Aug/12

31

Andy Roddick Says Bye Bye

What do I make of Roddick’s impromptu retirement? I have a few feelings. First is sadness, not because I won’t be able to watch Roddick play anymore. I really have only watched Roddick play of late, when I have watched him play, to see if he’d have any more flareups with the umps, lineswomen or if Brooklyn Decker was in the house. But I feel sadness because here is a guy who was obviously passionate about his trade and now he’s decided not to play that trade anymore. Which makes me question what I do and how much passion I have for what I do. My passion ebbs and flows for what I care about and do, but somehow, having a guy like Roddick say, “Eh, I don’t really care about playing anymore. I’m only 30, and it’s been demeaning to have to play middling tennis for the past couple of years and you know what, I’m not going to stress it. I’m not going to try and tap the rock again and see if I can reinvent myself.”

To me, that’s a little sad. With any great athlete, we look to them to provide us with our energy and incentive. I remember when I was in law school and I was ebbing in my interest in dissecting cases and a friend of mine, who was on the right path by going to law school, while I was not, told me that he got his energy from going to a recent Springsteen concert. Watching Bruce go out on the stage with all that energy, enthusiasm, commitment and love made him want to give that kind of effort in the law.

And I talked to Spadea today and even though he’s plying the trade of tennis at one of the lowest levels now, teaching rich folk in the Hamptons, at 38 he told me today that he’s hitting the ball better than he’s ever hit it. His forehand, his serve, his slice backhand are all better and he’s sure he could beat even Andy Murray if he could just raise his fitness level from its present state of 3 to a 9. And I love that about Vince, he can be passionate about the game hitting with CEO’s and he still believes he’s one of the best players in the game.

He said to me, “If I hit with Djokovic, I want you to come out and watch us play. I’m hitting the ball so well.” Because I know Vince’s game as well as anyone and he knows it and he wants to show me he’s ready to come back. I doubt he will, but playing well will always be important to Spadea.

Of course, it’s normal for an athlete to say, “I’ve had enough. I want to lead a more normal life.” But somehow I feel that when you’re a champion, you owe it to yourself and the fans to extend yourself more. Look at Roger Clemens, the guy still wants to pitch against the best at 50. Secondly, there’s something else about Roddick’s retirement announcement and the way he staged it impromptu that bugs me. I remember Jeff Salzenstein saying to me once, “Guys like Boris Becker retire. Guys like me just fade away.” It seems like Roddick is just fading away. If he had been thinking about retirement for a while, why not announce when he was going to do it beforehand? Roddick is not Salzenstein.

It’s almost like Roddick is being a bad sport and saying, “It’s my ball and I’m taking it and going home.” I don’t think there will be anyone longing for Roddick to un-retire and make a comeback the way fans might’ve hoped Patrick Rafter or Sampras would. Maybe Roddick feels he has no unfinished business. Maybe he feels he can’t get his body back in shape to play high-level tennis. Maybe he feels like going home and being with Brooklyn. Or maybe he feels he can’t wait to be a sports radio jock. Hard to say, but Roddick is retiring his way.

He stole his pal, James Blake’s, thunder by announcing his retirement right before his match against Granollers. Roddick has never been loyal to anyone but himself which is why we know now why he didn’t fire Larry Stefanki, he wasn’t thinking of playing on and improving his flat game at this juncture of his career. So Roddick took all the reporters away right as Blake at 32, beat a seed at the US Open, where Blake has always been prominent.

Roddick was a good soldier, a streak of excitement for many years, so can we blame him now for saying, “No mas?” One way of looking at the way Roddick announced his retirement is that it was like Andy was giving the finger to all the reporters and fans. He didn’t care that by giving everyone maybe one match or a few in which to contemplate his retirement, he was in essence, cheating the fans and press. I would’ve thought he’d have wanted a nice farewell year, receiving the accolades at Miami and Wimbledon and Australia, but no, Roddick doesn’t seem to need our support and love. Or maybe he’s just tired of the criticism. Either way, Andy has his day tomorrow night against Tomic under the lights at the US Open

25 comments

  • loreley · August 31, 2012 at 7:42 am

    You are too harsh on him.

    It’s a good way to retire. I find the farewell stuff of other players tiring.

