NEW YORK — Andy Roddick, whose 2003 US Open triumph was his one and only Grand Slam title before Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic made the majors a three-way battle, announced his retirement Thursday.
Roddick took the opportunity of his 30th birthday to declare that his 12-year career will end once the US Open is over.
“I will make this short and sweet. I have decided that this is going to be my last tournament,” said Roddick.
“I just feel like it’s time to go. I don’t know that I am healthy enough or committed enough to go another year. I have always wanted, in a perfect world, to finish at this event.
“I’ve thought all year that I would know when I got to this tournament.
When I was playing my first round, I knew.”
Roddick, a former world No. 1 and triple Wimbledon finalist, admitted that it was increasingly harder to compete in an era increasingly dominated by Federer, Nadal and Djokovic — who have won 29 of the last 30 majors.
“These other guys have gotten really, really good. I’m not sure that with compromised health that I can do what I want to do right now,” he said.
“I am not interested in just existing on tour as I have other things that excite me outside of tennis. I don’t want to disrespect the game by coasting home.”
Roddick, whose ranking is now down at 22 in the world, added that he had pondered quitting for a long time.
“It has been a process, not just days,” said Roddick, whose announcement came just a day after triple US Open women’s champion Kim Clijsters headed into retirement following her second-round defeat.
Roddick also made the final in New York in 2006, losing to Federer.
And it was the Swiss great who was always there to remind him that he was never going to be part of that exclusive club at the top of the men’s game.
Three times at Wimbledon, in the finals of 2004, 2005 and 2009, he lost to Federer.
That last All England Club defeat was a heartbreaking epic which ended 16-14 in the fifth set.
It was also Roddick’s last memorable campaign.
Roddick won 32 career titles, claiming his first on the clay at Atlanta in 2001, and has since amassed over $20 million in prize money.
“I’ve had a lot of different memories. I’ll certainly look back. I feel like I’d be cheating the other memories if I said one (the 2003 US Open) was the highlight,” he said.
“You know, I feel like I’ve been very lucky. That’s certainly not lost on me.”
There were signs at Wimbledon this year that the end was near for Roddick.
After suffering a second successive third-round exit at the All England Club, losing to Spain’s David Ferrer, he blew kisses to the Centre Court crowd, waving to all corners.
Roddick, who married model Brooklyn Decker in 2009, missed most of the claycourt season this year with hamstring trouble until he returned just in time for the French Open where he went out in the first round.
Roddick remains the last American man to win a major with that 2003 New York win.
Adding to his burden was being entrusted with leading a new generation of players after multiple Grand Slam winners Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras had left the scene.
“He was the alpha male in our generation, certainly the biggest name by a good distance,” compatriot Mardy Fish said at Wimbledon this year.
“He handled the burden of the press and the pressure and the expectation for 10 years, and there were some guys to come and go as he stayed there. Doesn’t get enough credit for it.
“He finished in the top 10 in the world eight straight years. Pretty amazing.” — AFP