Ten years ago Andy Roddick looked primed to carry American men’s tennis into the new millenium.
After enjoying a successful U.S. hard-court summer in 2003 – where he won Masters Series titles at Canada and Cincinnati – Andy Roddick was on top of his game and the favorite to win the U.S. Open (despite the fact that he was seeded fourth that year).
With his booming serves and powerful foreheands, Roddick would sail through comfortably to the semifinals where he had to rally from two sets (and a match point) down to beat Argentina’s David Nalbandian.
In the finals he would face world no. 3 Juan Carlos Ferrero and with the help of 23 aces (including three straight to win the match) overpowered the Spaniard in straight sets to win his first Grand Slam title.
He was just 21-years old at the time but Roddick was on top of the world!
He was on a 19-match winning streak; 37-2 overall since hiring Brad Gilbert as his coach. Just like Andre Agassi, Roddick was playing the best tennis of his career under Gilbert’s tutelage. He also rose to a then career-best no. 2 in the world rankings and would eventually end the year atop the rankings, the first American to do so since Agassi himself in 1999. Yes, the future was looking very promising for the young American.
Alas, it was not to be!
Roddick’s time at the top of the world ranking would last a couple months longer thanks to Roger Federer. While Federer would go on to rewrite the tennis’ history book over the next decade winning Grand Slam titles in bundles (17 in all – the most ever in men’s tennis) the 2003 U.S. Open would be Roddick’s only major. He would also never reclaim the world no. 1 ranking as Federer would hold on to that position for the next five years.
It also didn’t help Roddick that at around the same time the tennis industry started to slow down the courts in an effort to create longer rallies and shot-making. This proved to be a disadvantage to the young American whose “boom boom” game was better suited for the faster courts. The slower surfaces also made the matches (though more pleasing to the eye) longer and more physical, which may have contributed to the injuries that Roddick would sufferfrom 2006 onwards.
Roddick would eventually retire from tennis in 2012 following his fourth round loss to Juan Martin del Potro at the 2012 U.S. Open.
Though he may have underachieved in the eyes of some, Roddick managed to have a decent career as the face of the “next generation of U.S. men tennis”. The 2003 U.S. Open however would remain as the highlight of his career – the last Grand Slam won by an American male.