  • Dan markowitz · August 31, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Lorely,

    Maybe I am being too harsh on Roddick. I’ve just seen him in too many press cliques be too dismissive of questions and generally an ass. Which is ok. No one says you have to be a prince to the media, but we’ve also seen the run-in’s with other players: Ljubicic, Tsonga and Djokovic, Spadea, too. And to be honest, we’ve seen greater players like Sampras and Johnny Mac struggle to finish on a high note or just play top-level tennis at the ends of their careers, why can’t Roddick persevere for at least one more good year?

    He’s done a lot of good for disadvantaged people; he’s been a big success and maybe it’s just me, but if you’re going to retire, struggle for a little bit and don’t announce it while one of your peers is going on the court about to pull off his best win in his 30’s. Roddick’s only 30, finish strong, not losing to Steve Darcis.

  • loreley · August 31, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Probably he tried the last 2 years to finish strong.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 31, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Roddick feels it’s the time to go and you have to respect it. I think it’s the right time. He’s worked hard but he just can’t threaten the upper echelon anymore. Like Archie Moore said, “the worst feeling in the world is when you know you can’t win a fight” about his 4th round losing by KO to Cassius Clay. Roddick knows he can’t beat the upper echelon in majors anymore and I bet it’s the worst feeling for him. Like losing to Djokovic at the Olympics must have been a helpless feeling. And extremely distasteful for a man with his pride. Roddick has no reason to hang around, he’s very talented, witty, will be a great TV commentator someday, and also a great Davis Cup captain. He will be successful in whatever he endeavors to try. I have tremendous respect for Roddick and his Hall of Fame career. Even his ugly moments, they are all a part of what made this great champion what he was. I don’t think the timing of the call had anything to do with one-upping Blake, come on, that’s absurd. I think he made the decision and felt the urge to let it fly, one day before his date with Tomic. Hat’s off to Andy Roddick, the great American cahmpion of his era. We’ll see him in Newport in 2017.

  • bjk · August 31, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    I’d like to see somebody like Roddick say, “Ok, I’ll play Australia, UK, US, that’s it. No clay, no Asia, no 250s, no Europe. Only slams, masters, and a few 500s if I feel like it. And nothing after USO.” I think he has enough points to do it without wild cards. Be interesting to see how he’d do. Might have a very good season.

  • Dan markowitz · August 31, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Do you think he’ll wear his hat when he commentates? Have to say that I’ll make a point of watching the match tonight. If he weren’t retiring, I might not watch it. I think the guy just flat out got tired of playing tennis. He’s No.22 now, not No. 122. And it’s unusual because three years ago, Stefanki told me that he thought Roddick would be like Agassi Nd have his best years after 27. Guess Larry read that one wrong.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 31, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    By the way, Roddick was loyal to Doug Spreen, Ken Myerson, The Davis Cup team, the young American players like Harrison he took under his wing, among others.

  • John · August 31, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    A-Rod in the HOF? With only one major? Is Peter Korda in the hall?

  • Dan Markowitz · August 31, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Ryan Harrison is now 0-15 against players in the Top 10 and after 10 slams, he’s never made it out of the second round. Losing to Del Po today, he didn’t really compete. He won one set, but according to the commentators, that was really Del Po going on a walkabout rather than RH playing well.

    What to make of this guy? It just doesn’t look like it’s falling into place for him. Dmitrov has been worse, but RH has clearly dropped out of the Young Guns 4 group, too. As has Tomic, really. But he is still a slam threat in the future and that can’t be said anymore for RH and Grigor.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 1, 2012 at 12:38 am

    Absolutely John, US Open, #1 in the world, Davis Cup winner, Wimbledon finalist, participant in one of the most memorable Wimbledon finals in history. He’s a shoe in to Newport. Chang, Sabatini are in with one major. Welcome to the site John.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 1, 2012 at 12:46 am

    Tim Mayotte believes in Harrison and I will post his explanation of what he thinks Harry needs to do to take it to the next level. Tim Mayotte, for those who might now know, was once world #4, a top grass court player. Stay tuned…

  • Andrew Miller · September 1, 2012 at 2:16 am

    Tim Mayotte believes in Harrison? I wonder whether he likes Harrison’s grit – he has grit and belief. But it’s interesting – because Mayotte’s game (from some clips I saw youtube ) was about 300 percent better. Harrison seems to believe he belongs, even if his game doesn’t.

