Andy Roddick to say he’ll retire after US Open

Andy Roddick announced his retirement on Thursday, saying his

tennis career will close at the U.S. Open, the site of his biggest

triumph.

The 2003 champion at Flushing Meadows and former No. 1-ranked

player decided to walk away from the sport whenever his U.S. Open

ends, making the surprise announcement at a news conference on his

30th birthday.

”I just feel like it’s time,” said Roddick. ”I don’t know

that I’m healthy enough or committed enough to go another year.

I’ve always wanted to, in a perfect world, finish at this event. I

have a lot of family and friends here. I’ve thought all year that I

would know when I got to this tournament. When I was playing my

first round, I knew.”

He is scheduled to play 19-year-old Bernard Tomic of Australia

in the second round Friday night at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Roddick’s departure will leave U.S. tennis without a single

grand slam winner on the men’s circuit, but Thursday did bring a

spate of victories by American men, two who are Roddick’s

contemporaries and good pals (32-year-old James Blake and

30-year-old Mardy Fish), and two who have been viewed as possible

successors as the best in the country (19-year-old Jack Sock and

24-year-old Sam Querrey).

”I had a feeling, thought it might be, because he’s someone who

puts heart and soul into every match. It gets tougher as you get

older, and I don’t think he could keep doing it the same way,”

said Blake.

Another winner Thursday was Roger Federer, who beat Roddick in

all four Grand Slam finals they played against each other: one at

the U.S. Open and three at Wimbledon.

”I’ve had some great battles with him for a long, long time,”

Federer said. ”The Wimbledon finals come to mind, the ones we

played together. He’s a great, great competitor and a great

champion, really.”

Looking ahead to Friday, Federer said Roddick ”truly deserves a

great ovation, a great atmosphere, a great crowd. … I’m

definitely going to watch it. It’s not one to miss, and I hope it’s

not his last.”

Querrey also echoed the sentiments of plenty of others about

Roddick’s decision.

”He’s been my biggest role model the last 10 years, playing

tennis, watching tennis. He’s been a really great guy, a great

leader to us all. Nice and kind. Really generous to the

up-and-comers,” Querrey said. ”For me, for … the 18-year-olds

now, he’s just been an unbelievable champion, a Hall of

Famer.”

While few seemed to have an inkling that Roddick would say

farewell during these two weeks, 14-time major champion Serena

Williams, for one, was not taken aback.

”He told me a while ago – last year – that this would be it,”

she said. ”We were talking about it. I was just thinking, `Change

your mind, Andy. Change your mind.’ But I guess he didn’t.”

Buoyed by a booming serve and big forehand, Roddick is 610-212

(a .742 winning percentage) with 32 titles, including two this year

at Atlanta and Eastbourne. He also helped the United States end a

12-year David Cup drought by winning the 2007 title.

Roddick has been dealing with a series of injuries over the past

few seasons, and in February dropped out of the top 20, then slid

to No. 34 in March, his lowest ranking since 2001.

A hamstring injury forced Roddick to retire during his

second-round match at the Australian Open in January, and he lost

in the first round at the French Open and third round at

Wimbledon.

”With the way my body feels, with the way that I’m able to feel

like I’m able to compete now, I don’t know that it’s good enough,”

Roddick explained. ”I don’t know that I’ve ever been someone who’s

interested in `existing’ on tour.”

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AP National Writer Eddie Pells contributed to this report.