By Erin Bruehl, USTA.com
Andy Roddick celebrates a point in the 2009 Wimbledon final.
Andy Roddick in action during the 2009 Wimbledon final.
It was admittedly a difficult night for Andy Roddick after coming ever so close to his first Wimbledon title, holding serve for 37 straight games before Roger Federer finally broke him in the final game of the match to win in five epic sets.
Instead of Roddick’s first Wimbledon crown, it turned into Federer’s record-breaking 15th major title with the 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14 victory. And in a testament to the final’s competitiveness and greatness, the 30 games in the final set were a Wimbledon record for the most games ever played in a singles final.
But Roddick, while disappointed, could feel good knowing he had played extremely well and received an extraordinary amount of support from both fans and peers.
He did suffer an injured right hip flexor during the final that then forced him out of the Davis Cup quarterfinal between the U.S. and Croatia and out of the Indianapolis Tennis Championships, the first tournament in the Olympus US Open Series this summer.
However, Roddick, with his solid game and even better physical fitness this season, is hoping to return at the Series’ stop at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington D.C. starting August 3 – which he won in 2007 - and have a solid summer run culminating in hopefully the 2009 US Open title.
“I am going to try to be back for Washington. It was really disappointing (not to be able to play Indianapolis),” Roddick said, the world No. 5, in a conference call. “I didn’t play in Indianapolis last year and I was really looking forward to getting back and especially coming off the run at Wimbledon, I think fans were maybe looking forward to (me) being back there and I was looking forward to being back there.”
“The biggest thing I am concerned about is I had to give it sufficient amount of time to rest after Wimbledon,” he added of his hip flexor. “At this point, I haven’t gotten in enough repetitions at all on it. I don’t feel I am prepared to play a professional tennis tournament.”
Following Wimbledon, he was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support wherever he went – from fans on the street to emails and text messages from the entire tennis community. The amount of encouragement was unlike anything he had had before in his career.
“I am not going to lie. It was a hard night that night,” he said of the Wimbledon loss on July 5. “But I have never been a part of something where I have had so much outwardly support, even just walking around. I was in New York City for two days after that and I really couldn’t go half a block without people coming up and talking about how much they enjoyed the match and were pulling for me and that helped a lot.”
“Maybe it is little easier because I feel like a lot of the worst regret is when you feel like you would have done something different tactically or if you would have played better,” he added. “As far as tactically and the way I played, I was happy with that. Obviously it is difficult when you are so close to realizing such a big dream. But I will just get back to work and hopefully my time will come.”
As one of the greatest players in U.S. Davis Cup history, Roddick was also upset that he had to miss the quarterfinal against Croatia – which the U.S. lost 3-2. He had played in 18 consecutive ties for the U.S. team and his good friend Mardy Fish replaced him on the roster, joining James Blake and Bob and Mike Bryan. But he was rooting them on from back in the U.S.
“It was hard. It was a very weird situation,” he said. “I felt obviously for my friends and I felt this odd responsibility for some stuff that was going on over there. It was difficult. I was just pulling so hard for them. I am still proud of the way they fought.”
With the loss, it ended the U.S. team’s Davis Cup run for 2009 so the focus now for Roddick is the summer hardcourt season, where he always tries to play in as many tournaments as he can.
The tournaments are part of the Olympus US Open Series, a series of hardcourt tournaments in the U.S. leading up to the US Open, and are places Roddick has shined with the surface ideal for his power game. The men’s and women’s points winners at the end of the Olympus US Open Series are then competing for double the prize money at the US Open.
“I think creating the Series was great, it kinda puts it all under one roof and makes it cohesive,” Roddick said of the Series and the summer hardcourt season. “It is always one of my favorite parts of the year just because I have done well at a lot of the tournaments and I have a lot of history at a lot of the lead-up events as well. It is one of the parts of the year that I look forward to most.”
The US Open was the site of Roddick’s lone Grand Slam victory back in 2003 and is his prime focus for the rest of the year. Roddick will turn 27 years old the day before the 2009 US Open starts and is feeling physically better than he has in years thanks to new coach Larry Stefanki and a new fitness regime that helped him shed 15 pounds before this season. He is also a newlywed, having married Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker in April.
“I think I am getting the balls better, I am in better shape. I have made improvements but it is a matter of getting everything to click at once,” Roddick said of his game now. “For the last three, four, five days of that tournament (Wimbledon) I was feeling pretty confident in what I was doing. That being said, I am going to try to keep doing that. I feel like I am on the right path for that and it is just a matter of trying to see it through.”
Roddick last reached the US Open final in 2006, falling to Federer, and reached the quarterfinals in 2008 before losing to Novak Djokovic in four sets.
“(The US Open) is the only Slam left, so that is the goal for the rest of the year,” he said. “You try to prime yourself for the Slams so we are three down this year. That tournament (the US Open) takes precedent over anything we have for the rest of the season.
“I have kind of almost taken a simple approach,” he added about this game. “I will just work; I will go out and try to win every match.”