NEW YORK: By turns a bit wistful and at his wisecracking best, Andy Roddick let the tennis world in on a little secret he kept for a couple of days: This U.S. Open will be the last tournament of his career.
Roddick made the surprising announcement at a hastily arranged news conference Thursday, his 30th birthday, at Flushing Meadows, the site of his biggest triumph — the 2003 championship, the last time an American man won a Grand Slam singles trophy.
“I just feel like it’s time,” said Roddick, a former No. 1-ranked player who is seeded 20th. “I don’t know that I’m healthy enough or committed enough to go another year. I’ve always wanted to, in a perfect world, finish at this event. I have a lot of family and friends here. I’ve thought all year that I would know when I got to this tournament. When I was playing my first round, I knew.”
He is scheduled to play 19-year-old Bernard Tomic of Australia in the second round tonight at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Roddick’s impending departure was by far the biggest news of Day 4 at the year’s last major tournament, overshadowing some otherwise noteworthy on-court developments in the afternoon.
There was the loss by fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 2008 Australian Open runner-up, against a man ranked 52nd.
And there was a spate of victories by American men, two who are Roddick’s contemporaries and good pals (32-year-old James Blake and 30-year-old Mardy Fish), and two who have been viewed as possible successors as the best the country has to offer in the sport (19-year-old Jack Sock and 24-year-old Sam Querrey).
“I saw the press conference just before I came out here. I had a feeling, thought it might be, because he’s someone who puts heart and soul into every match. It gets tougher as you get older, and I don’t think he could keep doing it the same way,” said the 115th-ranked Blake, whose 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 upset of No. 24 Marcel Granollers of Spain was stunning for its ease.
No. 23-seeded Fish came back to beat two-time U.S. Open semifinalist Nikolay Davydenko 4-6, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-1, 6-2.
Roger Federer, a 17-time major champion, moved into the third round with a routine 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 victory over 83rd-ranked Bjorn Phau of Germany.
Naturally, he was asked about Roddick, a guy Federer beat in all four Grand Slam finals they played against each other, including one at the U.S. Open and three at Wimbledon.
“Oh, man. He’s a great man,” Federer said. “I’ve had some great battles with him for a long, long time.”
Although few seemed to have an inkling that Roddick would say farewell during these two weeks, 14-time major champion Serena Williams, for one, was not taken aback.
Indeed, after beating Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain 6-2, 6-4, Williams said she knew this was coming.
“I mean, he told me awhile ago — last year — that this would be it,” she said.
“We were talking about it. I was just thinking, ‘Change your mind, Andy. Change your mind.’ But I guess he didn’t.”