Monday, March 9, 2009

Roddick's 31

The Go-To American Gets a Milestone

When you’re a world-class tennis player like Andy Roddick, people will talk about you. Ever since the brash young super-sonic server starting sniffing the second week of Grand-Slams in 2001 (he lost in the quarters to Hewitt @ the U.S. Open that year) the tennis world has been talking about Andy Roddick.

Roddick, a model of consistency who has been out of the top-ten for only 8 weeks in the last 6 years, certainly deserves any accolades he gets.

And yet sometimes, the talk has been conversely negative.

High expectations have proved to be too high for Roddick at times. A magical victory at the 2003 U.S. Open left Andy on top of the tennis world for a moment that in retrospect has been far too brief.

Timing was right for Roddick in 2003; Legendary Pete Sampras played in his last Grand-Slam ever in ’02; fellow legend Andre Agassi was also beginning the twilight of his career. In their absence, who seemed better destined than Roddick, with his ballistic serve and bubbling moxie, to inherit the throne of tennis?

While we know now how delicately balanced on the precipice Roddick really was, back then we had no idea that his U.S. Open title in 2003 might be his last. Instead we wondered how many majors Roddick might win (could he Challenge McEnroe’s 7, or Agassi’s 8? Surely not Sampras' 14?) and we took it for granted that American tennis would always feature players that would have the necessary guts and genius to secure Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles.

Five plus years after Roddick's one-and-only Grand-Slam title, no more illusions about the current grandeur of U.S. Tennis, or the past grandeur of Roddick, remain. He is not Superman, but in America, he is our guy.

Here’s the real story:

Yesterday, in first-round Davis Cup play, Andy Roddick saved the Americans bacon again. Proving once again that he clearly relishes playing for his country, Roddick won his 31st Davis Cup singles match. The milestone vaults him over American great Andre Agassi into 2nd place all-time among Americans. The bacon-saving Roddick has now played the clinching match in 11 U.S. Davis Cup victories.

The soon-to-be twenty-seven year old from Omaha, Nebraska, while unable to eclipse many of the lofty expectations that have often been unfairly placed upon him, has certainly not wilted under the pressure of big-time international competition. This is a boy that does not lack for courage. Roddick encapsulates and exudes the essence of Americana – he is bold, he is boisterous, and he is a fighter. And when he is asked to represent his country in competition, man does he answer the bell.

His bell-answering is a major testament to the quick-witted and unabashedly sardonic Nebraskan. He may not match up on paper with our greatest legends, but Roddick does not selfishly brood over this fact when it is time to represent the very nation that often maligns him for this fact. No, he answers the bell.

Yesterday, in front of an enthusiastic bunch of tennis lovers in Birmingham Alabama, he answered again. In surpassing Agassi, the U.S. Captain trails only John McEnroe among U.S. players in wins.

As usual, the candid Roddick was in awe of his accomplishments. "I'm kind of a nerd about the history of our sport," he said. "It was kind of in the back of my mind. There's probably a few moments in your career where you can sit back and be a little impressed."
"When you get mentioned with Andre, who I grew up watching ... Andre was always the guy that every one leaned on to come through. To kind of surpass him now is extremely surreal, but it's definitely one of those fun moments also."

Fun indeed Andy, and from the bottom of America’s collective tennis heart, we thank you for that fun.

1 comment:

joe said...


I liked this piece very much. "Bubbling moxie"
Although, Michael Farquhar would still contend that he, Roddick, is a pussy!