared that he was ready to give up," Tursunov said, summing up Roddick's fighting spirit, another trait. "He fought to the finish."
v Lleyton Hewitt, 6-7 6-3 6-4 3-6 6-4 US Open, quarter-final, 2001
He was no John McEnroe, but Roddick's fiery temperament would often come to the fore, none more so than in this encounter as a raw teenager. Roddick's name was by now well known and expectations of a good run at Flushing Meadows had risen. He did not disappoint and took on Hewitt looking to continue his heroics. Deep into the final set that remained very much a possibility but a line call at the start of the 10th - and what turned out to be final - game saw Roddick blow his top. "Are you an absolute moron?" raged at umpire Jorge Dias after he produced an overrule to call a ball out on the far side of the court. Unable to refocus, Roddick duly lost serve. Hewitt went on to win the championship; Roddick went home.
v Roger Federer, 6-4 6-0 6-2, Australian Open, semi-final, 2007
Federer really was Roddick's nemesis and this match was the nadir as far as the American was concerned. He lost 11 games in a row from 4-4 in the first set as Federer left him totally outclassed, reading his famous sledgehammer serve perfectly. Federer, who would finish with a 21-3 win-loss record against Roddick, said afterwards it was one of the greatest performances of his career. Roddick showed some of his trademark wit by commenting: "It was frustrating, you know it was miserable; it sucked; it was terrible. Besides that, it was fine."