Andy Roddick met the press for a final as a pro tennis player. Roddick lost to Juan Martin Del Potro earlier today in his first professional tennis match at the US Open. The 30-year-old won the title in 2003 and a week ago announce the US Open would be his final event.
Roddick wraps up his career with 32 titles, a Davis Cup win in 2007 and 13 weeks spent as the No. 1 ranked player including finishing on top in 2003.
The American who had one of the most lethal serves of all time finished in the Top 10 nine straight years, and he won at least one title every year since 2001.
Q. What are the emotions?
ANDY RODDICK: I don’t know. You know, playing the last five games was pretty hard. Once I got down a break I could barely look at my box. I don’t know what the emotions are. I’m a little overwhelmed right now. I normally feel like I can grasp things pretty quickly and clearly; I certainly don’t feel that way right now.
Q. I think you ought to be clapped to.
ANDY RODDICK: Thanks, man.
Q. There is a tradition of the press that there is no applause in the press box, no applause at a press conference, there is no applause at anything like that, but you deserve it.
ANDY RODDICK: Thanks, Bud.
Q. You have had a lot of chances and opportunities to reflect on your career since you made the announcement and even leading up to it. What do you consider the most rewarding aspect that you have experienced?
ANDY RODDICK: It’s so hard. I mean, I get asked these big questions and I’m not good at choosing. You know, I’m not sure. You know, I know the thing that is certain is I didn’t take any of it for granted. You know, I think I went about things the right way. The umpires might disagree with me. (Laughter.) You know, I was consistent, and I don’t feel like I left a lot on the table on a daily basis. When I look back, that’s probably what I’m proud of.
Q. You may not remember this. You were 17 years old. You’re playing in Delray Beach, it’s Saturday night, the fans are were all over you. A woman said, Andy, would you sign my chest? And you said, I wasn’t brought up that way. How were you…
ANDY RODDICK: I had just never seen a boob before, to be honest. (Laughter.) It was just that was overwhelming for me. This is the second time I have been overwhelmed. (Laughter.)
Q. How many thoughts were going through your mind? Can you just share one or two? When you’re about to serve or receive, how do you keep things out of your mind? What was running through your mind?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, like I said, it was tough. Once he kind of got up there in that match it was a different set of circumstances than my previous matches. You know, then you start thinking about, you know, how real it is and, you know, a lot of thoughts go through your head. You’re thinking about matches you’re playing when you’re 12 or you’re thinking about you know, I was thinking about my mom driving me to practices all over the place. You just think about a million things. Then all of a sudden you have to play a point against one of the best players in the world. It certainly was a mixed bag there at the end.
Q. I’m assuming you never served with tears in your eyes before; am I right?
ANDY RODDICK: No. I mean, you try to keep it as best you can. I have done better over the last week or so than I thought I would. Like I said, this was all new for me. I had seen most things that this game had to offer, and this was entirely new. It was emotional, but not emotional like we normally have it. It’s normally a very selfish emotion for us. It’s if we do badly then it costs us something; if we do well we get great things. This was about something bigger. It wasn’t about ranking points or paychecks or anything else, you know. It was fun. This week I felt like I was, you know, 12 years old playing in a park. It was extremely innocent. That was fun. I enjoyed it.
Q. Were you actually losing it during that last service game?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, literally losing it. I almost got broken. (Laughter.) No, I don’t remember. I mean, I felt like I was on the verge for a little while, so I’m not sure what I actually got through.
Q. Before the start of the tournament did you craft an ending for yourself and what would have been the perfect ending for you, do you think?
ANDY RODDICK: No, I don’t really prepare things. You know, I didn’t know before the tournament that that was that. I knew in the middle of my match in the first round, and then I gave myself a day not to be, you know, kind of reactionary. I woke up one of the days and Brooke was out running an errand and I kind of had an hour and a half to myself, and I was just walking back and forth. Then, you know, kind of started texting her frantically and telling her I need to chat. Saying it out loud was the hardest part for me. Then started calling people so they wouldn’t hear it from you bunch first. (Smiling.) Yeah, I don’t know that I crafted any part of this besides coming in here and sharing it with you all.
