Tonight, Andy Roddick will walk onto the court in Arthur Ashe Stadium for what very well could be the last time as a player.
Roddick announced on August 30th that he would retire at the conclusion of his run in the 2012 U.S. Open. He is scheduled to face Juan Martin del Potro at 7 p.m. tonight for a spot in the quarterfinals.
Roddick performed well in the third round against Fabio Fognini, winning 7-5, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4, but Del Potro represents the first significant challenge Roddick will face since announcing that his next loss will be his last.
The big Argentinean is the ninth-ranked player on the men’s tennis circuit and is the only player in the last 30 major tournaments to win a championship other than Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Del Potro is 3-1 in his career against Roddick, with Roddick having won the most recent head-to-head matchup in July 2011.
Roddick is certainly not incapable of winning the match, and the prospect of a last hurrah and the full support of the New York crowd would seem to give him the advantage in every one of the “intangible” categories. But, the fact remains that Roddick is facing a higher-ranked, larger opponent who, at age 23, is looking to make his way back to the top ranks of men’s tennis.
Fognini needed only two sentences to sum up the matchup and how competitive it should be.
If I really force myself to pick a winner, I'd give del Potro a 51 percent chance, because he is playing well and he's confident. But on the other hand, Roddick wants to end his career on a high note. (Source: Howard Fendrich, Associated Press; Seacoastonline.com)
Giving Roddick 49 percent may be a bit of a politically correct statement, given the difference in vitality of the two players. But, there is little reason to doubt that the match has the potential to be one of the best in the men’s tournament, not just on Tuesday, but right through the semifinals.
Regardless of the outcome of his match with Del Potro, Andy Roddick has a tennis legacy attached to his name, especially in the nation he calls home.
As far in the rear view mirror as it may be, his 2003 U.S. Open title remains the defining moment of his tennis career and the greatest moment for American tennis fans in the last decade. No player, at any point of this tournament, can take that away from Roddick.
Roddick will end his Tuesday night one step closer to the end of his career regardless of what happens. His career has made him an impressive ambassador for the game, and his final moments on the court—whenever they are—should not be missed by any American tennis fan.