    I think though we’ve all seen the limitations of players’ games these days. Roddick worked very well within the limits – he maxed his already formidable talent. I don’t see how Harrison does it. But again, to Harrison’s credit, Harrison probably does see it. You match up a guy like Dimitrov, whose talent is out of this world, with Harrison, and on talent Dimitrov kills him, but Harrison, as of today, wins that match.

  • Andrew Miller · September 1, 2012 at 2:17 am

    The same Tim Mayotte who Dan said saw serious chinks in the armor of Harrison?

    If you ask me, the Harrison to watch is the other Harrison – I watched his game on youtube, and he has a game.

  • Dan Markowitz · September 1, 2012 at 2:49 am

    Scoop,

    What are you talking about? Mayotte told me at the qualis that he basically hates the way Harrison hits the ball. He’s too flippy with his forehand and he doesn’t like his footwork on his backhand. I can’t imagine Mayotte saying he likes Harrison game after the analysis he gave me watching him practice at the Open during Qualis.

    Good win for Roddick tonight, but boy, Tomic is a shell of what he was at 17 and 18. He’s had a complete washout of a year. I’ll tell you what Roddick is above all else, he’s a HOF sweater. Man, it’s like he turns on faucet underneath his hat. I woudldn’t want to smell that baby after a match.

    Not a good day for the Americans. Baker has had a very tough summer, capped by a straight-set drubbing by Tipsarevic. He might be one of those guys who sneaks up on players as the new guy, but once he’s been around a while, the players catch onto his game.

    Only Isner and Johnson came through besides Roddick and Johnson is intriguing.

    A question I want to pose to all the Prosers out there. Who can watch women’s tennis for more than a couple of games? I mean, really? Watching Sharapova and Kvitova today. I mean it’s fun to watch the bashing, but the game is so one-dimensional. Thankfully, there are players like Radwanska, but where’s the variety in the women’s game?

  • Andrew Miller · September 1, 2012 at 3:22 am

    Radwanska is great to watch! Clever game – pretty girl, clever game. Her clever style keeps me watching though, the pace, mix of shots, guile. All great. I would pay to watch A-Rad.

    Serena is just amazing – I have watched her play at different tournaments, she’s amazing to watch. Clean, clean game.

    Safarova is quite good. Confuses me why she is not winning more – I love her game. Lefty, mixes directions – solid.

    Sabine Lisicki – I thought she plays quite a grass game. Real good.

    And Kirilenko. I watch her but sadly not because of her game. I like her fight. She is just one good looking player. That said I can’t watch her for too long – if the ATP is playing and it’s not Dr. Ivo, I am probably going to switch the channel on Maria. She’s really been playing well lately.

  • Andrew Miller · September 1, 2012 at 3:31 am

    I agree with Dan on Harrison’s game. It’s a bit sad – I cheer for DYoung because his game is superior, but when it comes to putting in the time, Harrison’s untouchable – he’s all about earning it.

    Bottom line: other players are better in the top 40 or so – much better. Harrison’s game has more holes than Roddick every has, and there’s only one shot that Harrison does better than Roddick did, the backhand, and Roddick got away with it because he ran around it constantly. I can’t even say Harrison’s a less talented Roddick – I can say he’s a less talented Ginepri – 60 percent of Ginepri’s talent plus 200 percent more effort. Who knows what that translates to.

    However…it doesn’t matter what I think. Harrison’s putting in the time and he believes he belongs. And good things come from that combination. He’s a fighter. But I wonder about the strategy out there…I never see one other than hit the yellow ball.

  • Michael · September 1, 2012 at 4:39 am

    I never did post my Sunday report but it involved Harry’s behavior towards fans. I met a friend of his Dad’s today on Armstrong before DelPo spanked Harry and she was on the same page as me and said she would definitely mention it to his Dad about his Dickish behavior, which he must have learned from Roddick.

    Look, folks, Justin Gimelstob got a rousing ovation on Ashe when he retired and 99% of the crowd had no idea who he is. Any American will “play” on Ashe. People differed in their opinion of, for example, Pete Sampras but like him or not I never heard anyone describe him as a “dick”. I heard the term several times today on the grounds when I asked people what they thought of Roddick retiring. Not a statistically valid sampling but nonetheless, Roddick is no Federer or Agassi. We don’t work for CBS so let’s keep it in perspective. It will be several orders of magnitude more significant when Fed leave.