Q. You think, having said all that, the way it worked out in the end playing Del Potro on that court it wasn’t a night match but a day match but do you feel good about the setting in a sense?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. I mean, I don’t know that I had a plan. You know, I was just going to try to win. It was perfect. This whole week has been perfect, you know. Raindelayed match, come back the next day. It’s like typical US Open. Played with me in the end, so I guess it was right.
Q. You win the first set; you get broke in the first game of the second set. Did that really turn any momentum there, or did it matter?
ANDY RODDICK: Third set or…
Q. I mean third, yeah.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I mean, I think I played really well up until the second set breaker; I played two pretty bad points there. You know, once he kind of gets his feet under him he likes to swing free. I think he freed up a little bit and I gave him a couple of looks. The third set was a bit of a wash. The fourth set, 1All game, I had a pretty good look there. I think that was the point for me to try to turn it.
Q. A lot of players, all players come on the tour very young. You were successful very young. Honestly, how long did it take you to put winning and losing into perspective?
ANDY RODDICK: When do you learn perspective? I don’t know. I don’t know. I think I’ve always had a pretty decent grasp of it. You know, obviously you’re not happy. No one is happy when they have a bad day at work. Especially if your bad day of work occurred in front of a lot of people and then you had to go explain yourself, you know. It’s not always easy. I never wanted to be the guy who complained about something I had because I realize how lucky I have been. I think I always realized that. I don’t know that there was an age where I didn’t realize that.
Q. You mentioned the day of work and having to explain yourself, good or bad. That is part of the job, especially somebody who has played with your stature. You get the big room. You’re sitting here for the last time talking to us. We have been through highs and lows together. Just kind of final thoughts on your final press conference, your relationship with us.
ANDY RODDICK: (Laughter.) I made a joke when Austin and Tim came and got me. I was walking out of the locker room, and I said, Man, I think I have more expectation of this press conference than I did the match today. So, you know, like you said, I think it’s at the point now where I look back on rough moments fondly, you know, in these rooms. I hope you all do, too. There has certainly been some good ones; there have been some fun I ones. There has been some horrible ones both ways, but it wasn’t boring.
Q. You talked about sort of having recollections out there in the heat of the matches. What were the matches when you were 12 and what did your mom have to go through in terms of traipsing around, early wakeups, long miles?
ANDY RODDICK: Jeez, I mean, sunup to sundown. My brother played, too. She was running a shuttle service for a couple of years, basically, a pro bono shuttle service. You know, I said the other day when you were asking about my parents, I said, They gave me every opportunity they didn’t have. I was fortunate. You know, after the fact, they have never really wanted anything. I think they’ve just been happy that I tried to make the most of opportunities given.
Q. You have been long enough around new American tennis players, the younger ones. Who can you fill in your shoes and be the next American No. 1?
ANDY RODDICK: Let’s not do the “next.” Let’s let them have their own personality and let’s let them do their thing and let them grow. I think I’d love to help any of them, you know. I think they know that the door is open. There is no filling shoes. You know, I think we’ve got to be looking for individuals, not clones.
Q. How do you want your career to be remembered? What are you proudest of about your playing career?
ANDY RODDICK: I want everyone to look back and think that I was awesome. (Laughter.) I don’t know. That’s for you all to decide. You know, again, it’s tough for me to be objective and kind of look outside in. You guys will do a fair job of expressing it, I’m sure.
Q. When you will talk to your kids…
ANDY RODDICK: I was hoping you would jump in. (Laughter.)
Q. What will you tell them first? Your father was…
ANDY RODDICK: I don’t know. I don’t know. We’re talking about a conversation that’s ten years away and you’re asking me to kind of articulate it. Hopefully I’ll have some recent stuff that I can tell them about.
