US Open Tennis 2012: Andy Roddick Is His Generation's Best American Men's Player

Michael Ann McKinlayContributor IIISeptember 5, 2012

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 05:  Andy Roddick reacts against Roger Federer of Switzerland during day ten of the 2007 U.S. Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 5, 2007 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Andy Roddick sure knows how to make an exit. Since announcing last week that the 2012 US Open will be the final tournament of his career, Roddick's been all the talk on the men’s side. 

Yet he’s still around, and finds himself as the last American man in the draw for the 17th time in his career in a Grand Slam. 

However, it didn't come easily. Roddick came into the game after a dominant era of American tennis, dealing with constant pressure and criticism from the press. 

“From the beginning of my career, [I’ve] been up against it,” Roddick said via US “I’m following the greatest generation ever from one place. That was never going to be an easy path.” 

Roddick didn’t let history or the negativity of the press get to him, and carried U.S. expectations better than any other American player in the last decade. 

One of the main reasons Roddick was the top American for the majority of his career was because of his health. Mardy Fish, James Blake, Robby Ginepri and Sam Querrey all had major health concerns throughout their careers which took them out of the game for long periods.  Since establishing himself at the top of the tour in 2003, Roddick has withdrawn from only two Grand Slams—the 2008 and 2011 French Open—which is quite an accomplishment for a player that averaged 130 miles per hour on his serve. 

Also, Roddick’s game was the strongest compared to his compatriots. Yes, it was based on a massive serve and forehand and not much else. But it was enough to make the second week of Slams, and be in the top tier of the men’s game for nine consecutive years.   

Bottom line: Roddick channeled his firepower into consistent results. No other American man during the past decade did it as well as Roddick, which is why he should never be remember for what he didn’t accomplish.

Yes, he’s the only American man of his generation with a Slam, but he didn’t fade away like some other one-time winners. He found ways to reinvent his game (see either the 2006 or 2009 seasons) to compete with arguably the hardest tennis generation of the Open era. 

As Roddick so artfully articulates in his press conferences, he was pretty good for playing the game “wrong.”

“I’m the most successful bad player ever. I used to hear a lot that all I could do was hit a serve, I couldn’t volley, I can’t hit a backhand, I don’t return well, and then people would turn around and tell me I’m underachieving. Well, all I’d say is you can’t have it both ways. For a guy who can’t hit a shot, I’ve done OK.”

He has done more than OK, and American tennis will sorely miss Roddick as he heads into the next chapter in his life.