  • Michael · September 1, 2012 at 4:49 am

    “He won one set, but according to the commentators, that was really Del Po going on a walkabout rather than RH playing well. ”

    Harry got spanked today and I wasted too much time watching it. DelPo did a walkabout for a set. There was never a doubt.

    I agree with you Dan. Another awful USO for Harry, Grigor and Tomic. I still think Tomic is the most gifted but that doesn’t mean he has the best game or competes the best. MR does seem to be the breakout. He needs to improve his movement though.

  • Andrew Miller · September 1, 2012 at 5:32 am

    I watched most of set 1 with Delpo and Harrison. Delpo looked pretty good today, his 1st set wasn’t his best stuff. Harrison stood very far back – Fred Stolle noticed and said a lot about it – really opened the court up for Delpo to set up winners three, four shots out.

    Harrison’s backhand looked competent, he hit some big winners on passing shots. His forehand seems to fall short. Serve looked good – reminds me a little bit of Patrick Rafter, but not as good.

    That’s the whole thing – no strategy – Delpo kept moving Harrison over then exposing the backhand side for huge winners, or exploiting the forehand side because Harrison was out of position.

    His game looked a little better than I have thought – but same stuff stood out. Out of position. No strategy. Spinny Forehand. Good serve – maybe even a very good serve. Good backhand. Sometimes surprised with a big forehand, but more often it was a spinny rally forehand. Volleys decent but not natural – not enough practice, maybe. Good overhead.

    Good serve will keep him in matches but a good serve won’t win a match, a great serve wins a match. Volleys are there at least – that’s good. Forehand is spinny. Backhand doesn’t do enough with it. Serviceable slice. Pretty good wheels – athleticism is good – not Blake or Roddick, or even Fish, but it’s good. No strategy. No court sense. Doesn’t seem to adjust sufficiently on the court.

    Wants to win. Tough. Puts in the work. As Michael said, Roddick’s not a good role model. Roddick model doesn’t work. Harrison should try to be himself. No need to channel Connors or Roddick.

    Player more in the mold of Roddick? That would be Jack Sock. Big forehand. Big serve. Backhand exists but is not an amazing shot. Volleys exist but aren’t amazing either. Stays hungry, aggressive, seems like it’s fun for him.

  • Steve · September 1, 2012 at 6:37 am

    He should wear his old visor instead of a hat for his last matches.

    I wonder if he’ll put out a book. I’m curious about how his time working with Jimmy Connors went. Brad Gilbert’s book (not really a book) “I’ve Got Your Back” gave a basic feel of how Roddick liked to work.

  • Dan Markowitz · September 1, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    The best part of last night’s match was seeing Brooklyn Decker smile so much. I’ve never seen the girl so happy at a Roddick match as last night when he was retiring. The girl looked particularly divine. Better than Steffi any day with her glowering German-ness.

    No, really, performance-wise, Roddick showed he’s got a lot left in the tank. He was hammering serves, coming up to net, moving around the court like a giddy teen. Maybe it’s Jo Willy Tsonga who should retire. Tennis is a sport that lends itself to retiring and then returning. It’s so brutal in its schedule and demands that un-retiring, especially if you’re only 30, is a very real possibility. Geez, it’s true, I’m starting to miss Roddick already.

    Anyone believe he’s got a shot against Del Po. By the way, Del Po is a little hard to take, right? He’s got a nice game, but he has the personality of Lurch of the Munsters.

  • Andrew Miller · September 1, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Roddick over Del Potro? Nope. If Del Potro can’t handle the crowd, maybe Roddick in four.

  • Michael · September 1, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    @Dan “He’s got a nice game, but he has the personality of Lurch of the Munsters”

    Very good nickname for Delpo and I’m running with it.

  • Michael · September 1, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Lurch crushed Nadal and Fed. He doesn’t have crowd issues and there is a not insubstantial Latin American contingent.

    Roddick will need to bring more than the crowd. I expect delPo to murder him unless Delpo gets bored – then in 4 like Harry.

  • Steve · September 2, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Great to finally see the Bradley Klahn high-lights. So glad he turned pro. Didn’t get to see any Jack Sock this year. American tennis continues. :-)

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