Q. Before that last game the crowd starts chanting, Let’s go Andy. You have had moments like that out on Ashe before, but it’s going to be tough to replace. Do you think you’ll be longing for those moments as the years go by?
ANDY RODDICK: I’m not ignorant to the fact that it’s a huge part of me and that I won’t miss it; of course I will. I’m not pretending like there aren’t going to be hard days. But, you know, I feel pretty settled in the decision and I feel content and happy with it.
Q. Did you bottle that moment today, though?
ANDY RODDICK: I was trying. You know, like I said, you kind of have to wrestle your thoughts and the task at hand, because it’s not done until you’re actually done. You know, so it was challenging.
Q. Does one celebrate a retirement?
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, I’m probably not going to be opposed to a beer or ten. We’ll see how that goes. (Laughter.)
Q. How hard was it to talk to the crowd after the match? What were your thoughts when you were sitting there? Just moments after the match your head was in the towel and everything.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I mean, it’s hard talking in those moments. You know, your voice gets a little scratchy. You can stand there all day. You know, the two moments I remember that it was kind of hard was Wimbledon, and kind of got through that one. But today was I didn’t know where to start, what to say. There are so many things I wanted to say, but I didn’t have confidence in talking for a long time without dribbling a little bit. Hopefully I did a decent job. You know, I had no confidence going into talking out loud after that one.
Q. You have carried the torch for men’s tennis for this country for a long time. Is it fitting that you end your career as the last American male standing?
ANDY RODDICK: I would have rather not had it that way, especially with kind of the way Mardy went out. You know, I didn’t like seeing that, that being the reason why. I have never been against having company, you know. I would have loved for a lot more of us to have still been in.
Q. Is there anything you didn’t get to say out there a little while ago that you want to say now?
ANDY RODDICK: I’m sure there are a lot of things that I’m going to want to say. It’s tough at any given moment with a line or two. You know, I don’t know that I can kind of encompass everything that I’m thankful for and everything that I would want to say, all the people I’d want to talk to in this short amount of time.
Q. No doubt about it, you were given the role of the most popular tennis player out there. You became the ambassador of tennis, Saturday Night Live, all the commercials. How cool was that? Was it always fun? Was it ever something that was a heavy duty, also, that you carried that role.
ANDY RODDICK: No, it was a great time. I mean, there is no I hear people who have some sort of success, you know, and complain about it sometimes. I don’t get it. I don’t understand it all the time. Like I have told you all forever, for every one negative there are ten positives. I don’t think that’s ever not been the case.
Q. Of all the tributes to you today, one of the most striking to me seemed to be the way Juan Martin handled it. When they announced him as the winner, he pointed his racquet to you. When they interviewed him on the court he basically said this is your day and then even how he was with you at the net. I’m curious what your thoughts were about that and what he did say to you when you met and embraced?
ANDY RODDICK: To tell you what kind of guy he is, I wasn’t surprised by any of it because I don’t think you’ll find someone that doesn’t like him or doesn’t think he’s a class act. You know, I was happy that I got the opportunity to play him today. You know, probably wasn’t an easy situation for him. I thought he handled it great. I’m thankful to him for that.
Q. When Andre retired a few years ago it seemed he prepared some remarks when he got the microphone after his match. Did you ever think about doing that, or is that just not your style?
ANDY RODDICK: I didn’t think of it. I probably should have. (Laughter.) Andre is always a little bit more prepared than I am. I didn’t think much about it. I kind of assumed that I would just be answering questions. I’m better at answering questions than I am creating something on my own. When that happened, I kind of took a second. No, I didn’t have anything prepared.
Q. What has been your approach to the burden of being the face of American tennis and always being asked those questions and having that pressure on you?
ANDY RODDICK: It just is what it is. You know, I wasn’t going to shy away from it, for sure. I mean, you get knocked down. You know the burden. I understand it. I understand the fact that we come from, you know, a place which probably had more success than any other tennis country where there are certain expectations. I fell right on the back end of the golden generation, and so that was just the cards that were dealt. But as tough a situation as it is, in the grand scheme of things it’s a dream. It’s something you want. That’s not hard. Someone who’s got, you know, however many kids and is working two jobs to buy food, that’s hard. What I had to deal with wasn’t hard.
Q. You have talked about as a junior early days how you weren’t a very good player. Were there a couple of I can’t believe…
ANDY RODDICK: To be fair, I was really good when I was 11 and then I got terrible and then I got good again.
Q. When you got to the pros, 2003 or Wimbledon or Davis Cup after winning a match where you just said, I just cannot believe it’s me holding this trophy or accomplishing this?
ANDY RODDICK: Most things. You know, I went from being about 40 in the world it was just fast. Everything happened fast. I think I was 40 or 50 in the world in juniors in ’99, and then all of a sudden I was 14 in the world after I lost to Lleyton here in 2001. You know, just lost to him and I was feeling pretty good about the way I was playing, you know, at the time. And then kind of everything else that came along with it after that. I don’t know that I grasped what was happening while it was happening, but I certainly kind of get it now. But it just happened really fast. There were a lot of moments like that.
Q. You’re a young kid playing in the garage beating Edberg and Lendl, and then you come out to the real world and you accomplished three of the four goals you always said you wanted with the Open, No. 1, and a great Davis Cup win. Just talk about in your own mind your own feeling of achievement from a ridiculous kid who loved this sport to…
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, it’s funny, because if you tell a 12 or 13yearold kid that he’s going to win 30some odd titles and become one of 20 for this and 20 for that and be No. 1 and have a slam, you’d take that in a heartbeat. Going back, I would have taken that in a heartbeat. There was a lot of tough moments but unbelievable moments. I mean, who gets to play in Wimbledon finals and who gets to play in an Open and who gets to be part of a winning team? Most people don’t get to experience that. You know, like I said I’ve said it a million times and I’m probably boring you guys now but I realize the opportunities I had.
Q. And being just a special friend and mentor for generation of players too, is that special right up there with the trophies?
ANDY RODDICK: I don’t know. You’d have to ask them. I always tried to be a dude around the guys. You just try to be a human. I don’t know. That’s what you should do.
Q. Do you envision a plaque in Newport, Rhode Island, with your name on it?
ANDY RODDICK: That’s not for me to say. That’s not my choice. Obviously it’s the ultimate honor of any tennis player, and that’s something I’d be extremely humbled by. But I’m certainly not going to be presumptuous about anything. If it happens, I’ll be thrilled and amazed. If it doesn’t, I’ll probably still be thrilled and amazed with what I was able to see.
Q. Do you recall the first time you played in this stadium and your reaction to it all?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I hit in it when I was a junior, warmed Moya up. But I think played Slava Dosedel in 2001, won 64, 62, 61, so yes. (Laughter.) Hope I didn’t get that wrong. (Laughter.)
Q. We’ll check it.
ANDY RODDICK: I’m sure.
Q. You spoke earlier about ’91 and being here. Have you heard from Jimmy week?
ANDY RODDICK: It’s not really Jimmy’s style to get in the middle when it’s cool to get in the middle. We’ll probably touch base in the next couple of weeks.
Q. Worked with a lot of different people in your career. Wonder if there was anything someone said to you, either a coach, a friend, a peer, who when you look back sort of helped you as you navigated the ups and downs of your career.
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, I learned a lot of things. I was lucky because, you know, I got to be around all of our best champions. I knew them all well. You know, all my idols became friends and people that I could talk to. You know, I remember doing XOs with Andre, and he’d teach me things like you leave a room and it’s someone you’re going to see again, write some names down. Remember names. That’s something you should do. That’s a sign of respect. He would show me, you know, kind of when you’re 18 you fumble along and mumble your name, and he wasn’t okay with that. You know, so little things like that he helped a lot with.
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